If you're familiar with SHE Changes Everything, you've probably noticed that we celebrate small positive choices greatly. Some companies exemplify all the GOOD that can come from small choices a little more than others. Tibetan Socks is one of those companies. Think about it. Putting on a pair of socks each day is such a SMALL act. But when you're putting on the hand knit wool slipper socks made in the Himalayas, specifically in Nepal by housewives who depend on this handicraft work for supplemental income to help raise their families, your little everyday act carries impact.
This business is more than just socks. It touches peoples' lives: the women and their families who make these socks and the lives of those supported by the non-profit organizations that receive a portion of each sale. Each pair of socks sold gives back to those in need by providing food, medicine, education materials, and other essentials to those in need throughout the Himalayan region.
Learn more about Tibetan Socks in our interview with founder, Adrien Fields.
Where did the idea come from for Tibetan Socks?
Adrien: I found the prototype for Tibetan Socks while I was traveling in the Himalayas about two years ago. I had just closed my women's wear design business and was at a crossroads of my life, unsure what to do next. My identity was wrapped up in my clothing label and without it I wasn’t sure who I was or what I was supposed to do.
I went back to India, where I had been traveling back and forth to design for the previous three years, to take time to explore myself and see what might present itself. It was wintertime when I made the pilgrimage to the foothills of the Himalayas and out of necessity I visited a small Tibetan shop selling woolly items.
I bought a pair of socks simply for myself and then ended up not taking them for a week. I had an epiphany that this would be a great product to share with the world, especially when I learned more about the communities of women behind them.
It was also my intention to create a socially motivated business and that has been part of the brand DNA since the beginning.
The socks are so unique! How are Tibetan Socks made?
Adrien: Tibetan Socks are hand knit by communities of economically disadvantaged housewives in villages throughout the Himalayan region. This is a generations-old handicraft that allows women to earn supplemental income in a dignified manner while also being able to stay at home to raise their children.
Can you tell us more about the history of these socks in Tibetan culture?
Adrien: Knitting has been a part of Himalayan culture for many hundreds of years. Girls often learn from their mothers or grandmothers and groups of ladies come together to knit, share stories, and pass the time.
What organizations does Tibetan Socks give back to?
Adrien: We support children’s education initiatives through our NGO partners in India, Nepal and Tibet with an emphasis on programs that help preserve Tibetan culture. Our principal partner is the Tibetan Children’s Education Fund through which we support a school lunch program for children in Sikkim, India. We also work with Maiti Nepal and ROKPA International.
What do you wish everyone knew about the people, especially the women, of Nepal?
Adrien: Nepal is still recovering from the devastating earthquake that made headlines around the world almost two years ago. Thousands are still living in tents because their homes were destroyed and the government has not released relief funds. Knitting allows them a way forward and helps to pass the time.
What does sustainable, healthy, and ethical mean to you?
Adrien: These all are synonymous with creating a culture of conscious consumerism – wherein we think about what we buy and how it impacts the environment, the economy, and the lives of the people who created it. If we consume less but buy things of quality that serve the greater good, then we are doing our part to effect positive change on an individual level.
What are your favorite sustainable, healthy, and ethical brands?
Adrien: Tom’s Shoes has been an inspirational business model when building Tibetan Socks. I also try to buy locally and from artisans whenever possible.
Who have you seen wearing Tibetan Socks that has surprised you the most?
Adrien: What has surprised me most is the broad appeal of Tibetan Socks – there are young and old, men and women, all types of people who purchase and love this product.