Sydney Sock Project was founded in 2018 on a desire to make a difference to Australian communities in need. The business partners with charities to create a positive social impact to disadvantaged communities in homelessness, mental health, education and more.

With one simple hack, the Sydney Sock Project was able to cut thousands worth of costs. Founder, Andres Herrero spoke to Retailbiz to share his journey, key learnings and advice to other retailers.

What inspired you to start Sydney Sock Project? 

I started Sydney Sock Project while I was in my last year of university studying Environmental Engineering. I knew engineering wasn’t the career I wanted to pursue and I read that one of the most requested clothing items in homeless shelters were socks, so the idea sparked to sell socks that gave back to the community.

It started as a hobby where I’d take pairs down to Bondi Markets and put up a sign that read “You Buy One, We Donate One”. The socks flew off the shelves which gave me the confidence to establish the brand online. I scored a job as a Project Engineer in the wastewater industry which put the business on hold, but I felt that wasn’t the right move. I packed a bag and walked for 40 days across Spain and France to think through my future. I then decided to pursue Sydney Sock Project full time and go all in. 

How did Covid impact business growth?

The growth has been significant since going full time in 2020. A few months into leaving my career behind, Covid hit. Our biggest revenue generator at the time was retailing at Bondi Markets, which instantly disappeared so making the pivot to becoming an online business was crucial. That year we turned over just under $200,000. This year we’re on track to turn over $1 million plus in revenue.

What have been your biggest learnings in growing Sydney Sock Project?

The biggest turning point was introducing Facebook ads as our primary source of marketing after watching online tutorials. Towards the end of last year, we were turning over around $30,000 per month in revenue, and I felt lost in what needed to be implemented in the business to grow. A big part of this bottleneck was the fear of being more aggressive with marketing, so we introduced specialist e-commerce coaches into the business. We instantly doubled or even tripled our monthly revenue by having more clarity into the numbers.

As the business grew, our margins became slimmer, which forced me to assess our expenses. Our shipping costs were eating up a large percentage of our revenue so I reached out to Sendle. Within 15 minutes we’d integrated Sendle into Shipstation and organised a courier to pick up the orders the following day. We’ve saved over $8,000 in shipping costs from making the switch to Sendle.

Your business has had an incredible impact on the community – how does this make you feel? 

I’ve always admired the social enterprise model. As the business and our retail footprint grows, so does the social impact. Some of our partners rely on us as their primary donor to operate their charity and non-for-profits. 

I believe that if every business ran as a social enterprise, we’d be tackling a lot of the social issues faced within Australia at a much more rapid rate. Consumers are becoming a lot more conscious of what they’re purchasing, which is pushing businesses to implement a social model which is a great step in the right direction.

Do you have any advice for people who want to grow an ecommerce business?

When it comes to business success and growth, I follow a simple flywheel process that can broken down into three steps:

  1. Release incredible products and have a point of difference
  2. Create amazing content and market through digital media (such as social channels and search engines) to bring in new customers
  3. Retain your customers through email/SMS marketing

Another piece of advice is to take stock of your partners and suppliers to ensure you’re getting the best deal. Switching suppliers and in our case, partnering with Sendle, has allowed us to save over $8,000 to date.

What’s next for you and Sydney Sock Project?

Supporting charities and non-for-profits across Australia and New Zealand has always been the core goal for Sydney Sock Project. Expanding this model across the globe to support social issues in other countries has always been a dream of mine, so I plan to expand the business to support foreign charities.