When Conscious Steps Are Taken

2. Zero Hunger 3. Good Health and Well-Being 4. Quality Education 6. Clean Water and Sanitation 12. Responsible Consumption and Production

Overview

Conscious Step is a sock company that promotes fair trade practices through manufacturing and offers consumers the opportunity to support initiatives that promote the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Each sock correlates to a specific initiative. A portion of the proceeds is donated to a partnering non-profit and in turn gives consumers the opportunity to support a cause that is meaningful to them.

Author

Terah Speigner

Terah Speigner

School

Case Western Reserve University - Weatherhead School of Management

Case Western Reserve University - Weatherhead School of Management

Professor

Chris Laszlo

Chris Laszlo

Innovation

Conscious Step provides consumers with an effortless way to donate to causes that they believe to be important to them. Each sock represents a specific cause that correlates with one of the Sustainable Development Goals. Currently, the represented initiatives are: Clean Water and Sanitation (6), Life on Land (15), Partnerships for the Goals (17), Quality Education (4), Good Health and Well Being (3) and Zero Hunger (2). For each pair that is sold, a portion of the proceeds is donated to a corresponding non-profit that is working to combat said goal. The Aids Awareness socks supply a week of treatment to pregnant woman in Africa through UNAIDS. Other collaboration organizations include Action Against Hunger, Trees for the Future, Global Citizen and Water.org. However, they are also working separately to provide a responsible consumption and production system with their manufacturers.

The company is 100% sustainable and has collaborated with fair trade manufacturers in India that provide them with organic cotton to produce their product and also allotted them the opportunity to work with and support small and marginal cotton farmers. Fair trade is the movement in which companies work with producers in developing countries to promote sustainable practices in regards to higher prices to exporters and improved environmental and social standards. The socks' innovative designs go far beyond what the eye can see. They are made with 168 needle count, which as Conscious Step describes it, “they’re as soft on your feet as they are on the environment.” The production process begins with organic cotton farmers, but the socks are also sewn and manufactured in India as well. There is also no child labor involved in the production of the socks.

The socks can be purchased on the Conscious Step website. The Conscious Collection socks are $44.95 and three pairs of socks come in each box. There are currently two Conscious Step Collections; the socks vary depending on the box that the customer selects. One box holds the books, water and poverty socks while the other holds the HIV, trees and hunger socks. By purchasing from Conscious Step Collection, a customer will be contributing to providing seven days of HIV therapy for an expectant mother, preventing transmission from mother to child. Plant 20 trees through Trees for the Future and Provide six lifesaving therapeutic food packs through Action Against Hunger.

A customer will also have the option of buying socks individually. They cost $14.95 and each initiative has one to two styles. Each sock has a different color and design. Every sock is also embroidered with a unique emblem which matches the specific initiative.

When Conscious Steps Are Taken

Inspiration

Prashant Mehta was first inspired by his mother, who taught him at a young age the power of giving. Frustrated with all of the problems in the world, Mehta and two of his close friends collaborated on the idea of Conscious Step. They decided to create a business that would give back to each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in a way that made it easy for consumers and also gave them something in return. Mehta stated, "The life journey of creating something that educates and empowers people to create positive change has been nothing short of exhilarating."

The three friends knew that they could not only give back through philanthropy, so they worked to establish relationships with manufacturers in India so that they could produce a product that was stylish and economically conscious. They have been able to continue these relationships with fair trade businesses and support small cotton farmers.

Overall impact

Conscious Step is still in the beginning stages of their fair trade initiative, but they have gained a stamp of approval from the Global Organic Textile Standard and have been audited by the Business Social Compliance Initiative. They have also met the Text Confidence in Textile standards for harmful substances since their founding. Conscious Step has provided 10,968 meals, 34,254 months of clean water, 14,084 Days of HIV and AIDS therapy, 3,226 books and 10,640 trees planted.

Business benefit

Conscious Step has not yet seen their business come into fruition. They have only been in business for exactly two years, so they currently don't know how their fair trade practice has impacted the economy. Although, they have provided 14,084 Days of HIV and AIDS therapy, 10,968 meals, 34,254 months of clean water, 3,226 donated books and had 10,640 trees planted.

Social and environmental benefit

Conscious Step has been able to provide work to three manufacturers based in India that include a small cotton cooperative, a spinning mill and a sock manufacturer. By working with these three organizations, Conscious Step has been able to prevent child labor from entering their business practices. They have visited their factory and spinning mill three times since partnering with them. Their most recent trip took place in January 2016. Through both their eco-friendly and sustainability practices they are creating a more economically conscious population. They have also been able to provide knowledge on fair trade and the 17 United Nations Goals through their products and collaborations.

Although Conscious Step has linked their products directly to six of the UN Global Goals, because of their fair trade production with organic materials and partnerships in India they also connect with Responsible Consumption and Production (Goal 12). They have successfully created a continuous system of sustainable production and distribution.

Interview

Prashant Mehta, CEO

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Conscious Step

Conscious Step

New York, NY, United States

Business Website: https://consciousstep.com/

Year Founded: 2014

Number of Employees: 2-10

Conscious Step is a sock company working towards a more sustainable future through multiple avenues that include collaboration, fair trade and information based initiatives. They aspire to work together to improve the lives of those less fortunate - not just by supporting the causes that they deem as important, but also through their dedication to transparent ethical production.