From Soldiering to Sustainability

From Soldiering to Sustainability

Hear from the founder of Social Socks, Marc on how he received support and help from X-Forces from funding to networking. 

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Concerned about the climate crisis, Army veteran Marc embarked on a
mission to help the planet… by selling socks.  

The vision for Marc’s business, Social Socks, was inspired by his two young daughters; he wanted them to experience the world as we know it today. In the face of a climate crisis, he envisioned a brand that could help promote change and build a better future.  

“I realised that if we don’t act today, my daughters won’t get to enjoy this planet or have the same opportunities as my generation has had. It’s alarming the amount of plastic waste that enters our oceans every year, the amount of deforestation that happens every day and sadly, the number of endangered animals that are close to becoming extinct. I felt I needed to find a way to give back, a way to help lessen the human impact on our planet and, in doing so, create opportunity for others to help future generations. “Why socks? Well, I’m a massive trainer collector, and I always pick my outfits from the ground up. With good trainers, you need good matching socks!” 

Marc set about building his business around a clothing product he knew well and applying an ethical purpose. The first challenge was to source a manufacturer for his socks that had sustainable credentials, the highest working practices, and the lowest transport miles. Bring entirely free from single-use plastics throughout the supply chain was vital. After many months of searching and careful scrutiny, he decided upon a UK supplier for his colourful range of branded socks. 

Classic Range

“Sourcing the socks was a challenge. I tried many different suppliers from the USA to China, including Europe and the UK. I came up against unworkable minimum order quantities and prices when you stipulate eco-friendly and ethical products, everything is inflated compared to product lines that contain plastic. I believe it should be the opposite; suppliers should encourage the more sustainable options by offering competitive pricing and delivery times that are just as quick. Otherwise, what is the incentive to switch?”    

Marc had similar standards for his selected packaging, which is free from single-use plastic, his paper is FSC certified and recyclable, plus the ink used is vegan friendly. 

“We chose envelopes as they nicely fit through the customer’s letterbox, meaning a delivery is never missed but, more importantly, no need for redeliveries or the customer driving to pick up their parcel, so keeping the carbon emissions as low as possible for every delivery. 

“Our business cards give back as well. They are made of seed paper which contains poppies, so once our customers have finished with them, instead of ending up in landfill, they plant them, and it helps the environment as well. 

The premise for Social Socks is giving back, therefore every customer’s order does some good for the planet to help reduce the carbon footprint. For each sale, Social Socks plants a tree and donates 10% of the order value to climate projects around the world that help to reduce atmospheric CO2 levels. Marc chose the slogan ‘Socks That Give Back’. 

“We wanted to plant a tree for every sale and established a partnership with Ecologi because you can see exactly where in the world they have been planted and which employment projects they have helped. I also pledge a proportion of sales via Work For Good, currently committed to support the great conservation work of WWF UK, who is on the front line of addressing global threats to the planet such as climate change. I hope to add a further four charities to my Work For Good profile. It’s a bold goal, but my aim is to donate one million pounds to charity.” 

Classic Range ~ Midnight Black

Through X-Forces Enterprise (XFE), Marc accessed a Start Up Loan of £14,000 to cover the business set up including the first stock order, office equipment and marketing.  XFE allocated him a personal Business Advisor who worked closely with him on his business plan, application and continues to offer support for the 12 months post-launch, in a programme supported by the Royal British Legion 

Marc embraced the full breadth of opportunities from XFE; he attended training events including a Business Acceleration Masterclass supported by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity and a specialist Climate Change for Business workshop supported by the Forces Employment Charity. Marc also made useful connections with fellow business owners at XFE’s networking events and through the XFE HUB, in which he was paired with a Business Captain to share advice and guidance. 

“I have attended networking events hosted by XFE; these have been fantastic! A great opportunity to gain a greater understanding of setting up and running a small business. Networking has been invaluable for me, being able to ask the questions of someone who’s gone through the journey you are on, and they give an experienced answer, which you cannot find on Google. Getting yourself a Business Captain is a must in my eyes, having someone that can aid you along the way and provide help and support has really helped me accelerate my business. They give me knowledge and a perspective I wouldn’t have even considered.”    

Social Socks official launched in June 2022 and in the first months of trading, Marc is already benefitting from a sense of achievement and purpose. He credits his experience in the Armed Forces to his drive to make an impact and do good in the world. 

Packaging ~ Kraft Envelope

“I’ve had many jobs over the years, ranging from stacking shelves to fitting kitchens and installing broadband, but none compares to the time I served in the British Army as a mechanic. I feel my time serving has helped give me all my qualities today. It taught me discipline, respect, teamwork, punctuality, and that time is finite, so we should chase our dreams and aspire to be the best version of ourselves. 

“I take a great deal of pride in the impact we’re already making through the planting of trees and donating money to charity and, what’s more, I’m pleased to spark conversations around change with customers, businesses and other entrepreneurs. It is about the small changes we can make that count towards the bigger goal, and I’m delighted to be actively making a difference for the future of our planet and people.” 


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