Social Enterprise with Local Origins Finds Footing with First Retail Space in West Hartford Center
SockStarz to Offer Unique Retail Experience and Meaningful Employment for Adults with Special Needs
The shop will be located at 18 La Salle Road and fill its 550 square feet with the nearly 1,000 varieties of colorful socks. The team is currently in the design phase and plans to open the storefront in mid to late September. In addition to their silly, sassy sock styles, SockStarz is looking to partner with local makers and artisans to feature their work and wares within the store.
While the fancy footwear and local goods are enough to lure in local shoppers, the shop's message and mission make every purchase a form of advocacy for local adults with intellectual disabilities. SockStarz currently employs seven Harc participants who work in inventory management, customer service, and order shipment. Each employee receives comprehensive training in both the e-commerce shop and brick and mortar sales. Employees have already gained great experience on the brick and mortar side thanks to SockStarz participation in a variety of Pop-Up shops in the area including the Know Good Market and Hartford City Hall.
In addition to employing Harc program participants, SockStarz is encouraging adults with intellectual disabilities to explore employment opportunities at the store. SockStarz is also on the lookout for sales associates with a talent for retail and affinity for their mission.
Launching a social enterprise was an important initiative at Harc, which is among a growing list of non-profits within our state and beyond that have launched a subsidiary business. "Traditionally, non-profits have heavily relied on a mix of state funding, grants, and tireless fundraising,"
The idea for SockStarz was in the air at Harc for some time but was solidified thanks to the Social Enterprise Accelerator Program run by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving's Non-Profit Support Program. Harc was one of 38 organizations that completed a four-part workshop series and one of 10 not-for-profits selected to receive 30 months of additional consulting support in business planning, implementation support, and capital-raising coaching.
In late June, SockStarz presented its "Fast Pitch," where it made its case to angel investors for start-up cash, after which the Hartford Foundation announced that it would match their fundraising efforts dollar for dollar, up to $40,000. "We were delighted that the Foundation was willing to make an even greater investment in the success of our social enterprise,"
Local artists and makers looking to partner, sales associate applicants, and those interested in employment opportunities for adults with special needs should email the SockStarz team directly at sockstarz2019@
For more on the styles available and how you can shop for a cause, visit http://www.sockstarzusa.com.
The Small Business Collective