377
9 min 45 sec

Finance Professionals Go Gorillas for Bamboo Fiber Socks

Two NYC financial sector employees decide to make socks and rescue gorillas.
Manufacturing Product Retail Social Entrepreneurship

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What It's About

Two friends are bringing silverback with their social good sock side hustle!

Business Model
Manufacturing
Skills Required
Design & Communication
Complexity
Medium
Profit Potential
Medium

Words of Wisdom

Launching and running Gorilla Socks has forced Gianluca to diversify his skill set and learn about aspects of running a business he would never have needed to know about in his 9-5 job. It’s also greatly expanded his network and greatly improved his problem-solving skills. Every day there’s a new challenge, whether it’s designing new socks or converting more customers, but the support for the brand and the cause keeps him going.

Fun Fact

While visiting their partners at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund at the Atlanta Zoo, Gianluca decided to bring his young son and wife along with him. His son was struck by how loving the gorillas were and couldn’t stop talking about the monkeys (he’s too young to know the difference). Since that day at the zoo, his son calls him "Monkey." Maybe he sees the similarity between gorillas and humans—plus Gianluca does have a beard!

Notes from Chris

Episode 377
Gianluca De Stefano’s side hustle involves both socks and gorillas. You might be wondering how those two things are related, but to Gianluca and his business partner, Gavin Kamara, the connection was clear. The idea came to them one day in 2015 while they were riding bikes along the Hudson River. They’d known each other since they were roommates in college. Starting a side hustle was something they’d talked about for years, but they didn’t have a specific idea to launch them on their way.

During this bike ride, Gavin mentioned that he’d just been reading about bamboo fibers. He was intrigued to learn that bamboo fibers are eco-friendly because bamboo is the fastest growing plant in the world, and it requires 1/3 the water needed to grow cotton. Beyond the environmental factors, bamboo fibers are also antibacterial. They’re also great at thermoregulation—so bamboo fabric keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

With all these great features and their shared love of socks, Gianluca and Gavin thought that bamboo fibers would make excellent socks.

But they didn’t just want to own a sock shop. They both had good jobs in finance, so starting a side hustle wasn’t just about earning extra money. They wanted to have fun and do good with their business. They wanted their brand to give back. So they knew from the start that they wanted to partner with a nonprofit organization and donate a percentage of profits.

But before they could give back, they needed something to give. Specifically, they needed a product. So they set about doing some market research. They had noticed that business attire in the corporate world, in both New York and London, had slowly become more relaxed. Fewer men were wearing ties, and more were using socks as a way to differentiate their style. So they wanted to tap into that market, in a more sustainable way, using bamboo fibers.

Since launching Gorilla Socks in October 2016, sales have increased month by month. They’ve made more than $10,000, but so far are investing most profits back into the business, in addition to making multiple donations to the Gorilla Fund.

For Gianluca and Gavin, that’s been the best part so far—knowing that they’re contributing to something bigger than themselves, creating a brand built on possibility, and finally building the venture they’d long talked of.


MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Gorilla Socks: Learn more about Gianluca and Gavin's sock manufacturing side hustle and check out their lineup on their website
  • Shopify: Gianluca and Gavin used Shopify to set up their store for Gorilla Socks, and they're offering a 21-day trial and exclusive discount for all Side Hustle School listeners!
  • Alibaba: The platform that Gianluca and Gavin used to locate a manufacturer for their bambook fiber socks
  • Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund: The charity that Gorilla Socks donates to that takes great steps towards protecting and studying gorillas while helping communities build their conservation capabilities
SEE ALSO:

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

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Quote of the Day
"I still remember our first sale like it was yesterday. We sold only $16 dollars but we felt it was a great achievement. Today our first customer has its own discount code, he can get 50% off all our socks for life. That was our way to say thank you."
—Gianluca De Stefano #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau