When it comes to clothing, the basics can often be overlooked. Or, in the case of socks, completely forgotten, as only one usually makes it out of the dryer. Even if unintentional, let’s face it; the accessory is often taken for granted, especially by those who have easy access. Bellevue Club member Tony Bacon, however, knows that not everyone is so lucky.
Long before footwear became his passion, however, his interest was in acting. He moved to Hollywood to attend Hollywood High School and develop his craft. But he moved back to Bellevue his junior year, and he stayed local while attending University of Washington and majoring in drama and film.
Los Angeles soon beckoned again though, and he and wife Amy moved south for a couple more years. While there, Bacon worked in web and graphic design, which would give him the skillset needed for his next adventure.
Bacon, who’s always been close with his philanthropic family (now running his family’s nonprofit, Bacon Family Foundation), eventually moved back to Bellevue. Later, it was his work at the United Way’s Day of Caring resource exchange that would eventually determine his career path.
Any person experiencing homelessness was welcomed to take advantage of all the resources United Way provided. During the event, Bacon partnered with Redeeming Soles, an organization that donates shoes. "I saw the horrible condition of the homeless individuals’ socks," Bacon says, who was then inspired to create a different approach to covering those in need.
He had been in the middle of developing a clothing company with friends, but once he saw how imperative socks were to the community, he and his friends turned their attention south. "Socks are one of the most vital and overlooked items that we take for granted. I’ve learned that many homeless individuals would choose a pair of new socks over a hot meal. That got my attention!"
Feeling inspired, he and his friends soon sampled products from 12 factories across the world. It took six months (and plenty of tweaks) before the first order of 40,000 pairs was placed.
But the socks aren’t your typical gold-toe, athletic-striped, cotton bores. The socks are a statement—particularly about your city. "We started featuring city skylines on our products because everyone is proud of where they’re from," Bacon says. They’re colorful and fun, but most of all, a way to connect back to the local community.
Bacon is now the Chief Design Officer for Skyline Socks, and he manages all of the design elements, from product colors to package design to the website.
The company launched with Seattle, San Francisco and New York designs because of their iconic skylines, Bacon says. Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Hawaii have since been added. But it is still the beginning, as Tony plans to keep unveiling more skylines in every major city in the world.
"We knew we were on to something, with a great product in hand, and since then, we’ve reordered from our factories four times with orders continuing to get bigger and bigger," Bacon says.
Providing a unique design is only half of the equation. Since the original conception was about socking it to people in need, Bacon and team added a one-for-one plan. For every pair of socks purchased, Skyline Socks donates a pair to someone in the city.
"Every city is different, and we try to make the biggest impact possible within those cities." Partnering with various organizations—United Way, Boys & Girls Club, Seattle Children’s Hospital to name a few—the company works to get the socks into the right hands … and onto the right feet.
Seattle Children’s Hospital is currently a focus for Bacon because of his history there. When he was three, he nearly drowned, and he then spent much of his time in the hospital recovering. "One of my strongest memories from that time was getting a ‘Ghostbusters’ balloon and how happy it made me," he says. "It is my goal to be able to give socks to every patient that checks into the hospital and help take their mind off of whatever they might be going through."
Every city is different, though, and Bacon works hard to make specific impacts, such as helping individuals who lost everything in Superstorm Sandy.
The one-for-one donation keeps this process moving. "Our motto, ‘Put on for your city,’ means to look good, feel good and do good," Bacon says. "Skyline Socks is continuing to create high quality products that embrace the passion people have for the cities they love, all while making a difference in the community they live in."
5 REFLECTIONS: TONY BACON
Favorite activity at the Club: Men’s League Basketball.
my hero: My dad.
Most-played song on my iPod: "Wake Me Up" by Avicii.
I like to unwind by: Taking my little girls to the park.
Most-watched TV show: "Dexter".