In October 2015, Michael Mader, a senior at the University of Wisconsin, River Falls, suffered a severe head injury after falling off of his longboard. This accident provided the literal bump on the head that Michael needed to realize the impact he could have on others. In the months of recovery that followed, Michael found inspiration in the world around him and read about the desperate need for clean socks at homeless shelters. It was this discovery that encouraged Michael, an avid wearer of colorful and funky patterned socks, to find a way to help those in need. Alas, Hippy Feet was born.
During his final semester at the University of Wisconsin, River Falls, Michael decided to take action and turn his idea into a reality. Hippy Feet would be a fusion of Michael’s two greatest passions: unique socks and giving back. Structuring the company around the buy-one-give-one model, Michael entered into the Wisconsin Big Idea Tournament. After proving how his idea could impact the community on a large scale, Michael received first place in the competition. Michael's efforts were rewarded with a $25,000 Ideadvance Grant to fund his start-up and provided him the opportunity to attend the International Business Model Competition (IBMC) at the Microsoft Campus in Redmond, Washington.
After working tirelessly over the summer to prepare for launch in the fall of 2016, Hippy Feet was finally ready to make its debut. Hippy Feet’s first pop-up event was in September 2016 at the outdoor music festival, Festival Palamino in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The success of this event demonstrated that Hippy Feet’s mission resonated with the masses and garnered support from people of all walks of life.
In November of 2016, Hippy Feet’s website went live for the first time, coinciding Give to the Max day. To celebrate and participate in the cause, Hippy Feet donated two pairs of socks, for every pair purchased during this time.
Efforts To Date
As of July 2017, we are elated to have donated over 3,000 pairs of socks directly to the homeless population and to various partner organizations throughout the Midwest. In addition, we have already begun to make strides in our long-term goal of providing employment to individuals transitioning out of homelessness. To date, Hippy Feet has employed 5 individuals working to transition out of homeless and plan to keep this number growing.
These are just a few of the many efforts Hippy Feet plans on making to create positive change in the lives of the homeless.