Lucy Jeffrey

Founder of Bare Kind

Lucy Jeffrey is a young, female entrepreneur combining her love for socks and animals by selling bamboo socks where 10% of the profits are donated to animal conservation charities. She started Bare Kind in 2018 whilst working full time at a large UK bank. She describes her entrepreneurial journey as a rollercoaster, leading up to the pivotal moment when she quit her job in December 2020 to run Bare Kind full time!

You might not think that you can change the world with socks, but Lucy believes she can. Each pair of socks is linked to an individual charity, and the first sock range supports Sea Turtles, African Penguins, Amur Leopards, Bumblebees & Orangutans. To give you an idea of the kind of impact the socks have, in selling just 4 pairs of Orangutan socks, Bare Kind can fund the protection of 1 acre of tropical forest for a whole year, through The Orangutan Foundation’s Protection Programme.

Lucy’s vision for Bare Kind is to have the largest range of animal socks ever, all contributing to charitable causes. She has started with some fairly commonly known species, but the plan is to spread the word about some lesser-known species too, who need the spotlight just as much.

Lucy intends for customers to get the ‘warm fuzzy feeling’ inside when they shop with Bare Kind. They can feel good about their purchases because they are supporting an independent company, they are saving animals and they are getting a high-quality product in return.

The socks themselves are made from 85% bamboo, making them incredibly soft. It was always really important to Lucy to source a product that she truly believes is the best, because the better the product the more support she will be able to provide for these charities.

So what’s next for Bare Kind? More animal socks of course! In the next couple of months Lucy is releasing a brand new range supporting the conservation of Elephants, Rhinos, Hedgehogs and Whales, plus one design which will support a Rabbit rescue charity in the UK.

Where did the idea for Bare Kind come from?

I started out with reusable straws, which came from the boom in reducing single-use plastic and I wanted to do my part. Since then I’ve realised that there’s so much impact I can have with the business compared to me individually, so I introduced the charity element. It makes so much sense that I landed on socks as my headline product because I just love them and always have – my first word as a kid was socks!

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Since quitting my day job and running the company full time, we have been in lockdown in the UK, so I have extremely ‘typical’ days at the moment. I will try and rise early, as I’m most productive in the mornings. I’ll take an ice cold shower first thing (the Whim Hof method – look it up!), and then I get on with work. My day can be anything from attending virtual workshops to engaging with customers on socials, to designing new socks. But it will always consist of running through orders that need to be shipped, checking the financial status of the business (yes I do this everyday!) and responding to emails. To be most productive, I will have taken 20 mins the night before to plan out the next day. By about 3pm my brain is frazzled so I will go out for a walk or run and then get back to work! All screens are switched off by 8pm so I can wind down and get the best night’s sleep possible.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I draw them! When I have an idea for a sock design, I whip out the Ipad and have a go at drawing the animal, and then I always send to my friends to get their feedback. What I’ve found is that I can have this amazing idea in my head that doesn’t translate, or even more often I’ve got a design I don’t rate and others think is amazing so it’s always worth exploring the crazy ideas that pop into your head before you fall asleep!

What’s one trend that excites you?

This working from home trend – I think it really is the future now. When we can, I fully intend to travel more now that I have the flexibility to move, and the world as a whole is going to start being more accommodating to this new way of working. For a lot of entrepreneurs this was always the case, but now that this level of flexibility is expected in large corporations too and I think this will change the world for the better.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Planning my day the night before. I just sit down with a pen and paper, no distractions, and write everything down on the page. This could be admin I need to finish, ideas I need to explore, people I need to message. After that stage, I prioritise this list so I can execute the next day. I notice a big difference in productivity when I don’t have a clear view of my goals for the day, I procrastinate a lot more.

What advice would you give your younger self?

You have way more potential than you would ever believe, and the only person who can unlock it is you.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Cold showers every day are amazing. Okay so my instincts don’t agree with me on this one, in fact my whole body tells me I’m crazy before I jump in that shower. But I’ve been in this routine for about 3 months now and it’s incredible. It’s the first thing I do when I wake up, and boy does it wake you up. If you can stick your whole body in icy cold water, you can do anything, and that’s a great mind set to start your day with.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Cash flow, and profit & loss. I’m saying this one because I’ve only recently got into the habit of reviewing these finances every day and I’ve really noticed the difference to my business. I know the status of my business, where I have to reduce costs and when I can afford to bring new sock designs out. As a business that holds large amount of stock, it’s so important to understand the cash flow and how profitable you are across each individual sale.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Being more social and making connections. I’ve joined more communities and started connecting with other entrepreneurs. I’ve even started sending a voice note to anyone new who follows me on Instagram. Anything I can do to show that I am a real human being behind the business. People seem to relate to my brand more because they’re making a human connection rather than just following yet another online brand. I guess this is a round about way of saying I am networking more, I just don’t like that label!

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I always think back to a really stupid mistake I made when I first started selling. I put the wrong stamps on all my orders and they all either went missing for long periods of time or the customers had to pay postage their end. It was such a silly mistake, and could have so easily been avoided. I recovered very quickly from this though, and apologised profusely to the customers. I’ve learned that customers will forgive your mistakes if you apologise and rectify it quickly, in fact my best customer service moments have come off the back of mistakes – we are only human, so pick yourself up and move on, mistakes are learning opportunities.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I’ve tried various different apps for creating product bundles on Shopify, allowing customers to mix and match which socks fall into a specific bundle. None of them have done exactly what I need, and if you are in the business to design a really simple app that works – count me in because I think there is a gap!

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

My partner and I don’t own a TV, we like not having the distraction and it creates a much nicer space to live in. However for lockdown we have treated ourselves to a projector so we can put movies on a wall. It’s awesome, it takes a while to set up so we only do it for movie nights. We’ve been watching all the Avengers films in order, something to keep our minds off lockdown!

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Shopify is how I sell my products, and I honestly couldn’t live without it. It’s such an easy service to use, and the ability to add new apps to the website is brilliant. I’m not very technical so having all the coding already complete was key for me, so I can get on with driving traffic to the website and selling. It provides great analytics too, which helps to dictate my business strategy.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight – This is the story of how Nike came about, it’s fascinating and inspiring. If it doesn’t light a fire under you to start that business idea you’ve been sitting on, I don’t know what will!

What is your favorite quote?

‘Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you are right’ – Henry Ford

Key Learnings:

  • A good entrepreneur is someone who can make strong connections. I’ve learned that it is really important for customers to connect with you as a person rather than just the business itself.
  • Your mindset for starting the day will dictate how productive your day is. That’s why I have a cold shower every morning, if you can do that you can do anything!
  • Mistakes are just how human beings learn, they will happen, and that is why a growth mindset is so important as an entrepreneur.
  • You are the key to un locking your potential, you just have to believe in yourself!