The Goal of Giving: How Bombas Stuck to Its Mission During COVID-19

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Apparel brand Bombas is known for two things: comfy, colorful socks and giving back to those in need.

In fact, community service is baked into their mission, with a promise to donate one new new piece of clothing for every purchase. To date, they’ve donated over 42 million clothing items through more than 3,000 giving partners across the country.

Along with its philanthropic efforts, the startup is often lauded as a shining example of direct-to-consumer marketing and e-commerce done right. This year has been no exception. Despite COVID-related setbacks, Bombas remained agile, expertly adapting to unexpected challenges and launching new digital campaigns.

In a recent interview, Taboola copywriter Sydney Mann sat down with Lauren DiGregoria, director of acquisition at Bombas, to learn more about how the brand continues to drive engagement and work with partners like Taboola to reach new audiences across the web.

Watch the full interview, or check out the transcript below:

Let’s talk a little bit about your background and Bombas.

I’m Lauren DiGregoria. I’m the director of acquisition here at Bombas. I actually came from the agency side. So, I started my career at a larger agency, but in the direct marketing department. Everything that we did was tied in data and analytics, which really helped set me up for my role here. I also started to shift into supporting a lot of D2C brands in my later tenure at the agency, which really set me up for success when I started at Bombas.

I started at Bombas in June of 2019, so just around a year ago. I got reached out to, and I was super excited because I already knew about the company. I had the socks and I just loved everything that I knew about their mission. And the more research that I did about Bombas and about the company, the more I fell in love with the brand and the more I knew I had to work there.

The company itself was founded because socks are the number-one most requested item in homeless shelters. And everything that we do is focused around our mission. So we have, if you can believe it, our own Giving team, and our Giving team is centered around what it sounds like: giving. So they partner with over 3,000 homeless shelters and community and giving organizations.

And the other thing that I loved when I was doing research about the company is that the socks themselves — the donation socks — are different from what you’re buying. There’s a lot that goes into the donation socks, but they’re meant for their recipients. So there’s an anti-microbial treatment that’s meant for stopping bacteria growth. So basically everything that they do is really centered around this philanthropic aspect of the company, which is great.

I feel like everybody knows that Bombas is doing this amazing work, and I could only imagine it’s very cool to be on the team, helping do that work.

Definitely. The people and the culture, just everything that you read is all true. Everyone is so, so nice and supportive. So it’s just a great company to work for.

2020 has been insane. What strategies have your team ran with in light of this and then which you have had to scale back on?

We really had to pivot because of everything going on stemming from COVID-19. We certainly had to shift our product strategy. So from a product standpoint, rather than focusing on some of the more traditional seasonal products like No Shows, which you wear to hide your socks when you’re wearing shoes, or things like men’s dress socks, we pivoted to focus on some of the product offerings that our customers could benefit from while staying cozy at home and social distancing—so making sure that those products were at the forefront. Some examples are our general ankle socks.

Then we also shifted to some of our performance offerings so that people who are working out at home would have a sock product to be able to work out while quarantining. That was kind of a pivot from what we had initially been planning at the onset of 2020. And then obviously there was a real shift from a messaging standpoint.

We really wanted to make sure that our customers knew not only what Bombas was doing to help our community, but more importantly, we wanted our customers and our community to know what they could do to help. So, we did do a bunch of messaging and pivoting around what we were putting up on our homepage. And a lot of that mission and giving aspect was pushed through social.

I know one thing that happened during all this was your Pride campaign, which Taboola was able to work with you on to amplify. Can you share more about both that?

This was the second year that we launched a Pride campaign, and it was not only about providing love, compassion, and comfort for our customers, both paid and non-paid, but also bringing attention to the disproportionate number of LGBTQ+ community members who are facing homelessness.

And so really when I talk about Bombas and the mission, this was no different. Everything tied back to the mission. For every pair of Pride socks that was purchased, a pair of socks was donated to support an LGBTQ+ community member through our partnership with The Ally Coalition. And that partnership is year round.

So we were so excited to be able to continue that. It was something that we did last year as well for our first campaign. But what was a little bit different about this campaign is that the sock offerings were more robust, and we wanted to make our socks really bright and colorful to embody this idea of being your true self and living your truth and just being excited to be you. And what you’ll see is, if you look at the socks that we had for Pride this year, they represented the bisexual and transgender flags. We were super excited to be able to have that offering. It was totally new this year and a first for Bombas.

We were so excited to be part of that. And getting to know the Bombas team, it was clear we could feel that good synergy and you guys really care about what you’re doing. I know that’s really important for us in partnerships, too. And I know you have shifted to working from home as so many people have, including us. I’d love to hear more about how that adjustment has been. What do you do to stay connected?

Bombas as a whole has done a really good job to make sure that we’re all connected and it’s still a positive and fun environment. So we occasionally have company game nights. We had our own Zoom Pride Parade, for example.

We do company-wide all-hands. We typically had done all-hands less frequently when we were all in the office, but now we’ve shifted to a longer all-hands one week and then the next week is a shorter, more condensed all-hands. But it’s basically making sure that everyone’s getting together, we’re hearing about the cool and fun things that our team members are doing at home and also for work.

What’s also been great is that our Giving team and other members of the community have been having guest speakers come in to talk to us about what’s been going on with current events. Some of our Giving partners have come in to chat with us about what’s been going on with our partnerships, what they’ve been doing throughout all of 2020, what they’re planning to do beyond to help their community locally, and how we have been able to help contribute to some of those efforts. So it’s been great.

From a one-on-one standpoint, on my team, I like to chat with everyone one-on-one at least once a week—twice a week if there’s something crazy going on. But just making sure that everyone feels supported and that we’re all able to chat with each other—not just about work things, but about personal stuff, too. Because I think that connection when you’re not with people all the time and in quarantine is so important to have both personally and professionally.

That leads me into doing some more fun, short, quick questions to learn more about you: Where is the coolest place that working for Bombas has ever taken you?

I feel like everyone will say this, but the executive team surprised us all with tickets to Hamilton earlier this year. Basically the entire company went, we saw Hamilton, and then we had a Q&A with the cast after.

So, that was probably one of the cooler things that we’ve done. And it was a surprise. We were informed the day of where we were going. We were just told, ‘Clear your schedules for tomorrow. We’ve got a company event to participate in.’ It was crazy that they could keep it a secret.

What’s your go-to procrastination method?

My gosh, there’s so many. No, I’m just kidding. In quarantine, I think a couple things. One, I have found that working out is super important. So usually in the morning I make sure to start the day, not that it’s procrastinating, but just something to keep me in a good head space throughout the day while working.

But I actually am getting married in 2021. So a lot of the procrastination has just been filtered into wedding planning and all of the things that go with that, which has been great but also a little strange because it’s not exactly how I imagined it to be given we’re all in quarantine. But that’s been a really good distraction.

What about cooking? What’s your quarantine staple?

This is going to sound super lame, but my fiancé and I have gotten really into making smoothies. It’s super easy for breakfast or lunch, but we also are finding when we have to get rid of fruit and vegetables in the fridge and don’t want to waste stuff, it’s been a good way to just throw it all in a blender and then have a really quick meal.

I’m a little bit lazy and so that’s been great. Or if I’ve cut my timeline too close before a meeting, that’s also been awesome. But grilling has been great because we don’t have a grill in the city. So whenever we get out and have the chance, that’s probably our favorite thing.

Now let’s talk about a late night snack. Everybody’s got to have something when you’re watching a movie. What’s the go-to later?

I think probably what’s been most recent has been popcorn. But my fiancé makes Whirley Pop popcorn, so not from a microwave. He actually hand-makes it and then does his own seasonings, which I’ve never had before, but is so, so great. So if we’re going to binge-watch some Netflix or sit down and do something mindless like a puzzle, that’s usually our go-to.

What’s the most underrated part of your work-at-home setup that you recommend to everybody else?

Until now, it’s probably been headphones and it’s because we’re in a studio apartment. So when two people are working from home, it is so distracting to not have headphones in and try to concentrate on what you’re doing.

Both of us being able to use headphones to just listen in on Zoom calls or be on separate ends of the apartment and be present for whatever it is we’re doing for work has been really helpful. I had a problem connecting my headphones at first, and that was a disaster. So I’m super glad that that’s working now.

What’s one thing that you would tell your younger self who is just getting started in the industry?

I probably would tell her to find a good mentor. I think I was so, so fortunate to have found some really great mentors early on in my career, and those people who I partnered with gave me some really great opportunities for growth and put a lot of faith in me, letting me work upwards above what my technical title was.

And I think those opportunities are so imperative and career-defining for you to get you out of your comfort zone and even leverage those mentors for their own expertise and guidance. I really don’t think that I would be where I am today without those people.

So, for anyone just starting out in their career, if they can find someone within their office or outside their office, I think it’s really, really important. Just leverage those people and ask as many questions as you can, because I think a lot of times people come out of school and are afraid to ask questions, but it’s just so important for growth. And there’s no such thing as a dumb question.

That’s awesome advice. I think that that’s something everyone can relate to, and something that people don’t tell you enough.

For Pride, just to circle back a little, we were so excited to partner with Taboola, and I just wanted to share a little snippet of how our performance was for the Pride campaign and how you guys helped us amplify Pride through our partnership.

Looking at clickthrough rate, we saw a 20% lift versus the campaigns that were running concurrently. And our conversion rate for the Pride campaign for Taboola was the second-highest of all of the campaigns that were running at the same time. So a really huge success. We were super excited with the performance, and I think it only means better things to come for next year.

We felt the same way, and it was really something we were just excited to work on for so many reasons. And then just the fact that it performed well was the cherry on top of the cake, which is always something that we’re so excited to hear from our partners. So that’s awesome, and it was really great to work on that with you guys.

And thank you guys so much. Your team is always great to work with, and I know my team really appreciates all of the weekly status calls and guidance and strategy optimizations. So thank you guys for your continued partnership.

This interview was done in part with our #TaboolaTalk series. Keep an eye out here and on our YouTube channel for more interviews like this one.

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