NEW ORLEANS -- The idea for Raising Cane's restaurants started from a homework assignment at LSU. The idea for Federal Express was written in a term paper by a Yale undergraduate. So could a company called "Open Thread" be the next to take off after business marketing homework at Loyola?
When Austin McCann was in high school at Brother Martin, his class project was to help the homeless. One man he met that day, named Steve, changed the direction of his life.
"He used to be a lawyer, and at the time I wanted to be a lawyer, so it made me like, 'Wow, this guy used to be a lawyer and now he's homeless,'" remembers McCann, 26.
Later, family travels took him to India.
"I got to see first hand what the international homeless or the international struggle was, and I saw that there was many, many people in India with out homes, with out shoes, without socks. And that's where it hit me, this isn't just a New Orleans problem or a America problem, but a world problem," said McCann.
Throughout college at Northwestern State, getting an MBA from Loyola and his job working in hospital electronic medical records, there was always a passion for designer socks and the homeless.
Every Christmas, he and family members would bring Christmas gifts and food to those living under the interstate.
"I notice now, I can't drive past a homeless person without looking at their feet, and I notice that most of them don't have socks on," he said.
He remembered the A+ he got on a business marketing assignment. It was a business model for a sock company. After a lot of research finding a graphic designer on Craig's List from Florida, and finding a manufacturer in North Carolina he invested $5,000 of his own money and Open Thread, with it's logo and design trademark, was born from his home in New Orleans.
"It represents that there's more work to do. That it's not completed," said McCann, Founder and CEO, about his logo.
Since the launch in December 2017, 500 pairs have been sold from his first "World Traveler" collection of six designs, representing the continents. For each pair sold, he donates a thicker, longer pair to homeless shelters in five major U.S. cities, New Orleans, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
"My struggle now is just spreading the word, getting new customers, because people they buy the whole collection. They buy the socks they like, but then they're waiting for the next collection."
That new collection "Controlled Chaos" is due out in a couple of months.
The socks are $20 a pair. To purchase a pair, visit their website.
Meg Farris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.