Businesses encouraged to buy ‘Purple Socks’ to support disabled entrepreneurs

Social enterprise Parallel Lifestyle, sustainable activewear brand BAM, and enterprise support charity Hatch Enterprise are behind the project

Social enterprise Parallel Lifestyle, sustainable activewear brand BAM, and enterprise support charity Hatch Enterprise have joined together to promote the sale of Parallel’s Purple Socks to highlight the challenges faced by D/deaf and other disabled entrepreneurs in the UK.

The organisations aim to generate sales ahead of the annual International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) on 03 December 2021, which was created by the UN to promote the rights and wellbeing of disabled people and raise awareness. The partnership plan to hold a “Purple Sock Day” on the same day, where businesses and members of the public will be encouraged to show their support by buying and wearing a pair of Parallel-designed purple socks, which retail at £5.

Half of the Purple Sock Day profits will go towards a new fund that will provide grants to disabled founders and give them professional advice, mentoring, and networking opportunities as well as “tailored business support.”

Hatch Enterprise will oversee the fund and implement the framework, governance, and expertise to support disabled entrepreneurs. The other half of Purple Sock Day profits will be reinvested into growing it into an annual campaign and other Parallel social enterprise projects.

Raising awareness of the economic barriers disabled people face is crucial. People living with disabilities often turn to self-employment and entrepreneurship to create their economic opportunities, with the UK employment rate being around 30% lower for this group.

Entrepreneurs with disabilities also face a lack of access to financial support, where according to research from government agency Innovate UK, 68% of disabled employees looking to start their business regard “having easier access to finance” as their highest support needs along with the “need for information on how to do it.”

Entrepreneurs with disabilities can also feel they lack access to peer networks for business advice and support.

Andrew Douglass, Founder of Parallel, said: “Part of our social mission at Parallel is to combine innovative thinking with action to achieve greater disability inclusion across society. Purple Sock Day will help deliver a sustainable and long-term solution to better support the potential of our D/deaf and disabled business talent; whilst also creating something fun that everyone of all abilities can take part in together. I hope everyone will wear a pair and show they care.”

David Gordon, Founder at BAM, said: “At BAM, we celebrate being the best you can be regardless of age and ability. We’re delighted to support Parallel in raising awareness of disability inclusion by making these unbelievably soft performance socks for Purple Sock Day. BAM was founded on innovation, both with our materials and ensuring we tread as lightly as possible on the planet, so we understand the importance of nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs. We hope that as much money as possible can be raised for this important new fund.”

Dirk Bischof, Chief Executive of Hatch Enterprise, said: “We know underrepresented founders in the UK face so many additional barriers, and it’s becoming increasingly clear to us that so much more can be done to support D/deaf and disabled entrepreneurs in the UK to start and grow their businesses and bring new inventions to market. We are excited about the first Purple Sock Day and our role in making sure the funds raised to become the platform of support that D/deaf and disabled entrepreneurs need.”

To take part in Purple Sock Day, please click here.

In this article, you learned that:

  • The UN-created International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) is on 03 December annually.
  • In the UK, the employment rate is around 30% lower for disabled individuals.
  • Entrepreneurs with disabilities can face a lack of access to peer support and networking as well as funding opportunities.

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