Fighting Homelessness One Pair of Socks at a Time

New Orleans native Austin McCann launched a new business that will help put socks on the feet of homeless individuals in the United States. All you have to do is buy a pair of socks.

McCann recently launched Open Thread, a designer sock company that he came up with during a project for a marketing class at Loyola University three years ago.

At the time, McCann had become fascinated with designer socks and his passion was helping those less fortunate.

“During that season of my life I was also really involved with helping the homeless community, so I combined those passions to create the business plan,” he said. “I decided to mock up a business plan for a designer sock company where every pair purchased I donate a long thick pair to a homeless shelter.”

He says Open Thread is a glass half empty/half full type of name, which fits perfectly.

“An open thread represents the torn socks that most homeless individuals have, if any socks at all. An open thread also represents the beginning of a sock being created. My company is aware of the reality of torn socks, and want to provide a solution of warm thick socks for the homeless community.”

McCann’s passion to help the homeless began at an early age. Living in New Orleans, he talked about how he sees homeless folks all the time and how no one talks to them. In 8th grade during a project, he met a homeless man named David, who he said changed his life forever.

“Homeless people are regular people just like you and I, but their opportunities have been stripped away from them. We are all in a race called ‘Life’ and we all have a head start while the homeless community get no head start,” he said. “They can never win the race because they can never catch up to all of us with homes and opportunities.”

McCann wants to do his part in helping them due to a high demand for socks in the homeless community.

“Socks are the #1 need in the homeless community because socks provide warmth and protect them from germs that normally start from exposed feet,” he said. “With better health, they have a better chance to get back on their feet.”

Currently, Open Thread will donate socks each quarter to majors cities that include New Orleans, Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, but McCann is just scratching the surface.

His long term and ultimate goal is not only to be the number one designer sock brand in the world, but he wants Open Thread to be the number one provider in socks for the homeless.

“After every homeless person in America has warm socks I want to move into every country in the world. I’ve spent time and volunteered with low income families in India, Jamaica, and Mexico,” he said. “Those experiences and individuals have touched my heart and I want to help them first. I won’t stop until I can help them and every homeless person in the world.”

With such a strong aspirations, McCann does have his sights set on the short term first. In 2018, he hopes to sell about 200 socks per month which will help provide over 600 socks for folks each quarter.

McCann described himself as a bit of a one-man show with the exception of his freelance designer, Ian Welch.

McCann is responsible for coming up with the designs, organize manufacturing, ship the product, market the product and handle all of the public relations such as social media.

“There is always something to do. I normally start the morning by going to the post office to ship off the orders from the day before. During the day, I post on social media and talk with my designer about future designs. In the evening, I engage with social media followers and come up with creative and innovative marketing strategies. Around 7pm each night, I package all orders from that day and get ready for another day of Open Thread fun,” he said.

Despite being a bit of a one man show, McCann noted a few people that deserve credit and recognition…

“Open Thread wouldn’t a success without the talented people who give me ideas and support. Janae’ Neely, Miranda Lionnet, other friends, and family definitely deserve recognition,” he said.

The process has been quite the journey and it is a process that began about a year and half ago before trying to make this business venture a reality.

“When I decided I was going to start this company, I had no idea where to start. Like any person would, I googled, ‘How to start a sock company?’ That didn’t help much,” he said. “I started backwards, and found a sock manufacturer located in North Carolina. I researched their capabilities, and determined the format needed for designs. I then went through the process of finding a designer. I found a designer on Craigslist believe it or not. Together my designer and I spent countless hours working on the designs until my vision came to light.”

The toughest part in all of it was coming up with the first collection of socks. He landed on the World Traveler collection (can’t wait for mine to arrive, they’re sick!). The idea for his first collection was inspired from his end goal and mission, to help the world. He figured what better way to represent that.

“I decided to focus on areas of the world and create a sock that highlights that area. I created a sock to represent the Americas, Australia, Africa, Europe, Asia, and a Unity sock,” he said. “The unity sock features a globe with a plane traveling around it. This represents the world traveler and the good work I hope to do around the world through this company.”

You can purchase your own pair of Open Thread socks on otsocks.com. You can purchase from the World Traveler collection today.

McCann is excited to release his next collection series sometime in the spring. The collection is called “controlled chaos.” He says the designs are already in the works.

This is only just the beginning for McCann and he says his biggest inspiration in all of this is Jesus Christ.

“My whole life I learned about a guy who’s the ultimate example of selflessness. Jesus even became friends and spent time with the people who most people would distance themselves from because he knew everyone mattered,” he said. “That is how I view the homeless community. People ignore the homeless, so I want to highlight them and serve them in any way I can.”

If you wish to support McCann and his cause, he said this is how…

“The number one way you can support Open Thread’s mission is by purchasing a pair of socks. Following us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@openthreadsocks) is awesome, but without a purchase of socks we can’t donate a pair to the homeless communities across the country. Please shop at www.otsocks.com and help us make a difference in a world who’s desperate for our help.”

Comments from the Writer

As someone who loves socks and all the crazy designs you can get, I was excited to see someone I have known for a while launch a business selling them. Obviously, I purchased the World Traveler collection. I did so for two reasons…

1- I do my best to support friends who are trying to launch businesses because I know the importance of having advocates for business.

2- This is for such an amazing cause.

As much I love socks, I love the entire reasoning and message behind Open Thread. Although I am not nearly as noble as Austin when it comes to helping the homeless, I know how important it is. I, too, hate the way homeless people are treated as a general rule. You don’t know what someone has been through until you actually sit down and talk to them. For Austin to try and break that barrier and help those who need it more than you or I is a hell of an investment.

I cannot wait to see where this amazing business idea goes. I want to personally wish you the best of luck and you certainly have a huge supporter in me. Keep it up man!

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The Vulgarity of My Blog Is What Makes It Me

I launched the Hotard Huddle about two and half years ago now. One of the most common detractors I receive about my blog is the language in which I speak. I have heard it from family, friends and random individuals who I don’t know from a ham sandwich who happen to stumble across my blog.

They tell me I should tone down the cursing. First of all, have you met me? Second…Not. A. Fucking. Chance.

I get it. Cursing is offensive and can turn some people off. Good riddance, you are more than welcome to bypass a post you don’t like. I am not going to compromise my personality, my blog and my creation for the sake not offending someone. If I start using racist slurs, homophobic slurs, or anything tearing down a community of people…let me know.

I already keep some thoughts I have under lock and key because those ideas would create a shit storm that I am just not interested in swimming through.

If someone thinks a few curse words make me a bad person…well put away your umbrella. I really don’t need your shade.

I have had someone tell me that I can be more creative without having to use swear words. That person is right. I definitely can. But I choose not to. Swear words are like exclamation points in written language. They give emphasis and meaning to which I speak.

This is my blog which means these ideas and thoughts come from my head. If you want politically correct and non-offensive language, you can get that from your local paper…which probably sucks.

If I want to call out someone and I feel like the phrase fuck boy fits the description, then fuck boy is what I will use. To me that sounds better than saying “oh man, that guy is not ready to throw down. He’s soft.” If I think someone is a douche canoe, then I will use that.

If I can’t be myself in my writing, then what the hell am I doing this for? I tried journalism and failed, remember?

The Hotard Huddle is my terms, my conditions, my world and my rules. I do what I want.

It wasn’t too long ago that I wrote a column about the Nicholls football program. For the first time ever, the football program looks like it will be good for years to come. So I wrote a column blowing sunshine up head coach Tim Rebowe’s ass because of what he has done for the program. I blew sunshine up his players’ asses also. In the end, I wrote “it is a great time to be a fucking Colonel.” Because it is damn it.

In case you haven’t noticed, I love the word “fuck” because of it’s diversity. When I speak and I am really amped up for something I don’t say “this is awesome.” I say “this is fucking awesome.” It just sounds better. It adds some flavor to it. It is not meant to be disrespectful. It is meant to proclaim my excitement.

Well, someone did not like that I said “fucking colonels.” That person decided to message me and very respectfully explain their position. They said that the university has enough issues trying to get people excited and that my language could cause some alumni and people in high places in the totem pole to be turned off and offended. I could totally see where the person was coming from. I worked for Nicholls in many capacities so I know how important it is to attract people and not turn them away.

In a respectful reply, I explained that my blog is not affiliated with the university in any way shape or form. I am not writing to be a PR outlet for anyone. I am writing for me. I am writing to tell stories from my perspective. I further explained the idea behind the huddle and that part of my shtick is to be a potty mouth because that is part of who I am. I went on to tell this person that if Nicholls began receiving detractors that I would absolutely consider editing the column because I would never want to cause a negative effect on the university I hold near and dear to my heart. However, I have no obligation to do that because my name is Michael Hotard and I do what I want. Just kidding, I didn’t say the last part. You get my point though.

The reason I am writing this is to explain why I write the way I do. For 7 months, I worked in a hell hole of a newspaper for a person I wouldn’t piss on if said person was on fire.

I lost all my confidence in my ability write. All of my words, my ideas became a clusterfuck. I second guessed everything I wrote and when I did finally get some words to paper, they were changed around because they weren’t good enough.

Now I can finally write what I want and say what I want and that is what I designed this blog for. That is what I will continue to do. If you don’t like it, peace out boy/girl scout. This is me and this is who I am. This is the Hotard Huddle.

 

4 Months of Finn: I think my son is a troll like me…Karma is a bitch.

As I type this, I am struggling to put into words what has been happening the last four months. How do the fastest four months of watching Finn grow seem so slow? It feels like we have had him for an eternity, but it hasn’t even been half a year.

Instead of talking about the entirety of the four months, I will just focus on the past month with Finn. January 12th makes four months with my little dude. We have definitely had our bumps in the road.

Last column I wrote about Finn, I talked about the anger that would build inside of me because we are on his clock. He is playing to the beat of his own drum. That is tough for me.

Just like him figuring out life is a work in progress, so is figuring out fatherhood which I wrote more about in a previous column.

I am beginning to manage my anger better. As each day passes, I seem to be getting more adjusted to this life. I find myself growing more patience with him as cliche as it sounds. But, it is true. I still have my moments where I am not proud of the thoughts in my head or how I feel when he isn’t cooperating with something. But from what I hear, that is parenthood in a nutshell for most of us.

This past month, part of my turn around and patience has come at the hands of him being under the weather. He came down with Croupe, which fucking sucked, period. We were finally getting into a routine and he was become a generally happy baby. Then he gets sick. I felt so bad for him because I just kept thinking, why can’t it be me? It’s hard enough for him. Why does he have to deal with illness too?

It wasn’t just croupe. He developed a double ear infection which has been causing him to sleep poorly at night. Keep in mind, this kid was finally sleeping 8+ hours per night. That all went to shit. He was miserable at night and I am walking around like a damn zombie. I also have been getting sick quite often this last month. One particular night, I took NyQuil and I was on dad duty that night. I woke up an hour after crashing to him crying. He wanted to eat so I stumbled out of the bedroom and ran into the damn door. That didn’t feel too good. I put his bottle in the warmer and headed for our guest bathroom. I ran into that door as well. Then, coming out of the bathroom, I almost fell over onto the Christmas Tree because I was literally falling asleep while walking. Needless to say, that was a fun night.

That has been the main struggle for month four, but enough about that. I like balance in writing so now it is time for the positive.

My buddy had his first Christmas where he was presented with plenty of new toys, most of which talk to him. There is truly nothing like watching your developing baby see the world through his lens. When we put these toys in front of him, he is mesmerized by the singing and the colors and it is truly awesome. You can just see the curiosity in his eyes and the pure joy coming from his heart.

He loves his big dog that teaches him the colors and sings. Is it bad that I find myself singing this shit while I work? Is that normal? So forgive me if you see the creepy mustache guy singing the words…

“Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue and Purple, these are the colors…of the rainbow.”

Another joy of mine is him being a chip off the old block. It is no secret that I enjoy trolling people. The other day I was putting him to sleep and he had the cutest look on his face. I thought he was beyond passed out. I walked over to Mallisa to show her his face. He had his lip curled, something he normally does, but for some reason it just looked extra cute that day.

I go to show Mallisa and as I was walking, I look down and this little shit is wide eyed and smiling at me when he knows he should be sleeping. I couldn’t even be mad because I am thinking, this is what payback looks like…asshole.

For the record, that damn smile is amazing.

Another hilarious moment this month was literally a few days ago. I go to work later in the mornings than most people. I leave my house about 8:30am. This means I get to sleep in sometimes. Well sometimes when Finn gets up sooner than he is supposed to, I just put him in bed with me if he isn’t fussy and he will lay next to me with a toy and just hang out and kick away.

On this particular morning, I wanted to get about 10 more minutes of sleep so I did just that. When I wake up, I look over at him and he seems me pick my head up. All I did was tell him hi, the biggest smile across his face melted my heart.

We are about to get our morning started so I began unzipping his swaddle to get him out of there. In doing so, I picked him up and noticed a huge yellow/brown stain on his back. I pick up the swaddle to make sure it wasn’t on the bed. Luckily, it wasn’t. I turn him around and sure enough, there it is. My first poop explosion in the morning.

I wrote about this being one of the things I was actually excited for in a blog before Finn was here. As soon as I saw it, I just started laughing. This kid is laying in shit and he’s fine by it. In my head, I have already constructed the idea that he knows I have to clean it.

I take him in the bedroom and throw a towel down on the floor and begin to undress, luckily it wasn’t as bad as the stain made it seem. But he’s just rolling around laughing and not cooperating. Again, what a little asshole! I got him cleaned up and dressed, but I loved every minute of it. That is a moment with him that I will remember.

Overall, month four has been mostly a nightmare just because my poor dude has been sick and still is battling one ear infection. I just want him to get better, but at least he has been happier lately. We have a curious, growing boy on our hands so this is only the beginning.