In 2013, after two years in the corporate world, Brock Sykes set up Odd Pears to sell unique patterned socks in mismatching ’pairs’ of three, encouraging people to be "a bit odd" and give back to the community.
Odd Pears was born in the Sykes family garage in Mudjimba on the Queensland coast. This was the easy part. The hard part was finding a clothing manufacturer that could meet Brock’s passion for supporting the global community and meeting international standards for ethical consumerism as well as creating a quality product. After Googling manufacturers all over the globe and checking out samples of their work, Sykes flew to visit a modern three-storey factory in India, north of Mumbai.
While initially cynical about manufacturing in the Third World, after spending time at the factory Sykes was satisfied that the standards and physical environment surpassed all ethical certifications as well as his expectations. Two weeks later, the first production run for Odd Pears was set.
On top of being ethically sound on the factory floor it was important for Sykes’ company to make a difference to the global community, and since day one Sykes has operated an ethical-consumerism program called One Pear, One Dollar (OPOD).
It’s about making great socks with a full heart and a network of supporters who understand what we’re trying to achieve. We live in an amazing time of global interconnectedness and we believe in supporting and caring for our global family.
For every Pear sold, Odd Pears donates a dollar to a reputable charity that consumers can select from a menu on the website, or they can also nominate one close to their own hearts.
It’s our mission to encourage individuality and help the planet. We like to think we’re doing that by encouraging people to be odd and by operating our own people-consumerism program.
Two years after starting Odd Pears, Sykes applied for PayPal Working Capital and was able to secure a business loan to assist with bridging cash flow in order to meet GST payments. "We needed the money right then and there, and PayPal could deliver that - which is something that no bank or credit union could do. We’ve been using PayPal Working Capital ever since."
As the sales of socks continued to increase, Sykes was eligible to apply for a second round of funding from PayPal Working Capital that he used to create quirky branded stationery, packaging and labels to add a professional touch to the unique start-up business.
A third business loan allowed Odd Pears to purchase more stock and make plans for future growth.
It’s a very understanding product. It doesn’t ask too much, ever. When you’re making sales, you pay it back; when you’re not, they understand.
The future looks very bright for Odd Pears and, from a garage industry in a small town on the Sunshine Coast to selling in the global arena, Sykes is excitedly planning for retail growth as well as having a personal and direct involvement in the giving side of things.