Dangerously cold temps are blowing into Colorado this week, and the unhoused population can be at high risk of illness and injury.
A 14-year-old boy from Boulder is doing something to change that.
When Riley Degnan first realized he wanted to start a business, he knew he wanted to sell something that would keep people warm and comfy. He also knew he wanted to help the unhoused people he would often see around his high school.
“I see them all the time, and I always feel really bad for them,” Riley said.
With a little creativity and help from mom and dad, he created the brand Bigfoot Sox.
“I took my dad’s iPad, because it has a little pencil,” Riley said. “And I started drawing some designs.”
Riley’s colorful and cozy sock designs planted the seeds that grew into his business.
“With Shopify and all these online platforms, it’s so easy,” said Kelly Degnan, Riley’s mom. “It’s easy enough that a 14-year-old can start and run a successful business online.”
The Bigfoot Sox brand is the first brand to sell under Riley’s company, Alpine Proper.
The business accomplishes two goals: selling socks so Riley can one day buy a car, and giving one pair of socks to a homeless shelter for every pair that is sold.
“The main thing is, especially with their shoes, they… can’t really get new ones, so their socks get dirty and wet,” Riley said. “And then their feet can get infected and stuff. So they need to keep getting constantly more and more new pairs of socks.”
Kelly said her son has always taken an interest in helping people who need it the most.
“He sees this (homelessness) all the time,” she said. “And that’s really hard when you go back to your nice warm house every night in Boulder, Colorado. So the fact that he’s able to do something, it’s going to be the best thing ever.”
Riley is constantly making new designs, posting them to BigfootSox.com, and shipping them out.
“In my room, I have this little packing area, I have a little table,” Riley said. “So I take the socks, put them in these little nice bags.”
Then, he hits the books.
“Finals are next week,” he said. “So there’s a lot of studying happening.”
It’s all in a day’s work for a kid balancing big business with a big heart.