In the same way that Michael Jordan’s iconic sneaker inspired his love for shoe design, Edward Bogard hopes his Global Awareness shoe will inspire others to give. Bogard launched SoGiv in October of 2009 with the intention of creating a brand that matters. A percentage of profits from every SoGiv purchase goes toward select charities, many of which are based locally in Memphis. “I felt I needed to create something that was more than just another cool shoe design,” Bogard explains. “I wanted to change the world one design at a time.”
At the college level, Bogard graduated on a full golf scholarship and instead chose to pursue his dreams. He attended Savannah College of Art and Design, one of the most renowned design schools in the country, on a portfolio scholarship. “It wasn’t really that tough of a decision,” he says. “Savannah is one of the most beautiful cities in the country. I was thrilled to be there.”
Amid the oak-lined streets and cobblestone squares of the town, Bogard studied architecture. Later, he switched to photography and eventually landed in product design. His degree was put to use when he created the SoGiv product line, especially the shoes, as Edward had spent a great deal of time in school studying Tinker Hatfield, the designer of many of Nike’s most popular and innovative athletic shoes. In creating the brand, Edward made a decision to give back from the very beginning and launched a product to do just that.
The SoGiv product line is comprised of shoes, T-shirts and bracelets. SoGiv products can be found in select boutiques throughout Memphis or purchased online at sogiv.org. A key item in the line is the Global Awareness shoe — a multicolored, unisex athletic shoe that features the organization’s logo, a swoosh-like mark comprised of the seven continents and the acronym WAMIMS, meaning “Walk A Mile In My Shoes.” The SoGiv Classic is another bestseller. This pair of Chuck Taylor-inspired, low-top sneakers comes in red but is also available seasonally in a variety of colors associated with different causes (pink for breast cancer awareness, green for Earth Day, camouflage to support and recognize veterans, etc.) Awareness T-shirts and velvetier bracelets are also available in a number of different styles and designs.
SoGiv recently submitted their products to the Walmart “Get On The Shelf” contest, where businesses and individuals compete to receive the opportunity to sell their products through Walmart.com. Although SoGiv did not win the contest, a deal with Wamart is in the making for shoes to be carried in-store, with the possibility of apparel and bracelets to follow. When the products debut, they will first launch in Memphis at the 5255 Elvis Presley Boulevard Walmart store.
Bogard isn’t one for sitting around and waiting, however. While the potential deal with Walmart is being defined, he spends his time out in the community doing what he does best — making a difference. “For every pair sold, we give, but not just through monetary donations, also through countless time and effort,” he says. SoGiv’s philanthropic endeavors include feeding the homeless, helping victims of natural disasters, working to stop animal cruelty, mentoring at-risk youth, supporting veterans, sponsoring children in need, and providing better medical care and nourishment to the community through partnerships with outside organizations.
SoGiv provided 300 free haircuts for inner-city children, thanks to a partnership with Remix Barbershop. Together with Starbucks Coffee, The Westin Hotel and Blu Restaurant and Lounge, SoGiv was able to offer students at Memphis’ Hanley Elementary School backpacks and school supplies. SoGiv also taught an introduction to HTML class to fifth grade students at Cherokee Elementary in Memphis. As part of the organization’s Random Acts of Giving campaign, where SoGiv randomly chooses a cause to donate to, SoGiv partnered with Lifeblood for World Blood Donor Day. The groups worked together to sponsor a blood drive benefitting those in need throughout the MidSouth. In total, SoGiv supports 17 different causes, some of which are global initiatives. SoGiv also has future plans for a series of national community gardens and a mission trip to Africa.
Bogard’s passion for design and enthusiasm for giving is unflinching. It’s not hard to imagine him as a young man, redesigning his Air Jordans, manipulating them to make them his own and creating what he called “Air Bogards.” With so many prospects on the horizon, including potential partnerships with multinational retail corporations, and limitless drive and ambition, the potential for SoGiv is unlimited. “You’re not living if you’re not giving,” Bogard says.
Causes | November 2013
Heart and Sole
For every pair of custom sneakers sold, Edward Bogard’s SoGiv line of apparel gives back to charities and nonprofits around the world
Story by Emily Davidson Nemoy
Photos by CASEY HILDER