Earlier this month, Memphis nonprofits SoGiv
and JUICE Orange Mound
celebrated the release of the Orange Mound Awareness Shoe
, which aims to “eradicate homelessness one shoe at a time.” We sent contributor Reginald Johnson to capture the moment. Here, he speaks with SoGiv founder Edward Bogard, who gives him the story behind his revolutionary nonprofit shoe design company and the Orange Mound Awareness Shoe itself.
for more photos from the event and Reginald’s conversation with JUICE Orange Mound founder and executive director Britney Thornton.
SoGiv founder and CEO Edward Bogard, left, and Britney Thornton, founder and executive director of JUICE Orange Mound. (Photo: Reginald Johnson)
Hi Mr. Bogard, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I have heard a lot of good things about you. So tell me a little about you, how you got started, and the purpose of what you are doing here today.
I’m a native Memphian and graduate of Savannah College of Arts in Savannah, Georgia, with a BFA in Product Design. I always wanted to come back and create something amazing. After not being able to get a job at Nike, I just so happened to birth the first non-profit shoe design company. That experience with Nike saying “No” so many times definitely fueled my passion.
The name SoGiv was derived from the slogan, “Every pair SOld, we GIVe,” taking the SO- out of sold and GIV- out of give. It is an Awareness Shoe Company, which has never been done — we just provided over 13,000 meals, to date, in partnership with Mid-South Food Bank to eradicate hunger.
Today we are here to eradicate homelessness through the SoGiv Orange Mound Awareness Shoe, in partnership with JUICE Orange Mound, an organization locally founded by Britney Thornton — that’s newly elected County Commissioner Britney Thornton. She became the youngest elected official at 32 years old, is what I was just told. Britney’s doing some amazing work here in Orange Mound.
[Related: Read “Local entrepreneur aims to make global impact” for more on the SoGiv story on High Ground News.]
Posing for photos at the SoGiv Orange Mound Awareness Shoe launch party on Sunday, Aug. 7. (Photo: Reginald Johnson)
This is really a homage piece to my father, who I inherited my talents and abilities from. As a kid, I would watch him draw my favorite super heroes, like Superman. Clark Kent running and changing into Superman was by far my favorite. And he, to me, could replicate what the comics did but better, in my point of view, because of his style. He wasn’t a professional artist. He was basically an Army vet. He fought in the Vietnam War, but he was a supervisor at the Defense Depot, so that was his nine-to-five. They weren’t really in that comic book space at the time — Blacks weren’t. Otherwise, he definitely would have been an amazing comic artist.
The SoGiv mission. (Photo: Reginald Johnson)
I was blessed to be born with my father’s artistic abilities and my mom’s philanthropic abilities. She taught in Orange Mound at Hanley Elementary; Ruby Payne was the principal at the time. She had a very decorated career, received countless proclamations, and received a key to the city from Mayor Herenton when she retired. And what she would do was save my clothes and shoes and give them to the struggling families in Orange Mound throughout the school year.
I didn't understand what she was doing at the time, because I was just a kid. I would wake up looking for my favorite pair of shoes only to find that she had given them to someone in the neighborhood. I would look and they're there on someone who needed it a little bit more than I did. She taught me, at a very young age, how to pay it forward and how to give back to those less fortunate — just letting me know that there’s always going to be someone you have to pay it forward to. This is how you give back. That’s what was ingrained in me as a child growing up.
“We are here to eradicate homelessness through the SoGiv Orange Mound Awareness Shoe, in partnership with JUICE Orange Mound,” says SoGiv founder and CEO Edward Bogard. (Photo: Reginald Johnson)
My mom taught me something very important before I got here. My late grandmother would give to the homeless in the neighborhood. In fact, it was a couple of homeless men who stayed nearby that she would let come into the house to bathe, and then she would feed them. So, it's kind of generational at this point.
On my father’s side, he grew up in Orange Mound. This is another reason why I'm paying homage to him with this Orange Mound shoe, because he grew up in Orange Mound. His family grew up in Orange Mound, they went to Melrose High.
This is kind of my thanks to you, Pops.
The SoGiv Orange Mound Awareness Shoe is available online at www.orangemoundshoe.com.
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