The Secret of Her Socks-cess

What does it take to not only be an entrepreneurial success, but to do so meaningfully?

We asked Rebecca Lyons, a 2018 December graduate in agricultural studies, with a minor in entrepreneurial studies. Last year Lyons, a Ryan Pellet Family Scholarship recipient, launched Lunchsox, which sells kicky socks online with names like “vintage retro strawberry,” “rusty Tannenbaum” and “chocolate-toed Scandinavian,” with 100 percent of profits going to buy lunches for hungry kids.

Be open to different solutions

“I was pursuing a concept for an entrepreneurial class that involved an idea I’d had about farming, which I postponed. But I’d been to Zimbabwe on a campus ministry trip and had seen the effects of hunger. I wanted something that was manageable and helped people, and came up with Lunchsox.”

Let your ideas evolve

“In 2017, Lunchsox was able to give more than $1,000 to the Critical Care Center in Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe. This year, proceeds will go to the school system where I grew up in Clinton, Iowa. More than 50 percent of the children qualify for the school’s public supported lunch program. Lunchsox is partnering with a program called Backpack Buddy, where food is sent home over the weekend, so that kids return on Monday morning with their tummies full and their minds ready to learn.”

Know yourself

“I grew up on a dairy farm, where every day is different, and I love that kind of lifestyle. I’m interested in a career where I can work with people, and no two days are alike. Success means understanding what you’re good at and what you enjoy. I’ve learned that I really like the creative part of entrepreneurship – public relations, graphics, design, photography.”

Be open to new opportunities

“For one of my entrepreneurship classes, I interviewed a former classmate and peer mentor, Mikayla Sullivan. She co-founded KinoSol, which markets a small, solar-powered dehydrator that allows farmers in developing countries to preserve what they grow. She told me there was a position open for marketing coordinator. ‘Apply for it!’ she said. I did, and I got the job, and I love it. It turns out I’m not just a socks person. I like wearing many hats.”

Be flexible

“There’s no straight line to success. For one thing, that would be boring! It’s the interesting little paths that you take that determine your success. I’m not sure what’s next for me. But while I might not know what I want to be, I do know who I want to be. I want to make a difference.” To suggest food program partners, go to their website.

This story previously appeared in the Summer 2018 issue of Forward, the magazine of the Iowa State University Foundation. Photo by Chris Gannon, Iowa State University photographer.

Dec. 12, 2018