Student-owned business donates over $1,000 to charity

Audrey Nelson

Rebecca Lyons, senior in agricultural studies with an entrepreneurship minor, has not only started her own business, but has also donated 100 percent of the profits to charity.

Lyons’ organization is called Lunchsox and, as the name implies, she sells socks. Legally, Lunchsox is a limited liability corporation, but Lyons expenses her own labor costs on a per-sock-sold basis, and gives the rest of the profits away.

Lyons started Lunchsox last November. In 2017 alone, Lunchsox donated over $1,000 to Life to Life Africa’s Critical Care Center in Zimbabwe.

This year, the proceeds will be donated to a school lunch program for low-income kids in the Clinton Community School District, a school district in Lyons’ hometown.

Close to 60 percent of kids in the district qualify for reduced price lunches, but those same kids don’t have access to school lunches over the weekends. Backpack Buddies, the lunch program, sends food with kids over the weekend so they have food security all week.

Lyons says she has always been interested in entrepreneurship. Lyons grew up on a dairy farm and has had her own herd of cows since the fourth grade. The work she did gave her business experience through record keeping she had to do for 4-H.

When Lyons enrolled at Iowa State, the entrepreneurship minor appealed to her. Lyons said she liked the idea of starting a business, but wondered what was something she could do right now. Socks had an appeal because they were an already existing product, and people are generally willing to buy more even if they already have several pairs. Furthermore, Lyons said the idea appealed to her because she wanted to be helping others.

The entrepreneurial community at Iowa State has been instrumental to helping Lyons start Lunchsox. Clayton Mooney runs the Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative Student Business Incubator on campus. He helped Lyons with starting the business and aided her with the legal aspects. Mooney is also one of the founders of KinoSol, the company where Lyons is currently an intern. Another founder of KinoSol is Mikayla Sullivan; Lyons considers Sullivan to be an inspiration.

Lyons said she sees her organization continuing beyond college. This year, she is hoping to get the socks into more permanent retailers. Last Christmas season, the socks were sold in a seasonal shop in Maquoketa, Iowa.

Later this year, Lunchsox is planning to offer St. Patrick’s Day socks, Easter socks (including some for kids) and socks for summer such as watermelons and hotdogs just to name a few.

Lyons said people should contribute to Lunchsox because kids need food. She said it is a great way for people to do something good while getting something good. Feeding the kids is the reason Lyons said she is motivated to run the company.

In addition to the benefit to the district, Lyons said running Lunchsox has taught her about herself. Lyons described learning “boundary management.” She has learned her faith and her friends have to come first because helping those already in her life is just as important as helping strangers.

Earlier this month, Lyons received runner up for Lunchsox at the Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative. On Mar. 6, Lyons will be representing Lunchsox in the ISU Innovation Pitch Competition. The winner of the competition will receive a $1,500 cash prize.

Aside from running her own business, Lyons is now interning at KinoSol and is involved at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church through campus and youth ministry.

Lyons’ advice for anyone wanting to start their own business is to dive right in. Lyons said starting a business in college allows access to a support network.

Lunchsox can be found at their website, Facebook page or Instagram account.