Smartwool

SOS ARTISTS TEAM UP WITH SMARTWOOL TO CREATE A ONE-OF-A-KIND SOCK

Like so many of our participants, Emiliano, Chris, and Adrian joined SOS for the opportunity to learn to snowboard, get outside, and enjoy their local mountain. They stayed in SOS for the supportive community and sense of belonging. The North Lake Tahoe high school juniors spent their formative years growing up in SOS together. Little did they know, their time in SOS would lead to an opportunity to design a sock for a major outdoor brand. Grab your pair HERE!

BECOMING LEADERS

“Snowboarding was a whole new concept for me,” shares Emiliano. “Just standing on the board was kind of scary at first, but then we just kept on practicing and it got better over time. My mentor made it really fun. He was always approachable and made everyone feel included, even if you weren’t the best snowboarder.”

Learning how to snowboard introduced Emiliano, Adrian, and Chris to new friends, a new community, and new adults that consistently supported them—but it was the six SOS core values that profoundly influenced the three. Courage, discipline, integrity, wisdom, compassion, and humility helped them navigate obstacles. They developed resilience and gained self-confidence. 

Adrian, Chris, and Emiliano have spent more than a decade in SOS, growing through the program, and stepping into leadership roles. They now serve as Junior Mentors to the younger SOS participants—providing the same support, encouragement, and guidance that they once received. Coming full circle to mentor the younger participants has been one of their most rewarding experiences in SOS. 

“Graduating from SOS and becoming a Junior Mentor, teaching other people what you learned, and seeing them grow,” shares Adrian. “It makes you feel like you’re doing something really good.”

As Junior Mentors, Chris, Adrian, and Emiliano help the younger participants understand the core values and how to incorporate them in their everyday lives. 

“As the years pass and the kids progress, they start to understand it more and see how they actually use the values in their lives,” says Chris. “Initially they’re like, ‘I don’t have any examples,’ but eventually they come up with all sorts. It’s really cool to see that and be a role model for them.” 

TEAMING UP TO DESIGN A SOCK WITH SMARTWOOL

When Chris, Emiliano, and Adrian learned about a unique opportunity last spring to submit an art design for Smartwool that reflected their experiences in SOS, they were naturally drawn (pun intended) to a design that incorporated the core values. 

Smartwool is committed to breaking down barriers to the outdoors and increasing access to opportunity for all. As part of Smartwool’s “Socktober” initiative, they invited our participants on a journey to design a ski/snowboard sock. 

The Socktober collaboration is an extension of the positive mentorship and supportive community that is foundational to our mission at SOS. It bridges the gap between talent and opportunity—empowering our participants and alumni to explore different career avenues and tap into their creative talents. It opens new doors for our youth to thrive.

Chris, Adrian, and Emiliano’s fun, energetic, and vibrant design brings to life our core values and captures the heart of SOS—from the camaraderie on the slopes to the collaboration on community projects.  

The three thought it would be fun, as close friends, to work on a piece together. Each took on a section of the design, working as a team on ideas, but also exercising their individual creative expression. Chris worked on the top portion of the drawing.

“I tried to incorporate the SOS logo in a fun way by having the plane dragging the SOS banner across,” shares Chris. “The inspiration for the background is a deep purple sunset because I really like being out in nature. The cloud at the top represents the wisdom the SOS members have by setting goals high and soaring above the clouds.”

Adrian drew the middle section, highlighting the outdoors and the community.

“We added mountains, the sun, the trees, and the ski lift,” shares Adrian. “During SOS, we have five ride days where we go snowboarding and that helps us become leaders. This sock shows courage by going out every morning and showing up with a good attitude, because you never know what the day is going to bring. And, it shows compassion because all the mentors and the students, we loved getting on the mountain. It’s fun. It’s not all about snowboarding, it’s also about the community.”

While Chris and Adrian are the more natural artists, Emiliano brought his unique perspective and vision to the design.

“I’m actually the least creative person, I’m still using stick figures,” Emiliano laughs. “But Chris and Adrian really like to draw, so I wanted to be on their team, and give them ideas that I knew they could do.” 

Emiliano contributed to the lower half, which features projects our participants pursue to make our communities stronger, better places to live.

“It’s the aspect of SOS, not just skiing and snowboarding, but helping the community,” says Emiliano. “We’ve done so by picking up trash on our local snow hill and also planting trees. By understanding that nature gives us this opportunity to go out on the mountain. It shows discipline knowing this, that we need to take care of it. Since we all worked together, we all had the same common goal of showing our love for nature and our love for SOS by giving back to students and nature—and being a leader.”

Chris, Adrian, and Emiliano’s design was one of 18 submitted for consideration from SOS participants and alumni across our locations. All of our artists were able to get an inside look from Smartwool on what it takes to bring a sock all the way from an idea to your feet. They learned about the design, development, production, and marketing process directly from the team at Smartwool.

SELECTING A WINNER

After a tough process to narrow down three finalists, 1,350 votes were cast to determine one winning design that Smartwool would take all the way through production. Adrian, Chris, and Emiliano’s design received the most votes.

“I was kind of shocked, because there were a lot of other really good submissions too,” shares Chris. “So the fact that ours won means it represented SOS well, and the community, and that Smartwool liked it. I was really proud to see that our artwork won.”

We’re incredibly proud of all of our artists, their visions, and the talent they poured into each design to represent their experiences in SOS. 

“It’s cool to think a team at Smartwool has been working with your design, the marketing team, the design team, there’s been different people working pretty hard in the background and I think it’s going to be really exciting to see once the sock comes out,” shares Emiliano. “To be able to finally see it in front of you after the whole development process. I think it will be a cool experience.”

PURCHASE THE SOS OUTREACH x SMARTWOOL SKI/SNOWBOARD SOCK

The Socktober collaboration sock is a special way to show your support for SOS with an inspiring, functional piece of high-quality gear. Your purchase helps further our mission to increase opportunities for deep, transformative connections for youth like Emiliano, Chris, and Adrian. Together, we are supporting the next generation of powerful, inspired leaders. Find your pair HERE.