Impacting the World of Conservation, One Sock at a Time
By: Nicole Forsgren
Brett Putnam, an 18-year-old entrepreneur, has partnered with the Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida to help make an impact. Brett has agreed to create wildlife-themed socks, donating 40% of his proceeds to the Foundation. With an interest in finance and a passion for people, Brett is determined to change the lives of many through the sale of colorful, crazy socks. The idea of creating socks to fit a variety of occasions and personalities came to Brett unexpectedly; however, this business now serves as an example for aspiring youth everywhere.
It is not every day that the Foundation encounters a recent high school graduate who shares remarkable opinions on biodiversity and conservation. Despite various rapidly declining terrestrial and marine populations, Brett remains optimistic about the future, as well as his opportunity to make a change.
We caught up with Brett, who will attend the University of South Florida St. Petersburg this fall, to learn more about his goals, interests, and opinions.
FWFF: Brett, the Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida is excited and grateful to you and your willingness to make an impact. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
BP: I am eighteen years old and I recently graduated from Palm Harbor High School with my diploma and an Associate’s in Arts degree from St. Petersburg College. I am more than excited to work with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The ocean has been a very important part of my life. I began racing sailboats when I was twelve. Since then, sailing has taught me to work hard and persevere through difficulty. I believe these qualities are very important in many aspects of human life.
That is an incredible mentality to have, especially at such a young age. What inspired you to begin your business? What caused you to learn the importance of giving back?
My Uncle Scott once told me to find a job or career that I am passionate about. I realized I was passionate about people and that business is all about people. I believe business revolves around people’s perceptions, emotions, concerns, and their success. I then developed my own unique perception of money and work. I believe that financial security can lead to true freedom. I figured if I worked for myself, I could build my own future freedom and improve the lives of the people around me. I also love crazy socks! I have just about every crazy sock there is. So, I decided to start a business around something I loved and could have a lot of fun with. I then started the MySockBroker company. In terms of giving back, I believe there are two kinds of people. There are those who are heroes and those who aren’t. In my opinion, a hero is someone who doesn’t focus on what has happened to them. A hero is focused on what has happened to others and making the environment around them a better place for everyone. I strive to take every opportunity I can to be my own vision of a hero. The opportunity I received from the Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida is certainly an opportunity to be a hero.
How long ago did the idea of MySockBroker come to you? Are your friends and family supportive of it?
MySockBroker began its journey about two months ago. I was in an airport in New York when I first had the idea. My mother and I had just gotten back from our trip to Italy when I made a joke about investing in the “sockmarket” instead of the stockmarket. She told me I could sell crazy socks to my friends using the sockmarket joke. My mind instantly lit up with hundreds of ideas. I am very fortunate to have such an amazing family. They have given me so much wisdom and connected me with so many people since I started MySockBroker. I have also developed many incredible relationships with people over the years and most of these people want to be a part of or customer to my business. I am very grateful for all my friends and family.
Beyond sailing, how do you spend the remainder of your free time? Do you enjoy spending time outdoors? If so, what was your favorite memory involving an outdoor activity- such as fishing or camping?
Beyond sailing and school, I primarily spend my free time kiteboarding and working on my fitness. I really enjoy riding my road bike. I feel cycling is a great way to explore and improve your fitness. Kiteboarding is also a lot of fun because it fills me with an addicting level of adrenaline. My favorite memory is when I first learned to kiteboard. Everything went wrong right from the beginning. I was launched into the air and dragged down the beach before I was yanked out to sea. I quickly remembered how to perform a self-rescue from a YouTube video I had seen. I managed not to hurt myself and swam my gear back to shore. I can now kiteboard like a professional.
What is your opinion on conservation of wildlife-both marine and terrestrial- and their habitats?
I believe biodiversity is very important for the health of humanity. Conservation of all wildlife is very important in order to protect the Earth’s biodiversity. I think that animals like the Black Bear in the Ocala Forest should be protected by state laws. There is no reason for people to hunt an animal like the black bear. As for the oceans, I believe national and state fishing regulations are very well managed. I think these populations should continue to be closely monitored in order to ensure strong oceanic biodiversity.