Two entrepreneurs make their mark on the sock industry.
Picture two soccer moms standing on the edge of the field. One is a T-shirt printer; one works in the hosiery business. Says the hosier, “Do you think you could do what you do on those T-shirts, but on socks?” The reply: “I don’t know. Let’s figure it out.”
That was almost 10 years ago. “Now, we’re shipping socks around the world,” says Hayley Mullin, co-founder of Sockprints. Mullin purchased one of the first AnaJet direct-to-garment printers in 2007 and had been printing T-shirts. Her co-founder brought expertise from the world of legwear. Together, they developed a template that enabled the imaging of multiple pairs of socks in one DTG run; landed a patent; and worked with a mill to knit socks to their ideal specifications.
Sockprints’ business is about 90 percent online. They sell customizable socks of all shapes and sizes across a number of platforms, including Amazon, Etsy, sockprints.com, and shopsockprints.com. “By selling on each one of those platforms, we’re catering to different customers out there,” Mullin says. For example, Etsy customers are looking for a ton of customization and interaction with the company, while on sockprints.com (run on DecoNetwork), customers can work with the platform’s design tool and customize their order on their own. Shopsockprints.com (run on Shopify) features predesigned socks so customers can add simple details like names and dates. The company uses ShipStation as a hub for all four platforms, but they’re also exploring the possibility of a custom-developed system.
It’s the personalization, of course, that’s the company’s claim to fame. Printing on socks is one challenge, but customizing one pair at a time? “That’s really where we stand out,” Mullin says. Most of Sockprints’ products range in price from $12 for a simple pair of no-show socks to $28 for an all-over print.
The biggest challenge they’ve faced over the past decade has been simply letting the world know: You can customize socks now. (And: It’s pretty cool.) Mullin says her favorite designs are those where one sock shows part of an image and the other sock completes it: “You put your legs together and it creates a picture.” Sockprints did a pair of socks in such fashion as party favors for the Blue Man Group’s 10,000th show celebration in Las Vegas.
Mullin says “the ever-changing e-commerce environment has been a challenge,” but in the age of “customize everything” and “instant gratification,” Sockprints seems to be one step ahead – especially with turnaround times as quick as two or three days. “We’re proud of our ingenuity,” she says, and it’s certainly something to be proud of.
Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to the magazine.