You've stumbled upon the idea to build a socks business and now you're ready to take the next steps.
There's a lot to think about when building a business, so we put together a guide on how to get started, launch, grow and run your socks business.
We also provide you with real-life case studies and examples of founders running successful socks business (and how much💰 they're making today).
💡 Introduction To Starting A Socks Business
How To Name Your Socks Business
It's important to find a catchy name for your socks business so that you can stand out in your space.
Here are some general tips to consider when naming your socks business
- Avoid hard to spell names: you want something easy to remember and easy to spell for your customers
- Conduct a search to see if others in the space have the same name
- Try not to pick a name that limits growth opportunities for your business (ie. if you decide to expand into other product lines)
- As soon as you have an idea (or ideas) of a few names that you love, register the domain name(s) as soon as possible!
Why is naming your socks business so important?
The name of your business will forever play a role in:
- Your customers first impression
- Your businesses identity
- The power behind the type of customer your brand attracts
- If you're memorable or not
It's important to verify that the domain name is available for your socks business.
You can search domain availability here:
Find a domain starting at $0.88
powered by Namecheap
Although .com names are the most common and easiest to remember, there are other options if your .com domain name is not available. Depending on your audience, it may not matter as much as you think.
It's also important to thoroughly check if social media handles are available.
As soon as you resonate with a name (or names), secure the domain and SM handles as soon as possible to ensure they don't get taken.
Here's some inspiration for naming your socks business:
- Comfyfeet check availability
- Slip-In Socks check availability
- Bubbly Sock Co. check availability
- Happy Feet check availability
- Therapeutic Socks check availability
- Pure Purlz check availability
- Sock Couture check availability
- Good Quest check availability
- Under Foot check availability
- Slip Into Socks check availability
- Sock Lock check availability
- For Your Feet check availability
- Mash Up Sox check availability
- Foot Comfort check availability
- Walk This Way Socks check availability
- Dapper Classics check availability
- Foot Support check availability
- Tipped Up Socks check availability
- Cozy Feet check availability
- Bootights check availability
- Fox in Socks check availability
- Sock Prints check availability
- Blockhead Socks check availability
- The Foot Doctor check availability
- The Perfect Fit check availability
- Sock Doc check availability
- Vitalsox check availability
- Say It With a Sock check availability
- Foot By Foot check availability
- Locked in Socks check availability
- Urban Feet check availability
- Morning Sock Studios. check availability
- Creative Socks check availability
- Play Day check availability
- Healing Heels check availability
- Socks Rocks check availability
- Socks For You check availability
- Toe Trends check availability
- Meet Socks check availability
- Color Pop Socks check availability
- Cupidsocks check availability
- Square Foot check availability
- Happysoles check availability
- Loot Socks check availability
- Toes Knows check availability
- So Socksy check availability
- Rock Your Socks check availability
- Foot Cardigan check availability
- Sockkings check availability
- Green Buddy check availability
- Black Socks check availability
- Sock Hawk check availability
- Couturesocks check availability
- On Your Toes check availability
- Favorite Feet check availability
- Foot Savers check availability
- Solely Socks check availability
- Heel To Toe check availability
- Comfy Feet check availability
- Put a Sock On check availability
- Invisible Socks check availability
- Sock Clock check availability
- Sock Quest check availability
- Sockwave check availability
- Sock Me check availability
- Sockpros check availability
- Purepairs check availability
- Bombas Sock check availability
- Smash It Socks check availability
- Hype Socks check availability
- Mitscoots check availability
- Sock Block check availability
- Beatbop Apparel check availability
- Planet Socks check availability
- All Socks check availability
- Poshsocks check availability
- Stay Adorn check availability
- Warm Feet Socks check availability
- Promo Socks check availability
- Toe To Ankle check availability
- The Sock Country check availability
- Hard-Rock Socks check availability
- Put Your Foot Down check availability
- Blue Q Socks check availability
- UrFeel check availability
- The Comfort Zone check availability
- SockSense Sock Co. check availability
- The Kickback Socks check availability
- Pul Up Your Socks check availability
- Colorful Socks check availability
- FITS check availability
- 360Socks check availability
- Sock Walk check availability
- Stance Sock check availability
- Only Footprints check availability
- No Nonsense check availability
- Soft Socks check availability
- Society Socks check availability
- Footies check availability
- Feet Motion check availability
- Fab Curve check availability
- Foot care check availability
- Point6 check availability
Mary and Matt, founders of No Cold Feet LLC discuss the process of naming their business:
Once we settled on the fact that we were starting the business, one of the natural next steps is to decide on a name.
Mari and I were walking to the gym one day and one of the first five ideas was No Cold Feet.
I was immediately sold on it; the name played on the fact we would start with socks, the idea of not getting cold feet on your wedding day, and didn’t have socks in the name which would allow us to branch out into other areas without rebranding.
The .co URL was available, .com was available for purchase, and social media handles we liked were available.
We launched with nocoldfeet.co to avoid the initial cost of purchasing the .com domain but about a year later purchased the .com domain once we had built up some momentum and negotiated the cost down a bit.
Let's take a look at the search trends for socks over the last year:
Brick & Mortar vs eCommerce Business Model
When deciding whether or not to start a socks business, it's important to first decide what type of business model you want (brick and mortar, eCommerce, or both)!
Here are a few things to keep in mind when considering a Brick & Mortar store:
Brick & Mortar Model
If you do plan to open a physical store, it's important that you find a spot in a high-traffic area. This is a great way to gain exposure for your business and also get new customers.
It's also important to consider the higher costs associated with operating a physical store (ie - employees, rent, utilities, etc) and the long days/hours associated with running a store.
The main benefit, however, is that customers love being able to see products in person. It's important to recognize that although some people enjoy shopping online, there will always be the shopper persona that likes to touch, feel, and see the product they're buying.
One of the main benefits of operating online is that you are exposed to the entire world, versus just one local area. Rather than depending on foot traffic, you have all the tools at your disposal to create exposure for your store online.
Additionally, there are much lower costs to operate an online store - fewer employees, you can operate from your home, and you get to create your own schedules (yes, holidays included!)
Although you are operating online and have the ability to connect with people all over the world, it's important to consider that you will need to invest marketing money upfront in order to promote your store to the right audience.
So, which business model should you go with?
Each model has their benefits, however, the consumer trends for socks business are shifting towards e-commerce businesses.
Gia Paddock, founder of Boutique Rye explains the 3 reasons why she decided to build an online store:
I wanted to find something I loved but also allowed me to stay home at the same time. While I was working at this local boutique, I realized that there was a lot of sitting around during the day when other people were out working. Therefore, an online business seemed like the best route for a few reasons:
- We didn’t have the extra funds sitting around to pay sign a year or two-year lease at a brick & mortar location.
- I realized the opportunity to reach a wider audience online compared to the audience of this small local boutique. For us, it seemed like hitting two birds with one stone.
- And finally (maybe the most important of all), running it as an online-only business would allow me to stay at home with Riley!
- Find and check IP address (9.54K Alexa Ranking)
- Finnish Design Shop (29.7K Alexa Ranking)
- Calzedonia (36.7K Alexa Ranking)
- Stance (39.8K Alexa Ranking)
- KTNV (47.3K Alexa Ranking)
- Sock Club - Revenue $1M/month
- FEAT Socks - Revenue $100K/month
- No Cold Feet LLC - Revenue $20K/month
🎬 How To Start A Socks Business
Setting Up Your Socks Business (Formation and Legal)
When it comes to setting up your business, you may find yourself in a place where you have to make some financial and legal decisions.
The first thing you'll want to decide on is whether you want to be an LLC, S-Corp, or C-Corp.
These three options are found to be the most common when starting a small business, and all serve to protect your personal assets and also provide you with certain tax benefits.
- LLC: All income and expenses from the business are reported on the LLC personal income tax return.
- S corp: Owners pay themselves salaries + receive dividends from profits.
- C Corp: C Corps are separately taxable entities that file a corporate tax return (Form 1120). No income tax is paid at the corporate level and any tax due is paid at the owners individual expense.
Depending on where you're conducting business, you'll also want to consider securing the proper permits, licenses and liability insurance.
Need to start an LLC? Create an LLC in minutes with ZenBusiness.
Write a Business Plan
Writing a business plan from the start is critical for the success of your socks business.
Because this allows you to roadmap exactly what you do, what your overall structure will look like, and where you want to be in the future.
For many entrepreneurs, writing out the business plan helps validate their idea and decide whether or not they should move forward with starting the business.
You may want to consider expanding upon these sections in your business plan:
- Executive Summary: Brief outline of your product, the market, and growth opportunities
- Overviews and Objectives: Overview of your business, target customers, and what you need to run your business
- Products and Services: Specifics on the products and services your business will provide
- Market Opportunities: Analysis of customer demographics, buyer habits and if your product is in demand
- Marketing: Outline of your marketing plan and how you plan to differentiate yourself from other customers
- Competitive analysis: Analysis of your competition and the strengths and weaknesses therein
- Operations: Hierarchal structure of the company and what it will take to run the business on the day-to-day
- Leadership Team: Detailing roles and responsibilities of each manager based on their specific skill-set
- Financial Analysis Understanding of all expenses, operating budgets, and projections for the future.
Learn more about how to write a business plan here
We've interviewed several different founders in the socks business and asked them how much $ they're making today.
- $1.2M/year in revenue
- Sells fun socks.
- 2 founders
- 3 employees
- $240K/year in revenue
- Sells fun & colorful groomsmen gifts
- 2 founders
- 0 employees
- $12M/year in revenue
- Sells custom socks
- 2 founders
- 31 employees
How Much Does It Cost To Start A Socks Business
If you are planning to start a socks business, the costs are relatively low. This, of course, depends on if you decide to start the business with lean expenses or bringing in a large team and spending more money.
We’ve outlined two common scenarios for “pre-opening” costs of starting a socks business and outline the costs you should expect for each:
- The estimated minimum starting cost = $12
- The estimated maximum starting cost = $27,209
|Startup Expenses: Average expenses incurred when starting a socks business.||Min Startup Costs: You plan to execute on your own. You’re able to work from home with minimal costs.||Max Startup Costs: You have started with 1+ other team members.|
|Office Space Expenses|
|Rent: This refers to the office space you use for your business and give money to the landlord. To minimize costs, you may want to consider starting your business from home or renting an office in a coworking space.||$0||$5,750|
|Utility Costs For Office Space: Utility costs are the expense for all the services you use in your office, including electricity, gas, fuels, telephone, water, sewerage, etc.||$0||$1,150|
|WiFi & Internet: Whether you work from home or in an office space, WiFi is essential. Although the cost is minimal in most cases, it should be appropriately budgeted for each month!||$0||$100|
|Total Office Space Expenses||$0 (min)||$7,000 (max)|
|Upfront Costs For Inventory: This includes all upfront inventory you will need in order to launch. Be sure to compare prices of wholesalers to ensure you're getting the best deal and margins remain high.||$300||$5,000|
|Inventory Storage: If you decide to have a physical space for your socks business, whether it be used for inventory or as a showroom, you may have monthly rent payment or a large down payment associated with renting/buying the space.||$0||$5,000|
|Package Design: Packaging refers to wrapping and protecting products during distribution, shipping, and sales.Your package design is your customer's first impression of your brand, so it's important you spend some time and energy to get this right from the start.Many businesses design their own packages using design software and tools. There is always the option to outsource this to a design expert, but that route tends to be much more expensive.||$50||$3,000|
|Shrinkage: Shrinkage refers to the loss of inventory at any point between the purchase from your supplier and the purchase by your customer. Although you will try to avoid this at all costs, this does happen sometimes (especially in the learning stages of your business), and it's important to plan ahead financially in case this happens. Fortune states that retail shrinkage costs U.S. retailers approximately 1.4 percent of their total sales.||$0||$1,000|
|Distribution costs: Depending on what distribution plan you choose, expenses such as renting vans, hiring delivery drivers and gas costs can add up. If you are looking to save money upfront, you may want to consider conducting distribution on your own.||$0||$750|
|Total Inventory Expenses||$350 (min)||$14,750 (max)|
|Design Programs & Software: These programs might include the Adobe family of design tools: Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and others. This is typically a monthly subscription ranging from $10-$50/mo.||$0||$50|
|Email marketing tool: If you plan to grow your email list and email marketing efforts, you may want to consider investing in an email marketing platform (ie. Klaviyo, MailChimp). We put together a detailed guide on all of the email marketing tools out there + the pricing models for each one here.||$0||$100|
|IT Support: IT support installs and configures hardware and software and solves any technical issues that may arise.IT support can be used internally or for your customers experiencing issues with your product/service.There are a variety of tools and software you can use to help with any technical issues you or your customers are experiencing. This is a great option for businesses that do not have the means to hire a team of professionals.||$150||$2,000|
|Accounting & Invoicing Software: It's important to have an accounting system and process in place to manage financials, reporting, planning and tax preparation. Here are the 30 best accounting tools for small businesses.||$0||$50|
|Project Management Software: You may want to consider using a project management and collaboration tool to organize your day-to-day. This can also be very beneficial if you have a larger team and want to keep track of everyones tasks and productivity. For a full list of project management tools, check out this full list here.||$0||$25|
|Internal Communication Tool: If you plan to have multiple members on your team, you may want to consider an instant message tool such as Slack or Telegram. The cost is usually billed per month (approx $5/user/month) or there are freemium versions available on many platforms.||$0||$20|
|Social Media Management Tools: If you plan to do social media marketing for your socks business, you should consider investing in a social media automation or publishing tool. This will save you time and allow you to track performance and engagement for your posts. Here is a list of 28 best social media tools for your small business.||$0||$50|
|Payroll Software: The main purpose of payroll software is to help you pay your team and track each of those payments (so that you don't have to do it manually). If you do not have any employees or have a very small team, payroll software may not be necessary at this stage. Here are the 11 best payroll tools for small businesses!||$0||$200|
|File Hosting Service: It's important to make sure the information for your socks business is stored and protected should something happen to your computer or hard drive. The cost for this is affordable and depends on how much data you need to store. To learn more about the different options and pricing on the market, check out this article.||$0||$299|
|Total Software Expenses||$150 (min)||$2,794 (max)|
|Domain Name: Your domain name is the URL and name of your website - this is how internet users find you and your website.Domain names are extremely important and should match your company name and brand. This makes it easier for customers to remember you and return to your website.||$12||$200|
|Business Email Hosting Service: An email hosting runs a dedicated email server. Once you have your domain name, you can set up email accounts for each user on your team. The most common email hosts are G Suite and Microsoft 365 Suite. The number of email accounts you set up will determine the monthly cost breakdown.||$1||$15|
|Total Website Costs||$13 (min)||$215 (max)|
|Advertising & Marketing Costs|
|Customer Research & Surveys: Many socks business's conduct industry and consumer research prior to starting their business. Often times, you need to pay for this data or hire a market research firm to help you in this process.||$0||$300|
|Affiliate Marketing Commission & Fees: If you want to increase revenue for your socks business, affiliate marketing is a great way to promote your product to a new audience. When determining affiliate commission rates you will offer, you will want to take into account the price and margin for your product to ensure affiliate marketing is worth it for your business. According to Monitor Backlinks, the average affiliate commission rate should be somewhere between 5% to 30%. To learn more about how to set commission rates, check out this article..||$0||$250|
|Influencer Marketing: Partnering with like-minded influencers is one of the most effective ways to grow your social media presence. Many small businesses simply gift a free item in exchange for an influencer post, or pay the influencer directly.||$0||$750|
|Press: If your business and story is unique enough, press and media attention may come to you, but odds are, you may need to do your own outreach and budget for this. We put together a guide here that discusses different press opportunities (both free and paid).||$0||$500|
|Google Ads: With Google Ads you have the ability to control how much you spend by simply setting a monthly budget cap. Additionally, with these ads you only pay for results, such as clicks to your website or phone calls! It's okay to start with a small budget at first and make changes accordingly if you see valuable returns.||$0||$300|
|Facebook & Instagram Ads: With Facebook and Instagram ads, you set your budget and pay for the actions you want (whether that be impressions, conversions, etc).You can learn more about pricing based on your impressions here.||$0||$350|
|Total Advertising & Marketing Costs||$0 (min)||$2,450 (max)|
|Total Starting Costs||$12 (min)||$27,209 (max)|
Since the startup costs to start socks business range between $12 - $27,209, there are ways you can raise money to cover these costs.
Here are a few ways you can secure additional funding:
- Launch your product on Kickstarter
- Raise capital by asking friends and family
- Apply for a loan
- Find an investor!
Purchasing Inventory For Your Socks Business
When first starting out, it's important to start small with your overhead to get a gauge for what people want.
Just remember - if you order a line of items that don't sell, it's nearly impossible to recoup the money lost.
Buying the right inventory takes research and planning in order to get it right.
- Identify your target audience: Identify the age, gender, annual income that you will be selling to. This is a defining factor in ordering the right inventory that will sell.
- Research your competition: Conduct market research and identify the different types of styles, price points, and materials being used. This will help you see what's trending and ways that you can improve/stay ahead of the competition.
- Create an inventory wishlist: Identify what you need for the launch of your business and create a budget that you will stay within. Remember, it's okay to start small.
- Find a supplier Make sure to first compare prices and analyze different options.
- Delivery timing: Schedule the inventory delivery to match with seasonality and trending buying seasons
Pro-tip: It's easy to become biased based on your own fashion preferences on what types of shoes/apparel to purchase. This is where a lot of fashion businesses go wrong. It's important to base purchase decisions on current buyer behavior, trends in the market, and specific to your niche.
Erin Hooley, founder of Bailey's Blossoms tells us how poor inventory projections led her to lose over $2M
When we first launched Peyton Bre we did so in a social or direct sales model.
Through poor inventory projections we were forced to change models but only after losing $2 million dollars.
It was a devastating time for us and one we were not sure we could survive.
I have since become very intentional about the way that we project our inventory needs and we continue to refine that quarterly and even monthly. We have created a KPI for the cost of goods sold to help us hold ourselves accountable.
Ultimately, the better we manage our inventory the less we have need to discount and the healthier our profit margin becomes.
This is, of course, a very high-level overview of the importance of inventory control.
To see the full breakdown on how to manage inventory, check out my guide over on my blog..
Design A Prototype
Turning your idea into a reality can feel like a daunting task - but it's critical that you have an idea of what your product will look like (even if it's just a sketch) prior to finding a manufacturer.
Here are some common ways you can design your prototype:
- Draw Your Initial Design on Paper
- Form pieces of fabric together
- Consider Taking A Generic Product And Putting Your Own Brand On It
- Try Making the Product Yourself
- Consider Building A Prototype With A 3D Printer
To learn more about how to design and prototype a product, check out our latest guide here.
Mari & Matt McNamara, founder of No Cold Feet LLC dives deep into the process of designing and prototyping their product:
Our product design process was relatively simple compared to other physical products or even other textiles. We began by reaching out to manufacturers on Alibaba, maybe twenty or so originally, and narrowed down to six for quoting and samples. Because socks are fairly standard sizing you essentially pick your target size (e.g. average men, children’s, etc) and then provide a design to the manufacturer who converts it to the file that a knitting machine requires.
We found a blank template for sock design online and had a graphic designer (a previous co-worker of Matt’s) create all of the patterns that would eventually become our first round of socks. The colors were chosen based on what would match with standard formal wear for weddings plus a few others that were more aligned with the seasons. We started with sixteen styles including argyle, polka dots, and stripes. Before placing our full order we ended up adding solid black socks because of Mari’s intuition and this proved to be a great idea.
Original template/design file (left) and the final product (right)
We ordered one pair of each style from 6 or so manufacturers. The cost of each set of samples was between $50 per pair and/or $250 for the set of three and most manufacturers in our space will credit the cost of the samples towards a full production order. The samples were mostly about the size and feel as some manufacturers matched our colors if they had the material in stock but others just used similar colors.
After receiving the samples we knew which manufacturer we liked and did a small friend and family sampling to validate our opinions of the quality. Ultimately, we settled on a manufacturer and moved forward with our first order. For the most part, the initial order was smooth but we definitely ran into some quality issues including colors not matching our specifications perfectly and typical garment quality issues like holes and miss stitching where one color crossed into the other.
Our first bulk order was for about 7,000 pairs of socks. Between the socks, shipping, customs fees, forming our company, and a number of other miscellaneous costs we started the company for about $16k.
Our original bulk purchased delivered and stored in parents’ garage
As an aside, we looked into manufacturers in the US prior to placing our order but none would talk to us as our quantities were too low for them. After our initial quality issues, we began our search again and eventually located a small family-owned hosiery company that was amazing about answering our questions and teaching us about manufacturing the products. We’ve since placed multiple orders with them to fill supply chain gaps with our primary manufacturer.
How To Find A Supplier For Your Socks Business
Here are the steps to consider when finding a supplier/manufacturer:
Know your design
One very critical step to finding the right supplier is having an initial idea of what your design/product will look like.
Sketching is one of the most simple ways to get started in the design phase.
What's great about sketching is that you can practically do this anytime, anywhere - even on the back of a napkin.
To get started, all you need to do is pick up a pen and paper and start drawing - or if you are working on a virtual/software product this can be a diagram that outlines the user interface or experience.
Decide your supplier type
You'll want to identify the type of supplier you are looking for.
Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself prior to searching for a supplier
- Are you looking for a manufacturer to produce your product idea?
- Do you want to find a supplier that can simply purchase existing products for you?
- Do you want a drop-shipper to supply and fulfill orders?
- Do you want a domestic supplier or an overseas supplier? Read more about the pros and cons of each here
Where to start your search
Once you have an understanding of what type of manufacturer/supplier will be best to bring your idea to life, there are several areas you can start your search:
Example: Choosing The Right Style From The Manufacturer
Our first step was to find manufacturers of white canvas shoes on Alibaba. Over the course of six months, I ordered almost eight sample pairs of shoes. Ultimately, we found one pair of shoes that we loved and chose to order.
This manufacturer stated we had to order a minimum amount of 1,000 pairs.
We were able to break down our order into two different styles: One style is a high top and the other being a low top style.
Knowing that we could do both styles, we chose to do 500 pairs of low tops and 500 pairs of high tops.
The manufacturer said that we could also do five sizes per style, so the decision was to order the five most popular women sizes in low tops and the five most popular men sizes in high tops.
Fortunately, when we order shirts we get them from a website known as S&S Activewear, which has a warehouse near our company.
How To Price Your Socks
One of the most challenging aspects to starting a socks business is determining how much to charge for your socks.
When businesses under-price their product, this can be extremely detrimental to their bottom line and reputation.
Often times, businesses under-price their products to drive demand and volume, but that last thing you want is for customers to view your product/service as "cheap." Additionally, this can have a big impact on the type of customer you attract, which can be difficult to recover from.
On the other hand, when businesses over-price, this tends to be just as damaging to the business.
When customers buy, it's likely that they will explore the internet and look at other competitors to ensure they're getting the best value + deal. This is why it's so important that you research your competition and understand where you land in the marketplace.
Here are some factors to consider when pricing your product:
Understand your customer
It's important that out of the gates, you identify the type of customer you want to attract and how much they're willing to pay for your service. One great way to do this is by surveying your customers. Here are some important items you'll want to takeaway:
- Customer demographic: Age, gender, location, etc.
- Buying habits of your customer: What they buy + when they buy
- Level of price sensitivity with your customer
All of these segments will help you identify the type of customer you're attracting and how to price your product accordingly.
Understand your costs
When pricing your socks, it's critical that you first identify all of your costs and consequently mark up your socks so you can factor in a profit.
The actual cost of your socks may include things like:
- The actual cost to make the product (ie. raw materials, supplies, manufacturer).
- Shipping + overhead fees
- Operating costs to run your business
You may want to consider creating a spreadsheet with every single expense involved in operating/owning your business. This will give you an idea as to what you need to generate in order to at the very least, break-even and will help you price your products to factor in a profit.
Create revenue goals
When determining the price of your socks, you'll want to create goals for revenue + how much profit you want your socks business to make.
This process is simpler than you may think:
- Think about your breakeven cost (by completing the above step).
- Create a revenue goal based on your break-even cost
- Evaluate the # of items you plan to sell in a given period (make sure this is a realistic number)
- Divide your revenue goal by the number of items you plan to sell
This figure will help determine your estimated price per product in order to meet your revenue goals.
Evaluate your competition
The last piece in determining how to price your socks is by simply looking at your competition.
The best way to do this is by finding like-minded businesses that offer product(s) with similar perceived value. Then, you can compare prices of the different businesses and determine where your socks fits best in the marketplace.
All of these factors play an equal part in pricing your socks, so it's important you evaluate each one individually to come up with an accurate price that will help optimize your business from the start.
Lauren Costanza, founder of Bluminary provides us with a detailed spreadsheet of all of her costs associated with running her business:
I knew this would be a self-funded adventure, and I set aside $3,000. During the first three months, I had a detailed spreadsheet where I tracked where the money was going and what was going toward products versus researching and developing new products.
The spreadsheets involved columns and rows of numbers to craft a budget and gain an understanding of how much would need to be invested at each stage of the process - from gathering supplies to building a website, and shipping materials.
🚀 How To Launch Your Socks Business
Build A Website
Building a website is imperative when launching your business, and with the right tools in place, this can be a simple task to check off the list (without having to hire someone).
- Pick a domain name that's easy to remember and easy to type
- Choose a Web Hosting Plan (ie. Shopify, Squarespace)
- Make sure you choose the right theme and design
- Implement the proper page structure (ie. about page, contact page, pricing etc)
To learn more about how to build a stellar website with little stress, we give you all the details on this step-by-step guide.
There are a ton of different websites platforms out there, and it's important to choose the right one that will set you up for success
Here's everything you need to know about these two platforms:
Shopify is one of the #1 leading platforms for e-commerce businesses.
Here are some of the main reasons most e-commerce businesses are using Shopify:
- Geared towards supporting store owners. Provides a simple way to launch and manage your online store
- Customer support is off the charts (live chat)
- Easy to use - You don't have to worry about the technical side
- The design is clean and mobile-friendly. There are also hundreds of templates you can use.
- Easy integrations and additional channels (ie. Amazon, email marketing integrations, Facebook, etc).
- Basic Shopify: $29/month
- Shopify: $79/month
- Advanced Shopify: $299/month
Founder, Marc Debnam on recommending Shopify
The best move we did was to switch to the Shopify platform in 2016. Everything became simple.
Shopify is an easy to use software with great add-on apps so you can build your ecommerce business exactly how you like it.
And it intergrates with our accounting and logistics platforms. Xero, Auspost, DHL. As well as most sales and marketing channels.
It freed up so much time working in the business, allowing us time to focus on growth and brand awareness.
With my basic technical skills, I built a great site. The one we still have. I experiment with apps that just plug in and if they add that’s great if they don’t we move on.
Once you have chosen the domain, web hosting, and platform, it's time to get started with the design phase.
Themes are a great way to produce the fundamental style and identity of your website - this includes everything from your font design to your blog post styles.
One of the best ways to get started is to simply explore the various themes (free or paid depending on what you're looking for) and test them on your site.
If web-design really isn't in the cards for you, you may want to consider outsourcing a web designer to help bring your vision and brand to life.
Make Sure You Get The Package Design Right
The way you package your socks business is often the first impression your customer has - so it's important to get it right.
You may want to ask yourself these questions:
If my product is on a shelf next to hundreds of other similar products:
- Will my socks business stand out?
- Will the branding/packaging create a connection with my customer, and hence, lead them to buy?
There are hundreds of tools you can use to help with packaging and design:
- Canva - Allows non-designers to create beautiful Instagram/Pinterest posts, flyers, business cards, etc.
- Stickermule - High quality custom stickers you can include on or in your packaging.
- Noissue - Custom tissue paper and compostable mailers
- Rollo Label Printer - A great tool to print all shipping labels at home
Sheets & Giggles explains the motive behind their "Premium Unboxing Experience"
Sheets & Giggles explains the motive behind their "Premium Unboxing Experience"
I had a particular vision for our packaging centered around one goal: because we were a DTC company and wouldn’t do physical retail in year 1, we needed to focus entirely on an incredible unboxing experience that made the product feel as premium as possible.
Outside: a white box, nice wax coating, logo front and center with no other copy, easy to open, nice and sturdy.
Inside: make people smile from the get-go, have a social call-to-action, include free extra surprises (a knapsack that wraps the sheets and an eye mask), put funny copy all over the place, and add a donation bag that people could use to donate their now-defunct cotton sheets (sheets & blankets are the #2-most-requested item at shelters behind socks).
There are various different marketplaces that you can effectively sell and promote your socks business, whether that's local or online!
Here are some of the most common ones:
- Your own website! Shopify is known to be the best for e-commerce stores
- Local places! Gift shops, farmers markets, festivals, grocery stores etc
- Etsy - E-commerce website for craft supplies
- Craft is Art Marketplace to buy and sell handmade crafts & fine art
- Aftcra Online marketplace where you can buy and sell handmade products
- Storenvy Marketplace for authentic brands
Founders Mari & Matt discuss their Etsy launch strategy and how Etsy continues to play a vital role in their operation:
We launched our website in the first week of June 2017 within a week of receiving our product and again, with Mari’s intuition, we launched on Etsy shortly thereafter.
Mari also said we should expand our product offering to include customized labels/sleeves that go around the socks themselves. Grooms could use them for groomposals (asking their groomsmen to stand with them on the big day) or as thank you gifts for their groomsmen on the day of. Brides also buy our products as their gifts for their groom for cute day-of gifts.
Our first order on our website came in within a week of launching. Etsy orders started flowing in within the first week of launching our shop as well but quickly skyrocketed to being our main focus for the next two years.
For us, our launch was admittedly easy. Yes, some of Mari’s product ideas like the customizable labels to go around the socks helped beyond Matt’s expectations, but launching on Etsy where their audience overlaps our own extremely well was key to our early success. We think of our core demographics as 25-35-year-olds who are recently engaged or getting married soon. This exact group flocks to Etsy to buy products and gifts for their big day.
There wasn’t much fanfare or anything particularly strategic to our launch but it did highlight that people don’t just come to your website… When you launch your site you’ve created an island in the middle of the ocean and it takes work to let people know by building a social following or working on content to drive SEO.
Many people find our site by searching for us because they saw us on Etsy and ultimately purchase there because they can sometimes get a slightly better deal. If an existing platform, like Etsy, isn’t appropriate for your products you need to plan in time, efforts, and likely some expenses to drive traffic.
Etsy Tips From Founders
Etsy is one of the most common marketplaces for this business type, however, there are some tips and tricks from other founders you'll want to consider prior to listing:
Financially speaking, Etsy is a really great way to start a business because it’s essentially free until you start selling. It cost nothing to launch besides my 20 cent listing fees.
Etsy has been encouraging free shipping with a lot of pushback from sellers, but I built everything into our prices about a month ago and introduced free shipping shopwide, which seems to have improved conversion rates and search visibility already.
I honestly attribute the bulk of my success to photography. I was a photographer first so obviously very lucky to have no issues launching with great images and it’s something I consistently produce.
With Etsy especially, there are a ton of mediocre amateur photos so it was an easy way to set myself apart from the start, and I don’t think Etsy themselves would feature my products and market them so often otherwise. We’re also able to compete fairly well on price because 80% of customers are American, and our dollar is much weaker.
One big mistake I’m seeing from other people selling handcrafted items is regarding Etsy. I’m seeing people do one of two things:
- Under-utilize the platform
- They are solely using the platform
What I mean by this is that I’m seeing a whole lot of handcrafters that only use Etsy because it’s easy. But referring people to an Etsy page as your webpage isn’t as professional as a dot com webpage, plus, Etsy’s fees are much higher than Shopify. Also, when Etsy makes changes to its marketing structure, I’ve seen people who have no other website get absolutely screwed and their shops go under.
The other camp is those that refuse to use Etsy at all. Etsy is a marketplace, with a built-in audience that is often searching for exactly the product you make! Both camps are making the mistake of not diversifying their markets. Use Etsy, it’s an amazing sales tool, but don’t rely on it solely.
🌱 How To Grow Your Socks Business
Consider Selling On Amazon
In addition to selling your products directly on your site, you may want to consider selling on Amazon to reach a wider audience and attract new customers.
Here are some pros and cons of selling on amazon:
- Easy and seamless process to get your product listed on Amazon
- There are roughly 100 million thoroughly committed prime customers, so you're bound to tap into new business
- Can help grow your business exponentially and reach new audiences
- You may encounter some "copycats" and counterfeit products
- Amazon owns the relationship with the customer (you lose control over product reviews + customer service)
- If you already have a low-markup, amazon may not wrth your while and you could end up losing money
- Commissions and listing fees are high - it's easy to lose control of your offering
Follow these instructions to get your product listed on Amazon or check out the video below on how to get started:
Cory Stout, founder of Woodies ($250K/mo) provides us with specifics on how to rank better on amazon:
Our main product is walnut wood sunglasses that I sell for $25 on Amazon and Woodies.com.
I dedicated myself to becoming an Amazon expert. I listened to all the podcasts and read all the blog posts I could find. Shoutout EcomCrew I took the basic fundamentals that are out there and I added a couple of my own twists.
Amazon brings me, 100 brand new customers, every day for very little acquisition cost. If I tried that on my own, it would take a TON of work and it wouldn’t be nearly as effective as Amazon, so I took the easy road on this one.
Here's an article I wrote on how to rank better on amazon (30+ Tips):
- Beautiful images (minimum 5 images) especially lifestyle images I use UpgradedImages.com for product photography (hey Ken!)
- Keywords in your title (but it still needs to sound human)
- Competitive price (contributes to high conversion rate)
- NOT having 1-star reviews
- DON'T STOCKOUT: it's such a killer and if you DO stockout, definitely DON'T raise your price right before you do, if anything LOWER your price for the last 10-20 units before you stockout, each ASIN has a 'memory' for when you do get back in stock so that will help you regain ranking quickly
- DON'T VIOLATE AMAZON TOS: just don't
- Perform QC on your stock before you send it in (I sent in a wrong box once and I had to 'remove' over 3,000 pieces so I could sift through them and remove the 150 contaminated pieces 0/7 would not recommend
4/5: Pretty Friggin Important
- Minimum 10 5-star reviews (do this before you do anything below this)
- Well optimized PPC campaigns (could do a whole post on this, keep ACOS under 40%) here's a screenshot of some of my campaigns I use a combination of manual campaigns with exact phrases and high bids...and auto campaigns with a broad range of products and very low bids
- Turning on FeedbackGenius for auto review requests (it's not as good as it used to be, but it's still worth it)
- Get a trademark and get Brand Registry, this protects you from hijackers and other unscrupulous sellers
- Quick response to customer messages (under 12 hours) here are my stats my mom does all my customer service "Employee of the Year" status
- Drive outside traffic (amazon loves outside traffic because they don't have to spend so much to acquire customers) Facebook, Instagram, and Google Adwords are the usual suspects
- Use ocean shipping to save mucho $$$ on unit costs (use flexport)
Read more about amazon tips here.
Social Media Advertising
Social Media Advertising is one of the leading ways to get the word out when it comes to socks business.
There are various different Social Media platforms available to you. Some may be more critical for your marketing efforts than others, however, it's important to have an understanding of what's out there and available to you.
Let's talk about a few of the main platforms and what makes them unique:
- Facebook Advertising - more than 2 billion monthly users. Facebook is the best for lead generation + capturing email addresses for e-commerce businesses.
- Instagram Advertising - approximately 500 million monthly users and has a higher audience engagement rate than any other platform. Instagram ads are best for linking to a product page or landing page and reaches the 18-29 age group most effectively.
- Twitter Advertising- Small businesses typically use twitter ads to drive brand awareness, but the platform is meant more for organic engagement (and is not as heavily used for paid advertising)
- Pinterest Advertising - 175 million monthly users and most effectively reaches the female audience. Pinterest is great for promoting products without "promoted". The promoted pins have a way of blending right in.
- LinkedIn Advertising - 227 million monthly users and is geared towards the B2B market and generates the highest quality leads. Great platform for recruiters, high-end products and services that will help businesses
It's important to first define your goal/objective so that you don't waste time and money into the wrong platform:
Here are some different questions to ask yourself as it relates to your goals:
- Do I want to simply drive brand awareness?
- Do I want to drive users to my website to gather information?
- Do I want to increase sales and get my customer to take action?
From there, choose the platform that targets your audience best and start experimenting!
Learn more about social media advertising ➜ here.
Founder Andy Hayes talks about mastering FB ads and the pixel:
The biggest bang for your buck will likely be mastering Facebook and it’s platform - which we all know is pay for play, so you’ll have to come up with a small amount of budget to start for marketing.
We’ve spent countless hours (and paid numerous coaches) before we cracked the code that works for us on Facebook, but it is working really well for us now.
Some of the most important things to know when it comes to FB Ads:
- Start with retargeting (that’s showing ads to people who already know you but did not purchase). Master this - and start building information on your Facebook Pixel - before you do anything else
- Once you have that down, try working with the 1% “Lookalike” audience to prospect for new customers. This may take awhile because your pixel audience is small, so try layering on interests - 1% Lookalike and your largest competitor, for example. Don’t use interest-only targeting until you master this.
- Great photography and videography is key, as is smart copy. Research what’s out there in your industry and constantly test - what works for one company may not work for other people.
- Make sure you have good offers. For example, we have a $5 trial for our subscription, which converts affordably - if we promoted our subscription with the standard $30 front charge, it wouldn’t be as cost-effective.
Consider Working With Instagram Influencers
Partnering with like-minded influencers (within your industry) is one of the most effective ways to grow your social media organically.
Industry influencers already have an established and loyal following. With one post, your product immediately establishes a connection with a brand new audience. It's that powerful.
When finding influencers to promote your product, do your research and make sure that their following will actually be interested in your product.
It's easy to be blinded by any influencer with a huge following, but if those followers don't resonate with your product, there may not be any value there... so make sure you do your research!
Evan Marshall, founder of Plain Jane discusses how "micro-influencers" have impacted his business:
Influencer marketing has been huge for us. Our approach is pretty simple. We give out samples of our products and ask people to post about us on social media aka a micro-influencer strategy.
We really like this approach because we get authentic stories and content. We cannot really control the messaging so the product has to speak for itself. We don’t really take product photos at all. Our customers take the photos and we ask to reuse them.
With any influencer strategy, you have to be very sure you’re targeting the right people and engaging with them. You can make sure you’re targeting the right influencers by looking through their posts and then looking through the profiles of their engaged followers.
It takes more time per influencer but the payoff is certainly worth it. Make sure their followers look like your existing customers.
It takes a ton of time and work to grow a social media following this way but it’s worth it. Other accounts have tried to grow themselves through botting or other manipulations. As a CBD company, we didn’t want to give Instagram any reason to shutdown our account so we’ve done everything through content and real engagement. It’s not magic to make this happen. You just have to post consistently and then reply or like every single comment you get. It takes months but it works
Improve your SEO
SEO is not just about driving traffic to your site, it's about driving the RIGHT traffic to your site, and ultimately, converting leads into customers.
One of the most important aspects of SEO is understanding what your customers are searching for, otherwise known as "keyword research."
Here are some tools that can help you choose the right keywords for your socks business.
- Google Ads Keyword Planner invaluable for discovering search trends.
- Google Search Console is very helpful once your website is up as it shows you what words/phrases are generating traffic.
- Ahrefs and SEMRush are paid tools that allow you to look at results of your competitor's website.
Publish Great Content
Finding keywords is an important piece of the puzzle, but Google also ranks your site based on the actual content you produce, as this is what your customers are reading and engaging with.
There are various different "forms" of content that you may want to consider diversifying on your sites, such as blog posts, articles, studies, and videos.
So let's discuss what google considers "good content:"
- Length - This will vary depending on the page, however, generally having a sufficient amount of content helps search engines recognize that your site is a good source for a specific topic
- Engagement - The longer people stay on your website to read your content, the higher Google will rank your website. It's important to have informative and "thick" content that keeps people reading
- Avoid Duplicating Content - Google will recognize this and may consider your content to have low value
- Ensure pages load quickly - This will also help with engagement and time spent on your website
- Shareability - Create content that people want to share, and is easy for them to share, especially to their social media accounts (ie. "click to tweet" is a great example of this).
Another element of creating good content is creating consistent content.
If (and hopefully you are) publishing content frequently, it's important to stick to a schedule - this helps build brand trust and easy user experience with your customers.
Planning out your content with a content calendar is key to staying consistent.
Here are a few great content calendar tools that can help you:
Backlinks are an important piece to SEO, as they allow for other websites to link to your content.
Search engines recognize that other sites are essentially "verifying" your content and essentially rank you higher because of this.
Of course, some links are more valuable than others and can affect your site in different ways.
For example, if a highly valuable and credible site like the New York Times links to a page on your website, this could be remarkable from an SEO perspective.
Aside from organically getting mentioned from other sites, there are other ways that you can increase and earn backlinks:
- Create infographics with relevant data that people want to share
- Promote your content on different sites/look into "guest blogging"
- Contact influencers/journalists/bloggers and ask them to mention you!
- Write testimonials for other sites in exchange for a backlink
- Leverage existing business relationships
Jeff Phillips, founder of Grown Eyewear discusses the importance of SEO
We have played with running ads and retargeting and find that most of our customers are coming to us organically, we have the unique opportunity to keep ad costs minimal.
This works just fine for us, so we keep focusing on SEO and allowing our potential customers to find us, rather than trying to throw out a wide net. That would cost a lot and let’s be honest, not everyone wants wood or bamboo sunglasses!
Specifically, we make sure we know what people are searching for. In Australia for example, potential customers search for ‘wooden sunglasses’ while in North America ‘Wood Sunglasses’ is used as the search term much more.
This kind of understanding of our keywords only comes with time and research, and it does change also! We apply the keywords to the site in an organic and non-forced way by integrating into descriptions and page names.
While this may seem like SEO 101, there is an art to it and making sure you aren’t too heavy on your keywords or placements.
Take a chance and follow your gut. If you have an idea and you really do like it, chances are other out there will too. Go for it!
Grow Your Email List
The more engaged list of emails, the more engaged customers, which ultimately leads to more sales.
One of the best ways to start growing your list is by providing your customer with something free (or discounted) in return.
This could also be anything from:
- Fascinating case study
- Video series
- Free week of the product
- Discount on the product
Learn more about how to grow your email list and improve email marketing ➜ here.
Alex Nerney, founder of Create and Go discusses how the key to growing your email list is through your email opt-in:
Along with being transparent, we put a lot of emphasis on building an email list. We knew the power of email marketing from our first blog and by collecting emails, we were able to really connect with our audience and build trust with them before ever promoting our products.
The biggest factor for growing our email list was finding the perfect email opt-in. By offering something to your audience, you’re able to entice them to sign up for your email list.
We offered a blogging bootcamp and not only did it serve as an awesome list builder but it also gave people a taste of what it would be like to learn from us. launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Improve Your Email Marketing
Different types of emails
Here are the most common types of email campaigns you can send to your customers and their benefits:
- Welcome emails - the perfect way to provide information from the start with a clear CTA. Make sure to tell your customer everything they need to know about your product or service.
- Newsletters - a great way to give customers updates or send out your latest content
- Product launch emails - the quickest (and easiest) way to increase sales is by selling to current customers. Make sure they're the first on the list to know about your new product
- Promotional emails - promote discounts, deals coupons etc. Try and make this feel exclusive and for a limited time only
- Abandoned cart emails - give your customers a reason to complete their purchase!
Here's a great resource for finding curated email designs, for all types of email campaigns!
Abandonded Cart Flow
The abandoned cart workflow is one of the most effective strategies for turning your lead into a customer, and a powerful tool to have if you're an e-commerce business.
Think about all the times that you went on a shopping frenzy only to add items to your cart and then either forget or realize nows not the right time to pull the trigger.
Then, minutes later you receive an email saying "Hurry up! Your cart is waiting - and we want to provide you with 20% off your order."
Maybe that's the special touch (and discount) you needed to pull that trigger.
Implementing this workflow can automatically trigger this for your business every time a customer abandons their cart.
Here's a great example of an abandoned cart email from Brooklinen:
Things they do well:
- Showcase 5-star reviews from other customers
- Offer a small discount + free shipping
- Great design + clear call to actions!
🏃🏼♀️ How To Run Your Socks Business
Word of Mouth
The most tried and true way to grow a socks business is through word of mouth - some entrepreneurs would say it's more important than all social media.
Why you should focus on word of mouth:
- Consumers trust word of mouth above all other forms of marketing
- 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising
- 64% of marketing executives indicated that they believe it is the most effective form of marketing
Learn more about word of mouth in our guide: 30 Ways Founders Grow Their Business ➜
Eddie Huai, founder of Flyby Pills explains how customer service directly correlates with word of mouth marketing from existing customers:
One of our biggest acquisition channels is through word of mouth.
Our survey showed that a third of our customers decided to try Flyby because of a friend or family member. For consumer brands, no artificial acquisition channel can beat strong word of mouth.
Word of mouth also compounds with every successive customer, and we’re seeing bigger wins every month.
We try and bolster this by providing an exceptional customer experience from start to finish. Even though we use Zendesk to answer customer emails, I still will read and reply to over 50% of our customer emails.
We also send loyalty packages to our top customers that’ll include freebies, swag and a personalized note... Little things like this go a long way and provide that “human touch” to our brand.
How To Retain Customers For Your Socks Business
Retaining customers is one of the most effective ways to grow your socks business.
Oftentimes, it's easy to find yourself focusing on generating new customers, vs retaining your current ones.
Look at it this way - you are 60-70% more likely to sell a new product to an existing customer than you are a new customer.
That's not to say that finding new customers and revenue streams is not important, however, the easiest (and most inexpensive) source of new revenue is right there in front of you.
Here are some ways you can retain customers for your socks business:
- Responding to comments on social media
- Send discounts (or freebies) to loyal customers
- Provide valuable content, for free
- Write a hand written thank you note
- Provide awesome customer service and build relationships with customers
To find out more tips and tricks on retaining customers, check out this article ➜ here
Mari & Matt McNamara, founder of No Cold Feet LLC dives deep into the process of attracting and retaining customers:
The topic of attracting and retaining customers is a very interesting one for us because on one hand, really, the only thing we had to do to attract customers was to launch on Etsy. Of course, we had to have a product people wanted, looked good, and was priced correctly, but with those aside, our initial customers came to us because of the marketing Etsy did. On the other hand, we always have to attract new customers because weddings are theoretically a one-time thing so customer retention is an interesting area that is hard for us.
That being said, there are absolutely things we do in an effort to be the business that people buy form because there are competitors and our customers definitely have a choice.
The first thing is “simply” taking care of our customers. On a platform like Etsy reviews are everything. We have over 1300 five star reviews and we go to some extreme lengths to customize products to our customer’s desires, get them products with extremely quick turnaround times, and most importantly taking care of errors no questions asked. That last one is something we pride ourselves on. Of course, we don’t want errors to happen but when they do we address them promptly. The cost to offer this level of service is built into our products but has arguably been a marketing cost in the sense that customers rely on and trust reviews on a site like Etsy.
Also important for any business is presenting yourself well. Shopify and similar services provide templates that lay a great foundation for good design especially early on in a business where you’re trying to manage start-up costs and may not know what you like, how your customers will shop your products/how you should present them, and don’t know what features will be critical as you scale your business. Related to this is your product photography. Whether it’s a physical product like socks and labels or a web-app, clean imagery that accurately portrays what your customer will be receiving is critical to instilling the confidence to purchase.
As previously mentioned, weddings are generally a one-time thing. So, how are we to go about creating repeat customers? One avenue we’ve only dipped our toes into is converting the groomsmen from gift recipients to paying customers. After all, we sell fun and comfortable socks which is a widely popular category. So far we’ve tested subtle coupon codes buried in some of the fine print on product labels (no conversions thus far). But overall we have to balance minimal branding and advertising ourselves on products that are being given as personalized gifts.
This year we’re really focusing on owning and growing our customer list so we can test different marketing strategies to increase conversion, growth, and ideally retention. With that, we’ll expand into email marketing and retargeting. .
Diversify Your Product Line
Adding new products to your business is a great way to expand into new markets and grow your business.
It's important to note that adding new products and diversifying may not be in the cards for you right this moment, and that's okay. You can always consider it down the road.
Here are some reasons you may want to considering adding/diversifying your product
- Meeting the needs of your customers
- Establish yourself as a top provider in your industry and stay ahead of the game with competition
- Resistance to downturns/trends fading
- Create new revenue streams
Diversifying Product Example: Joah Love
The future for JOAH LOVE is bright! Customers have been telling us that they’ve been coveting their kids’ wardrobes for years, and this season, we’re going to make a collection just for them with the launch of a new line for adults.
It will include Mommy + Me and Daddy + Me collections, complementary clothing for parents and their kids.
We’re also in the early stages of exploring clothing options for children with special needs. There’s growing demand for sensory-sensitive apparel to help outfit these children and support their parents, and we’re excited to reenvision how our incredibly soft materials can help these families.
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