How To Sell Socks

Samuel “Samy” Liechti took his first job out of college with an ad agency. He’s asked to attend an unexpected business dinner with Japanese partners.

After dinner, the group moves to a Japanese tea house where, following tradition, everyone removes their shoes.

Samy looks down, and not only does he realize he has two different socks on, but they are frayed and faded, with the left one having a hole just the right size for his big toe to shine through.

He sits in the lotus position for the rest of the evening, trying to hide his feet. His thought: “Darn these socks!”

According to HolyKaw, it was then that the idea behind Blacksocks–a “sockscription”–was born. In 2008, less than ten years after its founding in 1999, Blacksocks sold its one millionth pair of black calf socks.

Question: How does the sockscription work?

Answer: “It’s very simple. You choose which kind of socks you want and how often you want them delivered. Let’s say you want three pairs of black calf socks three times a year. You place the sockscription in your shopping basket and submit your order. You receive three pairs of socks in the mail. Four months later, you receive another three pairs of socks. Four months after that, you receive another three. One month before your subscription expires, you decide whether you would like us to renew your sockscription.”

Question: If you had to pinpoint one thing as the secret to your success, what would it be?

Answer: “Our attention to detail. Each one of our products is thoroughly tested. Three pairs of test socks are produced from every shipment of yarn that arrives at our factory in Northern Italy. The rest of the yarn shipment is stored until the test socks are extensively examined and put through twenty wash cycles. Finally, the test socks are compared to socks from previous series for wear and color fading. When you pay attention to the small things, good things, and big things, happen.”

Question: What advice do you have for someone wanting to start their own business?

Answer: “Find a simple idea, and run with it. My thought was, wouldn’t it be wonderful if men never had to worry about misplacing or matching socks again? Who really wants to shop for socks? Could we receive new pairs of socks in regular intervals, all in the same style and color, so our sock drawers could replenish themselves? It’s often the simplest business ideas–the ones so obvious that no one thinks of them–that are the most successful.”

Photo by Blacksocks.

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