20 Years of Creativity
A Chat with SITM Founder, Carrie Atkinson
Guess what? We’re turning 20, and oh boy, what a ride it’s been! Let’s dive into the epic journey of Sock It to Me – where passion and resilience are stitched into every sock and woven into the fabric of our brand story. We sat down for a lively chat with our founder, Carrie, where the tale of our sock empire unfolds like a rollercoaster of trial and error, bold decisions, and seizing opportunities like a sock master! It’s not your average business story; it’s a dynamic narrative of genuine passion that gave birth to Sock It to Me. Who needs investors focused on scaling and metrics when you’ve got heart and soul, right?
From Market Stalls to Million-Dollar Milestones:
We didn’t start in a fancy boardroom; nope, we sprouted from Saturday market stalls in Portland, Oregon. What set Sock It to Me apart from the very start was an unwavering commitment to quality and unique designs. Carrie had her “ah-ha” moment while teaching English in Seoul, South Korea. There she found herself immersed in a vibrant culture, a 24-hour city with delicious foods and a dizzying variety of street stall vendors selling all manner of locally manufactured goods. Little did she know, this experience would be the catalyst for something remarkable.
Back in the early days, our journey took root with humble origins, sourcing socks directly from South Korean wholesale markets. The designs that adorned those first pairs were already available and simple – stripes and stars that hinted at the creative possibility bubbling beneath the surface. As Carrie moved through the initial batch of product she hand picked from the Korean markets she started to dream up her own unique designs and found that as long as she made 1000s of any particular design, she could have any design she wanted! Through this process intricate patterns emerged, socks with unicorns, ninjas and cupcakes, which transformed our socks into vibrant canvases of expression!
Fast forward several years, and Sock It to Me was suddenly more than just an experiment at the Portland Saturday Market. The evolution from outdoor market stalls to becoming a million-dollar business wasn’t an overnight sensation. It was an organic process, a testament to the genuine commitment to quality, unique designs, market demand, and the unexpected moments that shape a business.
Embracing Resilience and Learning from Oops Moments:
Failures aren’t scars; they’re beauty marks! Carrie drops wisdom like confetti, saying, “Failure doesn’t stop you or stop progress; failure is something to learn from, adjust from, and then continue on.” This philosophy echoes the resilience woven into the fabric of the brand. Carrie made clear what set Sock It to Me apart from a conventional business perspective. “You don’t know until you try. I think a lot of people have fear in trying, and for better or worse, I don’t have that gene. I also had a way to try a low cost market test by setting up at the Portland Saturday Market. Many people raise money to start businesses and then once you have investors there’s a lot of pressure to grow and increase margins. By starting small and jumping in, Sock It to Me organically grew with the support of our awesome customers!”
Fearlessly jumping in and experimenting with reckless abandon, Sock It to Me grew exponentially with the love and support of our amazing community. Who needs investors when you’ve got sock enthusiasts cheering you on?
Nurturing a Unique Culture:
Our proudest achievement is our Socktastic culture. Carrie beams with pride when talking about the camaraderie and deep connections amongst our team. From mushroom foraging outings, to pet-sitting for each other, to celebrating weddings of team members within, Sock It to Me isn’t just a workplace; it’s a family where respect, love, and support create an environment where everyone thrives.
“I’m really proud that we have a respectful, and supportive environment for each other. I love that friendships have developed amongst employees outside of work.”
This pride is for the whole organization – from the dedicated warehouse staff to the creative designers, accounting, customer service, marketing and leadership teams, every member contributes to the fabric of our workplace culture and we aim to transcend the ordinary. Toxicity finds no place within these walls. Instead, there’s an atmosphere of mutual respect, love, support, inclusion, and transparency that nurtures both personal and professional growth.
“In these moments, Sock It to Me isn’t just a workplace; it’s a community where individuals share not only their professional journey but also their lives. This profound sense of connection is a testament to the values embedded in the company’s DNA – values that prioritize the well-being of each team member, fostering an environment where everyone can thrive, creating a workplace culture worth celebrating.”
Carrie’s pride extends beyond financial success to the joy in Sock It to Me’s products – fun, high-quality items that bring happiness to people’s lives. In a world where joy can be found in the smallest details, Carrie’s pride is deeply intertwined with the idea that Sock It to Me is more than a brand; it’s a source of positivity, playfulness, and the simple pleasures that make life a little brighter. It’s this genuine connection to the joy Sock It to Me brings that fuels Carrie’s passion for the brand, making every pair of socks not just a product but a carrier of happiness and delight.
Design a Sock Contest: Let’s Get Creative!
In launching this initiative, Carrie opened the door for Sock It to Me enthusiasts to become active participants in the brand’s creative journey. The Design a Sock contest is more than just a competition; it’s a celebration of the diverse and imaginative voices within our community. By inviting our fans to contribute their unique design ideas, SITM fosters belonging and shared creativity that goes beyond the traditional customer-brand relationship.
“I was inspired by going into restaurants and grocery stores that displayed whole walls of children’s coloring sheets. I thought it would be fun to create something similar for our SITM community that wasn’t at all transactional in nature and instead invited our community to be a part of the creative conversation. An organic and fun way to engage with our fans, as well as cultivating the joy of sharing creative ideas. It’s fun for the participants to see their vision posted on our social media or as one of the top 30 designs! They can say, ‘I did that! That’s mine!’.” And the pride and conversation is global. Today the Design a Sock contest isn’t just a local gig. It’s celebrated by people across the globe in over 95 nations. From continent to continent, our contest has become a symbol of creativity and inclusivity, pulsating at the heart of Sock It to Me – a brand that shares a resounding high-five with its worldwide community!
As we stride into the future, we’re not just about socks; we’re a source of joy, positivity, connections and expression. Carrie envisions a world where Sock It to Me continues to be a catalyst for shared moments and inspiration. It’s not just about transactions; it’s about weaving a tapestry of joy, creativity, and lasting connections.
So, here’s to two decades(!!) of Socktastic adventures that have colored our world with laughter and delight. Here’s to the endless possibilities that the future holds, with heartfelt gratitude for each soul that’s been a part of our extraordinary journey. Thank you for sharing in and spreading the joy – we’re excited to continue spreading it, one sock at a time!