Tag Archives: Interworkings

The Sock It to Me “Behind the Scenes” Series

Ever wandered by a company and wondered “Who works there?!” (Like who gets to fly around those remote-controlled helicopters in the mall all day.  That’s hardly work.)  Well, now it’s time to get to know the people behind those crazy Sock It to Me socks!

Now introducing our shipping connoisseur, our fantasy fanatic, the one who promises no loyalty when zombies roam the earth… Kisa!

 

Name:  Kisa

Position at SITM: Shipping Manager

Years at SITM: 3

Favorite pair of SITM socks: Giraffe (F0118)

Tell us a bit about yourself in less than 120 words: I’m a lifelong nerd. I like sci-fi and fantasy. I like reading, writing, video games, and role-playing games.  I also like karaoke and have been known to practice a little muay thai kick boxing from time to time.

What were you doing before you started working at Sock It to Me? Working as a production assistant on films and TV shows around Portland.  It’s not as fun as you might think.  Working 15 hour days, on my feet the whole time and looking for new work every three to six months got tiring.  Sock It to Me is a much cooler job.

One food item you could not live without: Red meat.  I don’t want to offend any vegetarians out there, but there are times I just crave flesh and blood.

Where are you going when the zombie apocalypse happens?  Honestly, I am completely unprepared for an apocalypse.  I suspect I’ll die in the first wave, in which case, I’ll be stumbling around looking for some juicy brains.  If I do manage to survive, I’ll make my way to a cutlery shop and try to get my hands on a katana.  Guns will become useless real quick without a steady supply of ammo.  I’ll need a weapon that can sever heads.

What sock do you wish SITM had? I’m a sucker for mythical creatures and it seems we are lacking dragons.  It is an oversight I am sure will soon be corrected.

Tune in next week to meet another member of our amazing crew!!!

 

 

Asia Trip

Hi guys, I’ve been back from my Asia trip for a couple weeks now and am finally getting around to write about my experience.  I love to travel, so to do it for work was a great excuse.  I spent almost three weeks in South Korea, China and Taiwan, doing some sock research and exploring new product ideas.  (I even got a chance to sneak in a dinner with my aunt and cousins that live in Seoul.)  I visited manufacturers that made athletic socks, baby socks, toe socks, tights, and leg warmers, constantly asking myself, what do people want? I took lots of pictures, got lots of samples, and got all of the creative juices flowing.  The only problem now? What direction to choose first! (Thanks for all of your feedback on Facebook!)

The trip started out with 6 days in Seoul, South Korea.* I stayed at a nice, central hotel on the 31st floor (see video below) and nearly every morning started with a business-related meeting.

My great friend and business partner was my chaperon while there.  Here is a picture of myself with him and his family:

One of the most important stops in my tour was of the facilities we currently use. I was surprised to see that the actual sock machines don’t need much man power.  In a room with approximately 30 machines, only one person is needed to keep everything running smoothly.  Surprising, huh?  Once the machines are threaded they automatically start pumping out sock tubes. I witnessed this with all the sock manufacturers that I met along my tour.  Here is a video I took at our current manufacturer that captures the making of our very own Men’s Mustache sock:

Pretty cool huh?  I was in awe.  This type of behind-the-scenes, how-it’s-made stuff fascinates me.  While the socks are machine-made as tubes, a team of sweet women (shown towards the end of the video) then seam the toe closed. From there, the socks are put on a foot form and sent through a steamer to get the wrinkles out.  Next they are labeled, packed into boxes and loaded into a container.  From there they are trucked from Seoul to Busan, South Korea’s port, and loaded onto a container ship.  After an 11-day journey over the ocean, they finally land at the Port of Portland, right here in Oregon.  As the last piece of the puzzle, the truck then delivers the socks to our warehouse/SITM HQ, and we all gather to unload the boxes, one at a time.  This is a lot of work, because every 20-ft container holds 60,000 pairs of socks, and each 40-ft container holds 120,000 pairs of socks—and we get several of each, every year!

Jay looking studly as he waits for the container

To finish out the tour of our manufacturer, the CEO treated us to what seemed like a 12-course meal.  Below is a video clip I took of him eating this really interesting dish that was explained to me as tasting like rotten fish.  I did try it (but didn’t like it), and it indeed had a very strong, pungent taste, almost like it was fermented. Mmmm yummy?  This video captures the making of the perfect bite and eating it in “one shot”.

After visiting two other sock manufactures in Korea, I headed to China for the second part of the trip.  While there, I visited several more manufacturers and was really struck in particular by Andy, the female owner of a lingerie company who is almost the exact same age as me (32).  The whole experience was awe-inspiring; from the variety of the product (very detailed items using multiple types of fabric and embellishments) to the way Andy provides for her employees.

As I toured through Andy’s showroom, I saw lingerie items of all kinds, plus tutus and costumes (leprechaun, sailor, and Little Bo Peep) made from a variety of beautiful fabrics and embellishments.  When we headed to the workroom, the staff was busy sewing the latest orders; some items with black frills, others with pink lace.  As I watched the 30 or so people sitting behind sewing machines working on different products—with the sun streaming in through big, ceiling-reaching windows—it looked like an enjoyable place to work, where all of the workers are well-treated, like family.

In fact, Andy provides furnished, dorm-style housing for her staff, because many of her workers come from small towns far away and must live on-site.  She also provides a cafeteria that serves three meals a day, and their lunch break is an hour and a half long. By the looks of it, basketball is a big lunchtime activity, as I noticed a group of men outside playing the day I visited. Andy says that providing all these provision is common amongst manufacturers and to keep employees she must cover them otherwise they’ll go elsewhere.

It was all very different from the way we do things in the U.S., and different I think from how we think they’re done in China.  I’m glad I’m able to shed some positive light on the subject with my firsthand experience. Before I left, I was a bit nervous about what I might see, with the sweatshop stories circulating in the States.  But Andy’s operation and the manufacturers I visited throughout my trip were not the least bit scary.  It certainly isn’t glamorous work for those who at the sewing machines, but I liken it to similar jobs here in the U.S. like fast food—jobs that aren’t necessarily the best jobs in the world, but they’re honest work with honest pay.

After the tour of the facilities, Andy took me to the wholesale market where she sources all of her fabrics.  AMAZING.  There were buildings as big as malls with floor-to-ceiling lace—antique lace, multi-color lace, wide lace, thin lace, lace with sequence, and so on.  Then there were fabric stores with the same kind of set up, with rolls and rolls in every kind of knit you could imagine.  It was impressive, to say the least.

After our long day, Andy invited me to dinner with her father at her colleagues’ house.  They treated me to the traditional Chinese Hot Pot.  It was delish! I enjoyed my time very much, and it was really interesting to see how Andy balanced her personal life while running her business.  It’s a different game altogether when spouses and kids are added to the equation.

Hot Pot!
Andy and friends

My last stop was Taiwan.  I was there to meet a manufacturer who made our extra-long leg warmers.  Coincidentally enough, the head person there was also female.  Her name is Samina.  Most impressive was the fact that her home (which houses her 2 children, mother and father) was directly under her offices… and next door to her sample-making machines and packaging partner.  It was like a little sock compound!  The coolest part about her set up was that she could run downstairs at any time to see her darling little kids.  Here is a picture of her too-cute son:

Samina’s darling baby boy

After Taiwan—home.  I was wiped.  But all in all, it was a great trip.  I was humbled by the extreme generosity and hospitality I received from all I visited.  I’m also glad to have amassed so much new information and grateful to have had the opportunity to see the whole manufacturing process, while building upon old relationships—and making new ones.  Plus I got to visit some unique countries.  I didn’t even get a chance to mention all of the fun markets and crazy foods that I ingested.  But that will all come in another post.  So check back for another blog on that!

Thanks for your interest and if you have any questions, please ask.

Carrie

*Don’t worry; despite the recent scuffles between the 2 Koreas, I was fine.  The people of South Korea were definitely aware of the threat, but things seemed to carry on as normal.  My father (who never worries) even called before I left to express his concern.  I had gone on to China by the time the threat was the highest on that Monday.

From sketch to sock….

Hey y’all,  Happy Cinco de Mayo!

One of my favorite parts of this business is the actual design.  As you’ll see in the example, I am not good at drawing……at all.  But I still appreciate the creative aspect, the color choosing, the mash up of imagery, and just seeing a design and instantly knowing, “yep, that’s the one.”  To show you some of the steps involved I’m going to use our Monkey sock as an example.  I first started with a sketch.  I knew I wanted some sort of monkey hear no evil, see no evil type of thing.  Some cute monkey doing something that everyone recognizes, and everybody loves listening to music, right?  So why not a cute little monkey face wearing headphones?  I drew a couple sketches, got out my colored pencils to notate out some specific colors, and came up this:

Step 1 to the design process

Then I sent it to a professional designer, many of which are from right here in Portland.  They redraw the imagery in Photoshop or Illustrator and make something that looks like this:

carrie_monkeys2

From here we make a couple changes to pattern density, add or subtract details (in this example we added knobs to the outside of the headphones so they looked more like headphones and less like ear muffs) or we mess with the color until we come up with something we are happy with.  Once we have all the details finished, we assign each color with a special number that tells the manufacture which specific color to use and, voila!  We have a finished product:

Step 3

f18-close

Pretty cool huh?  Now this isn’t the only way it happens, but its one of the ways.  Maybe in one of the future posts I’ll show you examples of designs that didn’t turn out so great.  Since designs are stitched into the fabric there are some limitations and therefore can’t be as complicated as say a 7 color screen printed t-shirt.

Happy looking and if you’re out there could you drop me some kind of hint?  Like just type a period in the comment box or a simple word that has nothing to do with the post.  I’m curious to see if people are reading this, if not, there is no point for me to continue.

Happy happy day!

Carrie

Meet the Sock it to Me crew!!

Ever wonder who puts those socks neatly in those little packages you receive?  Or who you talked to on the phone when you called in?  Its little ole us!  See what kinds of things we like to do outside of socks, as well as stuff we like about socks.

Carrie:

Tell us your life story in haiku form:

Little kid Midwest
Later roamed around all over
Now checking it out

Pets:

One kind of mean, but cute baby tiger errr… cat (Rocco)

#1 Food item:

Kraft Mac and Cheese from the box. I usually eat it once a week.

Pick One: Ninja/ Pirate / Cowboy

Ninja, duh! They are like totally the best.

Super power:

Raw celery radar! No me gusta celery, it has a really strong flavor, so I can pick it out in even the smallest amounts. So don’t you try slipping any diced celery into my chicken salad, I’ll catch you!

Cheese of choice:

For nachos and grilled cheese sandwiches, American is the way to go. I’m telling you….it melts so much better than the rest. (Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve bought and consumed at least one loaf of Velvetta this year.) For munching down on just some regular cheese I like extra sharp cheddar, smoked gouda, muenster, and mozzarella string cheese sticks are a couple of my favs. I’m not a fan of the stinky, moldy stuff.

Weeks ambition:

Make some progress on the art space in the garage, get some sun, hang out with cute boy.

Carrie

Favorite Sock:

Hmmmm, I really like the simple 2 color stripped socks we carry for everyday wear, argyles look great w/a skirt for a classy look, and my current favorite pattered sock is our Dear Deer. He’s such a cute little guy.

What kind of tree are you:

The big old kind with really thick and textured bark that only big old trees can have.

# of socks in your sock drawer:

Uhhh, you mean sock drawers plural?? Well, I don’t have an actually count but I’d guess somewhere in the neighborhood of 200-250 pair that are actually in use.

_____________________________

Amber:

Tell us your life story in haiku form:

Kona. Oregon.

New York City was neat. But

Portland is home.

Pets:

Nibbler Cupcake Monster Kaipaka-McMannis the First. He’s a ferocious killer! 3 kitties that are really fat. 1 rock my mom gave me.

#1 Food item:

Salad Dressing. Not by itself. I eat a lot of lettuce and could not handle it without a different dressing every time. I have a rack of salad dressings. My favorites are balsamic vinegar and jalapeño ranch. I don’t need croutons or any of that crap but if there isn’t a good dressing on it, I’m giving the salad to my dog.

Pick One: Ninja / Pirate / Cowboy

Cowboy! I fancy the idea of riding horses while shooting people.

Amber

Super Power:

Mind control. I would not be noble with this power and would totally abuse it to make everyone on my block paint their houses neon colors and  buy ponies to stick in the front yard for my amusement.

Cheese of choice:

Dill Harvarti preferably not moldy. My guilty pleasure is buying a really good loaf of fresh bread at the bakery, some havarti, an avocado, and some turkey and then making the best sandwich ever. I then sit on my couch eating it until nothing else will fit in my belly.

Week’s Ambition:

To drive a tractor. It could happen.

Favorite Sock:

C12. I love me some turquoise. I am looking forward to the crew socks because my fattie legs don’t fit some of our knee highs well. I’m sure I will have a new favorite soon!

What type of tree are you?

Eucalyptus because it smells.

# of socks in your sock drawer:

I have more socks than all my other clothing combined. If I could sew well I would make a sock jump suit.

_____________________________

Kisa:

Tell us your life story in haiku form:

Hippies for parents

Write screenplays in my spare time

Karaoke for fun

Pets:

A black lab named Baxter and a calico cat named GoGo

Kisa#1 food item:

Steak. The bloodier the better.

Pick One: Ninja / Pirate / Cowbow

Super Power:

I can leap short fences in a single bound.

Cheese of choice:

Cake. Does cheesecake count?

Week’s Ambition:

To drive a moving van down Portland’s narrow streets without killing any cyclists or destroying parked cars.

Favorite Socks:

Monkeys

What type of tree are you?

Wisteria- A twisted little tree, but smells nice.

Number of socks in your sock drawer:

37

_____________________________

Nibbler:

Tell us your life story in haiku form:

Drool. Lick. Eat. Poop. Pee.

Love Love Love Love Love Love Love

Nibbler hearts sleeping.

Pets:

Amber, Shawn

#1 Food item:

Liver is oh so good!

Pick One: Ninja / Pirate / Cowboy

Pirate for the booze.

Super Power:

Rubber Feet

Cheese of choice:

Any that falls on the ground.

Week’s Ambition:

To chase a cat or maybe fall asleep outside.

Favorite Sock:

Partial to leg warmers.

What type of tree are you?

I eat trees!

# of socks in your sock drawer:

If I had a drawer, I would put my dog treats in it. Not socks.

Nibbler



Tuesday!!

Hi y’all….if there is really anybody out there reading this…..it’s Tuesday afternoon and I haven’t been very good at keeping up to my promised Monday morning postings.  But, I’m squeezing some time in now.

Busy last couple of weeks.  The main thing occupying my time was placing the fall order.  All in all, we will have 46 new styles!!  Some of those are men’s, a big chunk are new women’s knee highs, and the other big chunk is a new line of women’s crew, or ankle high socks.  I know a lot of women out there like the funky socks but they don’t necessarily like the knee highs.  This line is for you!  It was also a little more fun for us because the designs could be a more complicated.  The knee high designs have to be fairly simple because more detail means more knots in the string, which makes a tighter sock, and harder to fit over varying calf widths.  With ankle high socks there is no need for the sock to ever strech over a calf, and therefore can be made with more intricate designs.  Yay!  So keep an eye out for a sushi, tacos, and even a veggies with faces socks.  All new styles to be in at the end of June, so be sure to check back then.

We also worked with a variety of different designers this round, all of them brand new this year.  Several from here in the Portland area, one from Lawerence Kansas, and then one from Sweden!  Having internet and e-mail makes working with designers from all over the world a breeze.  I hope to someday have a better outlet on the website to accept new designs, and then having a voting platform  similar to threadless.com, where the customers vote and highly scored designs get produced, and then designers rewarded accordingly.  This is one of the many things I’d like to add to Sock it to Me to make it a better business that serves the people.  Always lots of ideas and a full plate, now if I could some how work figure out how to get by with 4 hours of sleep a night.  Truth be told I’m a big fan of 8 hours a night and I get kind of cranky if I don’t get it.  I don’t drink coffee (gasp!) and think I’m able to survive without it because I do get my full 8 hours…..Ok, getting off the subject now.  Let’s see, what other sock news do I have…

Basically I  want to run an awesome, efficient business,where the customers get a quality product for a fair price in an efficient manner, and where I make smart business decisions to keep the place running, the lights on, and the team paid.  The improvement list never ends; be it website updates, product design ideas, or fine tuning our systems dealing with getting product out, we will always have plenty to do.  Your comments, feedback, and suggestions keeps our changes relevant, so keep em coming!

I’ll leave you with some pictures sent in from  a customer who used our socks as part of their Oompa Loompa costumes for their Charlie and the Chocolate Factory performance.  Enjoy!  And hopefully there is a little spring sunshine wherever you are!

Carrie

Wearing the Juicy Fruit socks.

oompa-loompa-21