Meet our INSIDER CLICKS feature: the creative mind behind Soxfords!
“The concept of Soxfords came a few years back when I was trying to find a pair of fun fish-themed dress socks for my father, who likes to fish. At the time, I could only find themed novelty socks – like clownfish, or a shark eating your leg – and I knew he would never wear those to the office. I spent quite a bit of time searching before I realized that if I wanted socks like that, I’d have to make them myself. For some reason the idea stuck! I had no background in fashion or design, and limited funds to launch with, so getting Soxfords off the ground took quite a bit of time, effort, and commitment! I still work full-time as a digital media analyst, and between that, Soxfords and my young twins (9 months), things are pretty busy!” – Ryan Kent
FACT: At one point last year I was focused on launching Soxfords while attending grad school part-time and working full-time…during which time, my wife and I bought our first home, and our twins were born! It was a life-changing, hectic year, to say the least!
FACT: I love cheesy sci-fi movies, epic fantasy novels and old-school NES games as much as a good bottle of red, a nice cigar and a tailored suit. I think that’s where the eclectic nature of Soxfords comes from – my geeky nature mixed with a love of “the good life.”
INSIDER Q & A.
W2C: What roles in your career (prior to founding Soxfords) prepared you for developing an e-commerce business?
RK: I’ve worked as a financial analyst and as a product manager at a couple of small tech start-ups. I still work as a digital media analyst. I also went on to get my MBA; the program really helped me put the finishing touches on things, and helped me connect with other like-minded folks. I have a pretty eclectic background, which isn’t so great for the traditional corporate path, but has helped in launching a new business. You have quite a few hats to wear when you’re just getting started!
W2C: What has been the biggest challenge with respect to starting an e-commerce menswear brand?
RK: Building that initial buzz on a budget! As a small, self-funded start-up, we do not have the dollars to spend on PR or on advertising, and we are not connected to any celebrities or other spokespeople. We are totally dependent on our customers to spread the word! Building a fan base is so important right now, and we are committed to building that loyalty through great customer service, a product we feel proud of and our quirky sense of style. We also love it when industry sites like WEAR to CLICK take an interest in our story. I think readers appreciate the hard work and dedication required to launch a new business, and you can’t get much more “home-grown” than Soxfords!
W2C: Where do you find inspiration for the amazing Soxfords prints?
RK: Pretty much anything: blog articles, photos, pieces of art, random patterns…I am constantly thinking in terms of socks! It’s sort of like when you get into photography and start seeing interesting compositions everywhere. I see how things would play out on a sock!
W2C: For the Fall 2013 season, what prints and/or colors are going to be essential?
RK: Guys are focused on finding new ways to show off their personality through accessories, and socks are it! You are just starting to see the more conservative crowd take a fancy to socks, especially after former President, George Bush Sr. celebrated his recent birthday in sock-loving fashion! We are focused on reaching guys who want to add a bit of whimsy to their outfits without going overboard. Our designs are meant to bridge the gap between novelty and traditional, with fun themes, colors and patterns that have a more classic sense of style.
W2C: Which men’s footwear designers are on the top of your shopping list?
RK: I’ve always loved Oak Street Bootmakers. I don’t like my shoes to get too fancy, and their subtle style is just perfect. My favorite design might be their Red Brick Sole Oxfords. You can really feel the pride they take in their shoes…a connection that isn’t easy for a larger brand to communicate.
W2C: How many pairs of socks do you own, and which are your favorite?
RK: I have a near endless supply, so that’s not an easy question to answer! I’m in love with our Cogsworth design at the moment. Its bright colors pop enough to let people know you’re wearing something out of the ordinary, and the light blue pairs well with just about anything.
W2C: What is the most exciting project or collaboration that you have been a part of?
RK: I’ve loved working with our designer, Allison Sommers, who I have worked closely with over the past few years while developing our line. I love seeing my initial concept develop into a full-fledged pattern, and I have lots of fun going back and forth with Allison as we build these designs out. I tend to get obsessed over the details!
W2C: Are there some must- have pieces currently available on your site?
RK: I’m partial to our Space Invaders design, which is based off of the old-school video game, and features the Space Invaders characters subtly interspersed in a traditional argyle design. I love it not only because it fits so perfectly with our brand image, but also because of the work that went into obtaining the license from Taito! A full year of design effort went into these socks before they were deemed ready by the license owner, and we’re the first “official” Space Invaders socks that have been licensed – not bad for a start-up! I am also fond of the quirky vignette I wrote for this design – I had a lot of fun with this one!
W2C: When you are not working, what are some of your favorite things to do?
RK: I spend a lot of time at home with our twins now, and that’s been nice. They are at a fun stage where they are just mastering crawling and get super-excited to see you when you walk into the room, and they aren’t at the point where they can talk back! I also practice a Russian martial art style called Systema a few days a week. It helps clear my head and de-stress when everything starts to pile up!
W2C: What new initiatives are in the works for Soxfords?
RK: I am really excited about our sophomore line of designs planned for this coming fall. We’ve been working hard this past year, and have learned quite a bit of what it takes to produce a really great looking pair of socks. It hasn’t been easy, but I think things are really starting to pay off. Stay tuned!
RYAN’S CLICK LIST.
GET CLICKED IN
BLOGS TO CLICK
DESIGNERS TO CLICK
SHOP + CLICK
CLICK now to discover all of the incredible Soxfords designs!