The Struggles for Start-Up

I had an idea, even better than that I had an actual way that it would work, socks that would stay paired together. I had made some basic versions myself with a pile of cheap socks I had ordered off Amazon. I had been wearing them each day, taking them off, popping them together and throwing them in the wash. All had gone through the wash and dryer and had stay paired....they worked.....success!

One thing I had realised after months of wearing cheap socks.....mine would need to be much better quality. If I am to put my name to something, I want to be proud of it. I'm too much of a worrier; I'd hate the thought of people complaining about a product I'd made, I'd take it too personally. I would only make socks I would be happy to wear and give as a gift.

I set out contacting UK factories. I would need to meet with them and explain my idea. I didn't have any fancy drawings, just the ugly home made prototypes. Every factory I approached wanted to know the minimum order I would require, as this wasn't in the tens of thousands, they wouldn't meet with me. Others when I asked the question "Do you sew onto the socks?" simply replied "No" and suggested I looked elsewhere. I felt stuck. And worse, I was stuck like this for months!

I began to look at companies that helped with prototypes, these tended to be more tech-based, not textiles. Then I came across Fazane Fox Production Labs, based in Nottinghamshire. Fazane helps designers, businesses and clothing brands realise their dream. Fazane and her team provide services from the design stage, to development, right through to the production. I contacted her straight away and made an appointment for the following week.

I was excited that Popasox (it now had a name!!) might actually come to life. I stayed at my sister's house the night before as she lived closer to the M5 as I had to set off at 6am. The next morning, bright and early I headed up the motorway, making good progress, reaching Birmingham and then stopped. I came off the motorway and back on. It was no good I was going nowhere fast. I called Fazane who couldn't have been nicer and told me not to worry and that they would see me whatever time I arrived. Finally I made it at 11am...2 hours later than our appointment. Luckily Fazane and Erica were understanding, and even better they loved Popasox. I had my poor examples as well as some socks I had picked up on the high street to see what they were made of and where they were made. Most socks I found I liked were a mix of cotton (softness), polyamide (strength) and elastane (stretch). They were also mostly made in Turkey. We spent the next few hours discussing the colours, patterns, tape, poppers; everything Popasox.



The next months were exciting, seeing the technical drawings and choosing colours, trying the factory's socks for softness and fit. They were also frustrating. When it came to receiving the first samples of the socks with the poppers attached I was really disappointed. Fazane told me not to worry and that the first samples are just a rough version but the factory just couldn't get what we wanted. Looking back these first samples were key in figuring out exactly how the tape would be attached and the exact method to achieve it. The first factories gave up and we moved our attention to Portugal, where the quality of garments is high but in turn so is the price. This didn't matter at this point as after seeing the first attempts I knew I wanted them to be right.

Socks are knitted and the fasteners were to be sewn. After trying to find a factory in Portugal to do both we realised that we should leave those to what they are good at. The sock factory would make the socks, another to make the tape and attach the poppers and a third that specialises in sewing would do the intricate job of attaching the two. 


It took over a year from that first meeting in Nottinghamshire to receiving the first batch of Popasox but we persevered and we did it. So a massive thank you to Fazane and her team that coordinated each of the factories to work together.

I now had 2,400 pairs of socks.....now what?



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