The meteoric rise of Galway-Based Irish Socksciety has been a joy to watch. From custom designs for some of Galways best loved businesses, appearances on the ankles of Irish celebrities to winning the €3,000 Elevator Pitch competition at the Limerick Fuelling Ambition Roadshow, the company has had an amazing 12 months.
With each design riffing on a specific Irish-ism or locale, the brand has gone from strength to strength of late. Joanna and Alex, the brains and owners behind the brand, are an inspiration to all aspiring business owners: they took an idea and created a company. We caught up with Joanna to find out where this idea came from and what the future holds for the Irish Socksciety.
Where did the idea behind Irish Socksciety come from?
We established our first business OLYART in 2011. We are both originally from Poland and both madly in love with Ireland so it felt only natural to establish a business that would showcase contemporary Ireland with a humorous twist. We started designing Irish souvenir gifts: magnets, mugs, bags, coasters etc. Two years ago we were searching for a new product and since we are big fans of socks ourselves we’ve decided to learn how to design them.
While doing our research and product development we decided to separate it from our souvenir business and this is how Irish Socksciety was born.
We are absolutely infatuated with Irish people and the Irish culture. Being born outside of Ireland is giving us a handy outsiders view on the lifestyle and language. We are enjoying every single minute in Ireland and every experience is becoming an inspiration.
Starting out, what was your first set of highs/lows?
Experience gained while running a business was very helpful at the beginning of the new journey and I would say the biggest challenge was to learn how to design the socks so that they look good on every pair of feet that wears them.
How do you come up with the designs?
We brainstorm ideas, think of Irish conversations, talk to our friends, listen to people chatting when queuing in shops, keep up with the current affairs. Then we do our best to transfer the idea to the socks; matching colour pallets, tying together the graphics etc.
What has been the high point of the brands story so far?
We are very lucky to be dealing with so many wonderful individual customers and also companies that decided to order bespoke designs. We are thrilled to be designing socks for Irish Cancer Society, The Galway Races, Titan HQ, Gourmet Tart, Tigh Neachtain, Kai Restaurant and The Blue Note to name a few. We loved it when An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was wearing our socks at the EU summit in Sweden. But most of all it’s the feedback we are getting. We can’t find words to describe how many messages, emails, calls we got from our customers who got in touch just to say ‘congratulations, well done and best of luck’. We are very, very lucky to be dealing with all of these amazing people.
You often do collaborations with other businesses/companies, have there been any that you found to be really rewarding/fun?
Every collaboration is a new venture and all are uniquely exciting. Every project gives us a lot of pleasure and fun and teaches us something new. We are glad to be supporting Irish Cancer Society so are particularly proud of that collaboration.
What advice would you give others that are considering starting out in business?
Believe in yourself and start with tonnes of research. Stay open minded. Listen to other people and remember that a good sense of humour will always save you.
What is next for the brand? Any interesting products in the pipeline?
We are planning to take over the world!
Before that happens, we have a few new designs scheduled for the rest of the year and we will reveal more bespoke designs as the months roll by. There might be some different products coming up, you never know!
What’s been your favourite product so far? And your best selling?
We love the ‘Bye Bye Bye’, ‘Feck It’, and ‘You're a Ride’ socks. We are really glad that more and more people are going for the socks subscriptions, including the personalized one. It’s like getting a gift for every occasion in a year with one click!
All of the socks are selling well, the hurling and rugby ones are pretty popular now, thanks to the great Irish sportsmen. We are wearing our socks every day, so I guess we really like them all ;)
Check out Irish Socksciety online store at https://irishsocksciety.com
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