Eric and Ellen Gil know what it takes to sell socks. The husband-and-wife duo spent 20 years running a legwear boutique before taking the plunge in 2009 and launching their own line, Socksmith.
Based in Santa Cruz, Calif., Socksmith offers a range of men’s and women’s socks featuring artful novelty prints and patterns. There are classic argyles and stripes, as well as imaginative series featuring cute animals and tasty foods. And for all the history buffs out there, Socksmith even produces crew socks starring familiar faces like Ben Franklin and Albert Einstein.
“We like to bring a quirky Santa Cruz flavor to everything we do,” said Eric Gil. That youthful attitude should serve the brand well, especially since millennials are currently fueling sales for hosiery and socks.
Since launching the label, the Gils have grown Socksmith at a rapid pace with the help of business partner and Head of Sales Cassandra Aaron. Earlier this year, the company moved into a new 16,000-sq.-ft. headquarters on California’s Monterey Bay that will serve as its main offices, warehouse and fulfillment center.
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And the brand is now stocked in more than 2,000 accounts worldwide, with a focus on specialty boutiques.
“We decided to target independent boutiques because we wanted to be where the brand would be most valued,” said Ellen Gil, adding that Socksmith aims to fill an important need for these retailers. “We knew from experience that as the big brands get bigger, they think less about the little boutiques and about keeping product unique.”
Eric Gil noted that Socksmith will next expand its distribution to smaller chains in Canada and the U.S. “We’ve been preparing our manufacturing and distribution to take that step,” he said. “Now, we’re ready.”
The Socksmith collection is made in South Korea and China and is priced from $7 for quarter-crew styles to $18 for over-the-knee looks. Ellen Gil said cotton women’s novelty stocks are the brand’s best performers, though the men’s segment is seeing steady growth.
This fall, the brand debuted a new line of high-quality legwear made with bamboo fibers, which are considered more environmentally friendly, as well being soft, durable and naturally antibacterial.
The use of bamboo did pose some challenges for Socksmith. “It’s harder to create prints on bamboo because you’re limited in the amount of color you can use,” said Ellen Gil, “but I think our designers have done some amazing work.”
Click through the slideshow to see looks from Socksmith’s new bamboo line.