If you want to start a company, you have to roll with the punches.
First-time startup founder Steve Staffan learned that the hard way when one of his suppliers delivered 15,000 socks to his apartment in the Loop.
“I did not know they would be coming there,” said Staffan. “I had to hire movers to bring 15,000 socks from my place to ShipBob’s warehouse in the West Loop.”
If you’re relying on a $15 pair of colorful socks to display your personality, you probably don’t have one.”
Staffan’s company, Brummell, offers a subscription service for men’s dress socks. The startup’s product lineup is exactly three items long: black socks, grey socks, navy socks.
An investment banker at a boutique Chicago firm, Staffan said the idea came about because his coworkers made fun of him for only wearing plain black socks. In their view, wearing fun, loud, colorful socks was the best way to bring personality into an office with a strict dress code.
“If you’re relying on a $15 pair of colorful socks to display your personality, you probably don’t have one,” said Staffan. “So I told them, out of spite, that I would start a company that only sold plain socks.”
Brummell is named after Beau Brummell, an 18th century London socialite held by some to be the forefather of modern fashion. Brummell also didn’t care for flashy colors, Staffan said.
Priced at $7 a pair, Brummell's sock subscriptions are available for quarterly or twice-a-year delivery. Customers who place orders for 6 pairs or more receive a 10 percent discount. Socks are also available for a one-time purchase.
Believe it or not, Brummell is not the only sock subscription service out there. Stance, best known for mismatched, colorful socks popularized by action sports athletes, has a subscription service. Fruit of the Loom, best known for filling your grandpa’s sock drawer, has a subscription service as well.
But Staffan said his company fills a new niche with its premium, yet affordable product.
“Socks are a commodity, even though the fashion industry acts like they’re not,” said Staffan. “We’re trying to do what companies like Dollar Shave Club or Harry’s Razors do — for your socks.”
The founder hasn’t ruled out the possibility of expanding the product line, however. Staffan is currently considering options like brown socks and socks in a darker shade of gray.