Socks have a reputation for being a terrible gift. Giving a kid a pair of socks for Christmas is only a step above giving them pink bunny onesie pajamas (if you aren’t familiar, check them out here). The horror! But it turns out, a sock company founded by two kids is challenging this old trope by making high-quality socks one of the most sought-after promotional products.
Jake Director and Riley Goodman, the founders of Strideline, were born to do something together. They were, after all, literally born just three hours apart in the same hospital, grew up in the Seattle area, went to school together, played on the same lacrosse team, and attended the same university. Around the office today, legend has it that Jake and Riley almost started a t-shirt company in 5th grade, but feet everywhere are happy they held out to make the most comfortable socks in the world instead.
Their obsession with socks started when the two wanted to buy colorful crew socks to show off their lacrosse team spirit but couldn’t find any. The teens decided to make their own, but colorful socks wouldn’t be enough, they would have to be comfortable too.
Creating the Most Comfortable Socks Around
Socks are seemingly simple, but quite difficult to make well. They need to be breathable, soft and stay in place. Features like padding and compression make a big difference in preference socks. Socks should keep your feet warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Of course, comfortable socks need to fit, which makes getting the right amount of elasticity important too.
The Strideline founders have gone through 14 versions of their sock. Today, as they approach their 10th anniversary, they can boast of having the most comfortable sock that has everything you need. They’ve found great combinations of premium terry cotton, a priority blend of cotton, and spandex to make them stretch.
Their premium socks are constructed so well, they come with a lifetime guarantee which also reduces waste in the sock industry.
Growing Their Company
At each turn, the college students had to learn how to meet demand. They had no experience fulfilling big orders, but they figured it out.
Their colorful and comfortable socks were a hit when the teens sold them at lacrosse tournaments across the state of Washington.
In college, using the school printer, they printed barely-passable business cards to hand out at local businesses at Pike Place Market. Every store turned them away.
At the last store, Sneaker City, they were again turned away, but instead of giving up, they begged just to be able to leave the 10 pairs of socks they had on them on the shelf. The deal was, if they didn’t sell, they could be thrown away.
The next day, the famous basketball player, Nate Robinson, walked in and bought not just one pair, but eight pairs! The store owner called them up asking for more.
When they put the Seattle skyline on their socks, retail sales started to take off. Many of the local tourist shops wanted their socks and a lot of them! When one of these tourist shops was bought out by LIDS, it was noticed that their socks were best-sellers. After LIDS started selling their socks, Nordstrom, another Seattle-based company, took notice of how high-quality they were and wanted to sell Strideline socks too.
Expanding Into the Promotional Products Industry
Strideline’s first step in the promotional products industry was a big one. Someone from Google got their hands on a pair of these premium socks. Or better put, someone from Google put their feet in a pair of premium socks! Google was organizing a company-wide flu-fighting campaign and asked if they could get 10,000 pairs of socks to give out to the employees who got their flu shot. Naturally, they said yes.
They already had their signature premium athletic socks and could get them in a range of colors and patterns, but to bring the retail experience into the promo world, Strideline needed to widen their product offering and develop new methods of achieving high-quality printing.
They worked to develop the best printing method. Most people don’t realize how difficult it is to print a logo or design on a pair of socks. There is not a lot of room to work with, and the sock has to stretch over the foot and calf, making it easily distorted. After ten years of experimentation, Strideline developed a way to laser print on socks to maintain the original design colors and accuracy.
In addition to making sure the printing was up to snuff, Jake and Riley also wanted to have the largest range of sock options in the promotional space. Throughout the years, Strideline Promo has added a variety of socks to their line including business socks, economy socks, fuzzy socks, baby, and even a sock with a pocket.
Strideline’s newest offering is a line of knit socks, which range from $3 – $12 per pair, making them an affordable option for many businesses. The knit socks come in four different options:
• Premium: When your feet want the best, this is the best option! These premium socks are made with select terry pads, and the highest quality combed cotton in the world.
• Classic: The Classic sock is the perfect promo item for a variety of customers. They are made of premium terry cotton. This sock can be worn for every day, business, and athletic purposes.
• Business: This sock means business! Comparable to any retail quality dress sock, the Business sock is perfect for corporate clients.
• Economy: Economy in price, but not quality. This is the lowest-priced, full-knit sock on the market.
With Strideline’s constant innovation it isn’t a surprise that socks have taken off as one of the most popular promotional items.
Continuing the Legacy
When Jake Director and Riley Goodman started Strideline all those years ago, they just wanted to make fun and comfortable socks. Even though the company has grown tremendously, their mission to make the best socks around hasn’t changed.
For 2019, their main goal is to continue to bring retail-quality service and offerings to the promotional products industry. Not only are they going to continue to launch new colors, styles, and methods, Strideline is also rolling out a new customer helpline, where customers can expect a response within an hour.
Ultimately, Strideline would like to be known not only for having the most comfortable socks but also having the best customer service!