Joanna & Alex – Irishsocksciety.com
20th August 2018
Every month we speak to women entrepreneurs who have just launched into the business world. In the hot seat for August’s Women Who Launch is Joanna Zalech & Alex Kieldanowicz from Irish socksciety. https://irishsocksciety.com/
THE ELEVATOR PITCH
A brand designing high quality, funky, affordable socks inspired by Irish humour and lifestyle.
We are Joanna and Alex, co-founders at Irish Socksciety. We both work fulltime in the business. We have an office and warehouse based in Galway City. We want to continue to grow our business and plan to expand our team next year. In the longer term, it is our ambition to open our own manufacturing facility. Irish Socksciety.com loves all that is quirky and humorous of contemporary Ireland. We feel that feet have lots to say, and to help them talk, we design colourful and funny socks in Galway, on the west coast of Ireland, in the middle of the beautiful Wild Atlantic Way.
We initially financed the business through savings with a three-month payback! After a number of months trading, we are now able to draw a regular salary from Irishsocksciety.com. We received funding from our Local Enterprise Office by way of a Trading Online Voucher and some mentoring sessions. In a very short space of time, we were fortunate to have won first prize at the Fuelling Ambition Roadshow. This all helped in establishing the business and our reputation.
Our main target is Irish people based here and around the world, aged between 30-45 years. There is more of an emphasis on women as they are our customers even though it’s mostly men who are users. Our statistics show that more and more men in their 30s, are now purchasing our socks. Our customers very often have friends or family abroad (regardless of whether they live in NY or Dublin). They find our products handy to give as a gift – the socks which are based on Irish humour and lifestyle, bring back found memories of home.
BRANDS YOU LOVE
We are big fans and really appreciate the hard work and innovation brought to fashion by happysocks.com. We also love manymornings.com
BIGGEST ‘WIN’ TO DATE
Our biggest win is that we are already able to pay ourselves and that the brand is growing strongly thanks to the increasing number of genuine followers.
BIGGEST ‘SLAP IN THE FACE’
Thankfully, we haven’t had that experience as yet! Yes, managing a rapidly growing business is a challenge and we do have natural fears of what the future might bring and if we have the right strategy in place. However, these fears are positive in that they give us the energy to work harder, to work smarter. Hopefully we will keep postponing any ‘slaps in the face’ or will manage to avoid them altogether!
ARE YOU SOCIAL WHEN IT COMES TO MEDIA?
Social media is key to our business. Instagram, Facebook and MailChimp® are our main routes to market. We use our channels to introduce our products and new ideas; to discuss them and get feedback on our range. We are very lucky to have a growing community around our product offering who are willing to engage. We try to be as approachable as possible – to be authentic.
Social media helps us reach customers in every corner of the world. It allows us to learn about their thoughts, lifestyles, likes and dislikes; it helps us target the best customer ‘fit’. Also it simply gives us a lot of joy and fun to communicate, learn and share.
BUSINESS MODEL YOU WOULD LIKE TO EMULATE?
We would like to grow our online offering and bespoke design range. Hopefully in the not too distant future, we will open our own shop. We would also like to focus on B2C (either online or offline) with a particular emphasis on providing excellent customer service.
IF YOU HAD A BLANK CHEQUE
We would frame it, hang on a wall and go back to work. Maybe down the line we might need it more!
YOUR TRAITS – BEST AND WORST
A good sense of humour – it can save you!
Urge to design instead of sell
BEST BUSINESS LUNCH DATE
Helen Smyth (Head of SMB Ireland, EMEA at Facebook)
BEST BUSINESS ADVICE
It’s important to have the skills to learn and evaluate everything we experience. Also it’s very important to laugh – a good dollop of humour and positive attitude will bring you a long way!