Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in clothing but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Lisa Riggs, founder, and CEO of Spirit Sox USA, LLC., located in San Jose, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
One of the best things about custom socks is everyone can be our customer - except sock haters, of course! But more seriously, we uniquely customize socks for every one of our customers to meet their unique needs. Our clients use the socks for events, client gifts, as a fundraiser, for every sport under the sun, and so on. You name it, and we can customize a sock for it.
Tell us about yourself
Ironically, socks were never a thing for me before starting Spirit Sox USA. It was all about the idea. I was so tired of the cookie dough and wrapping paper fundraisers, so when I was on the Education Foundation Board running the After-School Sports Program, I had to come up with an idea to motivate parents to donate and support the program. And that's where I had the idea for socks!
We customized them to match the uniforms, sold 200 pairs in days, made a $17 profit margin, and had to reorder immediately! So I did the cliche sit at the kitchen table with my husband and asked, "Should I do this?".
I've built Spirit Sox USA from the ground up. Six years later, I've expanded the company far beyond only using the socks as a fundraiser. However, the social responsibility piece is still my passion.
My mission has always been to make the world a better place, one sock at a time. And when we can accomplish that, helping communities, causes, and non-profits, it makes it all worth it.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Good question. Honestly, I think my biggest accomplishment is still being in business and continuing to grow the company. 80% of startups fail in the 1st year. About 90% fail by year 5. Add a global pandemic to those stats, and it's clear it's a true accomplishment to hit my 6th anniversary on 2/22/22.
But more than just keeping the doors open, I want my company to make a positive impact. Spirit Sox USA is a certified Women-Owned company, and I am very proud of that. In addition, we donate 5% of our profits to providing socks for the homeless each year.
Truly, my biggest accomplishment is when I get told that I am a role model or example for other women, young girls, or daughters. That is the highest compliment I could ever imagine receiving and one I never expected.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Failure is one of the hardest things I've had to overcome as a business owner. As a lifelong perfectionist, failing is difficult for me. But inevitably, as a business owner, bad decisions will be made, and there will be days, weeks, or months where sales are tough, and No, seems to be the only answer we hear.
The way I overcome this is I allow myself to have a pity party for that night. But the next morning, I get up, brush myself off and go back to it. I make sure to learn from my failures and try not to make those mistakes again.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- What makes you unique? There's a high likelihood someone may already have your idea or product out there. So what makes you different than them? How are you going to stand out?
- How are you going to find your customers? We can have a brilliant idea for a company, but it will never get off the ground if we don't know how to acquire customers. People often are able to identify their customers, but I take it one step further and ask, how are you going to get them to be your customer?
- Legally protect yourself from the beginning. This is a mistake I made and didn't apply for my trademark, thinking I wasn't big enough or important enough. That's a mistake. We should all legally protect ourselves and our brand as soon as we lock in the name and URL.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I can share a little about myself personally. While I do love my business, my family always comes first. My husband and I have been married for 25-years - happily at that! We have two beautiful college-age children that I love with my whole heart. In addition, we have two rescue dogs, four fantail goldfish, and a 30-year old box turtle named Henry. He's the cool guy in the house!
In my spare time, I love to exercise, be outside, read, and spend time with family and friends. The beach and swimming with sea turtles is my happy place.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email email@example.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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