Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in clothing but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Samantha Tollworthy, founder of Teddy Locks, located in Troy, NC, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Teddy Locks are the last socks you’ll ever buy. They are insanely soft, never wear out, and exist to help save the planet. Made entirely in North Carolina from recycled plastic bottles and upcycled textiles, they’ve been designed for the planet but are made for you. Spending 404 days in research and development has allowed me to create socks that, quite literally, do it all.
They are thermo-regulating - keeping you cool in summer and warm in winter. They are knit with seamless toe technology - so there’s no lump that gives you blisters, and - they stay up! Not to mention, they are softer than cashmere - even after 365 days of wearing, washing, and drying them!
With Teddy Locks, you can declutter your sock drawer and stand proud in socks that feel good and do good. The best place to find the full collection is at https://teddylocks.com, where we ship globally from North Carolina, but you can also find us at selected retailers on the east and west coast.
Tell us about yourself
Before I started Teddy Locks, I was working as a wildlife TV producer. Traveling to some of the most remote places on earth. But, deep in the jungle, on the most isolated islands and up the harshest mountains, I was still surrounded by single-use plastic - and my eco-anxiety took over. So, I gave up my dream job and decided to build a brand that could make a difference. One that would help our planet, but also support the need for convenience - and, clearly, meet the demand for better products. It was then that I discovered that the textile industry is more polluting than shipping and aviation combined. On average, we are each losing 15 socks a year (causing many to then throw out another 15 now lonely socks).
I knew I had to kill two problems with one solution. And so, I spent months learning about manufacturing and engineered five different recycled yarns to create socks made from plastic bottles and textile waste! With the world’s best socks on foot, I launched a Kickstarter and smashed my target, becoming 200% funded. Proving the concept, product, and need for better socks! Now, just two years later, more than 14,000 bottles have been transformed into Teddy Locks socks.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
The main goal for Teddy Locks is to have a positive impact, so reaching 10,000 bottles recycled was a huge milestone. But many of my personal highlights have been with some of the amazing organic coverage the brand has received.
For example, Good Morning America spotted a feature about Teddy Locks in Bloomberg. It gave the brand some amazing exposure at the end of last year. Both of these moments have then led to podcasts and print opportunities. So, it really has been an exciting couple of years watching the brand grow and reach more people.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
As a business owner, you are central to all decision-making processes. It is on you to ensure that the company continues to accelerate forward. As a founder of a start-up, you are also more deeply involved in the day-to-day tasks as well as the big picture strategies. Even the smallest of choices will find their way to you, so managing your own time and learning to delegate and relinquish control is essential. Although challenging, it is good to step back and invite others into the process. There is always value to be added.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Find a Partner - building a business on your own is extremely difficult. Having somebody invested in it with you, who has complementary skills, will allow you to work more efficiently, motivate you on the hardest of days and allow you to grow more quickly.
- Crowdfund - establish proof of concept and discover whether there is demand for your product or service. Your friends and family will be your first supporters, but they will not keep your business operational. Running crowdfunding campaigns not only helps you to raise capital for your venture, but they also give you customers - and statistically, it is much cheaper to retain an existing customer than to discover new ones continually.
- Outsource - as a young business, it can be hard to justify spending money, especially when you don’t have it. But time is also money and arguably more invaluable. Passing over tasks will allow you to take on new projects and focus your energy on the growth of the business.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Building a brand while raising my first child has brought a whole host of challenges. But with the support of my direct network, as well as the network I have slowly built through my business, I have always been pulled over the line. Know that if you are passionate, you can achieve and that success is only measured by what you personally deem to be important.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own subscription business? Check out subkit.com and learn how you can turn "one day" into day one.