Natalie, what inspired you to create SHASHI socks?
I love Pilates, barre and yoga, but I couldn’t find high-quality grip socks I liked wearing during workouts. At that time, moisture-wicking “performance socks” were mostly available for runners. They were thick, hot to wear, and poorly made, so I decided to create my own socks for the studio. I wanted socks that felt as close to bare feet as possible but would offer protection and be more hygienic. I designed SHASHI socks to stand up to my workout, help optimize my performance, and look great in or out of the studio. Best of all, I quickly realized I wasn’t the only person who felt this way. I had discovered an unmet need in the socks segment.
Do you have a fashion or entrepreneurial background?
No, but I’ve learned quickly. I have a background in design, which helped me create the product and packaging, as well as my website and promotional materials. It’s my love of dance and studio fitness that compelled me to create SHASHI and become an entrepreneur.
Tell us what makes your socks unique?
I designed SHASHI socks to be functional and fashionable. I own patents on SHASHI’s unique tapered design and the breathable mesh panel on top. Each sock is specially cut and sewn so it fits either the right or left foot and follows the contours of each one. It’s a labor-intensive process, but it’s necessary to achieve the best fit possible.
Which of The LYCRA Company technologies do you use in your socks?
I chose fabric with LYCRA® fiber because it was necessary to hold its shape and deliver the comfortable, lasting fit I wanted. The mesh panel and use of moisture-wicking COOLMAX® fiber to keep the feet cool, dry and comfortable is an additional benefit my customers truly appreciate.
How did you decide LYCRA® fiber and COOLMAX® fiber were right for your brand?
As I said earlier, I began researching performance socks in order to find one that would meet my needs in the studio. Why shouldn’t dancers have high-tech performance benefits in their socks? I noticed most of the high-quality running socks I liked had COOLMAX® fiber. LYCRA® fiber was a natural choice since lasting shape retention and the perfect fit were critical to my design. As a new company, I also appreciated the high levels of consumer awareness of each brand that would help drive sales of my socks.
Was it difficult to find a company that would manufacture your design?
Yes, it was initially. I was repeatedly told it couldn’t be done, or that it could be done, but the socks would be too expensive. Eventually I found a wonderful family-owned company in Taiwan that believed in me and my design. It has tighter control over production, a focus on creating a high-quality product, and the women who sew SHASHI socks take pride in their work. These women are very important to me. They brought my vision to life, so I view them as an integral part of my team.
When did you realize you had a business on your hands?
When I had to hire help [laughs]. Orders became overwhelming quickly and I spent most of the day fulfilling and shipping orders. I had to hire someone to keep day-to-day operations running smoothly and she’s still with me today.
What has been the best part of this experience?
I have to say that the whole experience of creating a product people love has been humbling. I still get excited when I see someone wearing my socks out in public. I often walk up to them and introduce myself and do on-the-spot market research to find out what they like or dislike, so we can do better, but the feedback has been so positive.
What’s been the biggest surprise since you started SHASHI?
I never imagined that I’d see high fashion models wearing my socks with heels walking the runway. It’s so gratifying to see SHASHI popping up in unexpected places like the runway, a golf course, or being used in nursing homes to prevent falls. This journey has been a labor of love. And you really have to love it because it’s a lot of work.
How has the rise of athleisure affected your business?
SHASHI Socks are the perfect finishing touch that completes an athleisure outfit. My business has benefited from SHASHI’s crossover appeal into the athleisure segment. They deliver the stylish, casual comfort and performance benefits that are the hallmark of athleisure apparel. Today you need to put as much thought into your choice of socks as the rest of your outfit. Socks can say a lot about the wearer. As a designer, this inspires me to keep creating new styles and colors to appeal to more people.
What do you want customers to think when they think of SHASHI socks?
I want them to think of beautiful socks that exemplify performance, style and quality from a company that has integrity.
Which of your socks or collections are your favorite?
I really like anything that sparkles in the Star collection.
What new and exciting products or collections can we look forward to seeing in the future?
I’m really excited about the Essentials Artist Series that we just launched. The sock’s print, “Koi Wave,” is designed by an up-and-coming artist named Choomi Kim. It’s our first printed sock and its made with COOLMAX® fiber. Be sure to visit our website this fall to see our latest innovation. I’m really excited about it!
Is there an organization or charity that SHASHI partners with that is really close to your heart?
We’re based in South Florida, so we like to help our local community. Our goal is to operate our business with a heart. We’re not a big company, but you don’t have to be big to make a difference. I believe if everyone helped five people the world would be a better place. We support charities that feed the hungry, help empower foster kids, and we’ve even donated SHASHI socks to a program that taught yoga to women in prison.
SHASHI socks are available online and at select retailers around the world with a retail price of $16-$20 USD. If you’d like to learn more about SHASHI socks, or want to buy a pair, visit shashionline.com.
Experience Benefits Beyond Brand Power
If you want your socks to offer lasting performance benefits that can increase customer loyalty and drive sales, The LYCRA Company has three brands you should consider:
- LYCRA® fiber delivers lasting comfort and fit
- COOLMAX® technology keeps feet cool and dry
- THERMOLITE® technology keeps feet warm to help optimize performance
To learn more about solutions for socks, click on the links above or contact Jenifer Strong.
LYCRA®, COOLMAX® and THERMOLITE® are trademarks of The LYCRA Company.