Socks That RockBy Carol Alt / Post / June 22, 2016
A few days ago I received an email from a woman named Susan. She said she’d been given my contact information by my good friend Rich, who had recommended me to try her new product. Now both Rich and my other dear friend Marybeth have been wearing compression socks for a number of reasons for twelve years or so now, and Susan was interested in sending me a pair of her company’s socks.
Anyone who knows me knows I’m always looking for ways to be healthier, and I’ve actually been wearing compression socks myself for a while now, especially while travelling. Anyway, Susan had some convincing arguments. She pitched me hard, letting me know that her socks, called Lily Trotters, aren’t like the rest. They’re fashionable, with designs focusing on the trendy woman. They’re built “marathon strong,” so you’ll be able to run hard and far. And perhaps what I thought was the best, they’re THIN and EASY TO GET ON AND OFF. That’s a huge deal with compression socks. The ones I’m used to buying are Russian, plain, and black. They’re a pain to get on and off as well.
Now I should mention that I didn’t need all that much convincing. If Rich and Marybeth suggest something to me, I’m all in. That’s all I needed. So I went ahead and replied to Susan, saying “I am really interested in seeing a pair of your fabulous fashion socks!” I sent her my size, and two days later I had not one, but SEVERAL pairs of these lovely socks in my house, and more importantly, on my feet. Compression socks, for me, aren’t a fashion statement. But these… These are CUTE. And goodness… They actually ARE comfortable. Okay, okay, Lily Trotters, I give up, you win. It’s a FABULOUS sock. I think it’s best summed up by saying they’re easy to get on (which was a surprise), and easy to get off (which was a relief).
So I emailed Susan letting her know just how much I loved them and mentioned I’d like to write this blog about them. Needless to say, she was totally happy and all for it! She even asked for a photo of ME in my Lily Trotters! I’ve got to tell you, I was more than flattered.
As I’m sure you’re all used to, I love to investigate and learn more about the things I’m interested in. So I asked how they got into the business and WHY they chose to get into the business they did. For this section, I’m going to post the message I received back.
From this point on, it’s all Susan.
“The inspiration for Lily Trotters came to me in 2011 during a 17.5-hour airplane ride to Africa for a vacation with my BFF and our daughters. After a plethora of shots from Passport Health, they sold me an (ugly beige medical) compression to wear on my flight – I didn’t even KNOW what a compression sock was…they explained that at the ripe age of 49, I was at risk for throwing a blood clot on such a long flight.
Normally, I was the kind of flyer who couldn’t sit still. I would need to get up frequently and move my legs around. I actually almost forgot to put on the socks, but remembered after we had finished dinner and the shades began to lower for everyone to sleep. I didn’t realize it when it was happening, but I never felt the need to get up once in 16 hours! And when I finally did- I was exhausted, but my legs were ready to party! It was truly life-changing – why would I ever put something else on my legs again?
When I returned home, I couldn’t wait to find pretty compression socks, ones that were functional and comfortable too. There were tons of boring medical ones and the athletic compression socks were just starting to come out. I workout a lot, so I tried everything i could find. Much to my dismay, nothing hit the mark. The medical ones were too boring and not strong enough for sports. The athletic ones were too thick, heavy, uncomfortable and only came in hot pink (not sassy enough!). So I embarked on this arduous (but rewarding) journey to produce the first ever line of high-performance designer compression socks, made in the USA for women everywhere.
Nothing about making Lily Trotters has been easy. This is by far the hardest thing I have ever done – from finding a US sock mill to work with us to just naming the company!
Last summer we launched a 30-day Kickstarter campaign to raise money for our first production run. We hit our goal in 6 hours and 28 minutes! By the time the campaign was over, we raised $46,784.00. We continued to take pre-orders and when we were done with our first run, we had pre-sold over $64,000.00 in socks! In April 2016 we opened our online store and are now selling directly to customers at lilytrotters.com and expanding our sales channels both online and in retail outlets here in Baltimore (to start).
“All we want to do is make pretty compression socks.”
This is the phrase we have been repeating over and over for the past three years. When the idea came up for Lily Trotters back in 2012, we had no idea how hard it would be to make high-quality, designer athletic compression socks. Designed, sourced, manufactured, and quality-tested in the USA, no less. But every hurdle, every challenge, every conversation that ended in, “Sorry, we can’t help you — what you are asking for cannot be done — good luck little lady” has been worth it.
It has been quite a journey. We started by doing small sock-wearing studies with healthy women who had never worn compression socks — to ascertain whether they too felt benefits wearing a 15-20mmHg compression sock; the feedback was a unanimous yes! Next, we did extensive market research to analyze the compression sock market and see where Lily Trotters might fit in.
We talked to everybody and anybody who had different perspectives along the way. We learned – and are still learning – so much.
Arranging for the production of our socks was a saga in itself. We cold-called so many sock mills in the USA. This was really hard, since most are over-booked and not in a position to even talk to a start-up, let alone develop a new product. Still, we got super lucky and found the right mill. They saw our vision from the get-go and have worked with us to explore every possibility. We have sampled nearly 30 prototypes to date, and discovered how to “knit in” different colored yarns without compromising the compression in our socks.
Finally, we conducted a comprehensive sock-wearing study of our prototypes on female volunteers. The findings were overwhelmingly positive. Each and every step of the way we have looked for validation that we were designing a product that would be both desirable to and functional for women.
All we wanted to do was make pretty compression socks. Lily Trotters are all that — and more.”
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Web at CarolAlt.com
Edited by Jake Layton