Entrepreneur Q&A: Ryan Palmer, co-founder of London Sock Co.

Ryan Palmer, co-founder of London Sock Co. talks about bringing Victorian style to the modern gentleman and the importance of having an entrepreneurial spirit.

How did London Sock Co. start?

My co-founder Dave Pickard and I both came from the corporate world where there was limited opportunity to add style and express personality in a professional environment.

It was really an observation where we saw socks as a great opportunity to help men achieve this as people really do notice socks, but also help men get noticed for the right stylish reason versus novelty reasons. As time went on we realised how much we had connected with the desire for men to add personality in a professional environment and socks being a perfect way to do this.

We had both worked hard and done well climbing the corporate ladder for a technology consultancy company in London, which is where we first met, but for both of us this was really a stepping-stone to learn as much as we could. Both being very entrepreneurial at heart, we both knew we eventually wanted to do something where we were in control of our destiny, without any ceilings. So, in September 2013 we left our jobs and we haven’t looked back since.

What are your brand values?

Brand values are important to us, not just as standards that lead the business but for how they impact everything we are striving to create.

  • Accessibility – making style an attainable goal for those who are reluctant or unsure of how to make a timeless statement with their wardrobe.
  • High-quality – from our materials and our manufacturing process to the way each pair is carefully tagged and beautifully hand-packed, everything we do is about maintaining the highest standards of quality.
  • Britishness – we are confidently British, taking the assured sense of style that the British gentleman is known for and making it attainable and relevant for the modern man.
  • Style – our socks, whether traditional or statement, business or casual, are timeless, versatile and sophisticated. Our socks are never novelty, they are always stylish.
  • Generosity – generosity runs through the brand, whether it is encouraging people to gift our socks or our dedication to social responsibility in everything from our supply chain to our Pull Your Socks Up campaign

What are your goals as a business?

To continue our growth both locally and internationally while helping men express personality and style in a way that gets noticed for the right reasons. To build the best business we can and offer our customers a first class experience in the process from purchase to wear.

What challenges have you faced running the company?

Growing a business continues to throw challenges at us all the time. There are literally too many to mention across supply chain, cash flow, stock management to name a few. The most important thing is focusing on solutions and not dwelling on problems. Learn, draw a line under and move forward.

A selection of socks from the London Sock Co
A selection of socks from London Sock Co.

How do you differ from your competitors?

London Sock Co. is all about the attention to detail and using British heritage design to inspire self-belief and confidence in men and help men add style and personality in a way that will get them noticed for the right reasons.

We want our customers to have an incredible experience from start to finish, from their experience purchasing from us to the positive comments they receive when wearing. We want people to feel that there’s no risk trying us out and if there are any problems, which there occasionally are, we will absolutely do what it takes to resolve them.

Tell us more about the brand’s Victorian influence

Our inspiration began with five stylish, rather elegant and well-to-do Victorian gentlemen. Each hailed from a different corner of the British Empire, yet were captured together in a unique image dated 1883. My co-founder was passed down this image along with a collection of Victorian artefacts, which really sparked an intriguing journey back to a time of true elegance, style and the British gentleman.

Our ambition is to capture this sense of assured style, sophistication and British heritage and make it relevant for today’s modern gentleman.

What’s in the future for London Sock Co.?

We have so many exciting projects running across the business from product development of new styles, material blends and complimenting products to technology, which is a big focus for us as a way to improve so many aspects of the business and customer experience.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

If you have an entrepreneurial spirit you’ll probably regret not exploring it further. Success of most businesses though comes down to the execution more than the idea itself.  As my co-founder always says, it’s reassuringly hard.

Try and get as much input and support as you can from people around you who have something offer and focus hard on building a network around you of people who can help, advice and accelerate what you are doing.

Make sure you are focused on the right things and build momentum by doing things every day that makes your situation even just a little bit better, it really does all add up. Most importantly though, trust your instinct, if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

Ryan Palmer is co-founder of London Sock Co.

Further reading on entrepreneurs

Entrepreneur Q&A: Jason Goldberg, director of SpaSeekers.com

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Anna Jordan

Anna is Senior Reporter, covering topics affecting SMEs such as grant funding, managing employees and the day-to-day running of a business.

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