The beginning: a trip to Japan in 2018
It all began with a trip through Japan in 2018, when I, Florian, could experience the country of my wife (half-Japanese). My wife showed me the land of her ancestors including culture, customs, nature and life in the cities. In the pulsating metropolis of Tokyo I especially liked the mixture of modern skyscrapers and traditional small shopping streets. After our explorations in Tokyo we made a stopover in nearby Yokohama and finally took the express train to Osaka, a medium-sized port city in the middle of the Japanese main island.
The first inspiration: sock dealers in Osaka
In Osaka, between the roadway and stalls with clothes and everyday objects, I noticed again and again street stalls offering high-quality socks in all colors of the rainbow. The reason for the great sock tradition in Japan: Socks have a different meaning than in Europe, as Japanese do not enter their homes with shoes and slippers are not very common.
Back in Germany: Start of the concept for the sock shop
Having arrived in Düsseldorf, I thought: Why aren't there any shops here that offer a variety of sock creations, like in Osaka? I couldn't find any shops in the pedestrian zone, and even researching the Internet only produced a few online shops, with retro design and a very limited selection. I can do that better, was my thought. Then, I decided to fill this gap. Only not as a street vendors like in Japan, but as a digital version in form of an own online shop.
The kid has a name: Sockstock®.
In 2019, I was still working for an e-commerce agency and in the evenings I worked on the idea of my own online shop. After much thought, the name should be Sockstock®. The name should illustrate the wide range of socks for every occasion.
2019 sockstock.net went live
After a year of development, the company's own web shop finally went online in spring 2018. The shop offered men's socks, women's socks, children's socks and baby socks under the brand Bale®. In addition to socks, the online shop also offered a detailed blog with information on topics such as sock care, sock types, sock production and materials. So, the shop should not only offer high-quality socks, but also helpful advice and information.
Slowly the shop became known
The first shop was not exactly overrun by customers at first - small steps were necessary for the beginning. So, I got support from helpful friends who distributed vouchers and advertised in the circle of friends. The customers were enthusiastic about the quality that Sockstock® provides - and they became more and more.
In late 2019 brand manufacturers will be added to the range
Sales increased and so in 2019 the range was extended with socks from some brand manufacturers to offer more choice to the enlarged customer base. The shop's range now included socks from the premium brands Von Jungfeld, BLACKSOCKS, Burlington, Sterntaler, Percent and SNOCKS. I also created my label Top Socks, under which top sellers from the brand manufacturers were offered as a set.
2020 more private label brands are added: Akindo & Union Socks
In 2020, the shop's range was expanded to include the own brands Akindo and Union Socks. Akindo refers to the inspiration of the online shop during the Japan vacation in 2017, which is why the label offers socks inspired by the design of the Land of the Rising Sun. The offer includes socks with simple patterns and special sock creations with unusual patterns.
The Union Socks private label serves the trend for mass customized products designed by customers. At Union Socks, users can therefore send us designs for socks, which are then presented on Sockstock®. Other users can then vote on which sock designs should be produced.
More brand manufacturers & products 2020
To strengthen the positioning of Sockstock® as an online shop for high-quality branded socks at fair prices, additional brand manufacturers are to be added to the range in 2020. The range is to be expanded to include other products such as sports socks, sneaker socks and woolen socks to offer all types of socks.
In planning for 2021: a retail store in Düsseldorf
Small sock shops are to be opened in pedestrian zones and shopping centers from 2021. The first shop is to be built in Düsseldorf, in the Japanese Quarter between the main railway station and the Old Town. From 2022, further stationery shops are to follow in NRW. In this way, we are growing constantly and meanwhile returning to the roots of our company history: small shops with a large selection of branded socks at fair prices with personal advice.