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How to Start a Sock Business

Written by:

Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.

Edited by:

David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.

How to Start a Sock Business

Fast Facts

Investment range

$2,350 - $12,600

Revenue potential

$50,000 - $120,000 p.a.

Time to build

1 – 3 months

Profit potential

$35,000 - $84,000 p.a.

Industry trend

Growing

Commitment

Flexible

Novelty socks with bright colors, wild patterns and catchphrases are all the rage these days, particularly among college kids and twenty-somethings. Socks are an $8 billion global industry, so if you have a sense of style and a dash of creativity, you could start your own sock business, sell your cool designs online and maybe build a major company like Happy Socks. 

While creativity is key, starting a business takes a lot more than that. Fortunately, you’ll find everything you need to know in this step-by-step guide designed to put you on the road to success.

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

Pros and cons

Starting a sock business has pros and cons to consider before deciding if it’s right for you. 

Pros

  • Good Money – Profit margins on socks are high
  • Flexibility – Design and sell your socks online from home
  • Creativity – Let your creative juices flow to come up with unique designs

Cons

  • Saturated Market – Market is loaded with sock choices
  • Manufacturer Needed – Need to produce smaller orders affordably

Sock industry trends

Industry size and growth

sock industry size and growth

Trends and challenges

sock industry Trends and Challenges

Trends in the sock industry include:

  • Tall socks that can be worn either pushed down, rolled down, or all the way up are popular. 
  • Wild designs and unusual patterns are in demand, as are color pop designs, which are a pattern of colored shapes, and mix and match socks, which are socks that don’t match. Socks with designs from pop culture such as Real Monsters are also popular. 

Challenges in the sock industry include:

  • Trends in sock designs are constantly changing, so sock businesses have to keep up.
  • Sock businesses face massive competition online from large and small sock companies.

Demand hotspots

sock industry demand hotspots

What kind of people work in Socks?

sock industry demographics

How much does it cost to start a sock business?

You can start an online sock business for about $2,300. Costs include a website, inventory, and sock design software. To start a brick-and-mortar sock shop, you’ll spend about $12,000 to rent and build out a space and stock inventory.

For an online business, you’ll need to find a manufacturer for your socks that will do small manufacturing runs so that you don’t hold too much inventory. If you need to brush up on your sock design skills, you can find great tutorials on platforms like YouTube.

Start-up CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Setting up a business name and corporation$150 - $200$175
Business licenses and permits$100 - $300$200
Insurance$100-$300$200
Business cards and brochures$200 - $300$250
Website setup$1,000 - $3,000$2,000
Shop rental$0 - $3,000$1,500
Initial manufacturing run$500 - $5,000$2,750
Sock design software$300 - $500$400
Total$2,350 - $12,600$7,475

How much can you earn from a sock business?

sock business earnings forecast

The cost to manufacture a pair of socks is estimated at $3, while the same pair can be sold at a retail price of $10, resulting in a 70% profit margin.

In your first year or two, you could work from home and sell 5,000 pairs of socks per year, bringing in $50,000 in annual revenue. This would mean $35,000 in profit, assuming that 70% margin. As your brand gains recognition and you get repeat customers, sales could climb to 12,000 units a year. With annual revenue of $120,000, you’d make a tidy profit of $84,000.

What barriers to entry are there?

There are a few barriers to entry for a sock business. Your biggest challenges will be:

  • Finding a manufacturer that will work with your designs
  • Competition from big retailers and innovative startups

Related Business Ideas

If you’re still not sure whether this business idea is the right choice for you, here are some related business opportunities to help you on your path to entrepreneurial success.
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Step 2: Hone Your Idea

develop a business idea

Now that you know what’s involved in starting a sock business, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market. 

Market research will give you the upper hand, even if you’re already positive that you have a perfect product or service. Conducting market research is important, because it can help you understand your customers better, who your competitors are, and your business landscape.

Why? Identify an opportunity

Research sock businesses in your area and online to examine their products, price points, and customer reviews, as well as what sells best. You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the market is missing a pop culture design sock business. 

You might consider targeting a niche market by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry, such as children’s socks or men’s socks.

This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away. 

What? Determine your products

You’ll need to create some designs to get started. You should probably start with 2 or 3 designs to test the market. You also need to decide which socks you’ll offer. Options include dress socks, casual socks, compression socks, athletic socks.

Who? Identify your target market

Identifying your target market for a sock business involves considering the type of socks you offer and demographic factors:

  • Type of Socks: Your product range dictates your target market. Athletic socks appeal to sports enthusiasts, fashion socks to style-conscious consumers, and specialty socks (like eco-friendly or medical ones) cater to niche markets.
  • Demographics: Focus on age, gender, income level, and lifestyle. Younger customers might prefer trendy designs, while older ones value comfort. Also, consider the differing preferences of men, women, and children, and how income levels influence purchasing decisions.

How much should you charge for socks?

The average price for a pair of novelty socks is about $10. Your ongoing costs will be the manufacturing costs. You should aim for a profit margin of 80%.

Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.

Where? Choose your business premises

For an online sock business, starting from home is cost-effective, allowing you to save on expenses while ensuring you have enough space for inventory storage, order processing, and a small office area.

If you’re involved in manufacturing, consider setting up a workshop or partnering with a manufacturing facility, depending on your production scale. Additionally, establish an efficient system for shipping, including easy access to shipping services and materials for packaging.

On the other hand, if you’re opening a physical sock shop, selecting a location with good foot traffic and visibility is crucial. Look for commercial spaces in shopping districts or malls, ensuring the space can accommodate display areas, storage, and checkout counters. Websites like Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices are useful for finding commercial spaces.

In both scenarios, factor in budgeting for rent, utilities, insurance, and technology needs, and ensure the space complies with local business regulations and zoning laws.

sock business idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a Sock Company Name

Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:

  • Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
  • Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better 
  • Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
  • Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
  • Including keywords, such as “socks” or “novelty socks”, boosts SEO
  • Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “The Sock Spot” over “Compression Socks Spot”
  • A location-based name can help establish a strong connection with your local community and help with the SEO but might hinder future expansion

Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these. 

Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.

Step 4: Create a Business Plan

Here are the key components of a business plan:

what to include in a business plan
  • Executive Summary: Summarize your sock business, emphasizing its unique designs, quality materials, and strategies to appeal to a wide range of consumers.
  • Business Overview: Describe your business’s focus on creating and selling a variety of socks, including casual, athletic, and specialty designs.
  • Product and Services: Detail the range of socks offered, like moisture-wicking athletic socks, fashionable designs, and eco-friendly materials.
  • Market Analysis: Assess the demand for different types of socks, identifying target markets such as sports enthusiasts, fashion-conscious consumers, or those seeking comfort and durability.
  • Competitive Analysis: Compare your sock offerings to other brands, focusing on your unique designs, material quality, or pricing.
  • Sales and Marketing: Outline your strategy for selling and promoting your socks, which could include e-commerce, retail partnerships, and social media marketing.
  • Management Team: Highlight the experience and roles of your team, focusing on expertise in fashion design, textile manufacturing, and business management.
  • Operations Plan: Describe the process of sock production, from design and manufacturing to distribution and inventory management.
  • Financial Plan: Provide an overview of financials, including start-up costs, pricing strategy, and revenue projections.
  • Appendix: Include supplementary materials such as design portfolios, market research data, or supplier agreements to support your business plan.

If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch business plan for you.

Step 5: Register Your Business

Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.

Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business! 

Choose where to register your company

Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you’re planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to sock businesses. 

If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state. 

Choose your business structure

Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your sock business will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely. 

Here are the main options:

types of business structures
  • Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
  • General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
  • C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
  • S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.

We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have. 

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Step 6: Register for Taxes

The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN. 

Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.

The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist, and taxes can be filed online.

It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you’re completing them correctly.

Step 7: Fund your Business

Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:

types of business financing
  • Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
  • SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
  • Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
  • Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
  • Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
  • Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.

Bank and SBA loans are probably the best option, other than friends and family, for funding a sock business. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept. 

Step 8: Apply for Business Licenses and Permits

Business Licenses and Permits

Starting a sock business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.

Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits. 

You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more. 

You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.

This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.

If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.

Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account

Before you start making money, you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.

Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your sock business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.

Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account. 

Step 10: Get Business Insurance

Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.

Here are some types of insurance to consider:

types of business insurance
  • General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
  • Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
  • Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
  • Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
  • Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
  • Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
  • Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of the above insurance types.

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

Launching a Business

As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business. 

Essential software and tools

Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks. 

You may want to use industry-specific software, such as LS RetailVend, or Retail Pro, to manage purchasing, inventory, and invoicing.

Accounting

  • Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero
  • If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial. 

Develop your website

Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism.

You can create your own website using website builders. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.

They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google.

Marketing

Here are some powerful marketing strategies for your future business:

  • Website Optimization — Optimize your website with SEO techniques to enhance visibility in search engine results. Experiment with the design and placement of calls to action, like “Buy Now” buttons, to increase conversions.
  • Facebook Advertising — Utilize paid advertising on Facebook to target specific demographics such as men under 50 in a particular region.
  • Instagram Marketing — Leverage the platform’s visual nature to showcase your products and reach different demographics than those targeted on Facebook.
  • Google My Business and Yelp — If you decide to open a physical store, ensure these profiles are updated to boost local visibility and attract nearby customers.
  • Consistent Branding — Maintain consistent branding across all platforms, linking your social media accounts and website to create a cohesive presence.
  • Content Marketing — Start a blog focused on topics like socks, fashion, or lifestyle, and share your posts across multiple platforms.
  • Video Content — Create engaging, possibly humorous videos about your products to increase shareability and potential viral success.
  • Email Marketing — Send personalized emails or newsletters regularly to maintain engagement and encourage repeat business.
  • Limited Editions and Promotions — Create limited edition products and special promotions to foster urgency and exclusivity among your offerings.
  • Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising — Implement PPC campaigns using researched keywords to effectively target your audience.
  • Influencer Marketing — Collaborate with both high-profile and micro-influencers to showcase your socks and expand your reach.

Focus on USPs

unique selling proposition

Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your sock business meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire. 

Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your sock business could be: 

  • Cool socks to jazz up your wardrobe
  • Accessorize with zippy sock designs
  • Mix and match your socks and get everybody talking 

Networking

You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a sock business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in socks for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections. 

The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in socks. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. Online businesses might also consider affiliate marketing as a way to build relationships with potential partners and boost business. 

Step 12: Build Your Team

Building a Team for a New Business

If you’re starting out small as an online business from a home office, you may not need any employees. If you have a sock shop you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a sock business include:

  • Store Clerks – make sales, customer service
  • General Manager – scheduling, ordering, accounting
  • Marketing Lead – SEO strategies, social media

At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need. 

Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent. 

Step 13: Run a Sock Business – Start Making Money!

Running a Business

Socks are the latest craze in fashion accessories, with all sorts of funky designs hitting the shelves. You can get creative with your design skills, start your own sock business and make good money in a $7 billion industry.

You’ve got all the business know-how you need, so now it’s time to dive in and start designing your way to super sock success. 

Sock Business FAQs

How profitable is a sock business?

Profit margins on socks can be high, but the crucial element is hitting on strong designs that are popular and appealing. That’s where the real money is made. 

How can I design my own socks?

You can find software that will allow you to create designs, such as iDesigniBuy. Then you need to find a manufacturer that will make socks from your designs.

Can I start a sock business on the side?

Yes, you can start a sock business on the side by developing a business plan, sourcing suppliers, and utilizing online platforms to reach your target audience.

What is the most popular sock design?

The most popular sock design can vary depending on current trends, but classic patterns like stripes, polka dots, and solid colors tend to remain popular choices.

What materials are the best for socks?

The best materials for socks often include a blend of cotton, nylon, and elastane as they provide comfort, durability, breathability, and flexibility for everyday wear.

How can I differentiate my sock business from competitors in the market?

To differentiate your sock business from competitors, you can focus on unique designs, offer customization options, prioritize sustainable and eco-friendly manufacturing processes, or provide exceptional customer service and support.

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How to Start a Sock Business