Chances are, you have at least a few pairs of Stance Socks in your wardrobe, but the back story behind the ubiquitous knits may surprise you.
"Jeff [Kearl] was at [earbud company] Skullcandy, so I was totally thinking consumer electronics. Some cool new device. Then he threw out the most low-tech random thing. I thought he was joking. I was waiting for him to actually start laughing. He kept going and just didn't skip a beat. I thought, well he's serious, he's talking about socks," said John Wilson, co-founder and president of Stance, in an interview with Fast Company.
Wilson's background was similarly unrelated, with previous stints at brands like Oakley and Reef. Still, he couldn't help but feel that his partner was on to something big.
Kearl's grand idea was actually birthed during a trip to a department store. "I literally went down to Target. Just started looking at categories... When we looked at socks, it was like black, white, brown, gray, with some argyle on the bottom, in plastic bags and really inexpensive. It reminded me of when Skullcandy first started in 2003. The headphone aisle was all homogenized. It was black and silver, and all looked like consumer electronics," Kearl said.
By injecting hip prints, colors, and designs into what had become nothing more than a boring accessory, Kearl and Wilson began trailblazing a path that has led them to raising $86 million in funding based on socks alone.
The underlying message here? Find an untapped market, shake it up, and don't look back.