Bare Kind has knocked the socks off sales with a 120% rise for its eco-friendly footwear made from bamboo.
Business is booming for the East London firm selling colourful socks which gives 10% of its profits to save animals.
Sales jumped from £200,000 to £540,000 last year and they are expected to hit £750,000 this year as more retailers stock the animal-themed socks which help to support 25 conservation and rescue charities.
Founder Lucy Jeffrey, 28, who gave up a high-flying banking role with HSBC to start the fast growing company five years ago, said the key to sales success was the growth of wholesale and Bare Kind socks are now sold in more than 600 retailers around the world.
She said: “We are in a mix of stores including gift shops, clothing boutiques and a massive one for us has been podiatrists – because our socks are made from bamboo they are really good for your feet.”
Christmas is the key to Bare Kind’s success with 60% of its sales coming in November and December.
The cliche about buying socks as a present for Christmas is what drives so much of their growth.
While 55% of their sales are in men’s larger sizes, most of their purchasers are women – buying up to 20 pairs as gifts.
Jeffrey explained: “We are an easy gifting product – covering not just dad but friends and other relatives of both sexes and people such as a child’s teacher.
“We need to get more socks out in the ground to build sales outside of peak trading because we are a great impulse buy.”
Father’s Day is another big seller and they make money out of animal themed days throughout the year such as National Otter Day in May.
Jeffrey runs the company with her partner Andy Kemp, another HSBC high-flier who also quit the banking giant because he wanted to run his own business.
Bare Kind’s retailers currently are largely independents and charity shops on behalf of the animals they are supporting.
But Jeffrey says they are now looking to work with some of the big retailers such as John Lewis.
Bare Kind’s commitment to sustainability is evident in the materials they use to make their socks.
Bamboo is a fast-growing and renewable resource which requires less water and fewer pesticides than cotton.
Bare Kind’s socks are not-only eco-friendly but also soft, breathable and thermo-regulating.
Jeffrey said: “You don’t think about socks being the next green thing but we can learn to be more sustainable in all aspects of our lives.”
Each pair of socks is themed on a different animal which has a dedicated charity it supports.
The current best-seller is the puffin socks which support Scottish Seabird Centre.
Other charities supported include The Turtle Foundation, Rainforest Trust UK and Brent Lodge Wildlife Hospital.
Last year, the donations from their turtle socks alone were able to build a turtle hatchery, giving thousands of baby turtles a safe place to start their lives.
Jeffrey is expecting strong profit growth this year.
Speaking on the Retales podcast, Jeffrey said that managing Bare Kind’s inventory was a ‘massive challenge’.
She said: “We are a lean operation and we keep our costs low.
“The biggest challenge we have faced is stock control.
“With the vast majority of our sales in the build-up to Christmas, we need to keep a close eye on stock so that we are not left with excess stock in January.
“We have used stock control software to really keep a close eye on stock and make sure we don’t over order on less popular lines.
“We have also renegotiated our minimum order with our supplier so we are not left with too much stock in less popular lines and we have taken on a merchandiser to improve our buying. We have also launched a new mystery box with eight lines which has best sellers but is also good for surplus stock.”
Jeffrey told the Retales podcast that Shopify was a ‘great ecommerce platform’.
“Everything revolves around that and we can add different apps because there are so many integrations with Shopify,” she explained.
Jeffrey also recommended Clavio for email marketing. She said that paid for ads on Google were “really hard for us to achieve attribution on, and everyone is seeing that across the industry”.
Next stop could be socks themed around reptiles and even creepy crawlies.
Jeffrey said: “They have their own corner of the market. There are definitely people out there who will want them.”
* Jeffrey talks about sustainability and her business success on the Retales podcast from Brightpearl by Sage which features unique and captivating stories of ecommerce retailers.
Each episode delves deep into the journey of different ecommerce entrepreneurs — from scrappy startups to established multinational chains — shedding light on the strategies they deploy to ride economic waves and seize new opportunities.
Retales features candid conversations not only with these trailblazing entrepreneurs but also with the venture capitalists who back them, creating a comprehensive picture of the ecommerce landscape.