10 million pairs of Happy Socks and counting
We have just been down to the Sydney based distributors of Happy Socks to meet and interview the Founders, and we can safely say that we are feeling a little lighter on our feet - dare we say a little happier - having met these two Swedish guys.
The first thing you notice is that they are remarkably different. Viktor Tell is tall with a great deal of brown hair, rather loosely kept, and Mikael Söderlindh is not so tall with finely kept black locks. Both are extremely engaging but in different ways, one laid back, one more intense (but both happy), as we chat about their business Happy Socks. It becomes clear that it is this difference that has contributed to their success. Mikael is the business guy , and Victor is the creative guy. They both seem ‘very fine’ with that, although Mikael does insist he is part of the very final say of the look of the socks - but up until that point there is no interference.
How It Started
Mikael and Victor are old friends and it was on a long Sunday afternoon in 2008 that Viktor said he had an idea to create colourful socks and call it Happy Socks. Mikael googled how many socks people on average buy a year and based on that a business was born. Both admitted they were a little jaded with their jobs at the time - Victor an illustrator and graphic designer and Mikael owned an advertising agency - and within a week both had quit their roles.
Growth and Strategy
Happy Socks is now in 55 countries and has happily dressed some 10 million pairs of feet! Astounding when you consider that it has only been four years. The guys tell us that Sweden is a small country of only 8 million people, so with their niche product they knew they needed to create a global brand. Importantly they set up the company as a global brand, with a global attitude, so that from inception every decision was made with that focus. An example of this is that they concentrate their energy on the creative and the package ( they only have 20 staff), and then rely wholly on distributors to get their product out there - they even use a distributor in their native Sweden. While leaving the distribution to the distributors - they do set high standards and give a lot of time ensuring these relationships are right.
Viktor is clearly in love with colour, its combinations and in particular the block form of it (that includes dots). His inspiration is the things around him buildings, cars, objects - how things fall together. You feel that there is no limit to his design ethos - except maybe that the design must make you smile.
Collaboration & Brand
Happy Socks has had success with co-labs, partnering up with Keds, Addidas, Giles Deacon, Minecraft (an online game!), amongst others. This has been a mutual thing, with Happy Socks approaching some and vice versa. Importantly the two parties have to get along, have fun, and create mutual benefit. For the team, these collaborations have been interesting to explore as they do take the brand places it wouldn’t otherwise go, however the guys are careful to always bring it back to their core. They do not intend to move beyond their expertise right now as they want to be known for being excellent at what they do. They do acknowledge that in some ways the brand is potentially strong enough to move beyond socks.
The plan is to continue to expand and to solidify in the locations they already are. The market today is different than when they started with many more competitors jumping into the space, however Happy Socks feels a step ahead. We agree. We are wearing Happy Socks right now, they feel good, and they look good. With a brand philosophy ‘to bring happiness and quality to every corner of the world’ we think the 10 million pairs of happy feet will only grow in number.