I never thought I would be making socks for a living…
Even though I had a business degree, it wasn’t really something I thought about much, until I ended up in the military.
After working at corporate jobs for about three years in Canada, I had to go back to Taiwan for mandatory military service.
It wasn’t fun.
Every day I spent there felt like it was twice as long as a normal day. Everything was planned down to the minute, and training was tough. At night, we had short showers that were either too hot or too cold. Finding the right temperature entirely luck based.
What irritated me most was the shoes…
The shoes we had to wear were made of artificial plastic leather. They were basically one step up from cardboard shoes, although at least cardboard is softer.
Not only were these shoes hard, they were heavy, and had no ventilation.
It didn’t take long for me to end up with a ton of blisters, and terrible foot pain.
Want to know what made this way worse?
The ridiculously thin standard issue socks that quickly grew holes. I had never seen socks so thin in my life. They were so thin that if you held them up to the light, you could see through them!
Now, in the military, you can’t just switch out your shoes. You are required to use their terrible shoes. They are more flexible when it comes to socks though, and this made me think…
…why not make socks that made even the worst shoes far more comfortable?
I instantly knew I had to make these socks. I didn’t know anything about socks, how they are made, or what my socks would look like or even if these socks would be possible to make.
I didn’t even have the money I needed to make the ultimate sock.
But, what I did know is that I had to make these socks. Nobody should have to deal with being horribly uncomfortable when it is easily avoidable with better socks!
After that, I spent a few nights working out a list of the features these socks needed…
- The best ergonomics possible to make these as comfortable as possible.
- Anti-bacterial properties to prevent infections, and bad smell.
- Protection in places where blisters form easily.
- Non-toxic, and eco-friendly because poisoning people isn’t something I wanted to do.
- The best quality possible!
I immediately spoke to my friends in the military to see what others thought of my idea. I thought they would love the idea because they had to deal with the same problems I did.
They weren’t quite as optimistic though, they told me that that’s just the way things are and I should deal with it.
We would still be burning candles instead of light bulbs if everyone was like them. I decided to ignore them and continue on anyways.
Thankfully, my parents thought my idea was great, and were willing to help me in any way they could.
I decided to go for it and worked side jobs during my days off from the military to save as much money as I could for this idea. I borrowed resources from friends and family, then took a loan out from a bank.
Crazy? Maybe, but I really didn’t want anybody to deal with an entirely avoidable problem like I did.
For a long time, this meant I was living off a diet of cheap dumplings and toast.
One day, my sister came over and asked why I was eating dumplings and toast all the time and why I loved them so much. I didn’t have the heart to tell her, but the reason I was eating dumplings was because I had invested my life savings and money I borrowed into making the perfect sock.
Even with my supportive family, I was beginning to feel alone in my journey and started to have doubts about NeverQuit. Would enough people really care as much as I did about socks? Even if I could make the best sock possible, is it something people would appreciate enough to pay for? A high quality sock made of the best materials possible with high labor costs involved wouldn’t be cheap!
Even finding a partner to help manufacture these socks was difficult. I spoke to a ton of different manufacturers and they all shut me down.
They told me that the sock would simply require too much work on their end to manufacture correctly. They also didn’t like that NeverQuit was a startup and told me I was being too ambitious.
Luckily, after months and months of phone calls and cold emailing, I managed to find a manufacturer via a family friend’s connection who was interested in doing something new. Someone who was willing to take a little bit of risk and bear the cost of some of the research and development involved!
Eventually, I told my friend Haohao about my idea. Instead of laughing at me, or calling me crazy he asked me how he could help!
Not only was he a skilled designer, but he was willing to work on a commission-only basis. It was a huge gamble for him to make at the time because he was in demand, and had to put paid work on hold just for me.
Haohao helped me perfect the design behind the socks alongside my new manufacturer. It seemed like everything was ready to go, and my dream would soon become a reality!
However, things are never that simple.
I started to learn about how much work is really involved in owning a company.
Cash flow management, marketing, production, product development, packaging and logistics, the list goes on and on.
I really doubted that I could pull it off but I continued to work 15 hour days for months on end.
Eventually we were ready to launch our first Kickstarter campaign and show the world exactly what we had spent the better part of a year working on!
The campaign was failing to reach the funding goal I had set out, and I was ready to quit.
I had burned through most of my life savings and was in debt, but I knew if I quit now then I would always regret it.
Instead of quitting, Haohao and I continued to work 15 hour days. We spent as much time as possible learning everything about Kickstarter and how to run a successful campaign, about marketing, about PR…anything we could get our hands on we read!
Eventually we re-launched the campaign and this time things went differently…
The new Kickstarter was a huge success that received a ton of media coverage from places like the Daily Hive, GadgetWizard, and Trend Hunter. We even made it to a Turkish blog!
At the end, we raised $21,326 on Kickstarter. Totaling 390 backers and 984 pairs of socks sold in just 28 days with word-of-mouth!
We had proven all of the naysayers wrong with the help of the Kickstarter community.
People do care about being comfortable!
I sincerely hope you’ll find the same thing I and many of our customers do when they try on their first pair of NeverQuit Socks…
That NeverQuit Socks simply can’t be beat.