Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? Why did you start your business?
For always as I remember a fashion was my passion. I was interested in what is going on in fashion and always wanted to be on time. On the other hand, I wanted to have a positive influence and give people positive energy with our colorful socks. That is why we started to design and produce socks. 4LCK is a brand for people who gets happiness out of freedom of choice. People who like to emphasize their independence and who wants to have fun with fashion.
What type of products do you sell? How does your manufacturing process look like?
We sell colorful socks, sometimes funny, sometimes more classic, but all of them are very high quality. The socks are for ladies, men, girls, and boys. Many of them are unisex. We design them, drawing a prototype, then the first model is produced. Next, we correct them, tune colors and we get 2nd model. There could be more iterations/modifications if needed. After final approval, the production starts. The last stage is the sewing of little inserts with the name and logo 4LCK, which takes place on the majority of our models.
What are some challenging aspects of your business? How did you overcome them?
One of the biggest challenges in our business is to find out the sock’s pattern which our customers will like. It is very difficult to predict, whether customers will desire to have the socks, whether the set of colors will be the best. To overcome it and to increase the probability of success we always make a little survey and ask our friends and family for their opinions. Often, based on the opinions, we modify the pattern or colors.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
I really enjoy, when I see someone on the street wearing 4lck socks. It’s fantastic to have the real proof that we shape someone’s outfit.
The hardest thing being an entrepreneur is to convince others to start selling your products, I mean to build sales channels, to start cooperation with shops, to reach new markets.
What are some beginner mistakes you made? What advice or words of inspiration would you like to share?
The mistake I did, was the purchase of special, advanced features to our online shop, which we don’t use at all or very rare. So I advise being very careful investing and don’t spend money on things until you are definitely sure you need it. There will be always time to buy it and you don’t need to have everything from the very beginning.
What inspires you while designing and/or creating new products.
We want to have a product portfolio, where everybody will find something he likes. So we always think about patterns, colors, which we don’t have yet. On the other hand, we look at what is going on actually in fashion and try to answer client expectations. Sometimes we’re inspired by important world trends and design socks which communicate our beliefs. A good example can be socked with the description “Stop Plastic” or “Free Planet”.
How did you get the background and skills necessary to run this type of business?
I was always business-oriented, looking at my parents running a small business. Additionally, I was studying Management at Warsaw University which gave me a very wide business background.
What are some of the most effective ways in terms of marketing products to your customers?
The most important are sales channels – the products have to be available for a wide group of customers as possible. Of course, it doesn’t mean that every channel is good, but the potential customers should see and easily reach our products. The next thing is promotion – internet AdWords and well know people (celebrities) who wear our socks.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
The key element is the promotion of the shop. If you don’t promote the shop it is like a hidden shop with turned off the lights, on a black street – nobody will find it. For promotion, it is good to use AdWords as well as referral links and articles.
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
For me, success can be measured in money (turnover) as well as a well-known brand. These things are correlated – the better-known brand will generate higher sales and more revenue, If a company generates high revenue and profits then you’ve got much more freedom to experiment with new models, new products or even to set fashion trends.
Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
Every day we start from packaging the parcels to fullfil the current orders. Next I answer to all emails and communicate with clients, accountant etc. The last standard task is to communicate with our wholesale buyers, and looking for new potential wholesale buyers. Managing own business is a full time job and there is always something to do. If you will not stop, you could work 24 hours a day. You can always improve tags, titles, products subscription, to design, to look for new sales channels etc. I try to find the work-life balance and not to loose it.
How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
I design new socks and the portfolio becomes bigger every year. I would like to start production of another fashion products in a future, to diversify our portfolio. The biggest impact on our profitability has the increase of production cost. I don’t want to increase the prices of socks, but on the other hand the growing cost consumes the profit margin. Producing socks in Poland we feel also the negative influance of changing currency rates.
This year the Covid 19 has big negative influance on the market demand and overall sale.