Sock It to You
Vital Stats: Arielle Eckstut, 34; Jason Dorf, 36; Jonah Staw, 30 (r.); of LittleMissMatched
Company: San Francisco-based designer of colorful mismatched socks sold in packs of three
2005 Projected Sales: Over $5 million in retail sales
Table Talk: For the founders of LittleMissMatched, a dinner with friends yielded more than just laughs. After they joked that the next big thing would be mismatched socks, Staw had a revelation. In the middle of the night, he awoke to realize that behind that idea stood a character, Little-MissMatched. "She stands for a way of life," explains Staw. "It's about being creative, not matching and having fun with her combinations."
I Want Hue: The four friends (one has since left the company) created the initial designs for the socks and the character, targeting the tween girls market--girls aged 8 through 13. Their socks come in 134 designs in four "color waves" (monochromatic, analogous, complementary, and full palette). Customers are also categorized as "Kinda," "Sorta" and "Alota," depending on how wildly mismatched the wearer likes to be.
All-Ages Club: LittleMissMatched has successfully reached not only the tween demographic, but also younger girls looking to emulate their older sisters. Much to the co-founders' surprise, their adult-sized socks currently outsell children's socks, and feedback proves that even grandmas are proudly sporting wacky hosiery. "Women want to be girls again," says Dorf. "Expressing that creativity through their socks is a fun thing to do, [for] yourself or with your daughter."
Growth Spurt: Sold through boutiques and retailers like Linens 'n Things, L.L.Bean and Nordstrom, LittleMissMatched is now licensing. New products will include tights and infant socks, pajamas, bedding, cold-weather accessories, swimwear, footwear and even a scrapbook.