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10 Years of London Sock Company

Blog, Founders Journal, News • 19 September 2023

They say that time flies when you are having fun. It also flies when you start a business. 2013: the year that the word ‘selfie’ was added to the dictionary. The year of cinematic greats like Fast & Furious 6 and Iron Man 3. Also the year that Dave Pickard and Ryan Palmer stepped away from their jobs at Accenture to start London Sock Company. And it’s been one heck of a decade. Ryan and Dave took a moment to sit down together and reflect on the 10 years. The triumphs, the tribulations and the top of the socks.

It’s been 10 years …

Dave: A decade is a really nice moment to briefly pause and reflect! It’s almost 10 years to the day that we stepped off the corporate ladder and into the relative unknown. I think that same feeling of empowerment is still there today – we’re truly masters of our own destiny. However ten years in, the path forward is so much clearer.

Ryan: From leaving the revolving doors of our corporate office on Fenchurch Street, to woo-ing David Gandy, to seeing our socks on people like The Rock and Daniel Craig, to big global shake ups, it’s been a rollercoaster journey.

Why did we make the leap?

Dave: I remember working hard on achieving a specific level on the corporate ladder, and then getting there and just feeling pretty deflated. Like, is this it? I spent the following year dedicated to finding the next fun adventure, which for me was going to be a start-up. Initially I had some daft target of getting 100 ideas down on paper and whittling down to one. Thankfully I dragged Ryan into the process, and over a lot of beers, together we came up with London Sock Company. Something we were both really excited about.

Actor Stanley Tucci sits in classic red theatre chair wearing coral pink socks by London Sock Company.
Celebrity highlights – Stanley Tucci in our Simply Sartorials in Coral, photographed by Robert Wilson for The Times and styled by Cheryl Konteh

What’s been the biggest highlight of the past decade?

Ryan: There have been many ‘pinch me’ moments (seeing our socks styled on the red carpet or covers of magazines always brings a buzz!) but I’d say the biggest one has been turning our idea into a brand that we’re really proud of – on so many levels. From a product perspective, a customer service perspective, but also from a positive brand values point of view. We love how pulling on great socks can transform someone’s style and state of mind. And this belief has helped us set up some fantastic initiatives (our Sock Amnesty, for example), and support some amazing charities (like Suited & Booted and Crisis UK) where a little thing like socks can make a big difference.

Dave: Yeah, completely agree, our motto of Walk Brighter is at the heart of everything we do. A personal highlight for me has been becoming a dad too … two amazing kids under 5 years old, and a third on the way!

What about the challenges?

Ryan: Ha, where to start? Overcoming challenges genuinely feels like an ongoing part of the journey. Balancing cash and growth, team individuals who haven’t been the right fit, navigating through a global pandemic, Brexit, cost of living crisis and often recognising acts of vanity over sanity. It’s been overcoming these challenges that’s made us a stronger business and better founders, but this is also not without the support from many people around us. I also think we’re extremely fortunate as co-founders to work so well together and I think it’s been our ability to support each other, especially, when something means more to one to do than the other not to do.

Dave: I definitely think being a leader, at the very top of a company, has been more challenging than I ever imagined. For example, when you’re navigating a really serious crisis (of which there have been a few along the way!) you have to put on a brave face and pretend that everything is fine, while internally and behind the scenes, find a way through. It can be exhausting and lonely. Thankfully having a co-founder means I’m never truly alone in it. Major hats off to solo founders and CEOs.

Founders of London Sock Company, Ryan Palmer and Dave Pickard standing in front of a wall of colourful socks.

What are you looking forward to in the coming years?

Ryan: For me, it’s making the most of the significant opportunity in front of us at this stage in our journey! The brand is at a really exciting inflexion point – our customer experience is getting better and better, we’re seeing considerable growth in really exciting markets including the US, and we’re operating smoother as a business. There are some really exciting partnerships on the horizon too.

Dave: Building a sustainably growing business. We’ve put in some of the hardest work to reach this point, now building on the groundwork from a solid base sounds much more fun. Oh, and I am excited to take a proper holiday … It’s been a tough few years!

What would you tell your younger selves if you could go back 10 years?

Ryan: Probably three things. Firstly, always trust your instincts. When it doesn’t feel right, for whatever reason, it probably isn’t and never be afraid to make difficult decisions that keep you true to your gut. Second, build an exciting network and always be helpful. Many will become lifelong friendships and relationships with rewards far beyond what you’d imagine. Finally, understand the ‘sanity over vanity’ and make sure you always prioritise sanity!

Dave: I think I’d ask myself whether if in ten years time, I would be OK with working harder and earning less than I was then, while supporting a family. I’d like to think I would still be brave enough to do it. There’s been a lot of fun along the way – and it’s only going to get more rewarding.

What sock colour still makes you click?

Ryan: It’s been one of my favourites since day one. Our Simply Sartorial in Rich Burgundy was one of our very firsts and it’s still a regular go to for me. From a newer colour, I’m also a massive fan of our Simply Sartorial in Dusk Blue.

Dave: All year round I reach for our iconic Simplys in Saffron or Ruby Red. They look so good with navy chinos or jeans and a classic tshirt or simple jumper – some colour for my daily uniform.

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