Need New Socks?Mike Sullivan
Lori Rosen is the managing partner of Blacksocks US, overseeing all of North American operations for the Swiss-based company. She found the site when she was searching for a site that sold women’s stockings since she despised that repetitive task. Instead she fell upon Blacksocks while on a business meeting in Europe and immediately pursued taking over the business here.
Mike: Where did Blacksocks originate?
Lori: Blacksocks was founded by a Swiss entrepreneur, Samy Liechti, in 1999, when he found himself with two different color socks on at a Japanese tea ceremony with business executives. There are 4 full time employees in Switzerland. The socks are manufactured at a second generation factory in Milan, Italy and shipped from a warehouse in Switzerland. In the US, there are three part-time employees.
Mike: How has the name Blacksocks.com impacted your business? What is it you were looking for in a domain name?
Lori: Blacksocks is a perfect domain for the site. It’s intuitive, says exactly what it is and in 1999 it was available. It’s had a very positive impact on our business.
Mike: Can you share the volume of traffic that your site receives?
Lori: Blacksocks receives 500,000 visits a year worldwide and 3X the amount of page views. Right now about 10% of the traffic is from the US and Canada.
Mike: How do you market your site?
Lori: We run a number of marketing programs, starting with a robust Google and Bing/Yahoo ad words campaign; an active public relations program reaching lifestyle, business, fashion, and general interest outlets, including print, digital and broadcast interviews; banner ads in select media outlets; and voucher giveaways at charity events. In Switzerland we just did our first Groupon program and we expect to do something similar in 2011 for Blacksocks US.
Mike: Did you have another domain for your site before this one? Do you own other domains?
Lori: We own Blacksocksclub, but right now it’s not active. Blacksocks is the only domain name we use.
Mike: What has been your biggest challenge as far as running an ecommerce business?
Lori: The biggest challenge is the obvious one: getting customers. When consumers read about Blacksocks, their response is favorable, but it’s rare to have an immediate need to buy socks. It is also not an impulse item. So we have to continue to get the name out over and over and hope that when consumers are ready to replenish their supply they think of us.
Mike: Do you think you would be willing to sell your domain at any point? Have you ever received any unsolicited offers?
Lori: No and no! This business is way too much fun to sell. In the US and Canada the market is in its infancy stage. Blacksocks is a great concept; it fulfills a very basic need; mostly everyone wears socks (black or otherwise) and it’s both fun and challenging to grow the business. Earlier this year we added grey and navy to our line, just in the calf style. We also carry a very limited, high end line of men’s undershirts and underwear. Customers are already asking for colors in the over the calf size-we have a long way to go and the market is wide open. We will definitely get to the other side soon.
Mike: Any other information you’d like to share?
Lori: When Blacksocks first started there was only 6% of consumer online and a fraction of those actually purchased products. Today the numbers are reversed, but that also means much more competition. One of the hallmarks of the business is personal service and right now I answer every email personally sent. I hope to continue to that for the near and not so near future. Finally, I’d like to offer a voucher to your readers. The first 20 people to email me will receive a voucher code to test the service. They can email me at email@example.com.