20: Interview with Jeff De Maria from Soxy Beast

Today we interview Jeff from Soxy Beast who offers a subscription service for socks in Australia.


Love the name! How long did it take to come up with it? Are you a fan of the movie?

I am a fan of the movie Sexy Beast, but didn’t really have it in mind when creating the brand. My original name was going to be “Sock Tin” – and then I realized how expensive shipping a metal tin would be each month. I knew Soxy Beast would stick in people’s mind a bit, so just decided to go with it.

Lots of people would ask why do I need this? Aren’t socks quite durable?

Its very rare that someone goes shopping specifically for socks. Socks are an afterthought for most people. Funny enough, most people wear them to work everyday (especially guys), but they never receive as much attention as some of our other attire. I knew the convenience of delivery would appeal to many people, but knew I also wanted to do something different, which is why I decided early on to collaborate with artists and charities so that there was a story behind every design.

Are the styles of your socks all unique? Do you have aborigine inspired socks?

Every style is unique and designed by a different Australian artist. I haven’t had an opportunity yet to work with an aboriginal artist, but it’s in the plans for 2016.

Do you have more male or female customer? Is it like a shoes thing where women are more into it?

When we first launched our customers were about 90% men, but every month we’ve been steadily adding more female customers. Currently it’s about 60% male, 40% female.

Are you the first ever socks subscription box company?

No, not at all. I actually started the business based on initial research that showed 14 other companies were providing sock subscriptions, but they were all focused on the North American or European markets. The fact that 14 companies could all survive all offering the same service proved to me that there was room for one more, especially if I had a strong point of difference. Soxy Beast is the first sock subscription business in Australia, and the only one that manufactures here as well. This local focus has really helped the brand appeal to my customers.

What kind of business do you run? When did you start it and where is it based?

Soxy Beast is Australia’s Savagely Stylish sock subscription. Every month we collaborate with a new Australian artist to design a pair of bold socks for our subscribers. We knit all the socks in Melbourne, and 10% goes to a different Australian charity each month. We launched in Melbourne in December 2014 and have been growing steadily ever since.

What is your daily routine of running your business?

I manage Soxy Beast while also working a full time job as a business consultant. Being a subscriptions business, the process is very predictable and cyclical, so I’ve developed a pretty good monthly schedule. The average day sees me answering emails for customers, suppliers, and collaborators on the train in the morning on the way to the office. Do the regular day-job thing, then get into fulfilling orders and managing subscriptions for a few hours in the evenings. 2 or 3 weekend days a month are devoted to larger activities, such as photo shoots, website updates, and the monthly dispatch.

Are there any blogs, podcasts or Facebook Groups about entrepreneurship you follow closely?

I follow and participate in the r/entrepreneur and r/smallbusiness subreddits on a daily basis. Whether its helping someone out with advice based on experience, or seeking advice myself, I’ve found both of those communities to be very encouraging and full of knowledgeable people willing to share very openly about their successes and failures.

Which resources to run your business do you use most?

I’d say I run about 80% of my business off of my smartphone and a few apps. It’s great to be able to answer emails, arrange samples, order stock and spread our messaging via social networks. Almost every aspect of my business uses a web-based application so I can move between devices. The most useful tools I would recommend for someone with their own small business would be Trello (scheduling, task management), Toggl (time tracking), Evernote (writing copy for social and website), and Google Drive (for managing photos and larger files, though pretty much any cloud-based storage solution with a mobile app would work).

What keeps you motivated to keep working on your business?

At least once a week I get an email or facebook message from a customer telling me how much they like the product and brand, or how excited they are to have discovered an artist through us. Knowing that I’m creating these little moments of joy for my customers really motivates me.

How important do you think is talent when starting a business?

I think talent is important, but not as important as discipline. You can learn almost anything if you are disciplined. I’ve met and worked with many talented people, but don’t know anyone who has gotten very far on talent alone. Because I work with artists I see this quite frequently. Their art might be amazing, but if they aren’t diligent in promoting themselves and their work, or looking at ways to reach new audiences they never get beyond a certain level of success.

Any books about entrepreneurship you can recommend?

I’ve read quite a few at this point, but the one that always sticks, and that I keep coming back to is Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Work Week. It’s a bit dated now, but a lot of the basic concepts still hold true. Set your goals, test your idea, game the system wherever possible to help get your business off the ground.

What should you take into account when starting a business?

Ideas are cheap. You can have a hundred business ideas in a month, so how do you decide which is worthy of your time and investment. Set very strict criteria for yourself and make sure any business idea hits all of your criteria before spending more than 10 minutes effort on it. I went through hundreds of ideas before I found one that worked for me and my life. My criteria were 1) Can be started while working full time, 2) can be launched for less than $3K, and 3) had recurring revenue as part of the business model. Sticking to this criteria really focused me, so when the right idea came along I was ready to move very quickly. I went from concept to launch within 3 months. Anyone who wants to start a business should put their criteria first, business ideas second.

Do you have a Unique Selling Point?

Because there were so many other sock subscription businesses already out there, I knew I needed a very strong point of difference. From the beginning I put art and collaboration with artists at the centre of everything we do. Adding in a monthly charity partner, and deciding to produce locally also went a long way to getting us customers that want to feel good about their purchase and support local industry.

Do you think making decisions on a gut feeling is a good idea?

A lot of the time, yes. I try to be rational and objective in my decision making, but ultimately if something doesn’t feel right, I don’t do it.

What is your experience with paid ads? Do you recommend Google Adwords or Facebook Ads?

I’ve used advertising on Google, Facebook and Twitter. All have produced results but in the end the ROI can vary quite a bit depending on the season. I the end I’ve found the most effective tool for growing the brand has been word of mouth. Focus on the product and experience, and your customers will sell your product for you.

To learn more about Jeff’s company please visit Soxybeast.com.au.

6: Interview with Robert Adelman from GetSocked

Today we interview Robert Adelman who launched several projects, his newest project is GetSocked


What inspired you to start this business?

I have a passion for socks, I feel bright, funky socks can make you and others around you feel happy, with my experience in running and selling an SEO company I had the skills and business acumen to launch and market a new business.

What are the best and worst parts of running your business?

Best: Being your own boss. Worst: Being your own boss. – What I mean by this is it is nice I don’t have anyone to answer too, if I need to do it I just do it, I don’t need approval, however being fast at making changes can cause issues such as rushing and really not understanding the full issue and if the solution I offer is actually the best solution. However after running my own businesses for nearly 10 years I am finally getting good at this.

Serial entrepreneur Robert Adelman

Does your business generate enough money to support you?

This is a new venture so at the moment no as all profits are pumped back into the business however things are looking encouraging. However I do have my other 2 businesses that are generating income for me.

Which resources to run your business do you use most?

I use a variety, it really depends on what façade of the business I am trying to work on. I recently joined Harvard Business Review and their articles are amazing, I do read a few business books and I particularly like the author Alan Weiss.

What keeps you motivated to keep working on your business?

Family, strive to succeed and failure isn’t an option.

What would you recommend a new entrepreneur? How to get started?

Just do it and worry about the details later. Many people will say you are stupid or bad idea but these people are the very reason we have entrepreneurs.

How important do you think is talent when starting a business?

Hiring people with good social skills is far more important than hiring someone with work skills. I can teach a pleasant and respectful person anything, I can’t teach a stuck up brat who knows it all anything.

How much time do you spend running your business per day?

As little as possible which unfortunately means approx. 10-12 hours per day and the time I am not spent on the business is spent thinking about the business.

What is your single best non-obvious tip for running a business?

Follow your gut! If the gut says no then it is no!

What would you recommend to generate traffic to the website? Have you tried SEO companies?

Being a self labelled SEO expert, I know how important SEO is, but at the end of the day if your product is crap then by having good SEO you are only showing more people that your product is crap. Let’s assume your product is good, then it should self itself, referrals are always the best way to generate more traffic. However for GetSocked.com.au I am focusing more on targeted Facebook advertising and this is working remarkably well for little cost. SEO is hit and miss and isn’t guaranteed. Regardless of what you use to generate traffic it should be considered an aid and not a magic bullet.

How did you come up with the name of the company?

For GetSocked I gave a very dear friend of mine Sean Marsh from QuarshCreative 2 hours to come up with a name! He nailed it!

How do you stay productive and not get distracted?

I use my calendar in Outlook, if you look at my calendar I will have approx. 40 things to do for every single day and then I adjust as needed and when needed. I also use Evernote on all my devices so I can always have access to all my info.

Do you think that Social Media such as Twitter or Facebook are good marketing tools?

Yes providing you understand your target market.

Do you think making decisions on a gut feeling is a good idea?

ABSOLUTELY, a lot of the time it has been the deciding factor if I hire someone, take on a client etc.

Where is the best place to find freelancers?

Upwork can be good but you really need to know what you are after and spell it out. Sorry mum but I always have the mum test, which is if write something on a piece of paper and my mum understands it then it passes the test.

If you are interested in Robert’s project here’s the URL GetSocked.com.au.