Cult favorite Sock Fancy, a designer sock boutique in East Atlanta, is the place to go to jazz up your feet.
It’s always fun when you’re able to create something of substance with family or close friends. This is the case for Stefan Lewinger and Futhum (pronounced “FOO-thum”) Tewolde, co-owners of Sock Fancy, a designer sock boutique in the heart of East Atlanta Village.
Stefan and Futhum have known each other since they were six years old. Stefan moved to Atlanta for a marketing job, after graduating from the University of Georgia; Futhum moved here two years later, for a job in restaurant management. The two became roommates and began talking about owning a business together.
“Stefan was interested in a subscription model, and I was a big sock head,” Futhum said, “so we just combined our passions and brought what we could bring to the table in our professional lives, and created Sock Fancy.”
“So that’s why Atlanta, because we were here,” Stefan, who is also Sock Fancy’s CEO, added. “Atlanta’s got a very cool community. They’re increasingly growing their tech and/or startup support.”
That support included a grant from the City of Atlanta for their first physical Sock Fancy store, which was a pop-up shop along the Atlanta streetcar route. “That’s how we cut our brick-and-mortar teeth, and experiment in the retail side of things, and stretch our legs a little bit.”
Two years prior to the Atlanta streetcar pop-up, Sock Fancy led a solely online existence, and one which still continues today and is the bulk of the company’s business.
Sock Fancy isn’t your run-of-the-mill sock brand. The company does over 100 custom sock styles a year, designed by both Futhum and Stefan, and most of which are limited designs (500 socks per design). “One of the biggest things that separates us apart from anybody else is our design, and our style,” Futhum states. “We kinda keep things really modern, really fresh, not too goofy, but not too boring. We try to hit this sweet spot of something that anyone can gravitate toward.”
“We design so many socks per year because we really believe in a fresh line–as many fresh designs as possible. The idea is that if you and seven or ten people you know subscribe, you’ll never get the same socks. That doesn’t always happen, but that’s our goal. We want the customer to feel unique.”
Sock Fancy also prides itself on the quality of its socks. “It took us a couple of years to get to the point where our factory was able to nail down a perfect composition of really soft cotton, durable nylon,” muses Stefan, “and find that sweet spot for a really low price-point sock. We were able to not sacrifice quality, and still get a really good price and a really good design.”
“Another thing that separates us is that we have very close ties to our subscribers, our customers, our fans,” Futhum, who also serves as the Sock Fancy COO, chimed in. “We’re able to get a quick turnaround when they see something they like, that they enjoy, that they can reach out to us about.”
(fun fact: While Atlanta does not comprise a large part of Sock Fancy’s subscriber base–those honors go to New York; Chicago; and Toronto and Ottowa, Canada–it is the largest fan base for Sock Fancy on Instagram. Go figure.)
While the customer base is primarily male, there’s something for the ladies too.
“The women’s subscription–customer subscribers–is growing,” Futhum says, “but more overseas.” There are specific men’s and women’s designs, but some designs translate well for both genders, and Sock Fancy makes two different sizes of those particular designs. “The socks–the crew style–is pretty much male-driven anyway,” Stefan explains, “but you are starting to see a big flow of women consumers into the space as well. Not just for the boot-cut socks, or the no-shows, but the crew–the style that you don’t traditionally see in women’s apparel, you’re starting to see now.”
Sock Fancy manages to successfully walk the fine line between fun designs for women that aren’t too masculine, yet aren’t too girly, either, or an onslaught of pink. “We do have pink creamsicles,” Stefan said of one of the women’s designs, “but that’s about it. And that comes with having that good communication between us and our customers.”
One of the things that Sock Fancy does, which is not common among sock companies, is a subscription model. For a monthly fee (currently $11 per month, plus free worldwide shipping), you can get one, two, or six pairs of custom-designed socks delivered to your doorstep each month.
“We didn’t want to be a run-of-the-mill sock company, where you would either run your own shop, or maybe grab a couple hundred wholesale accounts and try to flood the market that way,” Stefan said. “We wanted to find a really new and fun way to deliver, to reach our customers.”
You can also buy individual pairs of socks online, as well as gift certificates and gift subscriptions. “Over the holidays, the gift sock subscription seems to be really popular.”
Sock Fancy began doing a special design for each month that is not included in the subscription. It’s a bonus that customers have an opportunity to add to their subscriptions, or buy separately. “It’s not necessarily a sock-of-the-month where everyone gets the same sock,” Futhum says, “but if it’s like a theme sock–like our Olympics sock–our customers have an opportunity to purchase those outside the subscription, and new customers have an opportunity to get those with their first pair, as like a bonus-added gift.”
Stefan agreed. “We specifically wanted to avoid an of-the-month club because we’ll have households that the whole house has a subscription, and we can’t think of anything worse than giving all five of the people the same popsicle sock, or something. That just seems boring.”
Quality, custom-designed, cotton blend socks delivered to your home, or available for immediate pickup? And supporting a local small business? Yes, please.
493-A Flat Shoals Ave., Atlanta, GA 30316
HOURS: Monday-Friday, 12(ish) – 7 pm, Saturday 12(ish) – 8 pm. Closed Sundays.