The world really is small, isn’t it?
Call it Six Degrees of Separation or Divine Intervention, the fact is this: we’re intimately connected with the people around us, often in ways that haven’t yet been revealed to us. Doesn’t that make you want to step out from behind your screen and talk to your neighbors? Connection is a blessing, a humblingly magical gift.
I feel giddy about the opportunity to have made a connection with Katie. Not only is she related to a former coworker of mine (hi, Heidi!), but her husband is someone I served with as a missionary in Mozambique years ago (small world, I’m telling you!) Also, as a former resident of Washington, we have the PNW in common, too. CONNECTION, people!
As owner of sock subscription company Al & Eddie, Katie is passionately pursuing her goals and mastering the art of balance as she navigates business and parenthood. With a wise perspective and the boldness to seek learning opportunities, Katie is making something really amazing with her company. And she’s selling really cute socks. In our discussion, I learned a lot from her insight, and I am stoked to share her thoughts. Today, she talks about the passion behind her work, why asking for help from experienced others is key to growth, and how embracing your tribe is essential for staying motivated. (Plus, she loves reading and Survivor, so I think we’re BFFS?)
Everyone, meet Katie!
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a Registered Nurse, working once a week at a clinic. I grew up mainly in Utah and moved to Washington a few years ago! I love both places, but my heart is now in Washington, it is just so pretty. Married and hecka in love, with two daughters!! I love reading, being active, and being with people, meaningful conversations are my JAM.
How did Al & Eddie get started?
Well, funny you ask this. It’s an awesome story. My husband is actually the main entrepreneur in the family. He is into real estate, we just bought our second duplex and are moving in. He started a hammock business, attempted a text survey business, started a business in Mozambique where he served a mission for our church, etc. He is always thinking about these sorts of things.
So he bought 1,000 pairs of socks almost two years ago with the intention of starting a men’s sock subscription. Aaaaaand they sat in our house until around July and I told him he had to do something with them. I forced him to build a website and I took some socks with me to Utah where an awesome photographer took pictures and then about a month later I had this vision of “do a kid sock subscription” and then re-named the business to Al & Eddie after our daughters Alice and Etta (it was originally named Socktopio because the domain Socktopia had been taken ha!). So we still sell adult socks, but my main focus is a monthly subscription for children ages 1-8, one practical and one fun sock. It’s a BLAST.
What makes you passionate about what you do?
Honestly? I am going to have to say God on this one. I really feel like I am being helped by unseen forces. I have never truly enjoyed helping my husband with his side businesses. It didn’t interest me. I wanted to read and not do anything. But all we want as a family is to spend more time together. So we feel like starting businesses and doing real estate can help us work from home and “retire” early from the 9-5 jobs so we can spend more time being together as a family.
And honestly, God helps to give us what we want. I believe that. Also, the socks are ADORABLE. Who knew you could spend hours thumbing through images of kid socks and enjoy it. I am so excited about the idea of a child or youth getting their OWN package of socks every month. I mean. So cool. And my daughter is ALWAYS losing her socks.
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned as you’ve started and grown your business?
These things take time. And work. And persistence. I think it’s easy to look at other successful businesses and assume they don’t do much and are rolling in the dough. I basically just launched the subscription portion and it’s been slow and hard at times not to compare, but if I just stay in my lane, ask those high rollers for help, honestly, most of them do help and want to share what they’ve learned. It is quite neat.
Lesson number one would probably be don’t be afraid to ask. The worst that can happen is they say no. The second lesson would probably be I can actually be successful at starting a business. I think that is why this has been different than all my husband’s ventures. Those were his. This is mine. I (for some strange reason, probably God again) believe in myself. I have this vision of a few years down the road and us selling out of socks in a few days. I think you have to have big goals, push yourself hard to start out so you have a really insanely cool goal to reach. I just feel grateful and inspired to be doing this. It has just been fun.
What has been the biggest learning curve in your business?
Yikes. So many things. The major one is all of the website building, coding for proper subscription charges, all while managing the budget and making sure these things make sense economically. I have been SO lucky my husband has helped/done all of these things for and with me. He has been huge in pushing me, helping me, and creating a beautiful website and checkout process. I am pretty uncomfortable with that stuff. As well as spending money ha! I have to spend money to make money. So right now is the spendy time, investing my money and time to grow and market and purchase. You don’t realize how much it takes to get things going. But I have faith in myself! It will work out. And even if it doesn’t, I tried. That’s all I can do.
What advice would you give to others looking to start their own passion project or small business?
GO FOR IT. The only thing holding you back is yourself. The mind is an extremely powerful place. If we don’t train it to help and push us, it will hold us back and stagnate us. The mind can be taught to take positive thinking pathways and to urge you forward. And why not? The worst that can happen is it doesn’t work. You tried. That is huge. There is something unique about creating something, whether pictures, articles, business models, handcrafted items, etc. We are always scared people won’t enjoy it, purchase it, fill in the blank. But that doesn’t matter. Do market research, find out if people would like it, fine-tune the idea, and then go for it.
How do you balance parenthood with your business?
Oh man, the first few weeks were just awful. I was on my phone or computer alllllll dayyyyyy. After talking to some Instagram influencers and entrepreneurs (ask ask ask!) about how they balanced their life, I had one recommend an app called Planoly. I have loved that. I mainly use Instagram as my marketing platform, and so naturally, it sucked the life out of me. But Planoly made it possible for me to schedule my posts and stories. I felt so much better.
I also created time limits on all of my apps. I know I can accomplish most of what I need to in the evening, so from 9-7 during the day most of my apps are silenced and do not give off notifications. Hallelujah! I mean I definitely still check and go on, but it immensely decreased time spent. And I started planning out my hours, so I was very deliberate with my day. This last week was glorious. I accomplished so much. Having specific hours JUST for playtime with the kids, or the library, or park, or just a movie with them. It made me compartmentalize, which was needed.
How do you stay motivated and avoid burnout?
Right now is hard to not be motivated. We have been full steam ahead since around the beginning of September. And especially with having to find designs for each month to send out to each gender, I love looking through and choosing socks, searching for influencers/businesses to collaborate with, tweaking the website, and writing cool emails like this to cool people like you.
I have always struggled with Instagram and the way people compare and only show their best, and this business has connected me with some truly neat people. Some I have grown close to and so grateful they responded to my wimpy 200 follower dm. There is a whole community out there just waiting to cheer you on in your endeavors and its cool. I have tried to keep realistic expectations for myself, especially the first month. I maybe posted twice a week, and hit marketing hard. Now I post every day and have gotten lazy on the marketing. And I have asked for help. My sister, my husband, my sisters-in-law, and that has kept me motivated. Turns out people love me. I feel like the luckiest person on planet earth.
The Fun Qs:
What is your favorite activity to do with your family?
Oh man alive. Probably go adventure to a new place. Washington is spectacular. So many hidden gems within a couple hours. I love heading out on a day trip to go explore some new town, beach, state park, island, suspected alien landing. You know. Stuff like that. Where it may not seem like a big deal, but looking back it was the highlight of our year.
What is your desert-island meal?
Just asked my husband for assistance: “Well it would be healthy, some asparagus something”. I mean I love Thai yellow curry. But honestly, I would have to say something more along the lines of like an immaculate salad bar, complete with bacon bits, fresh fruit, grilled chicken, and Vidalia Onion salad dressing. Sigh. So good.
What was the last great movie you saw?
If this was a tv show I could say Survivor. I do not watch a lot of movies tbh. Let me think about this one. Movie. Great movie. I showed Fantastic Mr. Fox to my four-year-old last week for the first time. That is a great movie. Also Coco, I am pretty sure I cried three times in that movie. Family is powerful stuff.
Your dream travel destination?
I would definitely go somewhere completely random, like Morocco. I do not have a travelers’ itch. I love my home, and being with my family, and traveling far is so tiring with children, but I wouldn’t really want to go without them. So maybe a dream in like twenty years when they’re able to have a coherent conversation, we all go together to Europe for six weeks and take our time wandering the beautiful countries over there! During the summer. And find some beaches in Greece, obvi.