FUTT: Gary Piazzon and James Thomas
Co-founders Gary Piazzon and James Thomas share their new business idea, funky socks delivered right to your door…
Tell us what your business does:
FUTT is a sock brand created out of a passion for celebrating the little things in life. As a universal lifestyle brand committed to designing beautiful socks for everyone, FUTT delivers great socks to your front door with our inclusive online subscription service.
Working with designers across a range of industries including architecture and typography, the designs brought to life by FUTT are creative and remarkably unique. Alongside our creative vision, FUTT prides itself on being a brand with purpose, which is why we’ve partnered with the children’s charity, War Child, donating 5% of revenue from each pair of socks sold to help the group reach its goals.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
We’re both prolific sock wearers and we’d often have discussions or share compliments on each other’s choice of socks. This inevitably led to a conversation – “Why can’t we do this, and can we do it better?” Socks are traditionally seen as a commodity item, but they’ve recently been in the spotlight and after identifying our passion for these accessories, we decided to create a company that cares about quality whilst also preserving a uniqueness for our customers.
How did you know there was a market for it?
The fashion industry is continually evolving, and innovating and we believe that socks should no longer be regarded as a ‘staple’ item, but instead, they can be a valuable fashion accessory which can help wearers showcase their personality. As there has been a rise in subscription-based services, we identified the need to challenge retail stereotypes and focus wholeheartedly on the consumer both as a brand with purpose and one which will always provide a unique experience.
We believe this is something that many people are starting to crave in the world of fast-fashion and uniform style.
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What were you doing before starting up?
Before starting up, Gary was working in recruitment, commercial management and business consulting for Confused while James has worked in pricing and investor relations with Admiral. Both of these roles have allowed us to develop skills that can be applied in some way, shape or form to the set up and daily management of FUTT and have proved pivotal.
We’re still operating in our full-time job roles while we’re getting FUTT launched in the UK but we hope that as we continue to grow, we can gradually become self-employed.
Find out more about starting your own side-hustle here.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
For most people, running their own business is the ultimate dream. After all, you’re your own boss and you can make all of the key decisions. I think that running my own business was certainly something that had been thought about, but it wasn’t until we found our mutual passion for socks that we thought it could truly become a reality. Although it still has its daily challenges, we’re so glad that we brought FUTT to life.
How did you raise the money?
To date, the business has only taken a small amount of seed investment of £10,000 from an Angel investor in London, who is a serial investor and previously made his money in the fashion industry. We’ve also invested our own money to help get the business off the ground and begin to showcase our products to potential customers and further investors.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
We source sock designs from creatives across a range of industries, paying a commission for the exclusive use of each design. Once the design has been selected, usually by our followers on social media, our sock creations are brought to life in a town in the North of Italy called Brescia. From there, we ship to our subscribers who pay a fee of £10 per month for our service, which is how we make our money. We’ve also recently introduced a single purchase option, allowing our customers to purchase one pair of socks on a one-off basis before they (hopefully) sign up to our monthly subscription.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
As a start-up business, we of course struggled with a lack of awareness in the beginning and were struggling with GDPR constraints. Our business model requires us to have a strong consumer base in order to succeed, so this was the first area that we needed to tackle to help get the business off the ground and on to the feet of consumers across the world.
In order to do this, we focused heavily on marketing activity and promoted FUTT through a number of social media platforms, teasing new designs for each monthly subscription. We’re also keen to have an open dialogue with our customers through direct platforms, like email, but we always want to keep things personal and bring our audience on the journey with us.
What was your first big breakthrough?
One of our biggest achievements was growing our mailing list to 25,000 prior to launch. In this moment, we realised what an impact we could truly have with FUTT and how many customers felt as passionately about their sock choices as we do. However, since then we’ve had other notable achievements including a pop-up in our local House of Fraser store, being shortlisted in the Wales Start-Up awards and most recently, the Digital Entrepreneur Awards.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Our advice would be to stay passionate about the projects you’re working on. As an entrepreneur, the sole responsibility for the success of your business lies on your shoulders but as long as you love what you’re doing, you have the ability to drive yourself and your business forward. Surround yourself with talented individuals and always take advice from those who’ve already taken on this responsibility. No matter how knowledgeable or motivated you are, you’ll always be able to learn from others.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
The main goal for FUTT is to have as many sock wearers around the world subscribed to the service as possible. Beyond our sockspirations, we hope to expand our reach into other fashion accessory products to become a ‘lifestyle brand’ in the future. We would love to work with some exciting companies and influencers to create some brilliant collaborations for our customers.
Aside from this, we hope to have an impact on the retail sector in Wales by challenging traditional stereotypes and relentlessly focusing on the customer, producing remarkable experiences by utilising the latest technologies and developing brand in a way that still feels personal, even at scale. As we continue to grow, we hope to be able to help the economy of South Wales and beyond through job creation. We have big goals and we don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.