This Mom Couldn't Find Socks That Fit Her Baby So She Created a Business With Her Own Designs

When Shae Jones had trouble finding stockings and socks that fit her baby properly, she founded Olivia J, a business that solved this big problem for parents. Here are the mom of three's best tips for other entrepreneurs.

Graduating with a degree in biology and getting an ultrasound certificate, Shae Jones' initial career path was quite different than the one she's pursuing today. Despite that, as she was growing up, Jones was drawn to being an entrepreneur.

As a kid, she partnered with her cousin, Shanel, to mix their parents' lotions and sell them from their business they called S&S (for their first names). And in college, in an attempt to bring in extra money, Jones started a hair accessory business. "I was in a sorority and you know, you always have themed parties, and I would make accessories for the girls," she explains. "And then, they started buying them from me."

It wasn't until five years into her medical career that the Arizona-based mom was once more bit by the startup bug. After welcoming her first child, Leighton, Jones struggled to find tights and socks that fit her daughter. "I went to our local department stores," she says. "I looked online everywhere, and they just would not stay on; they were too tight on her stomach, or they slouched."

Jones recalls spending a few hundred dollars trying to find the perfect pair to no avail. And after asking around, Jones found that her friends had the same issue with their babies. "For whatever reason, I just stayed up at night thinking about that—how can I solve this problem?" recalls the now mom of three.

She knew it would get easier to find socks that would fit babies once they hit their first birthday, but she really wanted to push for a sock that would fit newborns. "I wanted the smallest socks possible, and a lot of machinery for socks that the stateside manufacturers had just didn't make them and knit them to be small enough," explains Jones. "So they would still fall off right away."

That's when she was inspired to research international manufacturers who might be able to create an alternative, spending $600 on samples until she found the perfect match for her vision. "Once we received samples from a few, we took off from there and started designing," says Jones.

Still, using an international manufacturer meant having to pay 16% of the total cost of what she paid for the inventory. While Jones was initially shocked by that number, she decided to simply build it into her overall cost.

Two years into working on Olivia J, Jones was able to leave her full-time job and focus on designing and running her business from home. "I've been able to set my own schedule, which gives me a lot of flexibility," she says. "I usually will design after the kids are in bed."

These days, Jones is over the moon about how she spends her time professionally. "I just love designing tights and socks," she says. "It's nice to have one or two styles of products to focus on, and that way you can really make sure that their quality is the best that they can be and that the customers can feel the love and the passion that I have behind the designs."

Here are Jones' best tips for parents hoping to let their own passions fuel entrepreneurship.

Involve Your Kids

Take advantage of opportunities to teach your children about entrepreneurship and foster their creative skills. "This is design week for us right now for spring/summer '23," explains Jones. "So, I gave my daughter the options and I was like, 'OK, which color are we going to go with for this sock?' And so she'll give me her insight, which is always helpful."

Jones also has a folder on her computer meant for storing her kids' sock designs. "If they ever see me designing during the day, they have to create their own designs as well," she explains.

Plan For Unexpected Costs

Overseas manufacturing and shipping can be expensive and cut into your margins significantly. But to Jones, it was worth it to stick with the manufacturer that was making the products that aligned with her vision. It just meant having to research her product's actual cost to ship—and profit margin to incorporate those fees into her sale price.

Work With Influencers

When Jones first launched Olivia J, she sent her products to everyone she could to get the company's name out there. "A larger influencer started ordering from us when her oldest was a newborn," she says. "The first time she posted, I was hanging out, and I checked Instagram and was like, 'Where are all these followers coming from?' We had hundreds of followers all of a sudden."

The experience led to doing a collaboration with the influencer that ended up being a huge success, doubling her sales. For that reason, Jones can't emphasize enough the value of partnering with a consumer or client with a large following who can drive attention to your product.

Fulfill a Need

While Jones faced an uphill battle in creating socks small enough for newborns, it ultimately paid off. "The newborn size is what has continued to sell the most and has driven our sales," she explains. "People will put them on their baby registries, and they know that it's a sock that will last them for months to come and will actually fit when they're born."

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