Seity was created by Luke Ellis who spent his 20s touring with the band Muncie Girls until the global pandemic left the music scene dormant sending him searching for a new source of creativity. Luke took his passion for good-looking, ethically sound socks, what he learned from years of being in a band and transformed them both into a business plan.
Seity values go hand in hand with the alternative music community, charity work, inclusivity and individuality. The end result is a very cool, clean but punk rock item of clothing which has even been worn and praised by punk-rock celebrity Mark Hoppus (Blink 182).
Socks, Passion & Supporting a Charity
When deciding to start a business, why socks?
I’ve always been quite particular with socks, some would say OCD about how my socks fit and feel. Muncie Girls made socks as merch once and I was really gutted with how they came out, they were really bad. When we decided we were going to make them, I was really excited and I had all these ideas how we should produce them and I ended up not being involved and they came out really bad. So sorry to anyone who bought them…
The whole idea was also to be linked with Gig Buddies, a project with which I had volunteered for about two and half years. Gig Buddies pairs up people with and without learning disabilities (and/or autism) to be friends and to go to events together. I couldn’t do any meet ups because of covid restrictions and before then I couldn’t do it as much as I wanted because of touring. I wanted to use Seity Socks as a vehicle to spread the word about Gig Buddies within the music community because I think the project is very cool and it’s important.
When was the lightbulb moment to start your own business?
Whilst in the pandemic and a year of doing nothing but working in an office, I just needed a creative outlet. I wanted to start something where I have full autonomy over decisions. Where I make and create something completely by myself. So whilst I was working at this shoe company, every now and then people would contact us asking if we sell socks and we didn’t do them. This triggered a thought “ah yeah I had the idea before of wanting to do socks but it was the kinda’ thing I never got around to because I was always busy.”
I felt I should just commit myself to doing one run of socks. That was my goal. I thought I’m not going to go on tour and I’m not going to do any band stuff because obviously during the pandemic that’s not happening. My one commitment to myself, even if the end result looks awful and it’s going to cost all my money, is to do just one run of socks.
I started doing research and from that one decision, other ideas started to branch off.
The Rock-to-Sock Connection
I didn’t know anything about creating a clothing company or any company, so I basically just treated it like a band.
I was like okay, I’ll set a release date, I’ll work on some designs, I’ll get them “pressed at a factory” (swapping vinyl records for socks), then I’ll work on the whole branding and social media content. It kinda’ worked out quite cool because I feel Seity doesn’t necessarily look like other sock companies.
What went wrong when creating Seity?
Lots of things have gone wrong…
Trying to find a manufacturer for example. I probably contacted about 50 different suppliers and maybe only 10 got back to me. Out of those 10, I probably got beyond 3 emails back. Then sometimes some important details would get lost in translation, for example it took me three months of back and forth emails with a supplier to find out they couldn’t make the socks out of organic cotton.
When pursuing a supplier, I was looking to tick as many boxes as possible: being based in Europe and one that kept to a certain quality standard. I wanted to create socks from organic material, in a crew sport style and in a variety of colours – which was a challenge. As well as that, a lot of the suppliers have minimum order quantities that are super high and as someone starting out who doesn’t want large amounts, this was an issue.
I hit so many brick walls but the more difficult it became, strangely, the more encouraging it started to feel. Producing organic socks in the style I wanted had so many obstacles which means that fewer people would be doing it, therefore, there must be more of a need for them.
Sock Hustles, Brick Walls and Learning From Mistakes
How do you manage time between your day job and your side hustle?
I’m currently trying to manage my time better and trying to be more disciplined. Instead of going to my day job, coming home and just watching TV, I actually try and plan out my week. If I give myself a schedule I have to stick to it otherwise the work will never get done. I now go to the gym before work, so I can have the evening free to do my projects. My post-work day will be either be spent drumming, either teaching or practicing, or working on Seity. I’ve found if I have less time to complete a project, I am more likely to get them done instead of wasting time faffing about until the deadline.
How do you find motivation to break through the brick walls that can appear when creating your business?
Only sometimes I’m motivated, sometimes I get in my head and feel “what am I doing? this is so weird, only I would start a sock company”. It’s about trying to ignore those thoughts and make a plan, not like a grand plan but asking myself: what’s one step I can try to do that gives me a little bit of hope? How can I one-up my first run of sock? This normally leads to me sending a bunch of emails, doing some research and I’ll make one breakthrough, then all of a sudden it’s exciting again.
How are you planning for the future of Seity?
At the moment I’m talking to people about new samples and trying to improve them because at the end of the day there is no point in doing this if I’m not aiming for the best product possible.
I want to get to the point where I can quickly make lots of socks and do loads of different collabs with bands, artists and also host more events. I plan to do more work with Gig Buddies and try to push the charity so more people know about them because they’re great.
The Eye Opener
What advice would you give to anyone starting their own business?
I would say don’t worry too much about the end result. Have your big goal but only worry about the first step on the way to that big goal otherwise you might not start. I think committing is the hardest thing. The amount of times I’ve worried about what people might think and that stuff can end up discouraging you. So if you ever want to start a business yourself, make a plan of small steps and just commit.
With Seity there is still a lot I want to improve on but if I hadn’t committed and went through the ups and downs, I wouldn’t be in the position I am now where I have so much insight and understanding of what I should and shouldn’t do to progress my business.
“I hit so many brick walls but the more difficult it became, strangely, the more encouraging it started to feel. Producing organic socks in the style I wanted had so many obstacles which means that fewer people would be doing it, therefore, there must be more of a need for them.”
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