eekoe

EEKOE Socks have pioneered the use of bamboo fiber in socks, perfect for athletes, musicians, and those always on the road

If you’ve ever worn a pair of socks multiple days in a row because you couldn’t be bothered to wash them, or realized halfway through a trip that you didn’t pack nearly enough fresh socks, EEKOE may be the brand for you. EEKOE Socks started off when Chad Ottenbreit and Mark Gardner were constantly on the road. Living in a tour bus meant that stops for laundry were few and far between, and the (smelly) effects were more than noticeable. According to the founders of EEKOE, a system was devised to keep odors down and everyone sane: “At the start of every week, each person got a new bag of socks. When the socks came off your feet, they went into a ‘sock drop.’ Each and every time we stopped for fuel, the ‘sock drop’ socks were thrown out.” Sounds wasteful, right? Mark and Chad certainly thought so. Not long after, the pair was introduced to the concept of using bamboo fiber in clothing products. Bamboo fiber is naturally durable, and smell repellent; perfect for something you wear on your feet.

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It was a combination of being introduced to bamboo fiber and becoming sick of their wasteful ways on the road that drove the pair to create EEKOE Socks. Not only did Chad and Mark focus on the fact that the socks only needed to be washed every 4-6 wears, the pair also focused on making sure their product was American-made, and sustainable. The result? Socks with anti-fungal properties, extreme durability, temperature management, and most importantly, enhanced comfort.

Transworld Business talked with EEKOE Socks about the origins of the company, where EEKOE sees itself in the sock market, and where the brand is headed in 2016. You can read the full interview below.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What were the origins of your idea to make bamboo fiber socks, and where did you get the inspiration?

EEKOE was founded on the idea that we all need to get a lot more out of the socks that we wear every day. We need more comfort, durability, and products at a fair price. The founders of EEKOE come from backgrounds in action sports, music, motorsports, and a general love of outdoor living and travel. When you are out on the road living from a travel bag or a tour bus for months on end, laundry day becomes something you look forward to.

Finally, we asked, "Could these socks be made in the USA, have a lifetime warranty, and be made with a more sustainable material than cotton?" Again, the answer is yes. EEKOE Bamboo Socks are designed in California, and made in the USA, and we are damn proud of that!

After being on the road in tour buses and rv’s, with smelly socks being thrown away rather than washed, we asked ourselves some questions: What if we could get 4-6 days out of our socks before they started to stink? What if we could take our favorite socks on the road? What if our socks could wisp away moisture and keep our feet dry? What if the socks we wore everyday could be softer, more comfortable, and more durable than cotton? And what if, in addition, these socks could be anti-fungal and have temperature management, be warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer? With EEKOE Socks, you can have all of those things.

Finally, we asked, "Could these socks be made in the USA, have a lifetime warranty, and be made with a more sustainable material than cotton?" Again, the answer is yes. EEKOE Bamboo Socks are designed in California, and made in the USA, and we are damn proud of that!

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Did your roots in skate and action sports help inspire the EEKOE Socks?

Yes, absolutely. We were in need of socks that could last the battle of our athletes, musicians and the traveling lifestyles of our consumers. We would normally travel with socks we ended up throwing out, to avoid stink on the buses and rv's. We wanted better footwear that would work better with our lifestyles and professions, and we found that in bamboo.

How have your foundations in action sports helped your brand succeed?

First and foremost in quality: between our lives on the road and in sports, we put these socks to the test every day. Secondly, with over 25 years in action sports and music, we've accumulated a list of friends and colleagues that range from up-and-coming to top of the charts. Many have gone down the road of taking industry jobs and starting families. So we've carried that into our testing and design to make a product for every type of person: from the office guy, to the stay-at-home mom, all the way to the world's top athletes and touring musicians.

Musicians and athletes love your socks because they help cut down on laundry, a hassle when you're on the road and traveling. Are these industries your main demographics?

These are our backgrounds, with myself [Chad] more on the athletic and motorsports side of the brand, and Mark heading up the music side of things. It's who we are, and where we come from, but only the start and foundation of where we are going.

What does EEKOE’s typical consumer look like?

Our typical consumers are he hard-working people of the world, who also on the weekends enjoy a ride or hike in the mountains, a good festival, or whatever your day-to-day life brings. EEKOE Bamboo Socks improve your daily activities in life, sports and the pursuit of happiness!

Are you planning on targeting a more mainstream demographic with your socks, or going for a more boutique-y, niche market?

We are already reaching out to a more mainstream demographic, as bamboo benefits everyone. We all wear socks, and therefore our market is pretty much everyone. We are on a path to produce the best socks the world has seen. And everyone can benefit from that, from the band playing the festival, to the crew setting it up. From the janitor at the mountain to the pro shredding on hill. We all benefit from EEKOE Bamboo Socks.

The EEKOE manufacturing facility

The EEKOE manufacturing facility

You do all of your production in-house. How does that affect distribution?

We have three production facilities, and we have an incredible team in house that manages that. Our facilities are throughout the US, and we are adding a fourth in Canada for 2017. They are not only production facilities, but also utilized for distribution. So it enables us to provide a quicker and more cost-effective delivery for our retailers.

How is Eekoe positioning itself in the market, especially with the sock category continuing to gain traction over the last few years? How do you stand apart from other offerings?

Everyone is chasing prints and colors, trying to stand out, but that’s not what EEKOE is about. We are our own brand with a focus from the very beginning to make the best socks out there. And through hard work we have done that, and also brought to the consumer the benefits of bamboo. We have an incredible rep force and a team at our headquarters to deliver and support our goals. If you ask anyone who has tried our socks if they want their old pair back, the answer is always no.

We are a quality-based product with an image and long history in action sports and music. We utilize our backgrounds for marketing purposes and market reach. But as much as we promote that, the focus for our brand is the quality and benefits of EEKOE and all-bamboo socks. Styles and trends are going to change, but at the end of the day people just want a good sock that works, and we've done that.

What are your plans for Eekoe going into 2016?

We are deep in the middle of our Spring retail launch. We will continue to build this brand through the EEKOE Family and bands  and from the road. You will see us at each and every event we can get to, spreading the good word of bamboo. We brought the industry bamboo, and we are damn proud of that!

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