100 Retail stores! 

Since December 2015, my men's socks brand Carlo Lanza has become a reality. Starting a new sock label without any connections in the fashion industry, who comes up with something like that!?! I do, apparently...

Now, after two and half years, I can’t say anything other than that it was the best choice ever to start my own socks brand. Despite all the dark days, weeks, sometimes even months, I continued to strive because I believed in my dream and my goal. That dream was—and still is—to create a fantastically beautiful brand in the world of socks, but above all, to do something
that I really like.

Freedom

The freedom, creativity, and excitement that entrepreneurship gives me ensures that no day is boring. Of course, there are also downsides such as having no certainty. But well, what are the real certainties of life now? I advise everyone to follow their hearts and to continue to do what you believe in!

The start

An underlying part of my dream was that I would sell enough socks so that I could make a living. Of course, I could not do this alone, so, beginning January 2016, I started to approach stores. I can’t say I had much success. After all, a new socks brand doesn’t guarantee that people will immediately stand and applaud. Because of these setbacks, obviously I could’ve been
discouraged, but in reality, I wasn’t. I tried to discover why people weren’t open. This had largely to do with the fact that they were already being provided for by the sock industry. The sock product group remains a typical by-product, which does not require extensive shopping at other suppliers because it represents too little turnover compared to other product groups. From these conversations, I also received many valuable tips, like how to improve things or how to approach people in their network.

Eventually, people could be appreciated that I was developing this initiative, and I also noticed more and more that I was granted success because I made every effort in the world to build something up. Because of the small successes, I got even more energy to keep going.

More than 100 sales outlets

By continuously improving myself and my brand in both presentation and product range,I started to grow. More and more shops suddenly indicated that they were open for business, expressed frustrations with current suppliers, and invited me to come by. Thisof course meant that I had to plan everything really well, as these stores were located throughout the country. Since I wanted to make personal service part of my story, Iobviously had to go there myself. Now, after two years in the business, I always hear that it’s precisely this personal service that has been the deciding factor. In the end, you have to present a product like socks in a personal way and tell a story about it. In combination with my personal story and the personal brand name, things began to happen!

Last month, I’ve been able to welcome my 100th store and occasionally, I’m also approached by retailers. The latter is, of course, especially beautiful and also very special for a new brand. New purpose Carlo Lanza This year, I’ve set myself the goal of being a bit more active outside the country. Belgium was already interested, Germany not yet. That will change this year, if it were up to me. Take everything step by step. Although, I’m certainly looking to America. There are already a number of private customers here, and they indicate that the opportunity in the States leaves much to be desired when it comes to quality socks. Of course, one of the most important objectives is to expand my existing customer network. Not so much literally, as in the number of sales outlets, but also to optimize my interaction with existing customers. These stores have given me the chance and I will do everything I can to improve the turnover in these stores. Last one: someone in Hengelo specifically came in for Bordeaux red socks by Carlo Lanza. The owner of the store called me to ask if I sold this color elsewhere in the neighborhood, since he didn’t have them. Then, this specific customer went to two more stores in the neighborhood to get these socks. The fact that I succeeded within two years is also very surprising for me, but it’s fantastic, of course.

Stay the course and remain calm

At this moment, I can’t conclude anything else other than that it’s going well-above expectations. But I can’t rest because nothing stays quiet for long; because I am regularly asked by other brands to represent them as an agent. That may sound interesting because you’re already in stores and have the connections, but in my view, this can only distract from your ultimate goal: to become a good sock brand. In addition, I am simply too busy to do other things. My feeling is that I must continue to develop, to introduce new things. Together with a designer, I am also working on making new Carlo Lanza designs and debuting them early next year. These are designs that match the current, classic-but-colorful character of Carlo Lanza. See below for a preview of what it will look like.

Optimizing processes

Not very exciting, but when you do everything just like me, this part is crucial to save time. At the moment, I’m working on labeling, stickering, and packing all orders. I also make a personal written card for each orders. Here you can easily realise time savings by outsourcing certain things. In Italy, they do everything they can to see where they can support me. I think it is important that you’re aware of the things that come into play with me and my brand! If you have ideas or tips, do not hesitate to let me know via info@carlolanza.com.


Ciao,
Carlo