May 27, 2024

Thrive Insider

Exclusive stories of successful entrepreneurs

Samantha Tollworthy, founder of sustainable sock company Teddy Locks

What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I had been working as a wildlife TV producer for ten years, traveling to some of the most remote places on earth. But no matter how far away I went, I was still always confronted by single-use plastic.

It was back in NYC though that I realised that we are all creatures of convenience. When I was unable to convince even my most conscious friends and colleagues to ditch the plastic bag or to carry a coffee mug, I released I needed to take action, to find a way to fight our plastic problem and give consumers a chance to lower their footprint.

So, I decided to leave my dream job and spent 404 days developing the world’s most sustainable socks. Ethically made in North Carolina from recycled plastic bottles and upcycled textiles. Teddy Locks socks stamp out single use plastic, divert textiles from landfill and encourage conversation about sustainability. Not only that, but they are made by local family run businesses, support USA manufacturing and are designed to stay in your drawer, and out of landfill, for longer.

Now, a women-owned Green America certified company, Teddy Locks has recycled more than 10,000 bottles and saved more than 1,500lbs of waste from landfill.

Describe the process of launching the business.

After developing all 5 of the recycled yarns needed to make Teddy Locks I was ready to test proof of concept and decided that the best way was on Kickstarter. After just one week of crowdfunding Teddy Locks was fully funded, completing having achieved 200% of my funding goal.

I now had proof of concept, and was connected with other conscious consumers. But I was also now 9 months pregnant, and launching the brand online. I was starting a new stage in my life with a new business and a new baby, while unknowingly entering a global pandemic.

Since then brand identity has evolved, I have launched 3 rounds of new products and been featured in Bloomberg, Ecocult and GMA in November. I am now excited to see where the next 12 months will take me, and how much more plastic and textile waste we can divert from landfill and our waterways.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

As a one-woman brand, being personally present on social media and in my marketing has allowed me to build trust with my customers. In turn this has resulted in a high customer return rate and great brand loyalty.

Working on collaborations, which are also more personal, are better suited to Teddy Locks. Having the chance to share the brand story and the positive impact it is having has allowed potential leads to learn more than a simple ad can.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

2021 has been a tough year with supply chain delays and high demand on materials, but I’ve been working for the past 6 months on a collaboration that will hopefully lead to more exciting connections and even more single-use plastic being stamped out. If I can continue to have a positive impact, and help others to lower their footprint Teddy Locks will go from strength to strength.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

That passion is what will keep you going. Starting, and running, a business is extremely difficult, so to stay motivated and moving forward you need to be passionate about what you are doing. For me, I have learnt that reminding myself of the positive impact keeps me going through the hard times.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

Teddy Locks is hosted by Shopify, but to build a great site you need to work with Apps. I particularly like PageFly – a web builder which is intuitive but also comes with great support. I also really like the simplicity of Preview, an instagram planning tool which can be used with suto-posting.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I am extremely grateful for the Mentorship program run by IFundWomen. Having somebody to talk to about your business, who isn’t a friend or family is invaluable. Their experience and uninfluenced opinion has helped to keep me focused and allowed me to better prioritise my time.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Build your business with a co-founder. Find somebody who compliments your skillset but is equally passionate and driven by your values.

Where can we go to learn more?