Focks Socks – Ideas Stage, New Enterprise Competition winner 2017-18

Basecamp Enterprise Team caught up with winner of Ideas Stage, New Enterprise Competition and Bristol University alumni Ash Guest. Ash founded the start-up business Focks Socks and has continued to develop her start-up since its
beginnings in 2017. Here’s what Ash had
to say about her start-up journey:

Who are you?

My name is Ash and I’ve just started a Masters in Human Rights Law, after completing my undergrad in law at UoB a couple of years ago. 

Can you explain your start-up business idea in a nutshell? 

In 2017 I developed a business called ‘Focks Socks’,
which bulk buys fun and novelty socks from Korean wholesalers and sells them for a profit online to the UK market and worldwide.
I believe that socks are an awesome way to let your personality shine. Accordingly, Focks Socks provides quirky socks to beat the boring sock crisis and to share the motto that socks should be fun. 

 When was the idea conceived and how did it all start? 

The idea for my business came from a trip to Seoul a couple of years ago, where I discovered the Korean love for unusual and quirky socks. I bought a few pairs as souvenirs and received endless compliments. Unfortunately, there was nowhere in the UK or online which supplied these socks to consumers, so I decided to fill this gap in the market. 

 Which competitions/schemes did you apply for and what was the result? 

I applied for a grant through the New Enterprise Competition in 2017. After an application and business pitch, I was delighted to receive £460 which covered the base cost of my first bulk order of 1000 pairs of socks from Korea. I self-funded the rest of the money required to get the business going by taking on lots of extra shifts at the uni gym. Investing your own money into what is essentially a big unknown is not for the fainthearted, but I am so glad I did it. 

 How have you found the Basecamp programme and support? 

Really great. The team have stayed in contact, and a few months ago I was invited along by the team to be the headline presenter at the Start-Up Drinks event at the Engine Shed. It was a really great way to get my business out there and to meet other people in a similar position. The Basecamp team are also a big fan of my socks – so I get regular orders from them! 

 What difference has the support from the New Enterprise Competition made to your business start-up? 

I would never have been able to afford to get the idea off the ground without the funding from the New Enterprise Competition. It was also a massive confidence boost to have a team supporting me and believing in my idea after pitching to them. Being an entrepreneur can be lonely, so it’s important to get people alongside you who believe in what you’re doing too. 

How has your start-up developed since you first received
the support from the New Enterprise Competition? 

As well as selling online, I’ve worked with a local business called Coffee & Beer on Cotham Hill to set up a mini market stall. At the start of 2019, I launched the “Socks for the Homeless” project. For the rest of the year, for every pair of socks that are bought, we’ve promised to donate a pair to a homeless charity. 

What does being an entrepreneur mean to you? 

Taking risks and working hard to ensure it pays off; but most importantly having fun with it. I started the business when I graduated; I had a lot of energy and ideas but nowhere to channel it. Focks Socks started as a super fun, exciting project and it’s important for me to remember to enjoy the journey (even when things go wrong). 

What top tip would you give other budding entrepreneurs? 

If you’re thinking about setting up a business, here’s 3 top reasons why you should take the plunge: 

  1. Learning – you’ll learn more about real life, the way businesses work and about yourself than you’d ever learn at uni. If things go wrong, you’ll learn even more.
  2. Fun – having a project to devote my attention to once I’d graduated saved me through my post-uni blues (which are very real). 
  3. Career-boosting – it’s a cliché line but it’s true – starting a business is a great thing to talk about in interviews and on your CV. It may even end up being your career! 

 Where can we find your awesome socks? 

Find out more