The Superb Chelsey Wilson

Feat. Sock Co. is a business built on quality and quirk

Feat. Sock Co. was born when two people decided to do something that many of the Superbalist 100 have in common: They took a shot on commercialising something they already love to do. Chelsey Wilson teamed up with lifelong friend Alison Stewart – who recently stepped away from the business to finish studying – and using Chelsey's design acumen and Alison's knowledge of brand strategy they turned their childhood habit of gifting each other fun socks into a real business, filling a space in the market for socks that combine quality and quirk.

What’s your favourite thing to do when you’re not working?

When I'm not working I love to try new things or explore new places. Last week I tried surfing and squash for the first time, but I also enjoy jumping into my car and driving along the coastline to find places I've never explored before. I love knowing that there will always be new horizons to explore and that learning will be a constant throughout my life.

What are the top 10 things on your Wishlist?

  1. The full 'Skin Creamery' range
  2. Puma by Rihanna Creepers (Oatmeal suede… to be specific)
  3. An 'Eyes' duvet cover set by Zana Products
  4. Any embroidery piece by Sarah Benning
  5. A collection of Kirsten Sims' illustrations to hang in my bedroom
  6. A pair of Bonne Maison socks
  7. A collection of embroidery thread in every possible colour (I'm heavy into embroidery right now)
  8. Organic cotton underwear by PANSY
  9. Eyelash sweater by Band of Outsiders
  10. New Copic markers for drawing days

What are you reading right now?

'Everyday Sexism' by Laura Bates

What’s the weirdest thing in your bag right now?

A beaded sheep keyring that my housemate brought back for me from a recent trip up the East Coast. It's weird because it looks more like my dog Teddie than a sheep.

What’s one question you would ask the president?

I'd like to ask him if seeing all the students rising up around the #FeesMustFall movement moved him at all... because I really feel it should have. It was so powerful and hopeful, yet all it seemed to receive from the president was indifference.

How did you start doing what you do?

One of my oldest friends, Alison, and I always had a thing about socks. We'd buy weird matching socks or stockings to wear to dance class together, or treat each other to cute socks for birthdays and Christmas. Our favourites were these lacey ones with ribbons that we bought together at The Space Station in Cavendish Square (lol). So, we noticed this little pattern in our friendship and thought "Wouldn't it be cool if we designed them and they were actually made right here in Cape Town?" So we gave it a bash and people loved them!

What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs wanting to start a business?

Celebrate the little victories, and remember the dreams/goals you set. They keep you going. I completely forgot that when I was 14/15/16 years old I used to dream about having my own shop one day. Then the other day, I was sitting in our new little studio/shop space in Muizenberg, and it all came rushing back and I smiled... because that dream had come true. That's something to be celebrated!

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

My dad has been a great mentor and has always told me that you need to search for work all the time. Even when we were still starting out and didn't have many customers yet, he told me I had to get up and find them. Keep busy. Keep trying. Keep looking. And eventually, it will come.

What would you do with a R100 000 investment?

SO MUCH! There are exciting new products in the pipeline that the extra cash would assist with greatly! We have been wanting to expand into other products (aside from socks) for a while now.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Keeping the friends that matter. I think it's easy sometimes to get caught up in what's cool and who's cool when you're in your early twenties and that stuff seems important, but you end up losing the people who really care about you. I'm really proud of the fact that all the people who really count are still around me and I've also made some new and incredible friends along the way.

What is your biggest regret?

This is going to sound ridiculous, but when I was 10 I went to Australia with my family. We were walking around Sydney the one day and I heard music coming from the one street. I really wanted to go see what it was, but I stupidly didn't say anything to my parents and we kept walking. When we got back to the hotel room I put the TV on only to find out it was the Backstreet boys doing a free live concert. I cried. A lot. I'm so sad I missed seeing Nick Carter and his glorious stepped haircut singing "I want it that way" live.

What is your idea of complete happiness?

Being on the dance floor with all of my closest friends and hearing R-Kelly's 'Ignition Remix' coming on and watching as everyone's faces light up and we just start breaking it down together. Damn that's the best thing!