See how North Carolina small business Boardroom Socks is adjusting to the COVID19 crisis and helping men upgrade their wardrobe to (eventually) return to work with American-made socks.
About Boardroom Socks
Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, Boardroom Socks is a family-owned manufacturer of men’s socks.
The company’s mission is “to provide unparalleled value by offering high quality, American-made socks crafted with premium materials, all for a great price,” according to President Nathan James, pictured above with his dad (photo courtesy of Boardroom Socks).
“We manufacture each pair of socks locally in North Carolina,” he told me, “and we are committed to supporting our state’s textile traditions.
Boardroom makes several kinds of socks, and is a great option for long, over-the-calf socks, as well as more modern mid-calf socks. Their over-the-calf socks are made of a soft and comfortable 67% Merino Wool, 30% Nylon and 3% Spandex blend.
(Disclosure: Boardroom socks sent over a couple of pairs of socks at no cost to me.)
Sales slowed dramatically, then picked back up
“March started off very strongly for us but then things slowed dramatically beginning around the 15th,” said Nathan.
March 15 was the date that the CDC released guidance limiting crowd sizes to under 50 people, which forced weddings, conferences and other mass gatherings to be put off. (Two days prior, the President declared a national emergency.)
Nathan observed that “this mass shutdown of offices, business meetings, conferences, weddings, formal events, etc. really cut into demand for our products.”
While many of the entrepreneurs I’ve interviewed have observed that business has continued to remain soft or inconsistent, some, like Jon Shanahan of men’s skincare brand Stryx, mentioned that their sales started to recover.
Nathan noted that, beginning in mid-April, Boardroom Socks started to see its business pick back up.
I think people have accepted the quarantine as a new normal and see light at the end of the tunnel. This has folks starting to do more online shopping while also gearing up for a return to work at some point in the not-too-distant-future.
Nathan hopes that some shoppers who previously visited brick-and-mortar stores are shifting their purchasing online, which could help his primarily-online business.
Stay at home order impact on U.S. manufacturing operations
“Our manufacturing and shipping are all handled here in North Carolina, so our operations were largely unaffected until the Governor’s March 27th stay at home order,” Nathan said.
“When that order was issued, our manufacturing shut down, but we have still been able to ship out of our warehouse,” he added.
We certainly want to keep our team healthy and do our part to prevent the virus from spreading, so we’ll continue to operate this way until it’s safe to get operations ramped back up.
In the interim, Boardroom Socks is leaning into long terms investments, which is a refrain echoed by others like Ministry of Supply CEO Aman Advani.
Nathan is taking advantage of the slowdown to work on several major initiatives such as a complete rebuild of its website, which the company hopes to launch soon.
Get your back-to-work wardrobe ready and support small businesses like Boardroom Socks
You can begin to plan for the day when we (eventually) get to return to work by upgrading your ready-for-work wardrobe now.
For more options to upgrade your work (or work from home) wardrobe while supporting small and independent businesses, try:
- Supporting brands who are giving back during the COVID19 crisis through the Brandsxbetter coalition;
- Adding to your leather sneaker collection;
- Discovering other professional clothing options featuring performance fabrics for men and women;
- Trying blue light blocking glasses to deal with your screen time;
- Exploring super-unique Longwing crossover hybrid dress shoes from Wolf and Shepherd.
- Buying a non-medical washable face mask for going out.
About JakeJake is an expert on men’s style and fashion based in Washington, DC. He founded Modern Fellows in 2012 to get to know the entrepreneurs and innovative clothing and lifestyle brands helping men dress sharp in the digital age. He has published hundreds of articles on style and apparel, and regularly interviews small business CEOs and startup founders about industry trends. Jake has written about entrepreneurship, international business and fashion for outlets including Business Week, Forbes, Inc., Details Style Syndicate and Primer Magazine.
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