Celebrating Pride Month with Pride Socks Founder Rachel Smith
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“I am proud of you.”
These were the five words that would change Rachel Smith’s life and set her on the course to creating her own lifestyle brand, Pride Socks.
For Smith, socks were never something to take for granted. Growing up with two deaf parents in a household with limited income, she and her five siblings shared everything — including every mismatched and holey sock.
Fast forward to when Smith was 14 years old, she began running cross country and track at the advice of her sister. She recalls her first race day, when the gun fired and she immediately began sprinting down the track. After a few minutes of running as she could, she soon realized she couldn’t keep her same pace throughout the duration of the run. Defeated, Smith started walking and afterward told her coach she was quitting.
Nonetheless, the very next Saturday, Smith was back on the bus on her way to the next race.
“I got on the bus and [my coach] handed me a card,” Smith says. “In that card it simply said, ‘I am proud of you.’ And it was the defining moment of my life that I didn’t realize at that moment. She believed in me when I didn’t know the power of the word ‘proud.’”
And so began Smith’s journey toward helping others discover that same pride in themselves.
Ten years later, Smith began teaching special education at her high school alma mater, where she was able to instill in her students the same confidence and belief that her cross country coach instilled in her.
“I pieced all of these [moments] together and realized, it doesn’t matter who you are — we all have something to be proud of, “ Smith says. “Hence, Pride Socks was born, and I wanted our business to be what my coach was to me, but Pride Socks to the world.”
Following in the footsteps of her older brother who also owns a tube sock company (www.skatersocks.com), Smith built Pride Socks, a lifestyle brand empowering individuals to take pride in who they are and live the best life possible. Just as Smith’s coach saw something in her that she didn’t realize she had within herself, Smith sought to create a brand that would make a difference on a global scale.
After running the business out of a spare bedroom for a few years, selling only three styles of socks, Smith eventually moved into one storage facility… and then two, three, four and finally five storage units.
And now, Pride Socks has its own office and continues to expand its catalog into a variety of socks, shirts, hats, tanks, accessories and custom shirts.
Today, after 12 years in business, Smith reflects on the ways Pride Socks continues to impact customers and positively influence their lives.
“A parent will email us and say, ‘Hey, Rachel, just so you know, when I gave my son a pair of your socks, it let him know that I truly accept him for who he is.’ To get those stories is by far the best part of owning Pride Socks.”
Apart from scaling their business with their BigCommerce store, Pride Socks has celebrated new innovations that are leading to even greater success — most notably, their recent investment in a digital printer, which allows the company to create custom shirts and new designs and print on demand.
“The exciting part for us is it gives us the ability to further enhance people’s pride in who they are, because we can put their art on a shirt,” Smith says. “We can put their designs on a shirt. We can put their favorite sayings on a shirt — anything that allows us to be able to continue giving back to our community and make people feel proud of who they are.”
Needless to say, Smith and her team don’t limit their mission of pride to just one month out of the year, nor to just the LGBTQ+ community. Rather, Pride Socks celebrates pride every day of the year by changing the world from the feet up.
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Haylee is a Content Marketing Writer at BigCommerce, where she partners with the SEO team to craft narratives and blog content. She earned a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Texas at Austin and afterward spent a year abroad to pursue a Master's in International Management from Trinity College Dublin. When she’s not writing, you can usually find Haylee with her nose in a book, enjoying live music or scoping out the best local coffee shops.