Here’s a mompreneur who solved a common frustration that most of us just take for granted.
Corla Rokochy, mother of five, was matching socks one day when she realized that her family of seven went through 98 pairs of socks a week. That’s almost 200 socks that had to be paired up, every seven days! Deciding that there “had to be a better way,” she set out in search of a solution.
Then auditions for Dragon’s Den came through town. Dragon’s Den–known as Shark Tank in the US–is a Canadian reality show where entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to potential investors. On a whim, Corla decided to give it a shot.
“The night before, I went to the store and bought two new socks and a shoelace,” Corla explained in an email to the Why Didn’t I Think Of That?® Blog. The idea was to make a pair of “idiot socks,” modeled after children’s mittens and connected with string. Though she would quickly discard the socks + string model as impractical, it was enough to get her on the show.
By the time Dragon’s Den taped in Toronto, Corla had invented “Snappy Socks.”
The idea is almost breath-taking in its simplicity. Each Snappy Sock is equipped with a snap that connects it to its mate. When the socks are removed, they’re snapped together and thrown into the laundry basket. The socks are washed and returned, clean, to the drawer–without ever having to be sorted.
“I showed up [on the show] with two socks and no sales,” she recalls. She also showed up with five kids—and her husband—in tow. An odd business strategy, perhaps. But the family made a great visual, and so did the laundry basket full of un-matched socks that Corla emptied on the floor, in front of the investors.
Watch Corla’s Dragon’s Den pitch below!
“We can do anything,” Corla replies when one investor wonders aloud about the feasibility of selling a million pairs of Snappy Socks. She explains that, a few years earlier, she’d decided to become a photographer, even though she lacked experience. “I put an ad in the newspaper before I even had a camera!”
Her photography business turned a profit in the first year.
Corla attributes her ‘can-do’ attitude to her dad, who tried out for college football, despite never having played the game before! “He ended up winning the Grey Cup for football in Canada as a professional football player,” she says.
Corla impressed the investors, and snagged a $25,000 injection of cash from one of them. It was enough to go from concept to product. “I used the whole amount of the investment to purchase my first order from my manufacturers,” Corla says. That $25,000 also bought the investor 25% of the company. But, while he offers her advice and introduces her to new contacts, Corla more or less has free reign to run the business as she sees fit.
Snappy Socks made over $10,000 in sales in the first two weeks. And Corla is just getting started. “I plan on creating a number of products that will solve simple problems that mothers and fathers face every day,” she says. Snappy Socks continues to sign up new stores in British Columbia while selling the product on their website, snappysocks.ca. Corla is also working on an adult line of Snappy Socks.
Here at the Why Didn’t I Think of That?® Blog, we love covering mom-entrepreneurs like Corla Rokochy and Julie Pickens. You know the old saying, Being a mom is a full time job? Well, we believe that! And we respect any mom who can also take on something as daunting as starting their own company.
Corla admits that being an entrepreneurial mom is “a juggling act,” but adds that, “When you work for yourself at something you love, it doesn’t feel like a chore!” Being an inventor is a new and challenging role, but for Corla, “There is no harder or more rewarding job than raising children.”
And now, thanks to her Snappy Socks, the job of being a mom just got a little easier.
What about you? Do you have a business that makes people say, Why didn’t I think of that? If so, then Send us your story! You just might get featured on the Why Didn’t I Think of That?® Blog and Radio Feature!