Playing the sock market

Lauren Ng shows his true colours with Sockzi, a business that also benefits children.

Popular wisdom has it that clothes make the man, but for Lauren Ng, it’s the other way around. Ng, 27, is the founder of Sockzi, a Toronto company that sells fun, quirky socks.

Ng wanted to start a business shortly after graduating from the University of Toronto but didn’t have an idea that ignited his passion. Instead, he joined the corporate workforce.

While working for Loblaw Cos. Ltd. Ng found his inspiration: he noticed a coworker down the hall wearing colourful socks. "I decided to give it a try because it seemed fun," says Ng. On a trip to New York, he bought brightly hued socks at clothing retailer Uniqlo. "What I discovered was amazing. Simply wearing colourful socks made me look forward to my day. It also made me more approachable, because a complete stranger would get a sense of my personality through my socks."

Ng, who was in the final stages of the CMA program at press time, combined his newfound love of foot fashion with philanthropy. He chose a family-run Taiwanese factory with ethical working conditions to manufacture the socks, and he decided to donate part of each sale to charities that support children’s health and physical activity.

After months of preparation, he quit his day job to focus on the startup. Sockzi got off on the right foot with a successful campaign on Kickstarter, the crowdfunding website, last fall; Ng raised more than double his modest $2,000 goal. "It was like a reassurance of all my hard work," he says.

Sockzi’s first collection of unisex socks — designed by Ng — features eye-catching stripes, dots and whimsical clouds. "Bringing a design idea to life is quite hard because you have to consider machine limitations and issues like stretch when the sock is worn," he explains. "Another challenge with clothing is fitting. I’ve been working with the suppliers to make a sock that is one-size-fits-all — I’ve spent long days and sleepless nights trying to figure this out."

Ng hopes to get his products (available online at into Canadian boutiques and trade shows, then into the US. He says that his accounting background helps him understand his company’s data, make decisions and position Sockzi for growth.

"Although I design socks, I don’t consider myself a designer. I’m just an aspiring entrepreneur looking to create a lifestyle product that creates an impact within the community."