It’s Female Founder Friday and I am delighted to introduce you to woman entrepreneur, Catenya McHenry. Catenya is the founder of SoleMate Sox, the solution to mismatched and missing socks. Her patent-pending creation is a line of magnetic socks that are truly the lost sock solution. I have had the privilege of knowing Catenya for years, and have always marveled at her unwavering optimism, grit, and keen fashion sense. It is so exiting to share her story of struggle, perseverance, and success with SoleMate Sox. Get ready for the inside scoop and inspiration ladies!
So, if you’re considering starting a business that solves a problem you face, if you’re curious about Catenya’s journey building a tangible product, or if you need a last-minute Christmas gift (SoleMate Sox made the Inc Magazine Holiday Gift List,) don’t miss her answers and advice below!
What inspired you to create your company?
Three children and tons of lost socks every single load of laundry inspired me to find a fix to the missing sock saga. Before my invention came to fruition, there was a constant sack of singles in our laundry room and it drove me crazy. I still constantly wonder where socks go and how just one sock gets lost. Lost socks are one of life’s greatest mysteries.
What was your biggest obstacle and failure in going from idea to business?
There was a time when I looked at disappointing circumstances as failures but now I realize, they’re not really failures, they are life lessons. These life lessons happen for a reason. They often times force you to find a different process or to find something better. Hurdling manufacturing obstacles has been the single most challenging aspect of my business. From finding a facility in the U.S. that could create our product to a manufacturer who believes in what we were doing and could creatively conceptualize my invention and vision was a painstaking process that almost made me quit. I had to find a renewed sense of purpose and I had to remind myself of the necessity of our magnetic socks. For example, the manufacturer that I started with is no longer with us. They couldn’t create the high-quality product that I insisted on. Additionally, they let their personal feelings get in the way of business and stopped responding after our first run. That forced me to shut the company down for a year while I researched and hunted for another U.S. facility. This was not easy and this is when I almost stopped trying but I had to keep pushing forward. I didn’t know I needed something better until I was forced into it.
The second biggest obstacle is exposure and trying to penetrate the digital landscape to get noticed. Marketing is an element that we’re constantly working on and give consistent effort and attention to. We have looked into outsourcing parts of our marketing to help give us a boost, but we are yet to find the right company. We feel it is important to find a business who specialises in your industry – for example, if you run a canna-business, you might want to read this canna marketing guide before contacting the company who wrote it. We are looking for a business who, at the very least, specialises in fashion.
Our Valentine’s Day and Spring collections are being introduced beginning in January 2018. We are also working on a toddler’s collection and anklets for our fitness collection. We are expanding our brand collaborations and we’re working to be featured on as many national platforms as possible.
What is a life or business hack that you recommend to help other female founders?
Find a way to bounce back. Don’t give up when things don’t work out or give you unexpected results. It’s almost a guarantee that set backs will occur. There are times when your best plans fall apart but you have to find a way to find your footing again.
Another life hack is to network. It’s amazing who you meet when you mix, mingle, and share your life and experiences with others.
If you had a theme song what would it be?
“Unstoppable,” by Sia. The lyrics are incredibly poetic, practical and perfectly applicable and an appropriate manta for every day as an entrepreneur.
“I’m unstoppable, I’m invincible, I win every single game…” You must go in to every day with this attitude.
Please share your best piece of advice for aspiring female founders.
Realize your worth and be confident in it. Don’t apologize for it and don’t believe you’re responsible for devaluing your services, your products or your expertise to please someone else. Realize, not everyone can afford you or what you’re doing and that’s okay. It’s possible that relationship may not have been a good fit and you may have saved yourself some headache and heartache.
Research the market for what’s competitive and factor in your experience and training when setting your pricing. It’s all about perception when a potential client/customer is considering a purchase of any kind. Understand the science of buying and understand how to appeal to your target audience and customer base.
Be open to advice and be open-minded about how to make your business work. Talk to as many people as you can and don’t apologize for asking lots of questions.
Don’t approach a new venture if you’re not passionate about it. If it’s something you feel nonchalant and carefree about then don’t pursue it. That mediocre attitude will resonate in everything you do and in the way you conduct business.
You should be excited about your venture and more importantly be excited to tell others about it. Be sure you aren’t duplicating what’s already available but find a new or an improved method. Think about what’s different and what sets you apart. Take the time to figure out the why of your business. Be thorough, be intentional and most of all, be smart about what you’re offering to the masses.