ChattyFeet: Sock and Roll

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Tired of looking at the same boring and seemingly ugly feet of yours? Well, now is the time for you to jazz it up a notch!

The idiosyncratic brand ChattyFeet, with its incredibly exquisite illustrations, adds a little fun to your otherwise monotonous days. They literally bring “famous faces to your toes”. Serious fun, that’s what ChattyFeet is all about.

The Yellow Sparrow got in touch with Team ChattyFeet (Gil and Humberto) to learn more about their latest collections, quirky themes, and much more. Here we bring to you excerpts from the same.

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Q. Socks with illustrations and chucklesome names to brighten your day are something that is hard for people to wrap their heads around. How did you come up with this idea? And, of all the possible merchandise, why socks?

We like funny, silly things and this idea came out of the blue on a day when we met up with our friends. We thought it would be cool to have socks with faces on them; we could all imagine our feet acting like puppets and wondered what it would be like if our socks could talk. It was just a funny thought that became a really interesting project for us.  Everyone needs socks and feet can be funny, especially when you take your shoes off and surprise everyone with a funny character!

Q. From studying Communication Design at Central Saint Martins, London to founding the ChattyFeet, how would you describe your journey?

When we met, both of us were really interested in Interactive Media and inspired by projects like BlinkenLights. Our professional careers taught us a lot about creating digital services and we share a passion for technology. On a personal level we also connected because we enjoy psychology and, of course, humour.

We didn’t know that one day we would work together but we were interested in similar things so it made sense to collaborate. We started meeting once a week to work on the idea and found that one of the biggest challenges was finding a producer when you just want to test the idea with a small quantity.

We also did research in London fashion hubs and gathered insights about self expression with fashion garments. Coming up with the name ChattyFeet, branding, creating the illustrations for the first collection, building an online shop and finding partnerships were all activities that took time and effort until we were ready to launch.

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Q. What inspires your quirky designs?

We are inspired by things that make us laugh like this crazy Kangaroo video we found online. Some characters are inspired by real people like Kate Middle-Toe and Prof. Brian Sox, but others are completely original, such as Kloss the Clown and Miko. We try to make characters that bring a smile to your face and cheer people up. It’s important for us that everyone would be able to find a character that they like.

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Q. Since the illustrations are the soul of the socks, how do you choose the animators/illustrators?

We meet people at events and also look online for collaborators. This year, we went to Pictolasma, which is a design festival in Berlin, and saw work by many talented illustrators and animators all in one place. We look for a minimalistic style and originality. Commander Awesome and Venus are designed by Captain Kris who we met at an exhibition and other characters like Don Cottone and Yoko Mono were designed by our friends. It’s hard to explain exactly what we are looking for but when we show each other an illustration, we can usually agree if it’s right for ChattyFeet or not.

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Q. You sought help from Kickstarter for fundraising. How useful did that step prove to be and when did you breakeven?

We are a curious bunch so whenever there is a new platform, we discuss it and see whether it can work for us. In this case, we thought it would be fun and it turned out to be a very intensive exercise. Making the video was fun; we enjoyed coming up with the concept that we would be explaining ourselves on the video then the socks would interrupt us and share their own agenda. That’s what we are hoping that would happen in real life: that the socks would inspire people to be creative and have silly moments.

The difficult part was marketing. We got support from our family and friends and then it went quiet. We had to re-invent ourselves and tried to understand who would care about our project; we thought that illustrators and puppeteers would be interested so we started contacting them. We gained many supporters with this approach and managed to reach our Kickstarter goal. It was a huge amount of money and it helped us with our second collection but it also taught us a lesson about marketing ourselves.

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Q. ChattyFeet was launched in 2012 with four designs. How are things different to 3 years ago?

When we started, we didn’t really know where this idea was going to take us – it just sounded like a fun idea that we were willing to try! Now it’s a business with more commitment and bigger plans for the future. We know much more about what works and we have become more efficient in the way we work together. We understand the seasonality of our brand, which sells better at specific times of the year. We also discovered that we are a gift brand rather than a sock brand, which is a brilliant insight and has changed our focus. ChattyFeet socks are now being sold in the UK, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Sweden, Denmark, Australia and Taiwan, but our greatest achievement is having an audience that is interested in what we do.

Q. What is the most functional attribute of your business that is responsible for its expansion/success?

The most functional attribute is iteration but we don’t do the same thing over and over again. We learn from each design we release; we listen to what people tell us about our designs and try to improve each time. We also know how to focus on what matters and not try to do more than what we can handle. This approach keeps us in motion and helps us to grow.

Q. We couldn’t help but to notice your “BadAss Sock” Collection and “Kate Middle-toe” edition. How important are they to your socks?

The BadAss Collection is a gift box for film lovers. It’s important because we know people like buying ChattyFeet as a fun gift for their friends. The box features cool characters such as The Sockfather, Mambo, Toeminator and Karate Feet. We think it is fun to wear these characters on your feet and more collections will come soon!

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Kate Middle-Toe was the first of our characters to be mentioned in fashion magazines, like Grazia France, and got the attention of Vogue UK. At that time we only had niche characters so it was the right time to come up with a character that many people love and care about. The name came up really easily and Kate is now one of our best sellers.

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Q. After successfully giving a face to frosty feet, what are your future plans for the brand?

We are very excited about our next move. We want to create new products which will be based what we’ve learnt from ChattyFeet. The experience of developing this brand taught us about character design, fashion, gifts, e-commerce, logistics, packaging, marketing and much more, so we feel that we are now ready to generate new ideas.

Q. What advice would you give to the prospective creative entrepreneurs?

The first thing is to focus. Starting your own project is an adventure that might take few years of your life – or more if it becomes successful. So without having a passion for what you do, it would be difficult to bring your idea forward and keep working on it for years to come. Ideas are relatively easy to come up with but the execution is the stage at which many people begin to struggle. You will need to have the capacity to learn new skills and not let difficult situations grind you down.

The second thing is the quantity on your plate. When we started ChattyFeet our goal was to start with four characters. This was an achievable goal that wasn’t a massive financial risk. We believe in prototyping your idea and running a trial before investing further time or money. Many businesses fail because they try to do too much at once, so if you put the right portion on your plate you’ll increase your chances of creating a project you enjoy without it being a struggle.

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Follow the ChattyFeet on Facebook and Twitter to keep pace with their latest adventures!

 IMAGE COURTESY – ChattyFeet and hellofrankie

We are delighted to announce that The Yellow Sparrow is doing a giveaway with ChattyFeet starting 14th October, 2015 to 24th October,2015. We’re giving away the artists collection box from ChattyFeet to a lucky winner. To enter the giveaway and find out details about the contest, visit our Facebook page. Scratch your creative itch and win goodies in return!

 

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