And it wasn’t just the women. Most of the men said that if there was one thing they definitely bought on international trips, it was socks. This was because the products there were of better quality and had a variety of designs.
It led Purvi to dig deeper and realise that socks were an emerging fashion accessory for men, and there was a demand for something different and fun.
It led her to start Mint and Oak in February 2019. It is a Mumbai-based online brand that makes quirky and great quality socks for men.
“The way an individual dresses helps express who they are and bring out their personality. We want men to have the ability to decide how they are feeling: bold, subtle, happy, chirpy? All you need to do is open your sock drawer and express yourself,” Purvi explains to YourStory.
Manufacturing and design
The first step to starting up was finding a manufacturing partner who the team could work with. Purvi explains she met several people from the industry, studied fabrics, questioned the basics, and went onto understanding the nitty-gritty of production, before coming to realise that manufacturing socks is a complex process.
It took Purvi eight months to launch the brand and she started Mint and Oak with her savings of Rs 5 lakh. Since the launch, the startup has grown to be self-sustainable.
“While style and design are intrinsic to Mint and Oak, wearability and comfort is our top priority. Our socks provide comfort and freshness with their superior quality and anti-bacterial properties – now that’s what we call the final stitch,” says Purvi.
The team has a graphic designer who works on various collections and launches, which change mirroring the seasons. Purvi explains it is her role to maintain a brand language and ensure that each design created is in sync with the overall brand aesthetic.
“For every collection, we consider where the inspiration is coming from and create a mood board. We then work on the design and colour palettes,” she adds.
The startup also has operations and warehouse team to carry out the fulfilments. When Mint and Oak started, they were fulfilling orders out of home, but as the business grew, they moved to a professional warehousing facility.
“They process daily orders, do quality checks, look into the packaging and coordinate with various delivery agents for pick-up and deliveries. We had a lot of success in doing pop-up events, and we have an intern who has been working with us on that,” explains Purvi.
While the initial months of the lockdown affected the startup, it has since bounced back.
Team and product
An MBA graduate from Welingkar Institute of Management, Purvi previously headed marketing team of PVR Cinemas, and was in the launch team of Star World Premier where she responsible for show launches like Game of Thrones, Quantico, MasterChef Australia, and Koffee with Karan.
“Mint and Oak has always focused on creating unique and fun designs while keeping comfort and quality in mind. Our Indian-themed collection like ‘The Auto’ sock has been our bestseller. In terms of hygiene, we use N9 technology in such a way that the fabric incorporates silver ions to reduce odour-causing bacteria, thus making the socks anti-bacterial. This keeps your feet and socks fresh for longer,” she says.
The team also does a softening wash on the socks, as well as a seamless toe closure.
“If you turn your sock inside out, you will often notice threads coming out near the toe area. This causes irritation while wearing shoes. We do a hand linking at the toe area, making it a seamless closure. Our socks have a reinforced heel and toe to provide strength in areas which have maximum wear and tear,” says Purvi.
The market and future
According to the Indian Retailer, the socks market is estimated to be valued between Rs 900 crore and Rs 1,000 crore. It is believed to contribute to 4 percent of the innerwear market.
Mink and Oak competes with the likes of Chandigarh-based SocksBakery, Swedish brand Happy Socks, Stance, and to a small extent Mustang Socks – the largest socks manufacturer in the country (selling over a million pairs a month).
“We have a diverse customer base including top CEOs, lawyers, bankers, tech, and working professionals. We delivery pan-India and receive orders from Tier-II and III cities as well. We are foraying into international markets as well,” says Purvi.
The platform sells to customers directly through their website, and has also partnered with ecommerce marketplaces like Amazon, Myntra, Flipkart, and Ajio, among others.
Mint and Oak has also set up over 50 pop-ups at co-working spaces, media companies, law firms, consulting and accounting firms, and other corporate offices.
“This model works very well for us and leads to instant brand awareness. We have noticed a fair percentage of this audience placing repeat orders online. We have also catered to weddings wherein we create customised boxes for wedding favours and welcome kits. Gifting is a huge segment and we saw a 3x surge in demand during Christmas,” says Purvi.
A single pair of socks is priced at Rs 399, and you can create your own bundle of three for Rs 999. The team claims to have sold over 10,000 pairs of socks since February last year. Speaking about their future plans, Purvi says,
“Our focus is to penetrate deeper into the Indian market and also focus on diversifying into international markets. We are launching women’s socks too as there is a surge in demand from women.”