How Daniel & Samantha Cohen Discovered the Perfect Socks for Millennials

By: Julie Marie Bedas

How Daniel & Samantha Cohen Discovered the Perfect Socks for Millennials

neon bandits

Early on, Samantha Cohen always knew that she would start a business with her brother, Dan. Samantha had a background in retail consulting while Dan previously worked in the lifestyle apparel field, and in June 2015 they officially launched Neon Bandits.

Neon Bandits aims to bridge the gap between performance and lifestyle socks for active millennials. Samantha and her brother believe that there should be an all-in-one sock option for people that are on-the-go. With bold patterns and bright colors, the brand is truly changing the sock game.

Founder’s Guide interviewed Samantha Cohen to gain insights on how they founded their sock company, the bumps they encountered and how they managed to keep going.

Q: How did you come up with the idea of doing business in the sock segment?

S: Almost three years ago now, my brother–and now business partner–and I were traveling independently for work when we individually noticed that there was a void in the sock market– active individuals were wearing great lifestyle sneakers, but their socks were plain, black or white. When it boiled down to it, these consumers’ sock style didn’t match their sneaker style so we set out to do it ourselves.

Q:What was the catalyst to finally start your business? Who and what are your influences?

S: Dan and I both shared the desire to work for ourselves. We knew that together we had the tools to bring an awesome concept to the market and at the time, there was really nothing holding us back. It was go-time.

Q: What struggles did you have in getting the concept to market?

S: One of the biggest struggles we had from the get-go was finding the right factory. We knew that in order to compete we needed to bring a high quality, well-priced sock to market. Those first 8-10 months, we must have gone through a dozen rounds of samples and still didn’t have something we were excited about. It was incredibly wearing and concerning. We were sampling and looking for new factories, we knew other people were working on similar concepts so time wasn’t on our side. Socks and accessories are booming and we had to be sure we were ready to make a splash, the first go-round.

Q: How did you face the challenge?

neon bandits socks

S: We looked to overseas production which brought on its own host of challenges—longer lead-times, higher minimums, etc. And although it was (and still can be!) stressful to have these challenges mounting, as a start-up, it’s all about how you approach said challenges and look for solutions. It’s easy to get frustrated and shut-down, but because you are leading the charge, you are making your own destiny. If you rise and grind, that’s up to you. If you press the snooze button, that’s up to you. It’s all about looking at things from a different perspective. Owning and operating a startup is all about being a creative problem solver.

Q: How many years are you now in business?

S: Though we have been working on Neon Bandits for just about 3 years now, the concept has been live since June 1, 2015, so we’re just about 6-months old.

Q: Where are you now (good or bad)?

S: Neon Bandits is growing and evolving, we’re incredibly excited to see what our future holds. A startup is filled with more unknowns than you can imagine—if anyone has a crystal ball, we’d love to take a look!

Q: Tell us more about early failures, missteps, productivity and culture management.

S: Biggest missteps:
· Getting caught up on silly tasks that take too much time.
· Not enough “doing”.
· Too much teamwork. Though this sounds totally counterintuitive, when you are a team of two, you cannot afford to both be spending 30-minutes on copy for a social post. You MUST divide and conquer!

Q: Any advice for people who want to start a business?

S: 1) Know your concept inside and out. Have a clear target market, brand filter and plan. Even though business plans take a lot of time, writing out some clear direction allows you to stay true to the concept and helps to define a path. (Getting distracted is a part of the process, but you need to know when to veer back on track.)

2) Have a support system.

3) Don’t take everyone’s advice, comments, ideas to heart. Everyone is going to have something to say, but at the end of the day, this is your concept and you get the final say if something does or does not fit within your brand or concept. You can’t be everything to everyone and recognizing that from the outset is imperative.

Q: Any advice for people who just started a business?

S: Refuse to get frustrated. There are a LOT of ups and downs when starting a business, and if you jump on the emotional roller coaster, it can be really hard to get off, personally. Set aside time to do things you like- keep your hobbies, friends and schedule as best you can. It’s easy to get wrapped up in a world that is all work but there does need to be a balance in order to maintain some semblance of quality of life.
FG Editorial Team
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