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Alumnus co-founded wacky sock business

(L to R) Michael Grenier, Paul Hopler and Austen Tabor started Keep it Simple Socks. Credit: Courtesy of David Hopler Photography.

Ohio State alumnus Paul Hopler and business partner Michael Grenier want to keep their “sock game” on point, so they started their own sock company, Keep it Simple Socks.

“We were standing around talking about socks, and I mentioned how you need to ‘keep it simple, stupid,’” Grenier said. “Someone screamed out ‘Keep It Simple Socks,’ and at the time we didn’t realize we had a cool business opportunity. A few months later we decided to pursue it.”

The duo teamed up with Austen Tabor and began to design socks. With the help of two local designers, the team sent out some mock-up designs and the company opened for business.

“We launched in November and had a good amount of sales,” Grenier said. “People had subscriptions, they were buying them for their boyfriends or husbands for Christmas, and we got off to a solid start.”

The company offers a range of crew sock styles from solid, geometric and more intricate designs available for online order. One pair of socks costs $12 and three pairs cost $30. Keep It Simple Socks also offers a monthly subscription box, with three pairs per month shipped to the customer’s home for $20 per month. A year-long subscription costs $220.

Grenier said the creative and original designs of the socks are what make them special, and what makes the price a little higher than a typical pair of socks.

“We wanted to design socks that people could work in, play in or just wear around,” he said. “We didn’t design them for one single aspect of the day, they are just fun to wear all the time.”

Hopler graduated from OSU with a degree in actuarial science in 2015, and became the “numbers aficionado” of the group. None of the founders operated a small business in college, but that didn’t stop them from getting advice.

“We had an awesome support network to get started,” Hopler said. “Some of our friends, who also have a small business, helped us get started and it’s taken off from there. Neither of us did anything as far as business besides buying and selling stuff online, but we’ve still received a lot of help so far.”

For now, the socks are only available online, but they are looking into partnering with local stores to carry the socks for purchase in-person.

While it wasn’t an easy start, the founders agreed that starting a business is worth it, and offered advice for future businesspeople.

“Stop making excuses,” Grenier said. “You can say you don’t have the money or the know-how, but those are just excuses. Reach out for help. We’ve received help from so many different people, even from some random people, so there is no reason to make excuses.”

The founders of Keep it Simple Socks display their work. Credit: Courtesy of David Hopler Photography.

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