Brooke English, owner and queen sock fairy, opened The Sock Drawer at the age of 27 in 2007. Since then, she has grown her business tremendously from a small novelty sock store in San Luis Obispo, California, to a thriving online retailer with a staff of women in a wide variety of roles. She is also the proud mother of two boys.
For Women’s Equality Day, we asked her to reflect on the challenges she’s faced over the years as a business owner and mother.
Q. What is it like working with mostly women?A. Really special. Our team is built on inclusivity, trust and respect, which encourages so much open communication. I’ll never forget that I was once asked in an interview if there’s a lot of drama here because of how many women we have on our team. Honestly, the question caught me off guard because the thought of drama on our team has never crossed my mind, and I had to laugh out loud. The women on our team are so thoughtful, encouraging and vulnerable with each other — there is no room for drama here. We rely on each other for support, we see each other for who we are and the personal journeys we’re on, and we lift each other up.
Q. All of your full-time employees are currently women. How did that happen?
A. We are committed to hiring the person who is most qualified for the position. Our hiring qualifications expand beyond technical skills and experience and weigh heavily on how applicants align with our company values. It’s the commitment to our values that has attracted the special group of people on our team — it just so happens that they are women! We do, of course, work with lots of men right now in contract, part-time and seasonal roles, and I’m sure that will continue to shift over time.
Q. What is it about working at The Sock Drawer that you think appeals to your female employees?A. I know that each woman on this team has a life outside this company as a mother, wife, sister or friend that they value, and I think those are important relationships to honor. I also know firsthand how difficult that can be while working full time. I try to offer flexible hours to accommodate special events in employees’ lives, knowing it’s a continual challenge to find that perfect work-home balance.
Q. You have two young sons. How do you personally find that balance?A. By starting my day with self-care. I regularly wake up before my family to exercise in the morning, and I go to therapy. It’s critical that I carve out this time to take care of my physical and mental health so I can function at my best. It helps me be present for my team when I’m at work and for my family when I’m at home. I also have tremendous support from my husband, who is a stay-at-home super-dad with our kids.
Q. What do you want your sons to learn from your example?
A. To find strength in vulnerability. It’s one of our company values that I’m most proud of. When we are open and honest with each other and listen with empathy, that is when we can truly connect with others. Vulnerability is often seen as a weakness — even more so with men — and I want to show them that regardless of gender, it is actually a source of incredible strength.
Q. What female role models inspire you?A. My mom is my stand-out female role model. She taught me how to harness the power of my intuition and encouraged me to feel confident walking my own path. I also really admire Michelle Obama, Brené Brown and the almighty Oprah Winfrey.
Q. How does The Sock Drawer work to give back to women outside of your business?A. One of our company’s values is “Pass it on.” That includes donating a portion of our sales and socks themselves to organizations that support women, among others. On the national level, we donate to Girls Inc., which uses long-lasting mentorships and other methods to inspire girls to be strong, smart and bold. Locally, we donate socks to RISE, an organization that provides safety, healing and empowerment for sexual and intimate partner violence survivors.
Q. What advice would you give to young women who might want to open a small business?
A. When you work really hard, believe in yourself and are kind to others, amazing things can happen.
If you’re feeling inspired by Brooke’s beautiful words this Women’s Equality Day, you should be sure to check out our special Girl Power Collection! It’s packed with smart, sentimental and sassy socks fit for every #girlboss out there!