What: These are essentially performance socks attached to tights. Tights, outdoor and over-the-knee fashion boot socks, $24 to $42.
Who: Shelby Mason never intended to be a designer. After getting a degree in business, she worked several jobs in entertainment, ending up as a vice president of sales, and was comfortable in the career – but not in her boots. Wearing tights with boots meant her feet were cold and she got blisters, so she started layering socks over her tights. It wasn’t until she had to take off her boots at an airport security check – embarrassing, she says! – that this idea kicked in. Numerous pitches later, a mill was ready to take the first step forward. The tights are made of 85 percent nylon, 15 percent other fibers, while the socks are 96 percent nylon and 2 percent each spandex and polyester (there’s a sport version with wool blend socks, too). They’re produced in Asheboro and distributed out of Rock Hill.
How: Mason worked with a hosiery expert to develop the prototype. She still manages all designs and oversees marketing and sales. She attributes a large part of her success to capitalizing on her media relationships, and also focuses on networking and branding.
A foot in the door: Aspiring entrepreneurs can note Mason’s advice: “Network is key. A value of an intro is priceless ... (and) make sure what you’re selling has a unique benefit.”
Find it: Leah & Co.; Uncommon Scents; www.bootights.com