Quality merino children’s socks are the passion
of New Zealand mum and entrepreneur Tracey Topp.
Owner of New Zealand business, Cosy Toes, Tracey began manufacturing and marketing children’s merino wool socks in 2005, after realising that wool socks had gone off the shopping radar and were unavailable for her pre-school children.
Having grown up wearing wool, the benefits of wool were ingrained in her because of her upbringing on a sheep farm.
“My mother is a knitter and my Nana was too and the clothing made was always with wool. “
When Tracey and her partner began a family of their own, she realised wool socks for children were very hard to find and purchase. Wool clothing for children almost seemed flooded out by imported synthetic clothing.
Tracey was determined to bring merino wool socks back on the market, not only for her own family but for other families as well. Five years on Cosy Toes is a profitable, growing business that this year was awarded the South Island winner for The Enterprising Rural Women Award.
“I believe it’s not only that the business is doing well but it’s also my drive and passion behind the business for wool that has got Cosy Toes to where it is today,” says Tracey.
Wool has proved to be the backbone for Cosy Toes and Tracey is determined that one day every New Zealand baby will have a pair of Cosy Toes merino wool socks.
“Every child needs to grown up with wool and think no different of it. “
Cosy Toes has recently become a CRT card holder supplier, offering cardholders a 5 percent discount off their purchase.
Cosy Toes merino socks make a great overseas Christmas gift as they are lightweight to post.
Warm and Cosy Toes
What do you do when you can’t buy warm merino socks for your kids?
Most Mums would simply go for those nifty synthetic jobs. Tracey Topp could have gone down this well trod path. But that would have left her still unable to put fine wool socks on her boy’s cold feet. If she was looking for merino socks, surely other women were in the same position.
And so a business idea was born. The year was 2005 and Tracey was busy raising Drew, then three and nine month old Logan.
“I couldn’t find any wool socks for my boys when they were little and I couldn’t work out where all the wool socks had gone from when I was small. I knew from my upbringing on a North Canterbury sheep farm that wool was the best fibre for feet. I thought maybe I could put them back on the market, but I had just about given up when I finally found someone who would manufacture them in New Zealand.”
Tracey gave herself a three year deadline and if the business didn’t work out, she could at least be content she had tried her best. At the very worst, she would have a mountain of gifts for people with small feet.
Wool had fallen off the shopping radar, a victim of new synthetic products, marketing apathy and a misconception it was itchy. Adult wool socks were available but for some reason the children lost out.
Living in the small rural New Zealand town of Rotherham, Tracey could not rely on foot traffic for business so went online.
“This brought me closer to an international market and also a rural market. Equally more and more mothers are shopping and interacting online.”
Infant and baby wool socks are the biggest selling items but Cosy Toes now stocks merino wool clothing for children. The range has also extended to adult merino socks, wool bassinet and cot blankets and a gift range that is based on sheep and socks.
This year Tracey decided that 2010 would be a year to give back. The year began with supporting the New Zealand Child Cancer Foundation by way of selling their Beads of Courage bracelets on the Cosy Toes website with 100% no charge to them. In February Cosy Toes also started a sock collection to send to Ugandan orphan babies. Approximately 1000 socks and items of clothing have been collected from friends, customers and knitting groups. “The collection was overwhelming and unfortunately there was no room for anymore to be sent.” Tracey says. “We have now started knitting for a pregnancy centre in Canterbury which is teaching young Mums to knit and we are able to promote the benefits and warmth of wool too as well as giving needy wool items to new babies.”
Cosy Toes is now in its fifth winter season and has plans to expand further and the merino sock and clothing range is expecting to grow.