Wharton alum pairs fashion with social responsibility
Nice Laundry fills a fashion niche with colorful socks
April 11, 2013, 9:41 pm·
That’s what Wharton alum Ricky Choi hears on a daily basis.
Choi, who got his undergraduate degree from Wharton in 2009, is the co-founder of Nice Laundry, an online startup company that specializes in colorful, designer socks.
The company aims to provide quality eye-catching socks that allow people to express their individual personalities and styles.
“I’m a big socks guy,” Choi said. “At any given time I have over a hundred pairs of these colorful socks in rotation.”
Choi explained how his co-founder, Phil Moldvaski, was the partial inspiration for their startup idea when they worked together at a different company before creating Nice Laundry.
“Phil would always come nicely dressed to work but he would always wear these ratty white Adidas gym socks,” Choi said. “It just didn’t look good. As soon as I felt comfortable enough to get to know him well I convinced him to buy a pair of colorful socks.”
As Moldvaski purchased additional pairs of colorful socks, Choi realized how inefficient the sock market is because each designer pair has to be bought individually, with average prices ranging from $25 to $40 per pair.
Choi said that the company sells socks in packs of six instead of the traditional practice of selling socks individually to cut down on costs.
College sophomore Alexis Richards thinks Nice Laundry is relevant from a fashion standpoint.
“A lot of people are looking for fun and interesting socks,” Richards, a professional apparel coordinator for Dzine2Show, the group that helps put on Penn Fashion Week, said. “They’re totally in. Right now people are really into open-toed shoes or five-inch wedges with a funny pair of socks to express their individuality.”
Engineering sophomore Jonathan Lym agrees.
“For the type of clothing in this generation, I think colorful socks are a good fit,” he said.
The Washington, D.C.-based company is only a few months old and currently sells its socks through Kickstarter, a crowdfunding website that enables people to create projects and solicit monetary pledges for their causes or goods. It also broke the Kickstarter first-day record for having the most backers on opening day.
Choi believes that it is important for companies to engage in social good.
Every pair of socks the company sells comes with a complimentary shipping label for the customer to use to send back a pair of old, used socks. From there, the company sends these socks to its partner textile recycling center, the largest one in the nation.
“The best socks are lightly used and will go to places of need,” Choi said. “Worst grade socks are converted into recycled fibers, like air conditioning filters. That way we feel like we feel a more physical and emotional investment in the cause.”