Today we’d like to introduce you to Kevin Wohlman.
Kevin, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
In 2014 I had just graduated from Arizona State with degrees in Accounting and Entrepreneurship and began my very short career in Big 4 Public Accounting here in Dallas. I had lived in Dallas the previous three summers, interning for the same firm, and had really grown to love the city. I think Dallas brought me to the job much more than the job brought me to Dallas. The truth is, after my second internship I knew that accounting wasn’t where I saw a future – in fact, I hated it. I have been an entrepreneur of sorts for as long as I can remember – from saving my Halloween candy in the 4th grade so that I could sell it at school once all the other kids had run out of theirs to starting a small t-shirt line when I was 15.
When I finished my Accounting degree in 2013 I was urged to pursue a Masters in Tax, but, knowing that I didn’t have the slightest passion for the industry, I instead decided to study Entrepreneurship where I really solidified my desire to create something of my own. Once I got to Dallas full time, I quickly noticed that seemingly every guy in my office was wearing some sort of patterned dress sock to enhance their style in an otherwise monotonous dress code. I personally loved unique dress socks to help show a bit of individuality and style, but had a very hard time finding a brand that produced high-quality, comfortable, and stylish dress socks that were also office appropriate and stayed up on my calf. After talking with several coworkers, I learned that I wasn’t alone in experiencing this headache and the concept for Southern Scholar began to form. Within two months of starting at the accounting firm, I was working diligently after work and on weekends to launch a company of my own.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Starting a company, specifically when you have no true experience in the industry you’re entering is never an easy task. Prior to this venture I had no true experience in textiles, manufacturing, design, or digital marketing. Teaching myself the necessary skills to start, grow, and scale this business has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, and it I’ll never be “done”. There is always more to learn, more to test, things to improve upon, and honestly the journey has only begun.
Working nights and weekends to pay your bills so that you can reinvest everything back into the growth of the business makes for late nights, early mornings, and missing out on every social event imaginable. The road has been far from smooth, but that’s what makes entrepreneurship so exciting. You’re in a constant state of learning which, in-turn, creates a constant state of growth, both personally and professionally. I’ve gone through every trial and tribulation imaginable, but it’s how you persevere and overcome those obstacles that keeps you moving forward and keeps your company growing.
In the early days I ran into issues finding trustworthy manufacturing partners, determining what items to outsource and what to keep in-house, how to finance the business itself, and trying to learn and balance everything necessary to keep the business moving forward. The first two years were really spent creating, testing, and optimizing our product to perform better than what was currently available on the market. We have a heavy focus on aesthetics and design but our true priority is in the quality, durability, fit, and performance of our socks. Without taking away from the difficulty and importance of the design side, anybody can throw some polka dots on a sock, select a color pallet, and order a batch of socks from a textile manufacturer online. It takes far more to create a product that people absolutely love to put on every morning. Socks engineered to stay up on your calf and keep your feet dry and comfortable all day. We’ve all made the journey from our office building to a local restaurant by foot in the Dallas summer, and none of us want to head back to the office for the rest of the day in sweaty socks that have now made their way down our legs and around our ankles. The last year has been focused primarily on growth and understanding our customers better, which go hand-in-hand, and I’m very excited to continue down that path going forward.
Please tell us about Southern Scholar Socks.
Southern Scholar is a premium men’s dress sock company focused on quality, fit, and style above all else. Each month we send our members a new pair of socks, designed for seasonality, and corresponding style advice to help them look their best. We utilize brighter, more vibrant colors in the spring and summer and darker, more subtle tones in the fall and winter. Included with each pair is our Signature Style Card which provides head-to-toe styling tips from the color and texture of your suit, to the style of your dress shoe, to the pattern and color of your tie and pocket square perfectly complement each specific pair of socks. The quality, style, and comfort of our socks is definitely what we’re most known for, but the best feeling in the world is when a customer tells us we’ve helped them learn to dress more confidently, knowing that their entire outfit is styled appropriately when they leave the house in the morning. Our members love our product and enjoy receiving a new surprise every month. It’s a monthly gift to yourself or a loved one that’s always exciting to open.
In recent years socks have become a cheap commodity. A standard fit made from a generic cotton blend and built to last a few wears, shrink and fray in the wash, and get tossed out a few weeks later in exchange for a fresh new pair. We’ve turned that logic upside down, utilizing our tried and tested Signature Material Blend which contains no cotton or wool. This blend creates a sock that is not only incredibly soft, but is built to last and form-fit to your foot and leg to ensure it stays up on your calf no matter the conditions. We don’t want you replacing your socks every week. Instead, we want you wearing the same pair a year from now, which is why we offer a lifetime money back guarantee. If your socks shrink, slip, produce holes, or fade in color, we’ll replace them for free.
I started southern scholar with a simple goal: to provide gentleman with the products and know-how to look their best. To help teach them about proper style etiquette and help get them excited about getting dressed in the morning. Through our line of unique yet professional dress socks and our corresponding Signature Style card, we aim to teach guys the ins-and-outs of matching and contrasting colors, patterns, and textures to achieve optimal and appropriate, professional, business casual, and casual outfits.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Growing up I played hockey on several club teams. Traveling with your teammates, who are also your best friends, to compete in a sport that you love was an incredible experience and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to do it for so many years. My dad is also a hockey player and he always traveled with me during tournaments. He was the best coach I could have asked for. He always focused on the mental side of the game when he was trying to help me progress as a player. I’ve always been a hard worker and he really helped me complement that aspect of my game with the strategic part. Understanding where to be on the ice and anticipating where the puck was going to end up to stay in an advantageous position was his focus and it made me a much better player and made the game a lot more fun.
Who else deserves credit – have you had mentors, supporters, cheerleaders, advocates, clients or teammates that have played a big role in your success or the success of the business? If so – who are they and what role did they plan / how did they help.
Without the support of my friends and family we never would have made it to where we are today. My parents, my brother, my aunts and uncles, my friends – they’ve all helped in one way or another. My brother in particular was a huge supporter in pursuing this dream from the very beginning when it was simply an idea, and I honestly may not have taken the plunge had it not been for him.
My parents always knew that I aspired to be an entrepreneur and build something for myself, but when I told them I was planning to quit my first job out of college, shortly after starting, they were definitely more supportive of the idea than I had anticipated.
My friends have supported me in a ton of various ways. They’ve been customers, advocates, content contributors, and a support system to bounce ideas off. It’s definitely been a team effort despite technically being a single employee entity, and I’m forever grateful for all of them.
- Our monthly subscription is $15/month. With it, you get one pair of our Superior Dress Socks + our Signature Style Card, delivered free and in beautiful packaging, every month.
- You can also save some money by paying for the year upfront!
- Voyage Dallas readers can use code VOYAGE to get 50% OFF their first month! That means they can give us a try for only $7.50!
- Our members also have access to our Members Shop where they can purchase past designs at a 20% discount.
- Website: www.southernscholar.com
- Phone: 480-242-9407
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: instagram.com/thesouthernscholar
- Facebook: facebook.com/thesouthernscholar
- Twitter: twitter.com/southernscholar
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