We’re proud Tasmanian’s, one born and bred, the other an import from Mullumbimby, on the NSW far north coast of Australia. Who came for a visit and never left the island. After spending our early working lives “working for the man” and building our beautiful daughter, we realised we really didn’t want to continue to work the 9-5 commuter grind and miss half our daughter’s life, just to pay the bills.
We decided to take a punt and created our first small business. The lifestyle was great, the work was physically exhausting, the $$ were only just but we were young and enthusiastic. We made a lot of mistakes in those first few years, all valuable lessons as it turns out, but that’s another tale all together. It soon became clear we needed to suppliment our income. We took on a market stall at Hobart’s iconic Salamanca Market, initially selling collectables and bric a brac.
That was a very bad choice product. You have to have a certain personality to deal in 2nd hand goods. The reality of that business is you must buy at 1/2 of what something is worth, you must haggle ruthlessly if you want to be successful, that is just not in our nature. So we had to come up with something else to sell on the stall. We wanted something our fellow market traders weren’t already selling, because that just not neighbourly. We settled on socks, thinking, everyone’s got feet.
After a very short time, listening to our customers, it became apparent we had to have good socks for people to want to buy. Then we found the Mongrel Tasmanis socks (although they weren’t called that then). They were made by a hundred year old Tasmanian company and we began selling them. Our customers loved them, we loved them and we really loved selling a unique Tasmanian made product.
All was good for a while, until that company went under, no more great socks for us. We were devastated. So on a whim we went to the factory fore-closure sale, where we ended up buying a couple of 85 year old sock machines, some boxes of yarn and set about learning how to knit socks, thinking how hard could it be! Famous last words. We could have given up a dozen times.
Those machines were cantankerous old buggers. Mongrels by name and Mongrels by nature. There was so much more to it than we ever imagined. Had we known I seriously wonder whether or not we would have even tried. But try we did and learn we did. Many trials and many more errors. Ever present in our minds was the feeling that these socks were worth making. We loved wearing them, we knew other people already did too. If we could master the making we were confident we were on to a winner.
That was 10 years ago. We still operate our stall at Salamanca Market, and as a result of this grass roots level marketing we have discovered other types of socks people want to buy, and here on this website we are committed to supplying socks people want to wear. We have over time developed our own unique range of socks, not just the tried and true Pure Wool Mongrel Tasmanis. We’ve researched other varieties of natural fibre product, from Possum/Merino blends to the latest being our funky range of fine, Mercerised Cotton socks, keeping with the multi colour Mongrel Tasmanis look people know and love.
Well, here we are launching a new website - markIV. Still making, after 15 years, our Pure Wool Mongrel Tasmanis Socks but now so much more. We now have other Aussie specialist knitters making some great products for us, using our gorgeous Tasmanian grown Merino. Making things we don't have the necessary equipment or time to make our selves. Most recently we have begun collaborating with a local NFP supported employment enterprise. We are so proud to be able to to present a product that is not only locally made, out of locally grown Merino, it is a product that helps fund meaningful, self sustaining employment for locals with special needs. It's all good.
The future looks bright.....
Where does the time go??? We are lucky enough to be still plugging along, enjoying what we do, and the path it has taken us.
16 years of making socks - who knew?
In the year 2000 we took a punt and backed ourselves, now heading in to our 20th year, still making, and mostly still smiling. It's been a good old ride, and not over yet.