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Iwa Hoope & Kara Skaflestad


Iwa Hoope & Kara Skaflestad

Gabriel Flores  0:01  

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the shades of entrepreneurship. This is your host, Mr. Gabriel Flores. Today I have a return guest as a new guest. Please welcome first Kara, with a new last name. Cara Fraser, who you may remember is Kara scaffolds. Dad, Congratulations on the wedding.

Kara Skaflestad  0:20  

Thank you so much.

Gabriel Flores  0:21  

Thank you for returning and then we have a new guest as well with us. Eva home. How are you doing Evo? Sorry. Did I get it right the first time. Second time. That's up. Eva, whoa, the CEO of socket to me. So we're gonna kind of get into both of these brands. But first, let's, let's introduce the world to Miss Oh, oh, wow. Right off right off the bat. Okay. All right.

Iwa Hoope  0:47  

Because I've been listening to your podcast, I tried to pull my brief history together. I would like to start with, I'm the daughter of a couple who came from opposite sides of the United States. My mother is from Hawaii. And my dad, Dad hails from Virginia. Early on in their marriage, they left the United States and went overseas. So I was actually born in Tehran, Iran. Oh, wow, in the mid 1970s. And for your history buffs out there, I think they'll know that it was a very interesting time. So for the rest of my childhood, we moved. And I spent the majority of that time living and growing up in South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Gabriel Flores  1:33  

Wow, that that is incredible.

Iwa Hoope  1:35  

Yeah, so I consider myself a global citizen. And it wasn't until I decided to move back to the United States to go to go to college, I went to the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, and, and just kind of got reacquainted with what it meant to be an American and live in this country. And I'd say for the for the next 23 years of my adult life. I've really just been embracing this experiment called life. Yeah. It's included, I think a lot of formal and informal education, a lot of travel, a lot of pursuing personal passions that, you know, run the gamut from artistic to athletic. I started, I fell in love, I started a family. I've had a variety of professional experiences. And that leads me to kind of here I sit before you guys today is the CEO of a small business. Oh, man, to me,

Gabriel Flores  2:33  

that is awesome. I was I was like, hey, yeah, let's let's just you know, introduce the new you just blow us away with this global travel. That was amazing. I love that. I'm so envious, because I think I've been out of the country like twice in my entire life. And then COVID Kind of just put the kibosh to travel after that. Now let's introduce the world to a new camera,

Kara Skaflestad  2:54  

a new camera, a new

Gabriel Flores  2:55  

camera, but the same old fighting pretty, which is again, for those folks at home that may have not listened to the previous episode. Fighting pretty is a nonprofit organization that really focuses on helping those individuals that are fighting through cancer treatment. Correct. So, Kara, let's let's talk a little about fighting poverty and introduce the world to Kara

Kara Skaflestad  3:12  

Yes, so I am Cara Fraser, as Gabe had said, I did just get married in July of this year to a wonderful man, Ben Fraser. Who's amazing. But yes, so I unfortunately don't have as much global experience. I was born in New Jersey, and they say can take you could take bigger out of Jersey, but and which is full heartedly true. I yeah, my background is really, you know, grew up in New Jersey, went to school on the East Coast and Pennsylvania had a major in marketing. And so that really drew me into New York City. So I lived in New York for about 10 years before I moved out here to Portland, fell in love with Portland. And it was during my time in New York when I was 26 years old, I was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. And it obviously changed my life. And you know, it really made my whole perspective, pivot in a way that, you know, I was kind of climbing the corporate ladder in marketing and business. But I had this passion for helping women battling cancer and going through it so young. You know, it kind of came to me that I really wanted to help women through the emotional aspects of cancer. I knew myself I couldn't cure cancer. But I knew that I could help people through the emotions. And so it was a pair of many boxing gloves that someone gave me when I was going through treatment that really helped remind me to stay strong. And it was some hot pink lipstick that I typically wear still to this day to help me feel beautiful. And when I was a couple years out of treatment, I sent on my gloves to another woman battling cancer and that really helped her and she sent them on to another and another and another And so fighting pretty really was born. And so it was while I was in New York that, you know, I kind of realized this was something I could do. And so I started fighting pretty. It became a full true nonprofit. And, you know, here we are almost 10 years later, helping women battling cancer feels strong and beautiful. To me, it helps Yeah, almost 20,000 women so far. And that's

Gabriel Flores  5:23  

that's kind of where this collaboration started from. Right? Where so we're going to talk about that. But first, let's for the listeners at home, I want them to understand what socket to me is, what what kind of business is it? And what does it sell?

Iwa Hoope  5:36  

Yeah, well, soccer, to me is a lifestyle brand. That's really fueled by the belief that the ordinary everyday item can be extraordinary. I mean, to put it simply, for the last 17 years, we've been designing socks and underwear that for the whole family that really celebrates and honors the diversity and personality. So whether you and your interests lie in sports, gaming, food, The Adventures of Sasquatch, or anything else magical that kind of colors outside of the lines, we have a pair of socks or a pair of underwear that you can wear that can showcase that bit of personality to the world. Yeah, and

Gabriel Flores  6:18  

I must admit, my, my 18 month old daughter has some, my wife loves them, she just like they're thick, super thick. And then not only that, but for the folks at home. I mentioned this on previous episodes, you know, my brother, he has an amputee, he also has the socks because they they have so many variations of sizes of thickness, and really is you can really diversify all the individuals that are wearing the socks. So just a little plug for those. I think it is really great brand. But let's let's talk a little bit. How did one How did you hear about fighting for it? And then let's talk about what what we're doing what you guys are doing together?

Iwa Hoope  6:54  

Yeah, yeah, I mean, it really this, this podcast really started everything. I mean, I've been a fan. And I happen to be listening to your interview with Kara one day while I was out on a walk. And I was really moved by her personal story. I was so impressed that this, you know, a woman who overcame such a dark period in her life with strength and optimism, not only overcame her personal battle, but then turned back and extended a hand to women who are going through the same thing. It just It spoke to me on so many different levels. And my first thought was, of course, like, thank goodness, there are people like this in the world. Second was how how do I help? How do I how do I? How do I get involved. And you know, from a business perspective, you can always kind of win when you're in a position to do so to give back to the community, I am definitely an advocate for that. It's just being a good member of your community. And so I just started thinking, you know, there's got to be more than just writing a check. And I had recalled feedback that we get from, from customers on a number of occasions where they have their customers of ours who have been going through chemotherapy or experiencing cancer, and they received a pair of our socks as a gift from a loved one. And on a practical level, it helps so much with the you know, keeping your feet warm during treatment. But the design or the pattern, spoke to them, whether it was something that was you know, inspirational, sentimental. It spoke to them personally. And it helped them kind of persevere and over and, and overcome and it kind of softened what they were experiencing. And I thought this might be the perfect opportunity. While this happens very organically for us to partner with somebody who would help us get our product directly in the hands of the people going through this. So on a whim, I asked for an introduction. And I reached out and and here we are.

Kara Skaflestad  9:09  

Yeah, and I'm over here crying. Yeah, no. tears streaming down my face. So

Gabriel Flores  9:16  

I want to hear from you, Carrie, what, what is the collaboration? What are we doing?

Kara Skaflestad  9:19  

Yeah, so just to add a little bit to that background. So when, when Eva reached out, I immediately I mean, my heart started beating tears again in my eyes, because when I first moved to Portland, you know, Sokka to me was an incredible brand that resonated with me personally. And so when all of this kind of came together, it just felt like such an amazing and incredible opportunity. And looking back on my experience going through cancer and cancer treatment, Socks were a big piece of that for me, I had through my radiation treatment. It was my hair was starting to grow back. You know, I was starting to feel, again a little bit like myself. But I used to wear the same pair of socks to my radiation treatments every single day. And they were kind of cheesy, they had like, you are perfect, you're amazing, you're beautiful with all these little like hearts and smiley faces or something on them. And I don't even remember who gave them to me, thank you, whoever you are out there. But literally, I put them on every single day, because it was the one thing I could see, when I was going through radiation, I'm laying on a table, I'm cold, they're putting this machine over me and I could see my little toes, and I'd be wiggling in them, because I'm cold and uncomfortable. And so the socks always were something that we would also include in our pretty packages, because it's this, this thing, this tool to remind you that you're strong and beautiful. And so when Sokka to me, when Eva reached out, it felt like the perfect opportunity. And so we worked together on creating two designs, actually, that we'll be launching in October, and we're so excited about them. One of them is kind of a darker, fierce, sexy kind of tattoo looking concept, which also resonates, you know, so much. I mean, in radiation, you actually get teeny little tattoos on your body. And in addition, some breast cancer patients get beautiful tattoos over their scars. And so the the concept just spoke to me immediately, I think, right off the bat, we were only going to do one design. And then I was like, Wait, can we do all of them? Love them all. And then the second concept was a little more about beauty. And so the idea of using the lipstick, but then emphasizing the fact that you're strong, and you're beautiful, and you're fierce. And so these two designs are so beautiful, um, can be used also, you know, for, you know, for what's it called when your legs compression, sorry? Yep, yep. Um, yeah, so one of them is kind of higher and can be used for compression socks. The other is just kind of a beautiful kind of sporty looking, yeah, they're just perfect. They're absolutely perfect.

Iwa Hoope  12:14  

And that our design team had such a great time, being inspired by the story, using that, to kind of come up with the different concepts. I mean, they over delivered in terms of the designs, as Kara said, was hard to choose the ones but you know that the this was, I want to stress was not something that we were looking at just like a short term collaboration. I mean, the the intent is for us to continue providing a product that serves a great purpose like this. And so I know that our design team is really looking forward to just ongoing development in love it this way, but it was the design component of it, being able to provide product that could be included in the pretty packages, support the effort. And then there's also it was important for us beyond the product donation, to also do use our platform to share more awareness behind what Kara's organization is doing. So for the month of October, we've nominated her as our human of the month. So we'll write this amazing article about her and in our blog, crying again, gotta

Gabriel Flores  13:23  

gotta clap for that. Well, that's amazing.

Iwa Hoope  13:26  

It's really It's, again, to share the story, generate awareness, we also know that our own community of fans, there is a desire to help as well. So we're just we're really excited to be a part of that.

Kara Skaflestad  13:41  

Yeah, it's, it's incredible. And, you know, to add again, to that, as well, we are getting a very large donation of socks from soccer, to me that will go directly into the hands of women battling cancer that are currently inactive treatment. And so those are kind of within our strength and beauty program. And so what that is, is we work directly with hospitals and cancer centers across the country to provide kind of mini pretty packages, if you will, with gloves, lipstick, and this time with some soccer Timmy socks, inspirational socks, and those will go directly into the hands of patients. And then we'll also have the soccer Timmy socks available on our website fighting where you can then build your own pretty package for someone you love battling cancer and select those socks to be included. So

Gabriel Flores  14:30  

now for the for the socket to me, company. Is this the first time you've done a collaboration like this, or have you done previous things similar?

Iwa Hoope  14:38  

Yeah, so socket to me has a long history of collaborating with artists. In the early days when we were growing we we contracted our projects out just as a way to supplement as we were building our in house resources. Eventually this kind of morphed into running an annual design contest where we end gauged our fan base to get in on the design action in the design fun. It helped us get a pulse on what was trending from a theme perspective and hardest source, new design talent. So it's it's, it's I like to say that like we are SOC brand of the people because our fans are literally the ones who help us with our designs. More recently, we have been collaborating more formally with more established artists and brands, in an effort to kind of share, share interests amongst our consumer base. This collaboration is special in that we're partnering with someone to do good community. So it's there's a definitely the artistic component because we collaborate really well on taking care of vision and putting them on socks. But it's, it's beyond that. It's it's it's a it's a collaboration that is generating awareness, I feel like is really going to have a direct impact to to someone's life. Yeah, definitely. And that that just makes it that much more special. And absolutely

Kara Skaflestad  16:08  

well, and absolutely. Well,

Gabriel Flores  16:10  

yeah, I'm, you know, for those folks at home, I've had the privilege of actually seeing the designs on myself, and I gotta tell you, they're really cool. I've already got the Christmas list of like, who's gonna get them already all lined up. Now. Now for the fighting pretty rant. Is this the first time you've done collaborations like this? Or is this something you've done in the past,

Kara Skaflestad  16:29  

you know, we did a big collaboration back in 2014, with a cosmetic kind of Beauty Box Company called glossy box. And that was really the first time that we ever did a collaboration like that it was co branded, they kind of designed something. But we've really been searching for the right partner to do this with. Again, we don't want to just partner with someone for the sake of partnering with them, the goal is to make sure that whatever we are doing, we are helping women battling cancer feel strong and beautiful. And so, you know, it made so much sense when this opportunity came up, that we could literally use this product to help them through the emotional side effects of cancer. Yeah. So

Gabriel Flores  17:14  

and, you know, one of the things I consistently stress on this show is collaborations, you know, for, for those entrepreneurs, you know, not hiding your idea, getting out in front of people sharing it with folks, because they want to help you grow, how has collaborating between the two groups, what are some like moments where you kind of thought, like, wow, this was a lot easier, or maybe moments of like, Man, this is kind of difficult.

Kara Skaflestad  17:35  

I would say for this project, it's been so fluid and so amazing. I mean, we've had such a real open communication with each other, you know, being able to share my vision with soccer to me, and then being very open to, you know, what that vision is and how to execute on that I think has been such an amazing partnership for us. And again, because this is a product that is actually helping women, I think it's just been such a perfect collaboration. And it's just been, you know, just this very constant open communication between both of us. That's made it you know, not only strategic, but also enjoyable and empowering. And you know, it, it creates a great platform for us to do this for years to come as well. So,

Iwa Hoope  18:24  

yeah, I think the key thing that Kara keeps mentioning is be open. You know, if there's a feeling that a partnership could exist in some way, don't be afraid, yes, to put it out. Don't be afraid even if you you aren't sure on what the what is yet just that there is a desire to bring two things together, start the conversation, be open, brainstorm together. And it's amazing how quickly if it's really a good fit, and meant to be how quickly the two of you can kind of come together and agree on what is that vision? What is the end result we're shooting for? And then just you know, I mean, we talked about a lot of different things. And it was fun. We're not going to do all of them this year, but it also just sets a really good place. They're placeholders for us to consider as this Absolutely.

Kara Skaflestad  19:18  


Gabriel Flores  19:20  

So you know, we you I think, you know, you kind of mentioned the importance of collaboration in your world. Why is it so important in the nonprofit world?

Kara Skaflestad  19:30  

It's so important to collaborate with organizations that have a similar goal that you have. And I think what made again, what made this so special is that they Sock it to me understands that the product is really about helping people. And so we you know, to your question earlier, Gabe, have we ever partnered with others? Yes, we have and there's been some amazing collaborations as well. We've worked with, you know, Silvermoon brewing He does a fundraiser for us where they, you know, get names of cancer patients on there and they donate money to us. We've worked with, you know, another beer company dirty, pretty at the time where we actually created a pink beer. And all the proceeds went to fighting party, it was so amazing. This year, we're actually working with a new floral company called pomp flowers. We're hoping to work on a fighting pretty bouquet, you know, that also can be sent to women to uplift their mood, you know, through cancer treatment. I mean, there's been a whole bunch of different types of collaborations that, you know, we have worked on and I think, you know, the main reason why we do that is to spread awareness of our cause. Yeah, to help people understand that fighting pretty is a resource to help women feel strong and beautiful throughout whatever type of cancer they're going through. It's not just breast cancer. And whatever stage of treatment they're at, they could be newly diagnosed or 10 years out of cancer treatment. And they're still fighting pretty Yeah, at all. So in

Gabriel Flores  20:59  

fact, you you kind of touched on something there is fighting pretty does just doesn't focus on breast cancer. In fact, they don't only have just pink clothes. That's right, let's let's talk. Let's get into that. Let's, there's multi colors. Yeah. What do they all mean? Why are they different colors?

Kara Skaflestad  21:14  

Yes, good question. So it finding pretty started. As a very pink brand, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, hot pink is kind of my go to Color to uplift my mood,

Gabriel Flores  21:24  

mine to definitely burn pink shorts, people at home, I wear shorts.

Kara Skaflestad  21:30  

And honestly, I truly believe that pink looks good on everyone, it kind of just, I don't know, brings out this rosiness to people. And so when we launched fighting party, you know, it was all about pink pink everywhere. And but I quickly realized I didn't want to just help people with breast cancer, people battling all types of cancer need to feel strong and beautiful as well. And so we were getting this feedback that it felt to breast cancer focused and we wanted to make sure people knew wasn't just focused on breast cancer. So we actually launched a sparkly pink glove that's just for the you know, those who want a little extra sparkle in their lives. And then we have a pair of teal gloves, which really kind of nod to ovarian and cervical cancer, we have lavender gloves, that actually means it's all women's cancer. And then we've just launched a pair of I like to call badass black boxing gloves, because they are so badass. We launched those because we started to get some requests for Hey, do you do anything for men, and we really don't to be totally honest, we are a female focus brand. We you know, really know that strength and beauty is important to women battling cancer. However, we do have brothers in this fight. So you know, every once in a while, we'll get a request to help a man and so we now have created kind of a little bro box we like to call. So we send them a pair of black gloves. We have some donated look like clay bands that have a nice inspirational saying on them. And then we write them a little note a note of inspiration.

Gabriel Flores  23:07  

Awesome. And you know, for those folks at home, yes, men can in fact get breast cancer. It's it's in fact a thing. You can get it. We can also get prostate and since November, prostate Awareness Month, I will be growing a mustache, please feel free to join me if you'd like me to, I guess just, you know, I can't probably can't be seen out in public with that one. But for the socket to me, so even let's talk a bit about socket to me. How can we support this collaboration? How can we support socket to me? Where can we kind of find this information?

  • Iwa Hoope  23:37  

Yeah, I mean, I think to support the collaboration, it's really about visiting fighting I mean, it's, that's the best way to support perfect is through that for soccer team, you can visit us on our website at socket to Follow us on Instagram. Facebook, and you know if you're really interested in getting involved in designing socks and kind of inspiring the inner designer, visit contest dot soccer The contest actually just launched this last week, nice collecting entries through the end of September, it's a chance to win $2,000 And have your design turned into our next collection. So yeah, that's uh, that's it and then, you know, reach out to us also, if you prefer to shop local Help Desk at socket And we'll find a retailer near you.

Gabriel Flores  24:33  

Awesome. And one of the things too you mentioned about that contest is that can also possibly turn into a career. Yes. You know, folks that are have I submitted one I'm obviously doing a podcast so my was not selected for SOC designs. Now for fighting pretty for folks at home. I know we've discussed this in past episodes, but maybe if somebody has not listened to those episodes, please go back and listen to it. It's a great episode. How can they support Biden pretty

Kara Skaflestad  24:58  

so there's a few ways to say Fighting pretty first everything is on our website fighting but there we are have also launched a Fight Club, which is a recurring Donor Program. And all we ask is for a minimum of $10 donation every month, and this will help one woman battling cancer feel strong and beautiful. So this really supports our strength and beauty program where we send those kind of mini pretty packages to cancer hospitals and clinics around rounds.

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