During a family road trip on New Year’s Day 2011, Laura Schmidt had her tennis shoes kicked off, and was staring at her plain white socked feet, lost in thought about the power of positive thinking. That’s when her idea struck. She turned to her husband and said, “I’m going to put positive affirmations on socks!” Now nearly nine years later, Laura’s notes to self® socks are on the feet of hundreds of thousands of people, with each pair featuring meaningful words and inspiring phrases that speak to and about them.
With a successful background in direct sales, and her positively positive attitude, Laura quickly got to work, turning her wearable confidence boost concept into a physical sock in about 6 months. That summer, her daughter wore one of the first prototypes – ‘I am confident’ – to volleyball practice, which gave Laura real-life feedback. A design tweak here and there, a determined effort to hurdle the many challenges that came with getting socks made in the U.S.A. that also met her high quality standards, and Laura was on her way to launching notes to self. Having the support of her family, who believed in Laura’s vision as much as she did, fueled her final sprint to the entrepreneurial finish line.
“That first holiday season, I met with a local Hallmark store buyer in the fall, and she agreed to put our socks in two of their stores,” Laura told WYSK. “Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, each store sold over 140 pairs! I knew I had a case study to share with other stores.” ‘I am awesome’ was the very first phrase notes to self took to market, and it remains their best-selling sock today.
Over the last 8 years, the company, under Laura’s Chief Positive Person leadership, has amassed legions of fans who wear notes to self socks for their own, very personal reasons. Some look down at their toes to be inspired and encouraged, or have their confidence boosted. Others bare their soles to proudly declare their kickassery to the world.
“I like the idea that someone wearing the socks sees a phrase like ‘I am strong’ first thing in the morning when they’re putting on their shoes, and at the end of the day. That positive reminder, said in the present tense, is there, influencing them all day long,” Laura explained. “And that matters because we know ‘words make all the difference’.”
The real proof of impact is in the messages Laura and her team receive every week from people – givers and receivers – who connect with notes to self socks on the deepest, most meaningful level. A powerful example is this message on the Words From You section of the company’s site, as submitted by Angela N… “I first received a pair of notes to self socks while battling severe depression brought on by an illness. I was at my lowest, and wanted to end what life I had left in me. I kept reading the phrases, ‘I am courageous‘, and ‘I am strong.’ This story is not about me, though. Today I bought a pair for the person who saved my life. I want her to keep reading the phrase, ‘I am a hero’.”
Since different words resonate with different people, the ever-expanding company now offers a multitude of positive affirmation options, each of which has passed their proprietary ‘is this meaningful’ filter. Signature phrases that make the cut are emblazoned on socks (toes and bottoms) in 6 styles, in sizes for babies to adults, and more. Hats, beanies, headbands and pillowcases round out the current collection so you can truly surround yourself in positivity, from head to toe.
If there was not already so much to love about notes to self, Laura regularly donate socks to non-profits hoping to give people, especially young people, “encouragement and confidence to become the best that they can be.”