Stu­dents’ eco-socks a hit

Christchurch Mail - - FRONT PAGE - MONIQUE STEELE

It be­gan as a school project, and now the hard work of a group of ded­i­cated young Christchurch stu­dents is pay­ing off.

Nearly 20 re­tail­ers na­tion­wide will stock the Sock Ex­change’s eco-friendly repreve socks, the only socks in the coun­try to be made from the en­vi­ron­men­tal­lyfriendly fab­ric.

The stu­dents had only a few stores lined up to stock their socks in July. Now, two months later, the new com­pany has signed more than a dozen re­tail­ers na­tion­wide to stock their one-of-a-kind socks.

The Sock Ex­change, run by year 13 St An­drew’s Col­lege stu­dents Liam Rassie, James Young, Jaymin Stir­ling and Macken­zie Cox, was started as a busi­ness stud­ies class project for the Lion Foun­da­tion’s Young En­ter­prise Scheme in Fe­bru­ary.

The socks, made from repreve fi­bres, were cre­ated from 100 per cent re­cy­cled plas­tic bot­tles. One pair of socks was made from five plas­tic bot­tles, team leader Liam Rassie said.

Ear­lier this year the socks, which fea­ture merino soles and colour­ful prints, were picked up by Kiwi cloth­ing man­u­fac­turer Norsewear, based in Norse­wood in the Tararua district.

Since then, the group have been busy con­tact­ing busi­nesses na­tion­wide and ex­hibit­ing their prod­uct at lo­cal mar­kets and re­cently at the Spring Gift and Craft Fair Craft Expo in Auck­land.

‘‘The aim was to get into one store, now we have 17,’’ Rassie said.

‘‘We’ve got to the stage we are in back or­ders. We’ve sold out of our orig­i­nal stock.’’

Busi­nesses who have signed with the Sock Ex­change in­cluded tourist gift stores, cloth­ing stores and ho­tels, span­ning the whole coun­try, in ad­di­tion to their on­line shop on the Sock Ex­change web­site.

Used for dif­fer­ent cloth­ing items by Kath­mandu, Adi­das or Roxy brands, Rassie said his team were the first in the coun­try to use repreve fi­bres to man­u­fac­ture socks.

‘‘It’s pretty cool to say we’re na­tion­wide now,’’ Rassie said.

‘‘We’re stoked. We’re happy.’’

Not yet see­ing the prof­its come in, he said it was about get­ting in the stores on board first. so

‘‘It’s never re­ally been about the money, it’s the ex­pe­ri­ence.’’

Norsewear gen­eral man­ager Steve Culevski said he was ‘‘blown away’’ by the stu­dents’ ‘‘in­ge­nu­ity and cre­ativ­ity’’.

‘‘They could be the next Ice Breaker boys, who knows?’’

Both Rassie and Young said they were keen to con­tinue in the busi­ness sec­tor, ei­ther study­ing or as busi­ness own­ers, depen­dent on the fu­ture of the Sock Ex­change.

The next stage of the stu­dents’ Young En­ter­prise Scheme is to at­tend the Can­ter­bury Re­gional Fi­nals.

MONIQUE STEELE/STUFF

St An­drews Col­lege stu­dents James Young, 17, and Liam Rassie, 17, with their socks made from 100 per cent re­cy­cled plas­tic bot­tles.

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