Hannah Lavon, the founder of Pals, teaches love and friendship through mismatched socks. What started off as friend and foe mittens turned into a positive message of friendship through differences.
"I initially created prototypes for mismatched animal mittens, named Vs. Mittens.," said Hannah. "They came as predator and prey, so your hands could pretend to eat each other. It was my first foray into running a creative business.'
But mittens were seasonal and everyone wears socks.
"Mittens turned into mismatched animal socks. BUT. Given our current state of affairs, I realized that Vs. had to become Pals."
And so was born palssocks.com, Hannah's online store for mismatched socks that pair together unlikely friends.
QLife: How did you decide to start your own business?
Hannah: It kind of just happened. My background is in design. I was an art director I've always been creative. I never set out to be my own business owner. My mom started her own online Jewish store where she sold novelty Judaica called "Think Yiddish" and I would go to the gift show in New York. I would see people working for themselves. I decided that I would spend more time thinking about what I could give to the world and make a living off of it.
I started making cards, paper products, mugs, and novelties items that I would sell at a local market. After 4-5 years I had this idea to create these mittens as predator and prey so that your hands could battle it out. Like one hand would be a wolf, the other a sheep.
QLife: What did it cost to get started?
Hannah: I started with about $600. It's really hard. But looking back I'm glad I didn't start out with a lot of money. I learned a lot and would have just wasted it because I didn't know what I was doing and pivoting to where I am now. I have a great concept. I have great packaging. It's definitely been a learning curve. My background isn't in business. I'm a creative thinker and designer. I had to learn a lot of hard and expensive lessons. It's been a really long path from college until now.
QLife: How did you move from mittens to socks?
Hannah: Mittens are seasonal, so that was the end of that. I wanted to make something I could sell more than two to three months out of the year, so Vs. Mittens became Vs. Socks for a year and a half. Then I realized that wanted to make something with more meaning. Instead of battling it out I wanted to say even if you don't match you can still be friends. I thought that was a good conversation for kids to have right now with all the homophobia, all the hate, all the bad vibes. That's why I rebranded Vs to Pals.
QLife: How did you decide to make something that appeals to kids? Do you have kids? Do you love socks?
Hannah: I am a giant child. I know what appeals to the brain in me of a 5-year old and I go with that.
QLife: What are some of your favorite Pals?
Hannah: I guess my favorite is the T-Rex and Triceratops. It's one of the best-sellers and we're going to be doing it in an adult size soon. It's really fun and I want to wear them. A lot of people love dinosaurs. It's so enthralling.
QLife: What do you have coming out for the holidays?
Hannah: We're coming out with baby styles, more adult offerings, more fun styles like ghosts and skeletons that glow in the dark for Halloween. We'll be doing artist series where illustrators can make their own styles this spring.
QLife: Where can I buy them?
Hannah: We sell them on our website at palssocks.com, we have them on Amazon, and we're in around 300 stores. We have a where to buy on our website, too.
QLife: What's been your 'I can't believe I did that' winning moment for you?
Hannah: It's really where I am today. The biggest challenge and the most awesome thing is I made it work. Someone without any experience or money or know-how was able to create a brand with hard work and research and luck. It's possible. You can make something cool if you're passionate about it. I made it happen!