We catch up with Meet the Manufacturer Innovation Accelerator 2016 winner Ben Lowe about his company’s winning innovation, Griplock socks.
As part of Meet the Manufacturer 2016 we hosted our Innovation Accelerator Awards, where manufacturers have the chance to submit details of their innovations in technology, design, product development, productivity or sustainability. From the innovations submitted those with the most interesting concepts were shortlisted to pitch their concept to a panel of experts during our conference.
Here we follow up with our 2016 innovator, Ben Lowe from SockMine about his winning concept, how he prepared for the pitch and that marvellous suit of his.
For those who were unable to see you take part in the Innovation Accelerator at the Meet the Manufacturer Conference, can you give us an overview about Griplock Socks?
The principle behind our GripLock™ technology is simple: the sock sticks to your foot so that there is no friction between your skin and your sock, hence no irritation that causes blisters. The technology is deployed into the inherent properties of the sock fabric, which follows the exact contours of the foot for maximum contact area.
Tell us about your experience in taking part in the pitch and how you prepared for the event?
Preparation mainly involved sewing all 30,000 sequins onto my sock suit! The 5 minute timing was the only thing that was worrying me, as I know I wouldn’t struggle to talk about socks, just tried to fit in the important points and not waffle!
Ben, you wore a rather marvellous sequin suit to deliver your pitch and your dad Martin was also seen sporting a similarly striking number on your exhibition stand. What’s the story behind the suits (other than the obvious eye-catching factor)?
It has been somewhat a tradition as a company, started within the Licensing industry. I didn’t understand them myself until 4 years ago, whilst wandering around a licensing trade exhibition in a lovely stars and stripes suit, I was stopped by someone for a photo. Her friend then appeared, and asked “you are one of the Lowe boys aren’t you?”. She had never dealt with us, and didn’t know any of us personally; she just knew the suits. For Meet the Manufacturer, the sock suit combined with the union jack was a great way to say exactly what we were there for!
SockMine specialise in technical socks, how important is innovation to your business and how much of your time is spent researching new ideas?
Innovation is a key thing for us. With the cost of manufacturing in Britain, we rely on the years of experience within our company to come up with new ideas and concepts in how we can develop and grow. Our technical team is looking into new ideas and products on a day to day basis. Be it new trends and colours from a design point of view or new technical machinery, to brand new revolutionary problem solving concepts such as GripLock™.
Do you test the technology behind your sports socks yourself?
On a personal level, the GripLock™ socks have been working fantastically in my training for my half marathon in Derby. We also have ambassadors in each area who not only promote, but also test our socks in their sport or activity. This feedback is crucial to our development process.
With SockMine taking care of the technical socks and Roy’s Boy’s looking after fashion socks, what’s next for Roy Lowe and Sons?
Growth, growth, growth! We want to expand the SockMine brand into more sports and more activities, to reach as many people as we can and put them in socks designed and constructed for what they are doing.
And with ideas like Griplock we are sure SockMine will achieve all of this and more!