An idea that popped into a Prairie Village woman’s head as she stared at her own feet on the dashboard of the family car as it sped over plains of western Kansas has blossomed into a thriving business that received a recent accolade from The Kansas Small Business Development Center.
Laura Schmidt says that as she looked at her feet, she recalled an article she’d seen suggesting that people are most receptive to positive affirmations just before they go to sleep or just after they wake up. So what if those positive affirmations were boldly emblazoned on something almost everyone sees when they’re getting ready in the morning or heading to bed at night: their socks?
“That period where you are half awake and half asleep is when the subconscious mind is most open to these things,” she said. “That was the idea — put these sayings in a place where you’ll see them in that state.”
In 2011, she ordered the first run of Notes to Self socks featuring slogans like “I am smart” and “I am blessed.” They were a hit at the few local boutiques — like the gift shop at The University of Kansas Hospital and Tiffany Town at the Village Shops — where she first sold them, and she was able to secure space in 200 stores by the end of 2012. By the start of 2014, however, sales and interest had grown to the point that the socks are now distributed in 1,000 stores across the country. Notes to Self now has its own warehouse in Mission and employees nine people on a part-time basis.
“The ‘I am Smart’ socks are closest to my heart,” Schmidt said. “I really feel like that is a message kids need to hear — especially kids who might not have as supportive an environment at home.”
Notes to Self was one of eight businesses recognized by The Kansas Small Business Development Center in February as an Emerging Business of the Year.