The following is an interview conducted with Inaam Khan, owner of I-Khanic Socks, and Jean-Luc Dube, an interviewer from The Manchester Scoop. For more information or to purchase socks, please visit their website, https://ikhanicstore.com/
Q: For readers please provide a little background knowledge on your life pre-Ikhanic Socks, like where you grew up, went to college, what did you study?
A: My name is Inaam Khan, I was born in Queens, NY and moved to Manchester when I was 5 years old. After graduating from MHS in 2010, I went on to UConn where I received my Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and worked at several large companies including Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky Aircraft, and even Rolls Royce out in Indiana.
Q: Being an engineering student, how did you get into the funky sock business?
A: I get this question a lot, and it’s actually a pretty funny story. Engineering environments are usually corporate 9-5 jobs with formal dress wear. Showcasing your unique personality in a conservative dress code environment can be a little tough, which is why I started wearing colorful socks. It’s a nice way of standing out and being different, while still adhering to the company’s dress code. I’d wear funky dress socks every day and post them on social media and that’s wear it took off. People loved my socks on Snapchat (@inaams) and started sending me pictures of their socks - I was getting 10-15 pictures of socks a day! It was a little creepy, but I realized that there is a big market there and that’s why I decided to launch I-Khanic.
Q: When did you start your business?
A: November, 2017. It’s been just about a year!
Q:Why the cool designs? Is it a stylistic choice or to grab attention?
A: It’s a little of both! Studies show that people who wear colorful socks are more creative, brilliant, and successful. It takes a lot of confidence to wear socks with funky patterns and bright colors. I-Khanic socks are unique because not only are they visually appealing, but they’re also very high quality. Our socks are custom designed and made in Italy using soft Egyptian cotton.
Q: Where is your business headquartered?
A: Manchester, CT
Q: Any future plans for expansion?
A: Yes, I want to branch out into more apparel. Socks are awesome and I want to start designing products that can complement them. For example, matching ties, hoodies, caps, etc.
Q: Any plans to break into Brick and Mortar stores, even if its something like a kiosk in the mall?
A: At the moment, I’ve been brain storming several ideas to expand and scale. Kiosks and popup shops are the way to go in my opinion. Also, getting I-Khanic socks in to retail stores is another option that I’ve been exploring.
Q: With Amazon’s domination of online business, how do you feel you compete in the field? Do you feel like it’s a David versus Goliath situation?
A: Amazon is an interesting animal. There’s a method to its madness and who ever figures out that method has hit the jack pot. Knowledge about SEO, keywords, and Amazon algorithms is extremely important. I have a big advantage because I’m a private brand, so I don’t have to compete with other sellers to sell the same exact product.
Q: According to your website, the socks are made in Italy, do you feel the quality is better because of this? With the upcoming increased tariff rates on imports coming in the near future, would you consider switching to a U.S. based supplier?
A: When I launched I-Khanic, my goal was (and is!) to be the best. I didn’t just want aesthetically pleasing socks – I wanted superior quality. It’s easy to have these socks made in China and double or even triple my profit margin, but I’d rather pay more and have internal satisfaction that consumers actually receive a product that exceeds their expectations. For this reason, I chose to manufacture them in Italy, a country that is well known for high quality clothing products.
With incoming increased tariff rates, I would not mind at all switching to a U.S based supplier. It’s actually an idea that I’m currently exploring. We have many talented manufacturers here that can match Italian quality. Although price may be a little bit higher, the quicker delivery times and lack of headaches due to customs would be worth it.
Q: What is your most popular product?
A: The I-Khanic Sock Club has been the most popular by far. It’s a new subscription service that we started to offer a few months ago where you basically receive a new, funky, pair of socks every month (free shipping!). It’s a nice little surprise to look forward to.
I would like to thank Mr. Khan for taking the time to talk to us, It was a pleasure to get a peek into your thriving business. For more information or to purchase socks please visit https://ikhanicstore.com/
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Jean-Luc has written articles for the past year about Manchester Business.