Rachel Smith and Her Pride Socks
Rachel Smith was one of five children born to deaf parents. As a grownup, she took something as simple and basic as socks, turning it into a business and a movement that makes people stop to think about their proud moments. Pride Socks is just that – socks that make you feel proud.
“I became obsessed with socks because they were such a rare commodity as a kid. We were incredibly poor growing up and socks were something we fought over since there were five kids and we had to share even our socks,” said Rachel, adding, “At times, we would hide the good socks from each other, especially if they had no holes, matched and were the same length! As an adult, I take pride in my socks and producing high quality ones so they last forever for our customers.”
Rachel never imagined owning a business while teaching high school and serving tables on the side. Seven years ago, her brother, who runs a company selling skater socks, challenged her to launch her own business and she decided to do it. Rachel experienced an epiphany when she remembered the time she was 14 years old and her coach told her that he was proud of her. “That was one of the most impactful moments of my life. Essentially, the branding of Pride Socks is that powerful moment wrapped up into a company. I want others to feel the same way as I did.”
Pride Socks came into existence in 2010 but the journey wasn’t an easy one. “Making a living by selling socks was hard for me to grasp at first because it’s not about the money but more about the brand and helping people see their full potential. On the flip side, I do need to make money so I can support myself, my family and the business,” said Rachel, who lives in Austin, Texas.
Rachel developed a sense of responsibility early in life, and even though their household was atypical, there was a lot of love. “With five kids and deaf parents, our house was loud! We were our parents’ voice for everything. We had to interpret the conversations between my parents and the doctors, bank tellers, cashiers, church, friends, and even certain TV shows. Honestly, we were adults more than kids.”
The challenges also helped them develop ways to cope and survive while defining a new normal. “Growing up, we were incredibly close as a family and it has continued into adulthood. We depended on each other for everything. I am not sure we felt different as kids or knew the language to identify it but when we look back now, we know we were different. People stared at us all the time and made fun of us because we took over any location, be it a grocery store or a bank, with our high energy and lack of control. How could we not, my mom could not hear us!”
Perhaps why Rachel and her siblings became thinking individuals, not in spite of their differences as a family but because of it. “Sadly, people are quick to discount the amazing things they do and the impact they have on themselves and others. As humans, we all have challenges to overcome and once you do, it needs to be celebrated. We all have a story to share. Our proudest moment stories and socks are just that – celebrating being proud of who we are so we continue chasing and accomplishing our goals.”