When I called the co-founder of Just Socks BN on a Tuesday evening a few weeks ago, he told me he’d get back to me in a few hours – he was right in the middle of tuition.
Muhammad Wa’ie Hj Abdul Manap (pictured main R) may only be 17-years-old, but together with his Business Studies classmate 18-year-old Eizzad Marzuke (pictured main L), they’ve sold hundreds of quirky, colourful private label socks, tagged and marketed under their brand Just Socks BN.
The duo, both Year 13 students at Jerudong International School (JIS), began the business with just over $500 in the capital last February, enough to place a small order of a few hundred socks with 10 curious designs; from Zebras to the Mona Lisa; to Pineapples to Prawns.
“We thought it would be a good idea because we like to wear socks with cool designs,” said Wa’ie. “We noticed a lot of people around school would wear them too, but they would usually buy them when travelling overseas. We thought, why not bring the socks to them?”
The pair scoured the internet for suppliers, eventually settling on wholesaler from China who had earned positive reviews, and made the first bulk purchase. “There was a bit of risk we had to take initially because we could not sample the products, so we had to dig into their reviews as much as possible,” said Eizzad.
“When the orders came we were really happy with the quality, and so were our customers. Since February, we’ve placed another order for a few hundred socks with another five designs.”
The pair sells each pair of socks – made of a cotton, spandex blend – at $7, marketing through an Instagram account as well as through classic word of mouth, convincing their classmates, and now potentially their school’s system to support their business.
“We’re trying to get our school ‘houses’ to buy matching socks,” said Wa’ie. The 17-year-old has also brushed off suggestions that the sale of socks will fail to be more than just a fleeting novelty, and is planning to continue the business even as they both enter university later this year.
“We do not see many (dedicated) sock retailers in Brunei so there is a lot of opportunity in the market,” said Eizzad, who fulfils more of the creative role at Just Socks. “There’s an opportunity for us to also build Just Socks itself into its own Bruneian brand. For us, the next step is to set up a website that we can sell the socks on.”
With their gross sales projected to shortly multiply from a thousand to a few thousand, the pair has been careful to not take a salary or a dividend of the profits – instead choosing to reinvest all the returns in the business, primarily to buy more stock.
“We’re committed to making this work in the long-term,” says Wa’ie, who is looking to take a degree Financial Economics. “Running a business is something that we both really want to do.”
To learn more follow @justsocksbn on Instagram and contact +6738934962 to get in touch directly.