Who knew a stained, old sock could strike a business?
On New Year’s Eve, four years ago, Malaika Walsh, then 10 years old, was sitting amongst a mound of fabric scraps, practicing her newly learned sewing skills, when a lone, stained, white sock with a faded lavender heel and toe caught her eye.
This sock, she knew, had had a lonely existence for months, no pair for it to be found anywhere in the confines of her Greendale home. When most people would have given up on it, thrown it in the trash, the attachment that only young people can truly understand had Malaika holding on to it. She couldn’t throw it out, there was a force to it, something keeping it near.
That evening she found out.
Hmm… she thought.
Hmm… she pondered.
Malaika whipped out her sketchpad, penciled in a quick pattern, got out the scissors, needle and thread, and started hand stitching.
Sock Boy was born.
A stuffed boy, with a bulbous head made from the toe of the sock, its body from the sock’s heel, long, spindly arms and legs, and two eyes and a smile drawn on with permanent black marker.
For four years Malaika, now 14, has been selling her Sock Boys.
This weekend, as part of the Greendale Sampler, she’ll have a booth set up outside her mom’s shop, Rustic Soap Co., with a colourful mix of $5 Sock Boys to choose from.
“It was just one of those ideas,” she shrugged. “I just kinda started cutting it up … and then I thought it would be cool to make a little army of sock people.”
By her 19th creation, then made from solo socks not eaten by the laundry monster, and one expensive sock mistaken as a throwaway, Malaika’s mom Tawnya Walsh, owner of Rustic Soap Co., put a bug in her ear.
Maybe you should start selling them, she suggested.
“She had made so many and they were getting so cute,” said Walsh.
And so started Malaika’s Sock Boy business..
As of last week, Malaika had made 106 Sock Boys and sold 88; her 100th Sock Boy, a purple argyle creation, was sold almost unnoticed.
Just like Homer Simpson, Sock Boy has evolved over the years.
“Well, the legs are shorter and the body is definitely not as long anymore, his smile is a little more turned up,” said Malaika.
As well, all Sock Boys are now made from 100 per cent new socks.
“That’s the most asked question I get,” she said. “‘Have the socks been used before?'”
Malaika still has her first; Sacky, she calls him. He’s been to Vancouver, Fiji, California, Switzerland and Germany – and has a gallery of photos to prove it.
When asked if she’d ever sell him, her nose scrunched up as she slowly shook her head. Not even an exorbitant amount of money could see her parting ways with her beloved Sacky.
“He’s my favourite,” she said. “He was the first; he was my inspiration.”
Stains and all.
The Greendale Country Sampler is on Saturday, Aug. 23 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. This year there are 13 destinations included that will give participants an opportunity to taste the flavours of the season, tour local farms, and see firsthand where food comes from and how it’s grown. The free, self-guided tour will also invite participants into artist studios and local shops.
Each destination is within 10 minutes of each other.
For more information and a list of the participating vendors, visit the Greendale Sampler website at www.greendalecountrysampler.com or the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/events/670898249655853.