Entrepreneurship is not an easy road to success. Instead it’s more often the path of most resistance. What I’ve learned from researching and interviewing entrepreneurs is that there is an underlying passion that drives these people to hustle and push through despite obstacles. For some entrepreneurs, it’s noticing a gap in the market and feel called to deliver on that need. Like Activ Intimates who design intimate apparel that compliments every woman’s body. For others, it’s an external passion that creates passion and purpose, like this month’s ethical entrepreneur, Tishia Vanderwerken.
Tishia is the founder of Rokn Yugen Soul, an organic bamboo sock company for men. She is also a devoted single mom of two young boys: Asher 9 and Ethan 5. She always had a love for bamboo fabric, and what started as a desire to make children’s clothes later led to her to socks. It wasn’t until she didn’t want to have to choose between her boys’ extracurricular activities and work that the entrepreneur spark ignited in her.
“My entire existence revolves around my 2 kids. And that’s why I started the business. I wanted my own business where I could work from home, and they could participate. My boys are really involved with the socks and the artwork.”
Tishia and I both live in Phoenix, Arizona, and on the day of our interview, the high in the valley was 111 degrees, which made the discussion about socks a little ironic, at first. What you’ll soon find out, as I did, is that Rokn Yugen Soul is the only sock you should be wearing all year round.
Interview with Tishia
Family is clearly at the heart of the company. You started the company to spend more time with your boys, but also, the name Rokn Yugen Soul was inspired by your musician father whose favorite saying was “Keep Rockin”. Do you think the business is teaching the boys about entrepreneurship?
Oh yes! My boys are all about it. When they talk to people they say, “My Mom makes socks!” And even though the socks are made for men, my boys wear the socks up to their knees all the time. They go with me to 99% of my shows, especially my little guy who is going into kindergarten. Everyone knows Ethan. He mingles and brings people to the booth. He’s known as the boy that sells the Bamboo Socks.
And Asher goes with me to all the shows that are on Friday, Saturday, Sunday. He designed the Koi Sock, Rokn Asher. It was one of my first designs, and he picked out all the colors himself. I have a color chart of 9000 colors, which he narrowed it down to the 4 used in the design.
You’re based in Arizona, so I have to ask, what moved you to start a sock company?
I originally wanted to make organic bamboo children’s clothing. It started when Asher was born. I was trying to have him only wear bamboo clothing because of the benefits: hypoallergenic and anti-bacterial, but nine years ago that was unheard of. Even when I tried again a few years ago when Ethan was born, there were so many restrictions on manufacturing children’s clothing. One day I was drawing, and a friend asked if I would put my design on a pair of socks for him. He was serious, and it just clicked!
That very night I started drawing socks. Then within a few days, I was able to find a bamboo farmer. I then found someone to press the bamboo into yarn. The yarn that gets made for my socks are only for my production. They are not mass-producing yarn. Everything fell into place. Worldwide I’m 1 of 5 people making bamboo socks and only 1 of 2 using organic bamboo.
What are the benefits of bamboo?
When you think of bamboo you think of something that is very coarse. But it’s actually much softer than cotton, almost feels more like silk. You can feel the difference immediately when you feel my socks. It’s also hypoallergenic, anti-microbial, and anti-fungal. If you have a lot of foot problems, especially with sweating, bamboo is fantastic for your feet. It’s a breathable fabric so it helps regulate your foot temp by 3 degrees. Meaning, in the summer it helps keep your feet cool and, in the winter, it helps keep your feet warmer.
Once you wear them you will know the difference.
You are also very involved with Sustainable Harvest International (SHI). Can you tell me about that organization and how it ties into your company?
Their mission is to replant and restore forests. They go into the rain forest and other areas within South America where the vegetation has been depleted, and they replace those plants. Even more so, they go into poverty-stricken areas where the land has been damaged due to an outbreak of fires, for example. After that kind of devastation, the local people have no way to feed themselves. SHI goes into these areas and provides them with everything they need to be self-sustainable. They provide rakes, shovels, and seeds. Volunteers show them how to make organic fertilizers and treat the ground so it’s prosperous. In the end, the people will have a little Dutch oven and everything they need to harvest their food, feed their families and have enough left over to sell and earn a living. It’s an incredible organization. Also, a portion of my sales goes towards the organization.
Where can we find you?
Primarily on the website. I’m also at local Farmer’s Markets and the big art shows.
What drives you?
I wanted to create a product that was sustainable and eco-friendly. I wanted to do something good for the planet but also for my kids. Something that would make them proud.
And they are proud! They are running all over the place talking about socks!
10 Reason to Rock Rokn Yugen Soul Socks
- No More Stinky Feet – The antibacterial quality of bamboo keeps your feet odor-free
- Dry Feet Are Happy Feet – bamboo is highly absorbent and pulls moisture from the skin for evaporation, which keeps feet nice and dry, even and especially during hot and humid summers.
- Let Those Feet Breathe – The incredibly breathable bamboo fabric keeps feet cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
- Walk on A Cloud – Because bamboo is One of the softest fabrics on the planet, you’ll love the way each step feels.
- Because Ankles – Protect ankles and shins from sun exposure. Bamboo a natural UV protectant and repels 98 percent of harmful UV rays.
- Hypoallergenic – natural bamboo does not cause allergic reactions
- Take a Step Towards Sustainability – Bamboo is the eco-friendliest fabric on the planet.
- Sturt Your Stuff in Style – All Rokn Yugen Soul Sock designs are originally hand-drawn pieces of artwork transformed into sock patterns
- For Working Moms – Rokn Yugen Soul is owned and run by a single mom of two boys!
- Support local and ethical entrepreneurs – Rokn Yugen Soul is a local business based in Scottsdale, AZ.