Alice de Guyenro fondatrice de KlaK

Alice De Guyenro

Master in Management
Founder of KlaK

Can you introduce your company?

KlaK chaussettes Team Mojito

KlaK are mismatched socks that allow you to get a message across in an offbeat way thanks to words written on the heel that can be read when wearing low-top trainers for example.

I have 30 different sock designs with messages for all kinds of audiences.

There is a word on each sock. As they are all made from the same pattern, you can interchange them if you have several pairs. You can put two words together and send any message you want. The socks are all black and white, which is very similar to me because I only wear these colours.

They are made in France. I work with a factory near Limoges.

I designed and created everything, the brand and the models. I didn't need to work with a design office.

How is this new project different?

This is my second sock brand since I created Mes Chaussettes Chéries when I was a Master 2 student in Le Havre. I didn't manage to take the brand where I wanted because I was young and I made mistakes. I learned a lot from this first company, allowing me to launch KlaK quickly. I benefited from the experience I gained with Mes Chaussettes Chéries.

I have been working full-time on my business for three years, almost since it started.

It's an advantage because I can do a lot of projects, go to trade shows and meet customers, which I couldn't do with my previous company. This is one of the reasons for the success of KlaK today.

How did you manage to develop?

At the very beginning of KlaK, I was lucky enough to be contacted by a concept store that wanted to offer my products in their shop. To tell you the truth, it took me two months to reply to them because I was not prepared to sell in a shop. They asked quite technical questions about prices. At first, I thought I would only sell my products on my website. I hadn't prepared the pricing conditions for BtoB.

Many concept stores were following this shop on social networks. As soon as they talked about KlaK for the first time on Instagram, I received many requests. That's how I won over the first thirty shops. Word of mouth worked very well.

Today, my socks are available for sale on my website as well as in a hundred partner boutiques in France and abroad.

It is a small personal victory to succeed in exporting to Europe. To develop the network of shops, I work with a sales representative in charge of the South of France. She canvasses the shops and presents my designs. For my part, I take care of the rest of France and Europe. This prospecting is done through Instagram, where I am very active.

To manage my brand communication, I also rely on a writer who creates the articles on my blog. It's important to work on natural referencing and the visibility of my brand. We've been working together for two years and it's going well. She has perfectly understood the state of mind of KlaK and the tone to use, with all the offbeat and humorous side.

How did you come up with the idea for KlaK? 

The idea of creating KlaK came to me when Mes Chaussettes Chéries was running out of steam. I had just done a week of pop-ups that had gone very badly. I came home crying and didn't want to go back the next day.

This first brand was like me in a way, but I couldn't embody it. After that pop-up, I decided to stop my first company. Two days later, I had the idea for KlaK. It really happened right away!

I called my factory and asked them to put production on hold because I had a new project. Three days later, I sent them some models to produce for KlaK.

The creation of KlaK was done very quickly! I remember it was in the middle of July.

With this new concept, we can assume the messages we carry. As a former shy person, this speaks to me! My fellow students at EM Normandie can testify to this. I launched my first company without telling anyone because of this shyness. Perhaps it's also a question of legitimacy at the start.

It can be a way of countering your shyness to humorously state that you like raclette with "Raclette Lover" or that you are a "Super Mom"!

Other messages go further or others are more general public, but the general idea is to assume the message that we carry and to show it to the greatest number.

Who are your socks aimed at?

KlaK is aimed at a fairly broad public. It could be mums, dads, people who like raclette, mojitos, beer, football, music...

These socks are above all intended to be given as gifts and not to be bought by the person who will wear them.

I had the idea to create the models according to my personal tastes and those of my entourage. For example, I really like cats, so I created the "Team Cat" pair. My best friend works in champagne, so I created the "Champagne Addict". 

Basically, I created these pairs for him and me, without really thinking about the commercial aspect behind it. It turns out that these two pairs work very well. I work a lot on feeling.

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?

I always knew that one day I would create my own business. I had a boss for a while because I did all my studies as a work-study programme. But I knew that sooner or later I would be self-employed, without knowing when, how, or with what idea... During my studies, I had lots of ideas but they never saw the light of day.

I had the idea of creating Mes Chaussettes Chéries in my last year of study.

It consisted of offering sock boxes on a subscription basis. I woke up one morning and said to myself that I had to look into this idea. Having gained some experience during my studies, I felt I could do it. In any case, I would have launched this project even if I had had the idea three years later.

How did the School support you in this creation?

On the one hand, there are all the lessons on entrepreneurship given by the professors and speakers. I am still in contact with them through LinkedIn. They follow me along the way.

I received a lot of support from the School's Incubator. I had launched a crowdfunding campaign and they helped me to promote it.

This gave me visibility in the Le Havre region. It's an advantage to launch a project in the provinces, you have a better presence in the newspapers because there is less competition. This form of anonymity in Paris is difficult to accept. Nevertheless, this has not prevented me from developing the brand and making it known.

A piece of advice for future entrepreneurs: take advantage of the local press when you start your own business. They are fond of this kind of story.

Have you encountered any difficulties?

It has been three years since the production of KlaK was launched. They started to be marketed four months later. In the meantime, I took the opportunity to create my website and communicate on social networks. But I found the time a bit long because I couldn't really launch the brand.

When I received the socks, I did a first pop-up in the starting blocks.

The launch was a real success because I sold out in three days.

This craze really allowed me to validate the concept. Three years later, the brand is still going strong and growing. Today, I continue to work full-time for KlaK.

When I launched the brand, I didn't plan to restock, not knowing if the products would work. I quickly found myself out of stock, which was good news!

What do you think are the reasons for this success?

I think my socks are funny. Very few people walk by without finding them nice. We all have someone in our circle who can relate to these messages.

Being in the gift sector, KlaK is mainly present in concept stores and a little less in ready-to-wear boutiques. This is because 95% of the socks sold are used as gifts. That's why I've teamed up with online brands that offer gift boxes.

The vast majority of my business remains BtoB for the moment, i.e. in-store sales.

I have a salesperson in the field who helps me with this development. I didn't know this world before I set foot in it with KlaK. This is what I am developing as a priority today.

The private market takes longer to develop because I have not allocated an advertising budget. I communicate on Instagram and the community is created naturally. Before the business really took off in September 2020, I spent several months posting regularly on the networks, which helped develop a core group of followers. I really had a blast posting funny things!

What did you gain from your studies at EM Normandie?

I loved all the group projects on business creation. The work-study programme also taught me a lot. I was a sales manager in a department store in Le Havre.

This allowed me to apply the knowledge I had learned in class. This experience was a real springboard for finding sales manager positions when I returned to Paris. It took me three years to leave my salaried job before I was 100% on KlaK.

How did you obtain the funds to launch KlaK?

Unlike Mes Chaussettes Chéries, I decided to fund KlaK entirely on my own. I thought that launching two projects in the space of three years could damage my credibility. Once again, I preferred to set up my project on my own! 

I had personal and family savings. Later, my mother and father-in-law became partners in the business to enable me to increase the value of my capital. I seemed more credible in placing large orders with my suppliers with more capital.

Where are you today?

I'm taking part in the "Maison & Objet" show soon, which is huge. I've been dreaming of taking part for five years!

It was the "Made in France" prize that I won at the "Soirée des Pépites" of the EM Normandie Entrepreneurs' Club that enabled me to finance my participation in this show. But I had to tighten my belt a bit to be able to participate. I would like to thank the jury for having been indulgent during my presentation because I was quite stressed!

I hope to continue to grow, ideally doubling the number of shops to be truly serene for 2023.

I have other events planned until the end of the year.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?

You shouldn't wait until you have the perfect product to start.

The main thing is to test your concept in real life so you can validate it or not. At the beginning, I made mistakes with the packaging and the company name was not the final name... This did not prevent me from starting my business.

The most important thing is really to embody your project.

My friends and family tell me that I am completely different at KlaK than at my previous company: I live the brand and embody it. People really feel the passion I have for this brand. That's why I'm able to get customers and partner shops on board naturally.