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Developed by an interior designer turned momprenuer, Rock-a-Thigh Baby (RTB) thigh socks are designed by Jennifer, a Wisconsin mom of four daughters who recognized the need for a children’s sock that stays up & stays on, while providing full leg coverage as tights. Rock-a-Thighs are Made in USA, green fashion that covers little legs from thighs all the way to the tips of little toes. Rock on!
Even as a young girl, I guess you can say I had an entrepreneurial spirit. In addition to the summertime lemonade stands, another annual “business” I had was setting up a candy store in my room the day after Halloween to sell back the goodies to my neighborhood friends. I didn’t care about the money part. “Playing store” is what I found fun. What I also couldn’t care less about was fashion.
Instead of playing dress-up, I’d be outside playing ball, building forts, riding my motorized dirt bike out in the field, or catching a new pet garter snake. Nicknamed Jumpin’ Jenny, I was the quintessential tomboy, complete with long skinny legs (with skinned knees most of the time), boy short haircut, & bucktooth grin. (Thank the Lord for orthodontics!)
Although the nickname “Jump” stuck, I eventually outgrew my tomboy ways (for the most part…I feel most at home all geared up on the paintball field or on a lake with a fishing pole in my hand if that says anything), & in my teens discovered make-up (along with Aqua Net hairspray — insert “you know you grew up in the ’80s if…” jokes here) & became interested in wearing the “in” styles. With some urging from a friend who modeled, I signed on with a wonderful modeling school & talent agency in Madison. My work included doing runway for local & regional fashion & bridal shows, industrial films, regional television commercials, print work for regional and national catalogs, and a spot in the 1998 Wisconsin Women calendar as Miss December.
I went on to marry a really great guy & graduated from UW-Madison — go Badgers!! I earned my degree in Interior Design, which I chose since it required the least amount of math. My dad had dyslexia & I have “math dyslexia” known as dyscalculia. I’m intrigued by the statistic that an estimated 53%, oops I mean 35 percent (darn that dyscalculia — just kidding) of U.S. entrepreneurs are dyslexic. But this also enables you to think more outside the box, making you an innovative problem solver & inventor of sorts – as was my dad (a pilot who was killed in a plane crash when I was 11). So in this sense I agree with those who say it’s also a gift…if only I could have explained that to my math teachers! Ha!
After graduating, I worked full-time as a designer in Madison for two years, but I had to end my employment abruptly when my identical twin pregnancy was diagnosed with a condition called Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS). Both of our twin girls were showing early signs of heart failure, and within a week of the diagonsis we flew down in Florida where I underwent a successful “experimental” laser surgery that resolved the condition (although during surgery I hemorrhaged so badly that the doctor nearly performed an emergency hysterectomy — he called my surgery a “black diamond”), & then I was put on bed-rest for the last 3-months of the pregnancy. Sadly, our daughter Joelle passed away at 6-months in utero. After a few more very close calls, miraculously, her identical twin sister survived & was born full-term & completely healthy. Praise God! My hubby & I have since been blessed with three more healthy, simply awesome, daughters.
It started with me going on a walk in 2007, while wearing my with my third daughter in a baby carrier, that led to my “ah-ha” moment. It was a chilly spring evening & her pant legs were hiked up from being in the carrier. Noticing that her legs were cold, I went home to dress her warmer. Not wanting to hassle with taking off her layers of clothing just to put on a pair of cumbersome tights, I grabbed her tights & snipped off the legs & used rubber bands to keep them up. (Note: Please do not use rubber bands on your child — they leave red welts. Dur. Seemed liked a good idea at the time.)
Later that night I searched online for baby thigh highs. Much to my frustration & surprise, I couldn’t find any. I also thought about how much time & energy I’d waste searching for little socks that were missing in action & knew that a well designed thigh-length sock would solve that problem too. In Oct. 2007, I formed an LLC & registered it as Baby Thigh Highs, but because I was unable to get the name trademarked, I later changed the name to Rock-a-Thigh Baby.
Over the next two years I researched cuffs & developed my own style that stays up and on, & studied children’s fashion trends to create some stylish designs. I also worked to identify a U.S. manufacturer who could realize my dream of making my thigh socks a Made in the USA “green” product. And, since banks weren’t exactly throwing money at unproven start-ups, I had the arduous task of trying to find funds for my small business – THANK YOU Wisconsin Women Business Initiative Corporation!!!
During the start-up, I slammed up against several road blocks & considered quitting many times. I agree that, “Successful entrepreneurs aren’t necessarily the most intelligent or most well connected, but they are very resourceful & very persistent.” There was one point especially where things just were NOT coming together. I was ready to throw in the proverbial towel. Feeling defeated, I sought advice from a business professor on our city’s small business development team who told me matter-of-factly, “There is no market for your socks outside the Midwest.” His statement took away any wind I had left in my sails…for about 30 seconds anyway…until it made me angry. (Ha!) I knew in my gut he was wrong & I was going to prove it. Ironically, it turns out that our largest U.S. market is actually outside the Midwest: Southern California, followed by Texas and Florida.
Which brings me to the point of me sharing this novel, er, I mean story. If you have a great idea for a new product or business, heed the advice of others & the “experts”, but trust your instincts & to heck with the nay-sayers. If your vision is clear and your resolve is rock hard, then just figure it out. Go for it and & don’t give up. I know it can be a frustrating & lonely road when others don’t “get it”, but as the great Dr. Kelso from the TV show Scrubs said, “Nothing in this world worth having comes easy.” 😉
While on the verge of launching Rock-a-Thigh Baby, my family fell on some exceptionally difficult times. Yet through it all, once more God’s faithfulness was evident (Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”) One of the consequences was that I had to resort to selling vacuum cleaners. Needless to say, THAT was a humbling experience. But it was also valuable. I eventually figured out that the company I was working for was shady. (And having your paycheck bounce when you try to deposit it is never a good sign.) That experience gained me some important business insight & made me that much more resolved for my company to ALWAYS be honest & ethical. Without exception.
Getting my business off the ground was no easy task for sure. (Then the REAL work started!) My husband & I wholeheartedly believe this has been & continues to be a “God thing”. Very early on, I believe I got confirmation that God was going to bless this venture to His glory, & way too many cool & amazing “coincidences” continue to happen that without, Rock-a-Thigh Baby would absolutely not be where it is today, if at all. So although launching Rock-a-Thigh Baby has been challenging, the transition of becoming a bona fide entrepreneur has been pretty natural. But had you told me as a young tomboy that I’d be working with fashion when I grew up, I would have snorted, er…laughed, in your face!
Today, Rock-a-Thigh Baby is available in many stores worldwide. We are the proud manufacturer of the BECO-licensed thigh sock collection, as well as an official licensed NCAA line, and the GroVia Leggings. In addition, we supply Rock-a-Thighs to hospitals & leg brace companies for children who need our product due to medical needs – which warms my heart tremendously. These are very exciting times for Rock-a-Thigh Baby…and we’re just getting started.