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updated: 12/11/2013 7:48 AM

Rockford business builds from socks up

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  • Joelene Chinn, owner of Socks-That-Rock, works on a sock monkey inside her studio in Rockford

      Joelene Chinn, owner of Socks-That-Rock, works on a sock monkey inside her studio in Rockford
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

ROCKFORD -- Joelene Chinn didn't go into business to build an empire.

Chinn started Socks-That-Rock nearly six years ago with the simple goal of building it to the point where she no longer has to work for anyone else.

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"Every year sales seem to grow 15 to 20 percent mostly be word of mouth and social media," said Chinn, who makes and sells online custom-designed sock monkey dolls that sell from $45 to $200 on the site, socks-that-rock.com.

"We've made some strategic changes, but if I had the answer on how to (get where she needs to focus solely on the business) I'd be there."

Chinn, whose full-time job is as a graphics designer with Rockford's Skyward Promotions, is working with the Rock Valley College Small Business Development Center to grow Socks-That-Rock. She now has three people working with her and they are paid commission.

Chinn said one of her goals is to hit a wider variety of art shows, such as the One of a Kind Show and Sale and The Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago, along with the usual shows in the Rock River Valley. As an online business, she's already sold dolls to customers in places such as Iraq and Sweden.

The SBDC is helping Chinn venture into a different area.

"(I) want to take the art and incorporate it into a sock line," Chinn said. "(The SBDC) is helping me trademark our logo. They actually did the research for me and helped me fill out the paperwork.

"I was born an artist, but I come from a family of entrepreneurs," said Chinn, whose parents owned an antique furniture business in Richfield. "My dolls are a mix of sarcastic art and inspirational art, and I want to try that with socks."

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