Solmates: The Socks That Helped Save My Life

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

I was recently on a trip to Golden, Colorado and slipped away to see the charming downtown. After a day in renewable energy meetings, I needed a break and something different for dinner. I also wanted to get a surcie for my sister, who would face a crazy few days without me at the house to care for the menagerie and keep things in order.

As I walked into one store, I saw a rack of brightly colored mismatched socks and gasped in joy. The sales woman looked at me a little funny.

These are the fab socks I bought for myself in Golden.

“These socks helped save my life,” I said. “They’ll be the perfect gift for my sister, who is bravely caring for four crazy animals while I’m here in Golden.”

Flash back to a little over two years ago – March 18, 2015 – when I suffered my ruptured aneurysm. Sometime between midnight and 5 a.m., I either fell out of bed or tried to get up, but unbeknownst to me, passed out on the floor.

At 5 in the morning, my alarm went off. And off. And off. Sister eventually got up and came into my room, quite annoyed that I’d left for the gym without turning off my alarm clock. She huffed in, turned off the alarm and was probably cursing at me under her breath when an array of bright colors caught her eye. Because those colors were on my feet in the form of my crazy bright Solmate Socks, it called her attention to me, lying unconscious in the floor. Otherwise, Sister might’ve missed me and perhaps only found me when she went to work, which at that time was mid-afternoon. I may not have made it. (I tell you, those socks helped save my life!)

Coincidentally, it was Sister who started my affection for Solmate Socks. She put a pair in my stocking one Christmas, and I’ve been a fan ever since. Purposely mismatched Solmate Socks are whimsical, comfortable and downright cheerful. They’re so comfortable and great to sleep in, which is mostly when I wear mine.

Solmate Socks was started in the year 2000 by Marianne Wakerlin with the simple idea that “Life’s too short for matching socks.” As a lifelong textile artist with a wonderful eye for design and keen instinct for business, she knew there was a market for beautifully crafted, mismatched socks made right here in America.

The company quickly grew out of a small room in her house to three different offices in the US and the UK. Solmate Socks’ product line also expanded to include hats, gloves, and scarves in addition to mismatched, colorful socks.

After 15 years of hard work and success with the company, Marianne decided to put down the proverbial knitting needles and retire. But as it worked out, she kept the business in the family. As of January 2015, Marianne’s son, Randy, and her daughter-in-law, Lisa, are the new owners.

Continuously demonstrating a commitment to protecting the environment, protecting the health and safety of employees, and nurturing relationships with local businesses and communities, Randy and Lisa are firmly committed to keeping Solmate Socks an eco-friendly, American-made company with a focus on developing fresh designs and products and an emphasis on supporting local businesses.

Eco-friendly? Yep! All Solmate products are knit from the ingenious repurposing of recycled cotton yarn. (It was the recycled part that initially motivated Sister to buy my first pair for me.) Solmate collects remnants from t-shirt factories that would normally go into a landfill, grinds them down to basic material and re-spins that material into their own yarn. These recycled yarns are free from harmful substances, made with respect for the environment and respect for human rights. Using recycled yarns means that Solmate Socks decreases the amount of cotton waste sent to landfills. Their yarns also reduce the amount of water, land, pesticides and herbicides used to grow new cotton fibers as well as eliminates the need for harmful chemicals to dye virgin cotton yarn.

While I can’t guarantee that a pair of Solmate Socks will save your life, I can promise you that you’ll love these fun, funky socks. We’ve seen them in very few stores, but they are available online and on Amazon. Check them out today. They make great gifts, but you should also treat yourself to a pair.

Accusation: Trying to be Cute

By: Chaunte McClure

ChaunteI’m looking forward to the dog days of summer ending. Whew! It’s been HOT!

However, I’m not looking forward to a comment I often hear in the winter: “You’re trying to be cute.” (Insert emoji with rolling eyes.)

I’m not much of a hat-wearer, so during the winter, you’ll most likely not see me with my head covered. But it has nothing to do with being cute. I own four hats – a winter hat, a floppy hat, a sun hat, and one that sort of looks like an Ascot cap. Two of the four I’ve never worn although I’ve owned one of them for at least four years. Don’t judge me; I had a vision for it when I bought it. 🙂 I’ll put on one of the others on my day off when I have to run an errand and curling my hair is not an option.

When winter finally arrives in South Carolina, I wear coats, but I don’t like driving in one, especially if I’m also wearing a sweater. I don’t like shopping in coat. It just gets too, uh, uncomfortable. When I get into my car, I usually take my coat off when the car is warm or before I head to my destination. Well, upon arrival, if I’m only going inside a building – let’s say the church on Sunday, or the office – for a few hours, I won’t wear my coat inside. When someone observes that I don’t have on an outer garment as I make my way towards a door, that’s when I hear it. Following a brief lesson on how I should dress for the weather, some variation of trying to be cute follows.

Not that it should matter to anyone, but when it’s cold, I dress in layers. Camisoles, leggings and long-sleeved Tees are my winter must-haves. I’m usually warmer than I look.

At my previous job I parked in a garage and almost never wore my coat just to get on the elevator to head to my office where I kept my portable heater going, sometimes even in the summer. Low and behold, someone, an older woman, noticed me not wearing a coat as I made my way to my office one morning. Guess what she said? (Insert emoji with rolling eyes, again.) I’m sure you’ve guessed it.

I’m not trying to be cute, I just want to be comfortable. Like you, I have personal preferences for decisions I make and actions I take. Why does it have to be about being cute?

Now, often when I’m wearing heels, yes, I’m being cute. Nowadays that’s usually only on Sundays, but comfort trumps cute within an hour or two and I will lower my height by one to two inches and slide into a pair of flats whether they match or not. Ladies, you know what I’m saying. You know you keep a pair of flats in your trunk or on the backseat floorboard. And oh do I suffer when I leave those ballet flats at home.

What do you do that prompts someone to accuse you of trying to be cute?

In case you missed my previous post, be sure to check out Dress to Impress Whom?

Dress to Impress Whom?

By: Chaunte McClure

IMG_2464Do you have friends or associates who are fashion-focused and expect you and others to be also?

I’ll admit, I take a liking to dressing neat and looking cute, but sometimes I miss the mark. I tend to dress according to my mood; therefore, I usually don’t choose what to wear to work the night before. If I’m groggy, sick or for some reason in a bad mood, I really don’t care about looking my best. Some days I just don’t feel like it!

I’ve had coworkers and friends who put too much focus on what they, and others wear. Not everyone wants to wear trendy, high fashion clothes and shoes or carry high-end bags. I’m perfectly okay with wearing clothes from Target versus Belk, Dillard’s, or any couture retailer. My purses don’t have to don Coach, Michael Kors, Kate Spade or Louis Vuitton logos. The $19.99 Wilson’s Leather handbag I bought this spring, which isn’t leather at all, holds my wallet, sunglasses, tablet and cell phone the same way the name brand bags will. And they’ll apply the same pressure to my shoulder and neck. (Ouch!)

The pressure to dress to impress others is stressful and can be hurtful. There are women who would rather save for family vacations or girlfriend getaways than their clothing wardrobe. Others just can’t afford more clothes and shoes.

Early on during my college days, I remember being humiliated because I didn’t have “the best clothes.” I barely had enough to even make it through the week. Boy was I grateful for those free T-shirts when I signed up for credit cards. However, I am still ungrateful for that plastic money.

As a working adult, when I was able to buy my own clothes, I still dealt with women who turned their nose up at me because of how I dressed. I typically dressed professionally even before I began my career. What I wore to work, I wore to church. I didn’t buy many clothes to wear outside of those two places, but that didn’t matter much because I didn’t go many places outside of the two.

We put too much focus on fashion instead of concentrating on finances, family, community, goals, and education – things (I think) that really matter.

I’m not opposed to fashionistas; I’m opposed to those who set a fashion standard for others. I dress to impress me – not my coworkers, friends or spectators and I do it with tact.

Are you fashion focused? Do you expect others to be also?