How two brothers are weaving great socks, stories and relationships to thrive
For twin brothers Mike and Dan Friedman, every pair of socks tells a story. That’s the idea behind their New York-based business, Tall Order. At 6’11” and 6’9” respectively, the pair has towered over others for most of their lives. Their socks help men of all sizes walk confidently, thanks to their comfortable fit and fashionable style. They also help support a mission dear to their hearts.
What is the inspiration behind Tall Order?
Dan: We were each interested in doing work that felt more mission-driven when we started Tall Order. Our dad, who was a victim of the September 11 attacks, taught us many life lessons, including the importance of giving back to those who are less fortunate. Shortly after we lost him, we went down to Manhattan with our mom to give out supplies — including socks — to first responders. All of these things obviously impacted us deeply, and the experience with first responders forged a unique personal connection between socks and helping others — a connection that wouldn’t come into focus until we started thinking more about starting our own business.
As we got older and began working in the corporate world, two things happened — we each began to desire more purpose in our day-to-day work lives, and we discovered a gap in the “sock” marketplace. We’d try to find the real fun and funky socks that people personalize their outfits with at Big and Tall stores. They were either super plain or they didn’t fit and weren’t comfortable. When we were working in the corporate world and ready for a change, we took that problem into our own hands and engineered a solution — the Tall Order sock, which uses 3D printing technology to put funky, vibrant patterns onto high quality fabrics.
In what ways are you able to use Tall Order to give back?
Dan: As kids, we received a lot of aid from our friends, family and organizations like Tuesday’s Children, which was formed in the aftermath of 9/11 to assist families through the grieving process.
Mike: Tuesday’s Children is our main charity that we partner with, and we have done numerous events with others. We always want to fulfill that tall order of giving back. We’re committed to giving 10% to Tuesday’s Children, but overall, anything we can do to give back to those who have given so much to us, that’s our mission.
How have you been able to use the power of your network to grow Tall Order?
Dan: Our mom, who encouraged us to apply for the FedEx grant, is very well networked. It was really about tapping into family and friends that we already know. For example, we’re related to a fourth-generation owner of a large manufacturing company in New York. We were able to reach out to them to get production off the ground.
Another powerful network we have is our dad’s close friends. Each of our socks is inspired by and named after one of his friends. These family friends have also connected us to partners and vendors. We’re so honored to design and name each sock after these guys and appreciate the help that they have given us.
3 Small-Business Tips for Success
Navigating the path for your small business is a constant learning process. Here are Mike and Dan’s biggest take-aways for success.
Master the Art of Storytelling
By being passionate about what their brand stands for, Mike and Dan infuse meaningful stories into both the product and their company. They’ve found that the inspiration and passion behind Tall Order resonate deeply with their audience, particularly when interacting with their audience directly at events.
Don’t Be Afraid of Failure
Mike’s advice? “You really can’t be afraid to fail. Patience sometimes is a word that none of us want to hear but, especially in business, it’s extremely important. You can’t expect to hit the grand slam right away.”
Networking is Critical to Success
Mike and Dan’s personal network is one of the biggest keys to their success. Since no day is the same for a small business, they are constantly tapping experts that they know to learn, make informed decisions and open doors.
FedEx Small Business Grant winners like Mike and Dan are doing great things in their businesses and their communities. See more inspirational winner storiesand get insights for business success from past grant winners, plus other entrepreneurs and small-business experts.