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San Clemente Journal

Making Socks in Flip-Flop Town

Mar 06, 2017 11:33AM ● By Donia Moore

Company Co-founders; Jeff Kearl - CEO, John Wilson - President/CRO, Ryan Kingman - CMO, Taylor Shupe - CPO and Aaron Hennings - CBO.

By Donia Moore
When you walk into the creative headquarters of Stance, you know you “are not in Kansas any more.” From the dramatic art gallery style wall in the warm and welcoming lobby, to the indoor skateboard ramp to the gourmet kitchen domain of the Executive Chef responsible for feeding this inventive crew, there is a sense of unreality that this could possibly be a place of business and productivity. You immediately sense that communication and the exchange of ideas between colleagues is encouraged and valued, and if you are a creative, you might even feel completely at home. 

The Uncommon Thread
Stance is a clothing manufacturer that makes and sells socks and underwear, as well as its unique culture.
“Following the uncommon thread is the norm for Stance Socks in San Clemente,” says VP of Operations Mark Maziarz. 
A transplant from Seattle, Mark is the glue that helps to hold this tightly knit crew of ingenious designers and operations mavericks together. And just as Mark is not your normal run-of-the-mill executive, Stance is not just another clothing company headquartered here in town. It is equity and a culture unto itself. In 2015, Stance was named one of the 10 best U. S. companies to work for by Outside Magazine. 
The basis of the Stance culture comes from its five values: creativity; entrepreneurship; personal responsibility; performance and gratitude. The approximately 142 employees are encouraged to adopt these values when they join the Stance family. It’s the reason for the company’s amazing contributions to San Clemente’s community projects and a way for it to thank its most loyal customers – the hometown residents of San Clemente. 
Founded in 2009 by: Jeff Kearl (Chairman & CEO); John Wilson (President); Ryan Kingman; Aaron Hennings (Chief Creative Officer); and Taylor Shupe (Chief Product Officer), all these innovators still live in San Clemente and remain involved to different degrees with its creation. 
The company first began shipping product in 2010, and through the end of 2015 had shipped upwards of 15 million pairs of socks. Having raised a significant amount of venture capital, their socks are now sold in over 40 countries worldwide. Besides the brand’s Lifestyle lines for which it is well-known, Stance also produces performance socks called Fusion Athletic with specific lines for basketball, golf, running, motocross, snow, and skateboarding. Each line is engineered and designed for the unique needs of the athletes within that sport.

NBA Wears Stance
While they are some of the best-made pieces of equipment available, the National Basketball Association would agree that they are “not just socks.” The brightly colored, graphic designs ensure that Stance’s recent appointment as sock-maker to the NBA will soon be apparent on 
 every professional basketball court and on every player in the U.S.A.
“That means the Stance logo (and not that of Nike, Adidas, Reebok or any other iconic brand that existed before 2009) is going to be the first to have its emblem stamped on a licensed piece of league equipment,” according to Lauren Steele of Men’s Journal Magazine.
 Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors, Chandler Parsons of the Dallas Mavericks, Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons, Dwayne Wade of the Miami Heat and James Harden of the Houston Rockets are current NBA players that are Stance Punks & Poets. In May of 2015, the company also signed former NBA All-Star and MVP, Allen Iverson, to a multi-year deal. In 2016, four of the five current Stance Hoops Punks & Poets made the NBA All-Star roster. 
All players wear Stance as part of the uniform in every NBA game and have multiple styles to choose from. The company also designs special socks for NBA initiatives like Hoops for Troops, Black History Month, and NBA All-Star weekend. In 2016, the players will be wearing Stance socks designed by Don C of Just Don on both nights of All-Star weekend.

Punks and Poets
Stance’s brand ambassadors are called “Punks and Poets;” they span a wide range of personalities including musicians, athletes, designers, artists, stylists, writers and photographers. They are the cultural icons and influencers that the brand considers curators of originality and embody the brand’s mantra of The Uncommon Thread. 
Pop star Rihanna was recently named as a Contributing Creative Director and Punk & Poet for Stance and released a limited edition style that sold out in a day. Her first complete collection was released in September 2015 and she will design multiple seasons each year in a multi-year agreement with the brand.

What Makes Stance Socks Different
The socks are dreamed up, created, and brought to fruition by a remarkable team of individuals, each of whom is an artist in his or her own right. The amazing amount of attention to details of design, fit, endurance and comfort create a sock like no other available. Seamless, integrated, knitted mesh improves ventilation, thermoregulation and forefoot comfort. The toe box of a Stance sock is linked stitch by stitch for a flat look and an abrasion free experience. A “Y” shaped seam is knitted into the heel cup to provide a perfect fit. Constant testing of fit and endurance assures that the product will remain top of the line. But Basketball socks are only a part of the company’s equipment trend.
Top Motorsport equipment also includes Stance designs for socks, braces and more. In May of 2016, the socks were named the official socks of Major Baseball League. Fusion Moto and Fusion Runners socks made recent debuts. Stance underwear is now in production, and its Adventure Socks will soon be marketed through REI.
Though there is no retail space in Stance’s headquarters in San Clemente, their products are available from smaller discount mall stores to Nordstrom’s. A flagship store was opened recently in New York City.

Community Interaction
Sarah Baer has served for the last two years as the Events Director at Stance. Coming from the complicated business of organizing touring music festivals, she has transferred her talents to special events designed to help promote Stance. In addition to putting together teams to assist with community beach clean ups, she also helps establish adventure retreats.
“Stance’s mission is to celebrate human originality and the focus is on children, Military families, those in need, the environment and performance,” says Sarah. 
A favorite event is Socks for Heroes. Working with community volunteers, Stance recently donated hundreds of pairs of socks to be shipped to Marines stationed around the world. Several times a year, Stance welcomes Military families to its headquarters for an eagerly awaited afternoon of family fun, food and friendship.

What’s Next?
Stance San Clemente headquarters is growing. Spread out over several buildings on several streets, there is a need to consolidate employees into closer quarters to facilitate productivity and communication. To that end, Stance has secured a larger building closer to its original home in which to house its staff overflow. As soon as it is ready, Stance staffers will be moving into their new home, and into their very bright future of fashion footwear. Stance is also aunching it's women's intimates collection this upcoming holiday season. b
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