Sarah Willmott

Getting to Know: Sarah Willmott of Joode

Entrepreneur and mum-of-two Sarah Willmott’s latest business venture was borne out of necessity. She needed a specific, quality product for her care package business and when she couldn’t source exactly what she wanted, decided to make it herself. Her luxury sock business Joode launched earlier this year, with bright, fun designs to make you smile, and more importantly, be super comfortable on your feet. Willmott shares her journey to starting Joode, as well as some advice for aspiring entrepreneurs below.

Tell us a little bit about yourself
Hello, I’m Sarah. Wife to Jon, mum to a 9 and 8-year-old and a pooch named Tess. I feel like I only happened upon my true self, and all the things I am capable of, when I was made redundant. Isn’t that a strange thing? Working for myself has unlocked so many parts of my personality and strengths I honestly had no idea I had.

Other than my work – which I love – I enjoy taking my children to the movies or the beach or out for meals with friends. I have two goals in life. The first is to be able to take my family to Disney World. The second is to help end the suffering of all those who suffer from Chronic UTI’s.

What path led you to starting sock business Joode…during a pandemic?!
Well, I did start when I thought that lockdowns were a thing of the past – January 2021. Oh naive little me! It came about because my sock supplier [for Willmott’s hamper business Feel Better Box] stopped wholesaling to Australia. I was at a total loss. I looked for months in 2020 to find a suitable replacement –  socks in toned down colours that could suit all walks of life, with nice designs that looked appealing in my care packages. And also the nicest quality, a sock that looks and feels luxury and worthy of gift giving. And when I couldn’t find the exact one, I created it and Joode was born!

As a self-confessed sock connoisseur, what was important to you in designing your own range?
Quality was first. I went for Turkish 200 thread premium combed cotton. Next question: could they use the colours in my designs? Some companies colour-match, which played with the overall design and feel of the socks. And lastly the quality of the tag. I think I found exactly what I was looking for with my manufacturer. To be honest, I dreamt of having Aussie made socks. But I just couldn’t find one that ticked all my boxes. I grieved for months over this, it almost felt like a shattered dream.

How did you go about choosing the prints for your socks? Is there one in particular getting a good workout on your own feet at the moment?

Joode socks

Not only was I looking for a different kind of colour palette with my socks, but I was also going for simplicity in the designs. I asked both my graphic designer and a friend who works in design to create different options. Raindrops instead of spots in sage, mustard, pastel blue and pink. At the last minute I added our Peaches design which is cute and fun and just about everyone loves them.

As well as running Joode, you have two other businesses, care package service Feel Better Box and retreat directory, Retreat Me Happy. As well as being a mother-of-two! How do you juggle the competing demands in your life?
Well in lockdown, not very well! However since life has *almost* gone back to normal, it’s far easier to juggle and feel less guilty. I have built a wonderful team around me that is growing. Retreat Me Happy is a passion project and is building up momentum every month. As soon as people can travel freely, it will really start to fly. Feel Better Box has been a bit of a show stopper with each lockdown but once we’re out, it ticks along nicely throughout the year and slows down in January which works with school holidays!

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your entrepreneurial endeavours?
It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. If you genuinely believe it will work, then you just keep on doing what you’re doing. I sold one care package every other month when I launched Feel Better Box six years ago. Now things are a lot different. But I so deeply believed it would work, and it did eventually. I had to persevere through the doubt, through all the conversations of ‘when it doesn’t work, what job will you try and get?’. Being an entrepreneur has taught me I have more humanity and problem solving skills than I ever knew I had. Also, never pay for standard Auspost (hehe)!

If there are other mums reading this with an idea for their own business, how would you suggest they take that first step?
I often compare it to the Coca-Cola ads that used to run when the soccer World Cup was on. Could you think about soccer, talk about soccer, dream about soccer, play soccer and still love soccer? Because you have to love it that much to keep on keeping on. You need that deep belief that you can do it. That is the first step. The next one is find where your customer base hangs out. That is where you start.

You’re a former inner westie now living in Melbourne. We’d love some tips! Where do you always take out-of-towners?
I have a sweet spot for St Kilda. It has a street full of cake shops for one. My favorite Japanese restaurant is next door to The Espy, there’s a lovely board walk along the beach, all the way down to Port Melbourne, if you wish. And it just feels like a good day spent somewhere a bit different.

Joode is a luxury online sock business. Check out the gorgeous colours and prints at joode.co or email Sarah at Sarah@Joode.co

Willmott is donating $1 from every order to not-for-profit organisation Chronic UTI Australia. 

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