We speak to one half of the inspirational team behind Monkey Sox, who are supporting MS charities while designing lovely, practical running socks
It’s rare to find a not-for-profit brand that produces really great quality gear while supporting a fantastic cause, so when we discovered Monkey Sox our interest was piqued. Their running socks have quickly found a place among the favourites in our underwear drawers, with stand-out designs that make us look and feel fantastic. And we were also fascinated by the story of the husband and wife team at the helm, Lianne and James.
The pair were inspired to establish Monkey Sox after James was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in the summer of 2016, launching in 2018 with an aim to encourage people to be active while raising awareness and funds for three MS charities.
We caught up with Lianne to find out what drives her, how Monkey Sox has changed her life and what we can do support her and James to push towards a cure for MS.
Can you tell us a little bit about what it was like to set up Monkey Sox? Did you encounter any difficulties that you weren’t expecting?
“We set up Monkey Sox following my husband James’ diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis (MS), with the intention of donating to MS charities and to open up new conversations about MS.
“We knew we wanted the company to be not-for-profit, but because we buy and sell goods we were advised to set up as a Community Interest Company, limited by guarantee. Meaning there are no shareholders and the company either donates or re-invests its profit each year. It was a simple process, and gives us flexibility in the future as we hope to add on a branch of Monkey Sox that will be a registered charity.”
What was important to you when designing the socks?
“From the outset we wanted Monkey Sox to compete on quality and design, it was important to us that runners keep returning to Monkey Sox because they are the best performance socks they own! It’s why all our designs combine technical features, comfort and unique colours. Our socks are odd but co-ordinated, designed this way to represent how the body acts and feels different left to right for those living with MS. Some more subtly so, others wildly so, its up to personal style!
“Sport has helped James manage so many of his main symptoms; weakness, fatigue and mental ill health. Our mission is for Monkey Sox to inspire an active lifestyle for all, MS or not.”
Why did you decide to donate 50% of your profits to three MS charities?
“The 3 MS charities we support are all doing a brilliant job to protect those with MS now and in the future. We chose 3 charities, The MS Society UK, MS Trust and MS-UK, as combined they are funding research, nursing care and lifestyle support.”
How has your life changed since you set up Monkey Sox?
“Honestly, so much and always for the better! James was diagnosed with MS soon after his 30th birthday, it was a huge blow, and at the time we didn’t appreciate that the most commonly diagnosed age group is 20-40. Monkey Sox gave us a new way to talk about MS, we found it easier to tell friends and family and respond proactively to having MS in our life.
“We have since met hundreds of people, many with a connection to MS and many just because they love the socks!
“We genuinely both feel like we are now living with MS, not against it.”
How has Monkey Sox impacted other people, particularly people with MS?
“I’m amazed just how many people we’ve met who either have MS themselves or have a close family or friend affected.
“We’ve heard from people wearing Monkey Sox at their hospital appointments, even in the MRI scanner! Others have bought Monkey Sox to start running, or smash a personal best.
“Monkey Sox is a simple conversation starter, and many people tell us they buy as gifts to explain a diagnosis or encourage themselves or others to be active.
“We hope Monkey Sox will continue to talk to people of all ages, nationality and sporting level for years to come. In our first 2 years we have donated over £11k to our charities and like them, we won’t stop until a cure is found.”
How can our readers show you their support?
“Our shop is always open at www.monkeysox.org with the full range of our running socks and more!
“Monkey Sox has grown entirely on word of mouth, so please take photos, share and help us spread the word! It’s how we’ve met all our runners from London to Edinburgh, Singapore to Perth, Zurich to Vancouver!
“Keep in touch, we genuinely love to hear from everyone, it makes us smile and sparks the next idea!”