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Opening a shop - Solesmith

A diary of a complete novice planning the opening of a pop-up personalised sock shop at intu Derby - what could go wrong!?

Just to put a face to the diary... this is me with my cup of tea writing out the week’s events. Someone told me to always keep smiling, stay positive and good things will happen - so that’s what I’m doing here!

Friday - AKA Day One

Let me set the scene, I take a phone call, “Lauren, thank you for your pitch last week, we had some great entries…”

My crossed fingers tighten a bit more as they amp up the ‘x factor style’ announcement

“but we are really pleased to say that you’ve won the competition”


“Solesmith will be opening a shop at intu Derby in August”

Compose yourself I think

“Thank you” I say, “we’re very excited”. There’s a few polite thank-yous and promises of emails with further information from the team at intu Derby and Revo. I put the phone down and did a pretty (very!) embarrassing little jig with proper air punching.

I run upstairs to tell the rest of the team that ‘Solesmith Socks’ are opening a shop! We all spend ½ a day with our heads buried in the sand day dreaming only of being the next Mr Selfridge.

We thought we’d share our diary with you. A diary of our attempts to take our 5 years selling online to opening this pop-up shop in 8 weeks, with absolutely no experience! So generally, an honest account and stories of our adventure into retail (and if you have any top tips do send them our way!)

Monday - Week One

We get to look inside our (yes, OUR!) shop.

I mean we obviously already went a couple of days ago and tried to see if we could peek in through the slight crack in the doorway - the answer is no we couldn’t.

And we obviously also went yesterday to get a great photo for a Facebook announcement. It involved taking our shoes off, putting our socks on and jumping up and down to get the ‘in the air’ excited shot – we got a few strange looks as we were taking the photo, but a record number of Instagram likes!

These doors will soon lead to the Solesmith pop up shop! (It's on the ground floor opposite M&S and next to BB's Bakers & Baristas)

Design your own socks. The most important thing for us is that this isn’t just a space selling socks, it’s somewhere to have a great experience, take time to come with a friend or your children, get creative, get thoughtful and make a pair of socks that is special.

After three days of stalking of an empty shop, thankfully they still let us inside.

It’s perfect - not too big, not too small, it looks exactly like the space I had imagined in my head.

Week Two

So apparently there are a lot more things to consider when it comes to designing a pop-up shop than there are setting up an online one.

We are on a budget, but we need something that can have a bold impact for shoppers walking by. We’ve debated everything from rainbow floors, to minimalist all white décor to seriously investigating what we can hang on the ceiling. After lots of deliberation we would like to share a sneak peek with you. This is our current plan for the Solesmith pop up shop design.

If you look carefully you will see *drum roll please*, a photobooth area, a design your own socks with pens and paper station, monogram service super colourful designer socks, and a space to watch all the socks being made.

We now need to source the furniture (potentially build, paint, upcycle) and give the official dimensions to the intu Derby team to agree to it all and get on the recruitment drive! Next week is going to be a busy one!

Lauren Dorling

Lauren is the Founder and Managing Director at Solesmith.co.uk. Solesmith is a born and bred Derby brand. They are winners of Derby Telegraph awards for New Business of the Year in 2016 and Entrepreneur of the Year in 2018. Their gifts have been worn by celebrities, featured on EastEnders and Sunday Brunch and they’re very (very!) excited to be opening a Solesmith pop up shop!