Have you ever loved something so much you wanted to spend every day thinking about it? Well, that’s the kind of love we’re talking about with Sebastian Martinez and his love of color, wacky socks.
“Sebastian Creates a Sock Company” is the story of Are You Kidding?, a sock company founded by entrepreneur Sebastian Martinez when he was only five years old, with the help of his family. Known as “the Sock Kid” in preschool, Sebastian always loved and wore wacky socks. His grandma worked in retail and brought him socks when she visited. Unlike other kids, Sebastian was happy to receive socks as a gift! By the time he was five, he had more than 100 pairs of colorful, tall socks. His love for their wacky designs spurred a question in mother Rachel Martinez: “Would you like to design your own socks?” She remembers the exact date: June 25, 2013.
That inquiry alone marked the beginning of the sock venture, with Sebastian launching full speed ahead with designs. He wanted to turn his designs into real socks, and his mother helped make that dream a reality. A publishing advertising executive with expansive relationships in Latin America, Rachel got straight to work, trying to figure out how her son could have a “real” sock. Eventually she connected with a manufacturer in Guatemala that could produce samples.
In May 2014, Are You Kidding? became a real company, and Sebastian, at six years old, took the seat as CEO, while his mother led as president. Just one month prior, the first shipment of socks arrived. Boxes filled the Martinez home and overflowed into other relatives’ houses, as well. They were ready to sell!
Older brother Brandon’s knack for socializing and presenting shined at the company’s first sales outing that month. Rachel and Sebastian set up a table at Sesame Step Children’s Shoes in Miami, Florida. Sebastian was shy and had a tough time speaking with strangers early on. Rachel made a call to her husband Fabian Martinez, pleading that he bring Brandon by the shop to inject some energy into the Are You Kidding? table. As soon as he arrived, Brandon had customers in awe, loving the socks and buying them left and right.
That day, Brandon earned the title of “Director of Sales,” or as he likes to be called, the “DOS.” Earlier that day, the company recorded its first sale, and Brandon’s energy helped accelerate customer interest. He, too, stepped up as a model of confidence and salesmanship for younger brother Sebastian.
Today, the duo has built an inspiring business that has not only sold tens of thousands of socks, but also partners with nonprofits — such as the Live Like Bella Foundation, SLAM ALS, Autism Speaks, Breanna Vergara Foundation, and the American Cancer Society — to design and sell cause-specific socks that support each organization’s mission.
For the funds and awareness they have raised for pediatric cancer, Sebastian and Brandon received a Commendation from the Mayor of The City of Miami, one of the many honors of which they are most proud. The team was also named Honorary Firefighters by the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Union and got to fly in a helicopter as a perk, a story the two tell with much excitement. They’ve appeared on Good Morning America, The Harry Show, Noticiero Univision, and CNN en Español’s Dinero, among other shows, and continue to inspire many with their story.
Are You Kidding? offers both children’s and adult socks and includes designs such as Lady Bug, Bubbles, Rocket Ship, and Googly Eyes (Sebastian’s favorite), as well as an array of custom charity socks.
While writing the Little Launchers book series, illustrator Li Zeng, videographer Dan Ndombe, and I visited Sebastian and the Martinez family. The story and pictures featured in Sebastian’s book were all inspired by in-person and online interviews with the family.
To learn more about Sebastian, Brandon, and the Are You Kidding? story, preorder “Sebastian Creates a Sock Company” on Kickstarter starting on March 28th and visit areyoukidding.net to see the company in action.