Sports and words were what kept Puyallup High School alum Leslie Ota focused on both academics and athletics throughout her time as a student.
When Ota played volleyball, basketball and softball at PHS, and later when she played at the collegiate level with Oregon State and the University of Puget Sound, she would write mantras and mottos on athletic tape on her wrists before games.
Ota is also an avid sock collector. When the class of 1988 alum decided to start her own sock line, Posie Turner, earlier this year, she was sure to include an inspirational mantra stitched into the left foot of the sock.
“We want our customers to not only feel stylish,” Ota said, “but also want them to feel empowered by the mantra and know that it will be with them all day long — like their own personal tattoo.”
The idea behind the mantra on the left foot is to share an inspiring message each morning when Posie Turner customers are putting on their socks.
“I wanted a brand that had a soul,” Ota said.
Branding is what Ota has done with her career before launching her hobby-turned-business.
Ota worked in sports marketing, helping to manage and market Olympic events when Seattle was trying to land the spot as host of the 2012 Olympic Games. She then went into community development to market downtown Bellevue. For the last 10 years, Ota has worked at Windermere selling real estate.
“All of my life experiences brought me to this moment of starting my own sock line,” she said.
The process of getting a sock from idea to reality starts with architecture, textiles or other interesting designs that she sees through out her day.
“I take a picture of what is inspiring me,” Ota said. “I build the design off of that. Then I look at color designs, and from there put the design into a CAD (computer aided design) model and send it to the factory. It’s typically a five-month project.”
The factory Ota uses is a family owned factory in Peru, which she has personally visited to ensure they are using quality materials.
“I wanted to start with great people,” she said. “They use the best cotton in the world there.”
Looking long term at the future of her barely 1-year-old company, Ota has goals of Posie Turner being sold in Nordstrom, but starting in small boutiques.
Ota is expecting to get her Fall 2015 socks in the coming weeks, which will be sold on her website, www.posieturner.com.