sock-shop-002By Jann Wiswall

Ellicottville’s Purple Doorknob owner, Urania Shaklee, has launched her own brand of original sock designs defined by “whimsy, color and fun.”

Drawing inspiration from “customer ideas, art, stories, YouTube videos and psychic visions,” Shaklee’s debut collection features six unique designs including cute animals, penny farthing bicycles and retro TVs.

The socks come in knee-high length for women and crew length for men, and are made of a high-quality cotton blend. The sock brand bears the name of Shaklee’s second sock store ModSock, which she opened two weeks after moving from Ellicottville to Bellingham, Wash., in 2011.

Shaklee didn’t start out hoping to be a sock magnate. Before moving to Ellicottville, she had been an antique dealer in central New York and initially carried high-quality antiques in her purple-painted, eye-catching shop on Monroe Street.

“The economic climate was changing at that time, and I quickly decided that high-end antiques were not going to sell well during a recession,” said Shaklee. “So I went on the prowl for a good product that I could use to transform the store — something that was unique, attractive to tourists and had a $20-or-less price point.”

On a trip to California, she saw that a “statement sock” trend was taking the west by storm and immediately decided she had found her product.

“Who doesn’t wear socks or have friends who wear socks?” she said.

Within six months, the Purple Doorknob had a new purpose, and today she carries 1,000 or more styles of socks for infants, kids, men and women at her successful shops in Ellicottville and Bellingham.

Shaklee, a creative, savvy business person with a degree in journalism, recently created her very own sock designs. They became available on Wednesday, July 10 through the website, an online crowd-funding platform where people pledge to financially support creative projects in exchange for rewards. The socks will retail for $10 a pair, but they are offered in multiples at a pre-sale discount as part of the Kickstarter project.

“Our manufacturer’s minimum requirement for production is 6,000 pairs, so it’s expensive at the start and requires us to produce more socks than we can sell at our two retail stores alone,” said Shaklee. “We decided to turn to the Kickstarter platform to help us fund the initial run and create a following for our new sock line.”

Through Kickstarter, Shaklee needs to raise $8,000 by the end of its 30-day campaign in order to fund that initial run. Coinciding with the launch, Shaklee has opened an online shop to expand her market at