K-State alumna shares encouragement through socks.
On New Year’s Day 2011, Laura Schmidt and her family journeyed through the Flint Hills on a trip to western Kansas. Looking at her feet propped on the dashboard, Laura was struck with an amazing idea: to bring positive affirmations to others through the gift of socks.
Laura’s passion for helping others goes back to her days as a K-State student, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in pre-med. Although she did not end up in the medical field, Laura’s time at K-State prepared her to think critically and look at problems scientifically.
Most of all, Laura’s years at K-State taught her how to be confident, which led her to success in different sales roles. After a successful career in direct sales, Laura was hit with the idea to start notes to self® in 2011. Because the mind is most receptive in the morning and at night, Laura strategically placed positive affirmations on the toes of socks so that those who wear notes to self® socks are uplifted throughout their day, especially when these positive words can impact them the most.
“Our whole company is built on the idea that the words we say to ourselves, the thoughts we think, the things other people say to us, all make a big difference,” said Laura.
Laura met her husband while playing on a co-ed, rec volleyball team at K-State. Now married for 34 years with three children, her family’s blood runs purple. Laura’s love for K-State manifests itself through her company colors: K-State purple and light grey. notes to self® even sells K-State themed socks.
On their website, notestoself.com, socks can be purchased individually or in gift sets. For Laura, the notes to self® box that holds the socks has a special intended use beyond that gift. For years, Laura kept a box her brother sent to her that contained another gift, filling it with memories. This inspired the notes to self® special keepsake box, which can store years of meaningful notes and cards, providing an extra opportunity to encourage others.
Spreading encouragement reached an unprecedented need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Looking to inspire their team members, many businesses reached out to notes to self® for positive, corporate gifts that arrive at each employee’s doorstep.
“One of my favorite aspects of our socks is that when you look down at your toes and see a phrase like ‘I am crushing it’ or ‘I am brave,’ you often think about the person that gave the socks to you and how they believe in you,” said Laura. “We’ve received raving feedback from employers who gave our socks as ‘work from home’ corporate gifts—while we can’t share affirmation face-to-face, these gifts communicated encouragement and helped build a feeling of connection where it has been hard to come by due to COVID.”
To aspiring entrepreneurs, Laura’s advice is to put one foot in front of the other. “Often, it is tempting to not move forward, because we’re not sure what to do first or next. One trick I recommend at times like that is to ask yourself: What WOULD I do next if I DID know what to do?” she said.
With the goal of spreading positive messages to as many people as possible, Laura has donated over 79,000 pairs of socks to those in most need of encouragement, including women and children in domestic violence shelters.
“Our mission is to empower everyone to believe in themselves through an increase in self-confidence,” said Laura. “If you have confidence, you can be brave, strong, and courageous. If you believe in yourself, then anything is possible!”
To learn more about notes to self®, please visit the notes to self® website.
Written by: Ariana Brancato