Eric's Heroes: Kids' project will knock your socks off...and turn them into monsters
ISS AQUAH, Wash. -- They sit quietly and watch with their fat little buggy eyes and weird ears. They are scattered randomly in piles and in boxes, and they stare out, unblinking, with wide-eyed, deer-in-the-headlight expressions.
What must they be thinking, in their colorful polka dotted, striped and multi-colored get-ups?
And their Frankensteinian creators, two 12-year old girls, work furiously at side-by-side sewing machines, sewing on eyeballs and stuffing socks furiously, creating more and more of the creatures, until they are strewn about everywhere, falling out of the boxes, taking up every available space.
And still, the girls make more of them.
Taylor Small has long dark hair and braids, and she says, "Oh my gosh, you made the mouth too long!" Evie McMillin has shoulder-length brown hair and plastic-rimmed glasses, and she replies, "No I didn't. Taylor, YOUR mouths are just abnormally short!"
They are creating what they call "sock monsters."
Taylor asks, "What about legs?"
Evie replies, "They don't have legs. Sock monsters don't have legs."
Taylor says, "So they're just beans."
Evie is incredulous. "Uh, have you SEEN a sock monster? They're just potatoes."
Evie: "That's the charm."
It started out as a school project. Evie made a few, and her classmates fell in love with them.
"Everybody at my school was like, 'I want three, and my friend wants two, and I want one.'"
The girls realized they were on to something. So they went in to business together.
The sock monster is an essentially formless stuffed animal, but there is something uniquely fascinating about them. Each comes with a name tag and a personality profile, that comes from Evie's dry, edgy, semi-sarcastic and vivid imagination.
One profile, for a polka-dotted sock monster named Marissa, reads, "Marissa is a troubled sock, with worries bigger than herself. She went to several colleges always majoring in science. but she never applied for a job as a scientist. Instead, Marrissa stays at home, takes on-line courses in science and eats her feelings."
Another, for a green and blue sock monster named Lillian, says, "She has been an extra in 13 films. She makes sure to track herself down in all the movies. She secretly knows that the only reason she doesn't have a starring role in the movies is that they didn't want her beauty drawing attention away from everyone else."
And so forth and so on.
And the thing about Taylor and Evie is this: even though they are great friends, their relationship is, well, a bit prickly.
They tend to goad one another.
They poke and heckle.
Here's a typical exchange:
Evie: "You can't use the striped ones to make the sock monsters otherwise you can't see the mouths!"
Taylor: "Yes you can."
Evie: "I taught you better than this, Taylor."
Taylor: "Is it a spool? It's a bobbin. A bobbin right?"
Evie: "No, that's not a bobbin. The bobbin goes underneath, Taylor."
Taylor: "I know."
Evie: "Do you, though?"
They are the bickering, badgering, battling Simon and Garfunkel of silly socks.
Taylor: "I totally did that where I forgot to put the foot down."
Evie: "I wouldn't have noticed if you didn't say anything, Taylor."
Taylor: "Well, it''s too late, I already said something so..."
Evie: "Yeah, you ruined it."
Taylor: "I ruined it."
Evie: "You should be ashamed of yourself."
Taylor: "I'm so ashamed!"
Evie: "You should be."
Taylor is the logical, detail-oriented one. She calculates how many supplies they'll need. Takes care of shipping details.
Evie is the creative one, coming up with concepts and the endlessley fascinating sock monster personalities.
And there's one thing the two of them agree on completely: they want their little business to have a positive impact.
Evie says, "The whole idea of the project is change the world for the better."
Taylor adds, "We thought homelessness was too big, it's, there's so many things. But we can help in this huge area that needs so much work."
The area is socks.
For every sock monster they sell, they donate a pair of new socks to a homeless shelter."
They called their business Stolen Socks... and, business is booming.
They take their menagerie of monsters on the road. On the Saturday we caught up with them, they were selling their creations at a Farmer's Market in Issaquah.
They had a little stand set up, with signs and matching sock monster T-shirts.
And their back-and-forth chatter is ever-present. They're like adorable friends who slide seamlessly into being an old married couple!
Taylor: "See this? wouldn't it be a lot cuter if the eye was here and the mouth was here? See?"
Evie grabs the sock out of her hand, "It's not that much cuter. Stop being mean to them. You're holding them to unrealistic value expectations."
Sales were slid, if not brisk that day at the market. The girls seemed pleased.
And then one morning they were walking on a sidewalk in Redmond with their moms walking behind them. Taylor and Evie were both carrying big boxes of socks.
They walked into the Friends of Youth shelter. It's a place that provides services for homeless youth.
They were greeted at the door and Taylor said, "Hi, we're from Stolen Socks and we're here with sock donations..."
It's an amazing thing to see: two young girls using their creativity and hard work to help others.
Who knows? Maybe their sock monsters will someday take over the world.
One thing for sure: the bickering buddies Taylor and Evie have soul. And sole.
Right down in their socks.
Taylor: "Yeah, it's been so successful, clearly... I think it could definitely keep growing. It could in fact, get really big."
Evie: "Yeah, I mean, like, a lot of people need a weird little sock monster with a slightly dark personality."
Well, yes they do, Evie. Yes they do.
(For more information about Evie and Taylor's sock monsters: go to stolensockscompany.com )
Editor's Note: "Eric's Heroes" is a weekly series airing every Wednesday on KOMO News in the 6 p.m. newscast. If you have a good story about a good person doing good things for the right reasons, share it with Eric by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.