Ellen Smith’s original idea for Toepos was to sell socks inspired by design work she did as a student at Missouri Southern State University.
Then that idea evolved into something else, which has been received in an entirely different way by her recent customers.
The linear progression from one thing to the next isn’t that different than the design work that adorns the gaiters Smith is selling online in conjunction with a co-worker’s company.
Remedy x Toepos’ National Parks collection offers more than a dozen designs for the multi-use product. The gaiters can be used as neck warmers (or coolers, if wet) or headbands. But Smith says she’s seen a surge in sales as people began using them as face shields.
Though she’s quick to point out that wasn’t their intended use – and in no way offer protection from COVID-19 – online shoppers have been snatching them up to wear over their nose and mouth when outdoors.
For her senior art exhibition at Missouri Southern, the 2018 graduate created designs inspired by the various color palates, climates and ecosystems of national parks.
“I originally had seven designs as part of my senior BFA thesis,” she says. “It focused on the way geographic abstraction can capture the essence of our national parks. It was a linear design with hues interacting with other colors nearby, which is something you see in nature.
“The designs came from either my travels or researching the national parks.”
She created Toepos to sell the designs as socks, but then came the idea to put them on a multi-use garment. A graphic designer for the Joplin-based Christ in Youth, Smith said a coworker who owns Remedy Provisions suggested partnering for the project.
After a bit of trial and error, their collection is now manufactured in Florida and then sold via an online store.
“We launched our partnership in November,” she said. “There was a pretty steady number of orders, but once COVID hit, it got crazy.”
For now, they are available in thirteen different designs, representing locations such as the Rocky Mountain, Everglades, Great Smoky Mountains, Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon national parks. The goal is to eventually add more designs from the 62 U.S. national parks to the mix.
“At some point, I’d like to represent every national park,” said Smith. “It’s my side project, and I’d love to have a lot more time to devote to it.”
For more about the collection, visit https://remedyprovisions.com/collections/remedy-x-toepos.