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2014-01-16

No cold feet with Toesteesocks

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

Eileen Rogers of Bandera may have one of the smallest businesses in the US to be licensed to use Polartec® materials and their registered trademark on her clothing products.
Rogers, who moved to Bandera from Seattle several years ago thought her business would suffer when she left colder climes, but "I've been busier than I ever was," said the enthusiastic clothing manufacturer.
"My shop is in my garage, so it's just so convenient for me to go out and cut fabric or sew for a few hours."
When she needs a break, Rogers spends time in her organic garden where she grows a lot of foods that reflect her Asian roots. She sells that produce at the Bandera and Fredericksburg Farmer's Markets in season and to several local restaurants.
While Rogers started her gardening enterprise after the move to the Hill Country, she has had her clothing line since 1997.
She uses Polartec® fabrics exclusively to create her colorful and comfortable designs.
It all began with her signature ToesteeSocks which come in both fleece and other fabrics, all designed to wick away moisture, to help the wearer stay warm and dry. Polartec® fabrics are known for their lightweight comfort, their warmth even in seriously cold temperatures and their durability.
"My socks will cost over $25 a pair with the shipping and handling," said Rogers, "but after you've worn them for a few years and they still look and feel great, they become a bargain."
Rogers' fashions have proven to be a great hit with men and women who not only wear them for winter sports, but for hunting, fishing and hiking; mountain climbing, horseback riding and motorcycle riding.
One couple wore her clothing for two trips to Antarctica, "from the inner layers to the middle layers to the outer. I kept them warm!"
The Toestee Wear™ line includes both men's and women's apparel that include shirts, pants, leggings, jackets, vests, and of course, those socks! The socks come in a wide variety of bright colors as well as the basic blacks, browns and greys for the less adventurous of us.
Rogers has been finding more and more customers who suffer from neuropathy and cold feet from poor circulation. "They love them. They keep the feet warm and dry." In addition, Rogers uses a special thread and a flat seam so her socks will not irritate the feet or rub blisters. The socks are proving popular with hikers who like to wear them with their sandals. Not exactly a fashion statement, you say? Oh, no, comments Rogers, "this material gets wet but still stays warm!"
In addition to the Polartec® fleece, Rogers uses two- and four-way stretch fabrics from the American company. Just another reason to shop with Toesteetoes - it's all made in the USA!
Bikers really like the products, too. In addition to the popular boot socks, the dickey shaped Windskarph provides lightweight protection against the wind, pulling up to cover the face up to the eyes, but easily rolled down when it's time for breakfast at OST. There's also a flat cap liner, a helmet liner, beanies and more.
Rogers is proud of the fact that "we never throw anything away." Some of her specialty items make use of all the bits and pieces that would otherwise be tossed in the trash. Her colorful dish pads are a crazy quilt round made up of scraps that "won't scratch your dishes, make your dish soap go farther, dry fast and never stink!" She also makes up packets of plant ties that are gentle on the tomatoes and will last for several seasons. Other scraps are used to stuff dog beds that are machine washable and "don't attract the dog hair."
Some of the smaller pieces are fashioned into chair socks. Chair socks, you ask? I know I blinked a couple of times when Rogers casually mentioned that she makes socks for chairs. I definitely needed an explanation!
"More and more people are installing wood floors," said Rogers, "and there is just no product out there that you can use under your chairs that won't mar the floors." Chair socks, which come in black, dark brown and light brown, slip over the feet of your chairs to protect your floors. Made with Polartec®'s 4-way stretch material, they should stay in place once you slip them on.
Rogers' factory is pretty much a one-woman show. "I'm it. I'm the seamstress, the order taker, the shipper, whatever needs doing." That works out however, because Rogers is one of those high-energy people who thrive on staying busy. "You have to love what you do," she added.
In order to be licensed by Polartec®, Rogers has to use first run fabrics from them, the best quality fabric. The product is known for its wicking and breathability. "It's warm like wool, but doesn't itch, it's machine washable and doesn't shrink."
Rogers explains that the fabric is not just for winter. "The lighter weight products are great year-around. I make leggings that can be used as an under layer next to the skin for warmth, or worn alone when days are warmer."
You can see the variety of her line by going to www.toesteesocks.com, where you can conveniently place your order.

Pictured: Photo by Carolyn B. Edwards
Eileen Rogers' Toesteesocks in Polartec® fleece come in a variety of colorful patterns, as well as solids. The long-wearing socks also come in a long sock version and boot socks.

Rogers upcycles left over bits from her Polartec® clothing line to make versatile dish pads and socks for your chairs.

Toesteesocks keep your feet warm and dry without irritating seams. Get them in conservative blacks and browns, or go a little crazy with neon greens, pinks and reds.