Meet The Trailblazing Creative Director Making Socks The Happiest Part Of Any Outfit

Happy Socks creative director Paula Maso

Most of us are familiar with the Happy Socks brand. They are known for their mood-lifting designs and over-the-top collaborations with celebs and artists such as Wiz Khalifa, Macaulay Culkin, David Bowie, Andy Warhol, Zandra Rhodes, and more. But what you may not know about the brand is its trailblazing creative director, Paula Maso, whose story of getting the job and taking Happy Socks to the next level in the fashion industry is nothing short of inspiring and cool.

With the eyes of the world more acutely aware of the number of women in leadership positions at companies, brands and corporations, Paula’s career and determination is the kind of path that will no doubt inspire more women to channel their passions into their dream job.

The self-described “color junkie” who originally hails from Venezuela, is the brand’s FIRST female creative director, who is responsible for driving the brand’s overall creative expression.

When she first came to Sweden, armed with a resume chock-full of fashion and branding experience, she messaged Mikael, [the co- founder of Happy Socks] on LinkedIn, saying “I want to design socks for you, how can we make that happen?” and he didn’t reply for a really long time. About a year and a half after, he replied telling her there was a position open, and to email Viktor the creative director at the time. That’s how she got her interview!

She began her journey at Happy Socks in 2016 as a designer on the Product Team. She quickly worked her way into becoming a Concept Designer, which made her responsible for collaborations with bands like The Beatles and brands like Billionaire Boys Club. She also planted the seed that became Hysteria, the world’s first fashion sock line for women. As Creative Director and Concept Designer, she designed, developed, and led the line’s debut Fall/ Winter 2017 collection.

Prior to joining the colorful sock revolution, Paula founded two fashion brands: Aether Studios and Nothing Can Go Wrng. She also has consulted for J. Lindeberg, creating all the brand’s prints and graphics. Clearly designing, creating, and standing out are things Paula was born to do! We spoke with her to learn more about her passion, the fashion scene in Venezuela, and some of the exciting recent campaigns Happy Socks has released.

Tell us, where did your love of fashion and design originate? 

I honestly think it has always been there! I recently found a school assignment from when I was around 8 years old, and I said I wanted to be a Graphic Designer when I grew up! I was always the crafty kid and have always been drawn to color and shapes, so I like to think I was born with it 🙂

What was the fashion scene like in Venezuela where you are from? 

Very different from Europe/US. Venezuela is a fantastic and creative country, but the industry is very, very underdeveloped. Starting from the fact that design schools are not recognized as real schools -your degree is the equivalent to a dance course- that sets the tone for how serious the industry is taken by society and governments. Unfortunately the situation has worsened over time, as the country is going through severe political and social turmoil, and top talent has left the country in mass. The upside: these people are now abroad, learning and soaking up everything, and I hope one day we can return and grow the industry ourselves.

Happy Socks Pride 2021 collection

Can you tell us about some of the fashion brands you created before working at Happy Socks? 

I co-founded a small sustainable womenswear label called Aether, which was based between London and Stockholm, together with a fellow London College of Fashion alumni. Our business model was to have everything made-to-order, and be completely transparent about our manufacturing and supply chain. We were only active for 2 seasons, but they were super interesting and we made it into Stockholm and Berlin Fashion Week, as well as being present in top media. 

After that I also co-founded a print design studio with a friend whose background is in illustration, called Nothing Can Go Wrng. We leased prints to different kinds of businesses, from interior to fashion, and even published gift wrapping books with our patterns! It was a super cool project and definitely helped me in expanding my print and pattern vocabulary.

What was it about Happy Socks that made you want to work there? 

I discovered Happy Socks when I was living in Barcelona. Back then it was sold in super small, designer boutiques, and I just fell in love with the colors and patterns, and finally when I saw the David Lachapelle campaign I knew this was the brand for me.

Happy Socks Pride 2021 collection (kids)

The story of how you got the job is pretty cool! It shows the power of taking a leap of faith and utilizing social platforms. What made you decide to message Mikael on LinkedIn? 

When I arrived in Sweden I knew I had to contact them, and thought to myself, “what do I have to lose?” I think people overthink it when it comes to reaching out, and we often forget it’s just a mere human on the other side of the screen. I’ve met two of my best friends through Instagram, and my current business partner for a project I’m about to launch also through cold-emailing on LinkedIn. If most couples meet online now, why not expand that to the rest of our relationships? 

Tell us about the origins of Hysteria – the world’s first fashion sock line for women, and the role you played in this creation: 

When I arrived to Happy Socks, they were faced with the reality that our customers were mostly men, and they found it interesting that my background was in womenswear. So pretty much from the get-go, me and two other colleagues created a little task-force even though the ask was to create more female-friendly product, we ended up pitching an entire sub-brand. Again, talking about taking a leap, but it worked! With this project I became like a mini-creative-director, which was instrumental into my growth within Happy Socks and ultimately achieving the Creative Direction for the brand overall.

Dame Zandra Rhodes designing her collection for Happy Socks

What is your creative process when starting a new collection, campaign or brand? Where do you find inspiration from? 

Literally anywhere! Our current SS’21 collection “Caught in the act” was inspired by a super crazy circus rave I went to a while back, which totally blew my mind! All I could see in the acrobats was their feet up in the air, dancing to the most amazing music, and thinking to myself: “How amazing would it be if they were wearing Happy Socks?” So inspiration really comes from experiences, museum visits, and sometimes yes… Pinterest.

People don’t often think of socks as the ultimate fashion item, but can you explain how they can be the ultimate mood-lifter and completely change the way we dress? 

I really think this perception has changed. Happy Socks invented this category in 2008 and since then there has been an explosion of super interesting and designed sock brands. This has turned into people paying much more attention to this accessory, and in my case in particular (and I promise this was even pre-working here!) I dress from the feet up! In our home market of Sweden, the Scandinavian style is super sleek and monochrome, and Happy Socks is the perfect accent to a simple look, and I think this rings true worldwide as well, and this is why we’ve managed to sneak our way through to millions of people’s sock drawers.

Happy Socks X Zandra Rhodes collection

What are some of the upcoming campaigns we can look forward to seeing from Happy Socks? 

Our pinkest collaboration to date just launched, with the fantastic Dame Zandra Rhodes, who we named Queen of Colour, with reason! She embodies everything our brand aspired to be: Confidence, self-expression and color! She was a dream to collaborate with, and granted us access to her archive, where we could dive into her life’s work and ultimately do a tribute via socks. 

On May 18, our Pride campaign also launched, which is not much of a campaign at all. We decided to partner with Interpride and instead of doing a flashy, rainbow campaign, we donated the whole of our production budget to their foundation. We felt like this was the right move when brands are rainbow-washing and using this important social call to drive sales. We’ve always held the Pride Movement very close to our hearts, so it was important to do something that genuinely helped those who need help.

You can check out the Happy Socks Pride campaign and all other collections by visiting the website.