We had the good fortune of connecting with Sophie & Izzy Uwins and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Sophie & Izzy, how did you come up with the idea for your business?
It started at school. We were forever switching between pencils and highlighters when annotating textbooks. One day we came up with a simple hack to combine them, by taping a highlighter to a pencil. Soon we noticed our friends started doing the same thing.

When we showed our parents, they went to get us a real product that would do the same thing. But they quickly found that none existed. So we decided to design one ourselves. 1 year later, SOZY Pencils and The Annotator were born.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
1. What sets us apart is we design everything ourselves, test it out, and make sure it’s right before launching it. For example, our eraser is the best quality eraser we’ve ever used. It gets every mark out and leaves no residue. We LOVE using it.

2. We are most proud of: taking our idea, which started as a simple hack in the classroom by taping a pencil and highlighter together, and making it into a real product that doesn’t exist elsewhere. Additionally, debuting at the National Stationery Show in NYC and seeing how excited people were for us was amazing. It’s really rewarding to see people want and buy our products and now they are sold in 50+ stores Nationwide + in London.

3. Nothing is easy. It’s hard work. School and homework come first. But we also spend time every day with our SOZY Pencil business. Whether it’s talking about Instagram themes, packing orders, doing quality control, writing thank you letters to our customers, walking to the post office to ship orders, or designing our next collection, we manage to be a team and do it together. One of our challenges was refining the prototype, the product samples, and recently the metallic colors to get it right. And, it’s hard to spreading the word about SOZY Pencils due to the pandemic since we haven’t been to a trade show in nearly 2 years.

4. Some of the lessons we learned are:
a) Never give up in life. Initially when our prototype pencil came back we weren’t happy with it, so we almost gave up, but we learned to be patient and revised the prototype 10 times till we got it right.
b) Staying focused is key. You can’t get distracted from the long-term goal, but we learned to take it step-by-step and break the process down into small parts till you get to the end goal.

5) We want the world to know a few things:
1) Anything is possible.
2) Be confident about your decision and don’t give up.
3) Make sure you think about your product from the customers perspective. Meaning, how will your product help customers? How will they use it? What role will it play in their life?
4) And, of course, we would like every student to have The Annotator in their backpack for school.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?

We love living in Los Angeles. Here are some of our favorite places if you want to visit.

1) Hike at Fryman Canyon in Studio City or up Westridge in Brentwood. Dogs are allowed!
2) Lunch at the new Erewhon in Studio City. Get a smoothie and some sushi.
3) Trip to Century City mall and go the the best Bobo shop in town: Wushiland Boba.
4) Check out a few stores: Aritzia, H&M, and Zara
5) See a Marvel Movie, ideally at Universal Studios as the seats recline! Or, go to Dreamscapes (VR movie ) at Century City Mall.
6) Eat lunch/dinner at the Century City Mall at Din Tai Fung. (Get the pork soup dumplings, cabbage, bok choy, and green beans and chocolate mochi). Or, lunch at Eataly. Either way, you will be in heaven.
7) Play tennis (we have lots of free parks in Los Angeles).
8) If you love ice cream, Sweet Rose Creamery in the Brentwood Country Mart and Fatamorgana Gelato in Studio City are our favorites. They have the most unique flavors and are really made with fresh, high quality ingredients.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?

Lori at Caden Concepts/Belly Bandit/Proof really believed in our product and helped us find the right people to manufacture it. We couldn’t have done this without her.

Our aunt, Hayley at Scenario PR (https://www.scenariopr.com/). She has been a HUGE supporter and helped us get so much exposure. We are eternally grateful.

And of course our parents, who believed in us and have lots of experience launching new products and brands.

Website: https://www.sozypencils.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sozypencils/

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.