Today we’d like to introduce you to Evan Mendelsohn.
Evan, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was born in Redding in Northern California. Then moved to San Diego for college at UCSD. I studied management science (basically economics with math) in college and attended USC for graduate school, where I received my JD and MBA degrees. While in graduate school, I taught myself internet marketing skills – primarily in search engine optimization. I started creating websites that would rank well for Google search terms and I would monetize them with ads.
After graduate school, I moved to San Diego and started working at a law firm called Sheppard Mullin in Del Mar. Around the same time, I used my free nights to work on a passion project called Tipsy Elves with my college friend Nick Morton (who at the time was working as an endodontist — a root canal specialist). The idea is we would create a fun holiday apparel brand that focuses on designing unique products for every event that life throws your way. We wanted to build a clothing brand that is synonymous with fun, and our goal was to create memorable experiences for our customers wearing our products.
Our first collection was “ugly Christmas sweaters” — deciding this was a good introductory collection since we launched the company in June 2011 heading into the holiday season. We ordered 5,000 sweaters and we completely sold out by early December, wishing we had ordered thousand more.
In 2013, we appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank and we’ve since appeared on 2 separate Shark Tank updates as well as a sequel to Shark Tank called “Beyond The Tank.” The show has been a tremendous experience for us and has brought a lot of exposure to our brand.
Working with our investor (Robert Herjavec) has also been really enlightening and he’s brought a lot of high-end business experience and strategy to Tipsy Elves.
In the last 4 years, we’ve greatly expanded our product offering to see out our vision as a one-stop shop for all fun holiday apparel. We now sell ski suits, Hawaiian shirts, swim trunks, patriotic apparel, St. Paddy’s day gear, and LGBT collection, Halloween costumes, and of course our bread and butter — Christmas sweaters. The brand has been championed by hundreds of celebrities and our products have been worn by Justin Timberlake, Miley Cyrus, Ashton Kutcher, Nina Dobrev, P!NK, Luke Bryan, Oprah Winfrey, and many more.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Definitely, we’ve faced a lot of challenges along the way.
One of our first significant challenges was in 2011 (our first year) our supplier sent us approved sweater designs and somewhere along the way he ended up messing up the production and shipping us completely different designs. We noticed very late, and luckily the supplier was able to remake our sweaters in time to catch production.
We’ve also had some unfortunate hiccups with our fulfillment facilities. We partner with third-party fulfillment companies to handle the shipment of our products. In some days, we will ship as many as 10,000 packages to our customers.
About 3 years ago, our fulfillment company at the time got very behind on our holiday shipments. Nick and I flew out there and spent a week at the fulfillment company trying to figure out where the bottlenecks were and helping them catch up on our customers’ shipments. We worked around the clock and only slept a few hours that week trying to get caught up.
We ended up switching fulfillment companies the following year and it was a major lesson for us in how a few procedural fulfillment issues can cause a major snowball effect of late shipments. We pride ourselves on outstanding customer service and on-time deliveries so this was a tough one for us to swallow, knowing we were frustrating so many of our customers during the holidays.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Tipsy Elves – what should we know?
I think I touched on what we do in my previous responses. We are known for our outlandish, fun, wild-and-crazy holiday apparel. Our brand is synonymous with fun. We are driven to create high-quality products that transform fun everyday experiences into ones that will be remembered forever.
I’m most proud of our impact on customers and the reviews our customers give us. We get so many reviews where customers talk about what a great experience they had in wearing our products. How it transformed their event, was a conversation-starter, and ultimately made them have a great time. It’s fun to bring levity to people’s lives and to have created a brand that is centered on fun.
The humor and creativity of our products, the brand we have established, and the quality of our products are the biggest differentiators from our competitors.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I think my ambition, work-ethic and creativity are some of my biggest assets. My education and legal background has created an expectation for myself that entrepreneurial success doesn’t come easy. I’m so honored every day to be able to work on something that I created, and a brand that brings so much joy to people’s lives.
There’s no quick fix that can replace hard work — especially in the clothing/apparel industry where there are a lot of challenges with margins, inventory and the quickly changing retail landscape.
I also enjoy being creative, a skill that lends itself well to a company where creative products, marketing and branding are so important.
- Address: 624 Broadway Street #405
San Diego CA 92101
- Website: tipsyelves.com
- Phone: 877-578-0702
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @tipsyelves
- Facebook: @tipsyelves
- Twitter: @tipsyelves