Evan Mendelsohn was on his usual job doing corporate law and contracts, and he was bored when he began to check online about search engine optimization (SEO). While researching SEO, he noticed what people were searching or checking for online. He was hoping to find a business idea while on it. He noticed an increase in searches for the Ugly Christmas Sweater in 2011. It was when he realized how he can start a business venture from this market.
The search for a business partner
Mendelsohn needed a business partner, and he never really imagined doing a business alone.
He had Nick Morton, a dentist, on his mind. Morton was his roommate and great friend from college at the University of California, San Diego. Mendelsohn noted how Morton has a great attitude and intuition and one that would be a great partner for him in the business.
Nick Morton remembers getting a call from Mendelsohn about making ugly Christmas sweaters while he was pulling up into his garage.
The beginning of Tipsy Elves
Just after two weeks, the two friends started Tipsy Elves. They initially put in $40,000 each. They made sweater designs and joined a trade show. Although they felt that they had bad designs, the response was strong which gave them confidence to continue.
They then created their website and studied about shipping and fulfillment.
They focused on humorous rather than ugly sweater designs. On their first year, they sold 5,000 sweaters with sales at $400,000. It was when Mendelsohn quit his lawyer profession and went full-time.
Tipsy Elves today
For the last 5 years, the sales have gone to $20 million. Mendelsohn and Morton also joined “Shark Tank” where they got a $100,000 investment money from Robert Herjavec. After this, Morton quit from his dentistry profession.
They have already expanded the company to create year-round apparel and accessories for every holiday there is.
The latest addition are jet ski suits in red, white and blue which showed over-the-top patriotism.
Christmas is also half of the company’s sales now. They expanded to having 20 employees in San Diego with six designers. They have also learned to not be too controlling over each design detail and execution.