We at Spoiled Brat are a proud stockist of Ivory Ella, and for what it stands for. The story of Ivory Ella highlights the importance of innovation in business as well as corporate philanthropy.
Ivory Ella is an online for-profit clothing store owned by CEO John Allen and five other co-founders affiliated with Save the Elephants, an organisation specialising in wildlife conservation of elephants. Ivory Ella sells clothing, lifestyle and accessories, donating a portion of the proceeds to the nonprofit organization.
With 60 million followers across social media channels, Ivory Ellas' marketing success comes mainly with the use of social media “parody accounts” — accounts that focus on a particular theme and provide regular content on that theme, rather than simply acting as a conduit for product marketing. The company now has more than $10 million in annual sales and donates a portion of its profits to Save the Elephants and other charities.
It was while analysing social media trends in their previous business, Boho Outfitters (a social media-based jewellery reseller that focused on the millennial market) that Ivory Ella was born. Ivory Ella founders saw this overwhelming support and love for elephants, and people loved those products — whether it was a ring or a necklace with an elephant on it. And they would see these viral posts about elephants. Right around the same time, HBO released a documentary called ‘An Apology To Elephants’ that really resonated with their audience. So it was kind of like this lightning in a bottle, this perfect storm brewing.
The Ivory Ella creators wanted to develop their own brand. And now that they had a theme, they wanted to build around — the elephant. They did some more research, and spoke with the people behind Save the Elephants (the charity), and it all really clicked — that this would be an incredible cause to support, and to tie the new "Ivory Ella" brand to.
So they made a commitment to Save the Elephants and they started putting the works together — designing the logo, building the back-end systems and so on. Then they printed about 500 shirts, and they thought, “If we sell these in a month, that would be great. If we sell them in a week, that will be life changing.”
They actually sold out in about 17 minutes.
They were completely blown away. "I remember it was 12:20 at night, we had just launched, sold out, and I got on a five-way call with my other partners. We were saying things like, “What do we do?” “No idea, this is amazing, this is crazy.” We decided to put our t-shirts on pre-order, and we just sold as many as we could.
I was in my second year at Temple University at the time. And within two weeks, I had made the very tough decision to leave school, move to Connecticut (where operations were being run from) and focus on this full time. (Allen has since graduated from Temple.)"
That approach gave them, the freedom to grow without any outside capital. They each invested a few thousand dollars into this business at the outset — to build the framework and make the first 500 shirts. By putting sales on pre-order after that initial outlay, they had the capital upfront to fulfill orders, and they used that model to keep growing from there.
There are a number of things that make Ivory Ella unique.
This is really important to millennials right now. If they are going to buy a $30 shirt, they want it to mean something.
First, they are entirely social media-driven — they have been able to build this unbelievable following on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. And that lets us be quite dynamic with their business. They can identify trends or communicate with customers really quickly — and that has enabled Ivory Ella to really develop in this fast fashion space. For example, they identified a really hot trend on social media — PopSockets. So they quickly reached out to the Ivory Ella customers to see if it was something they would like. They had a great response, and within 10 days they had their own custom Ivory Ella PopSocket. Ivory Ella were infact the first branded partner PopSocket ever had, and we were able to capitalise on that fast fashion approach.
Another differentiator is that there is a big charitable component to their business. Ivory Ella re so proud to give 10 percent of all of their profits to Save the Elephants and other charity organizations. This is really important to millennials right now. If they are going to buy a $30 shirt, they want it to mean something. They want to wear clothes from companies that are focused on the greater good. Because it makes them feel happy and vibrant. And they don’t want to be a run-of-the-mill t-shirt company — they want to stand for something bigger. And Ivory Ella are ethical! They partner with vendors to achieve outstanding quality for Ivory Ella products. They source vendors that operate under efficient, safe and ethical practices that comply with global compliance standards.