When I was young my father used to say, “It’s a risk not to take a risk. Even when you fail you can learn valuable lessons that will help you get it right the next time.” Shawn Nelson is the founder and CEO of Lovesac Inc. and his track record shows that he’s definitely not afraid to take risks. Amazingly he got it right the first time as a young entrepreneur and he’s been climbing higher ever since.
His unusual story begins in college making foam filled sacs for his college buddies. He began to see the commercial potential of these sacs and opened a back room of his house to begin production. For a couple years Shawn was able to parlay enough orders so that the business could pay for itself. But reality was sinking in and he began contemplating closing shop and finding a salaried job. Right around that time he heard of a big business show in Chicago and decided to give his company one last shot. He and his friends went out there to set up a big booth and were ready to do business. But after 3 days of showing his sporty array of sacs he came home with no orders.
Not long after this big disappointment, he was in his little shop stuffing a sac and he got a call that changed his life. It was from The Limited 2, a major chanin that sells clothing and apparel for little girls. Right then, they put in an order for 12,000 sacs which put Shawn’s life in over drive for the next 5 months. Right then he went to a trade show to buy some fabric but discovered that it was too costly to buy in the States. Looking at one of the boxes in a vendor’s booth he saw the address of a Chinese manufacturer written in Chinese. Deciphering it wasn’t a problem for Shawn because he could read Chinese.
Shawn’s big adventure began when he flew over to China to deal with the manufacturer directly. Inside the factory Shawn met with the owners and talked with them in English, which worked in his favor. Because they would talk freely amongst themselves in Chinese, Shawn would know when they were telling the truth. On the third day of negotiations, he was able to talk them down to a reasonable price. But before he left he found out that they wanted to be paid up front. So he called The Limited 2 from his hotel room in China and asked to be paid $60,000 of the $250,000 balance. They first scoffed but then relented. After receiving the wired money, Shawn came back to the US and began the next phase of fulfilling this huge order.