Lovesac was founded in 1995 when teenager Shawny D. Nelson set out to build the world’s largest beanbag but ended up filling it with shredded foam instead. Lovesac has evolved into an international retailer of alternative furniture, making washable, changeable,comfortable and durable furniture for TV rooms - we call it furniture for real life. The “Sacs” that made Lovesac famous, put simply, are massively oversized bean bags filled with chopped Durafoam instead of styrene beads, and come with a two-lifetime guarantee. Durafoam is recycled from new sofa foam tailings, and is far more comfortable and resilient than bean bag beans — more like a gigantic pillow than a stiff bean bag. Lovesac’s radical invention, Sactionals, is a cross between upholstery and Legos™. Featuring lifetime guaranteed hardwood frames upholstered in foam and fabric, Sactionals consist of 2 simple pieces, “Bases” and “Sides,” that can be combined in any quantity in any configuration imaginable to build any furniture desired — no tools necessary. Once connected, Sactionals are rock solid. Comfort, quality and style have made Lovesac the choice of celebrities, designers and real people everywhere when furnishing their media and family rooms. You can learn more about Lovesac at www.Lovesac.com.
Shawn David Nelson was just 18 years old when he had the bright idea to build the biggest beanbag in the world. He got off the sofa, drove down to the fabric store, purchased 14 yards of vinyl (on sale) and recruited his girlfriend’s mom to sew it up.That first Sac was seven feet across and took him three weeks to stuff it. He tried bean bag beads, but they made a mess, and were really not that soft. He then filled it with everything he could find, from packing peanuts to pillows, finally settling on to foam from those yellow camping mattresses that he chopped up on a paper cutter. Now all Shawn needed was a name for his Sac. Harnessing the retro spirit of the 1970's and combining it with the idea of a "bag", he gave birth to the name "Lovesac." Shawn couldn't resist taking his Sac everywhere. It was perfect at parties and dangerous at the drive-in movies. Word spread as fast as a juicy rumor in a small town, and soon neighbors and friends were desperate to get their hands on their own Sac. Alas, soon after, Shawn left Salt Lake City to go to Taiwan for 2 years and be missionary for his Church, becoming fluent in Mandarin Chinese, and forgetting entirely about his big Sac. Upon returning, he remembered that he had this “thing” under the deck out in the backyard. He dragged it out, dusted it off, and took it on dates at the drive-in movies once again…the response was overwhelming.
Inspiration renewed, Shawn sewed the first five Sacs on his mother's sewing machine. The machine gave up long before Shawn did. He continued to roll out the 10 yards of fabric needed for each Sac in his parents’ basement, cut it into figure-8 shapes, and hand deliver them to a neighborhood seamstress for sewing. Using labor supplied by close friends and young business partners, Shawn finally registered the name Lovesac as a Utah company October 31, 1998. While buying scrap foam from a local sofa factory, Shawn discovered that they had an old grain-grinder which they had converted to a foam shredder in their back room that had been out of use for decades. They soon agreed to let him use it to shred foam and stuff his Sacs, in return for disposing of their leftover sofa foam (plus they thought the Sac kids were kind of funny).
Lovesac first appeared at local home shows, boat shows, car shows, beer fests, Oktober fests, and events at Shawn's school festivals at the University of Utah. The Sacs finally caught the attention of a buyer at Red Bull and Lovesac had its first official order--Red Bull gave them Wings! Red Bull found that having Sacs at their various promotional tents and events would encourage people to hang around and drink more…the Sac had actually found a commercial purpose…but how to exploit it?
After finally completing the order Shawn had another thought. Perhaps they could sell Sacs as a promotional item for other companies? He had four more months of school to wrap up, but right before returning to his steady gig in Asia, and he heard about an ASI (Advertising Specialty Institute) tradeshow where other companies, like Red Bull, go looking for products like his to brand with their logos for promotional use—selling 50 Sacs at a time seemed way easier than selling them one at a time. Using one of many soon-to-be-maxed-out credit cards, he immediately flew to Chicago, bought a display booth, and shared a hotel room with his friends. He arrived without any experience and left without any sales. Remarkably, a couple weeks later, (April, 2001), Shawn received a phone call from a large retailer who wanted to order 12,000 little Lovesacs to sell through their stores during Christmas. Could Shawn do an order like this? "Of course," he told them, "Lovesac is the greatest not-a-beanbag company in the world." (They had no need to know that it was really just 3 un-paid college buddies in a basement making it happen).
The new client wanted their Sacs covered in a sparkly, fuzzy, purple fabric. Shawn wasn't sure how or where to find it, but once again the heavens smiled upon him. Someone told him about a fabric show taking place that week in High Point, North Carolina, and he found himself flying across country to another tradeshow. It was a bad case of deja vu as Shawn walked around the last day with nothing to show for his visit. As the vendors started packing up their booths a fabric swatch caught his eye; it was the exact fabric he was looking for.
Shawn asked the vendor his price and realized it was twice what he could afford to pay. As the vendor reinforced the fact that this fabric was a direct import from Asia, and could not be gotten any cheaper, Shawn noticed a box containing the fuzzy purple fabric sample. On the side was the supplier's address...printed in Chinese--the coincidence was just too obvious. Shawn was fluent in the language, and before you could say, "There's no such thing as luck," he was on his way to his second home, Shanghai, China.
The supplier needed money for production. Shawn surely didn't have it, and neither did anyone involved with Lovesac. He called the retailer and demanded a deposit of $60,000, just enough to pay for the fabric, cutting, and sewing in China. The client insisted that they never give deposits, yet Shawn insisted that, “ Lovesac always requires deposits—we are, after all, the greatest not-a-damn-beanbag company in the world.” Shawn's confidence must have been catchy, for he somehow convinced the client to wire him the money, which he then wired to China. He was 23 years old and had just spent $60,000 of one of the world's largest retailer's money. Production was underway and Shawn was committed.
The next challenge they faced was how to shred enough foam to make 12,000 Sacs. Shredding it by hand was less than appealing and the old grain-grinder was clearly not up to the task—someone had already lost part of their thumb to the cause. Lovesac needed something with more power, but what? After visiting the farm country of Utah, looking for more of these small shredders, Shawn was shown a huge shredding machine called a Haybuster. Known for its ability to shred 2000 pound hay bales, it seemed a sensible solution to the problem. The Lovesac crew secured a loan backed by the Department of Agriculture for the “farm” equipment, bought a full-size tractor to hook up to it and power it, and set out to find a warehouse to set up shop.
The first Lovesac warehouse was truly a piece of work. Paid for with a cash advance from one of Shawn's recently acquired credit cards, not only did it have the required leaky roof, the floor was so old the forklift fell right through it. For better or worse, it was Lovesac's first factory and was going to be home for the next few months. The first matter of business was the Haybuster. It could shred hay bales but was no match for foam. When the foam wasn't flying out of the Haybuster, it was jamming the blades. A makeshift lid was built, and a certain expertise was developed in loading foam into it with the forklift. Once it was successfully shredding foam everyone breathed a collective sigh of relief--and inhaled some serious tractor fumes. Lovesac began manufacturing the first of 12,000 Oversized Sacs on September 1, 2001.
The first day's goal was to complete 500 Lovesacs. After an eight hour shift, the group had completed a pathetic 30 pieces. With only a few weeks until the deadline Lovesac hired temporary laborers and instituted double shifts. Shawn and his friends worked right alongside the crew, sacking out at the factory between shifts. The struggle, sweat, and blood paid off. 25,000 pounds of furniture foam later, after countless cold mornings, and gallons of burnt tractor fuel, Lovesac completed the order on time.
At one point during production the largest foam warehouse in the country burned to the ground. The price of foam doubled. September 11th happened and the price of trucking doubled. Combined with the cost of labor, the warehouse, and the equipment, Lovesac barely broke even on the order. The company found itself clientless and penniless. Shawn was 24 years old, beaten, broken, and tired, not to mention $55,000 in credit card debt from building the factory. Plan B? Approach furniture retailers and see if they would carry the company's product. It's been said that Shawn can still hear the laughter--not one retailer took their Sacs seriously.
Plan C came from Shawn's cousin Tres: "Let's open retail stores." Lovesac approached The Gateway Mall in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. It was in close proximity to the factory and promised to be an upscale shopping center. Mall management flatly turned the company down. A high-end mall was no place for an over-sized beanbag. Ironically, when they were desperate to fill some empty retail space for the upcoming 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, The Gateway reluctantly offered Lovesac a three-month temporary lease. The store opened November 17, 2001 with the goal of selling one SuperSac a day. If they did so, Shawn and his cousin Tres could pay the rent and even pay themselves $5 an hour....this would mark Shawn's first real paycheck from Lovesac in three years.
As it turned out, one Supersac a day was a terribly undersized goal. Customers lined up outside the door and waited for the factory to deliver their Sacs. Franchising offers came in from around the country. By Christmas Eve the store was devoid of all Sacs, accessories, and even Lovesac apparel. Making people's lives more comfortable had never felt so good. Shawn, Dave & Tres took the cash out of the till and ran off to California to open more Lovesac stores and even began franchising stores to enthusiastic fans.
In 2005 Lovesac's entrepreneurial founder, Shawn David Nelson, gained national notoriety by being chosen from 50,000 applicants to compete on Fox Network’s 2005 reality TV hit, The Rebel Billionaire, starring Richard Branson. Branson was looking for a “Billionaire in the rough.” 11 episodes and 16 contestants later, Shawn won $1,000,000 on national TV and was made President of Virgin Worldwide for a short stint.
After consolidating, reorganizing, and relocating to Stamford, Connecticut, in 2006, Lovesac has since opened dozens of stores across the US, closed a few along the way through various reorganizations and strategic shifts, and has about 50 retail locations open today. All of them are company-owned stores, having ceased franchising operations by 2008. Moving to the east coast was a big step for Shawn and an even bigger step for Lovesac. Shawn continues today on as Chairman and works day-to-day inside as Chief Design Officer. He met his new business partners, the now CEO, Nancy Shalek, and CFO, Ryan Johnson, and together they have built out an entirely new and sophisticated management team. From Lovesac HQ to the hundreds of Sac’rs on the front lines, Lovesac maintains that in spite of Lovesac’s various patents and resources, its greatest asset is its people, and its friends (customers).
Lovesac has a strange underground following, having been featured on sets of numerous TV shows, in celebrity homes, and in movies. Amazingly, having never used traditional advertising, it has grown by the merits of its products and brand, focused on delivering the ultimate in practical and comfy “furniture for real life.” From the Lovesac Bus to Lovesac Movie Theaters located in Texas, California and Korea—this ain’t your grandmother’s sofa company.
Lovesac is not just another furniture retailer, or brand of bland designs. Each core Lovesac product is a legitimate furniture invention, with patents to prove it. The “Sacs” that made Lovesac famous, put simply, are massively oversized bean bags filled with chopped Durafoam instead of styrene beads, and comes with a two-lifetime guarantee never to go flat, or break. The Durafoam is recycled from new sofa foam tailings, and is far more comfortable and resilient than bean bag beans—more like a gigantic pillow, than a stiff bean bag.
Lovesac's latest invention, the Sactionals, is a cross between upholstery and Legos. With lifetime guaranteed wood frames upholstered in foam and fabric, Sactionals consist of 2 simple pieces, “Bases” and “Sides,” that can be combined in any quantity in any configuration imaginable to build any furniture desired—no tools necessary. Chairs, sofas, chaises, ottomans, and of course, limitless sectionals are possible using only these two pieces. Sactionals pieces' patented dimensional relationship allow for this uncanny and limitless modularity, where, even in strange configurations, like the “Twister,” the “Play Pen,” or the “Guest Rest,” all of the pieces line up perfectly, and snap together with ease using the simple, patented hardware included. Once connected they are rock solid. Sactionals inventor, Shawn, believes that Sactionals will become, “The practical, ‘default' furniture for the American TV room.” “It just makes so much sense in so many ways.” he says about the washable, changeable, modular nature of this superbly comfortable furniture.
The best part about Sactionals is not just their amazing modularity, but the fact that they have totally machine-washable, changeable covers. These covers are tailor-fit, fastening underneath the pieces, allowing them to be invisibly removable, for a smooth, upholstered look—unlike cheap slip-cover sofas. Sactionals are reasonably priced. A Sactionals sofa (two Bases with four Sides—where Sides act as the back pieces also, and Bases include the seat and back cushions) retails for as little as $1,400 in Khaki. With any one of the wide array of designer covers added, furniture shoppers may choose to pay $2,500+ for the same sofa. Covers come ready to take home in many fabrics, from micro-fiber to cotton twill, with hundreds of other fabric choices available in just a few weeks by custom order. Lovesac, like its products, is a one of a kind company—destined to become a truly legendary brand someday.