How Lovesac continues growth after a pandemic boom

Retail Gets Real episode 289: Lovesac founder and CEO Shawn Nelson on building a sustainable business

Lovesac’s founder and CEO Shawn Nelson doesn’t mind seeing his washable, changeable upholstered seating products resold on the internet.

Shawn Nelson, Founder and CEO of Lovesac
Shawn Nelson, founder and CEO of Lovesac

“I’m very happy to see them sometimes on eBay or Craigslist or whatever, because it shows how long our products last,” Nelson says on this week’s episode of Retail Gets Real. “There’s value in them selling at almost full price sometimes because our stuff is really, really good. It’s built to last a lifetime, designed to evolve.”

Indeed, the company’s “Designed for Life” philosophy emphasizes sustainable products that do not end up discarded in landfills. “The way that we design things is very different and it doesn’t follow this whole cyclical nature,” he says. “The real sustainability comes from a product that can sustain.”

Many home goods and furniture retailers saw a boom during the pandemic, but that has since slowed. But Lovesac continues to grow. Nelson says Lovesac now reports more than half a billion dollars in annual sales, with a four-year compound annual growth rate of 48%.

Nelson created the original “Lovesac” in the basement of his parents’ Utah home when he was just out of high school. “This was honestly a side hustle,” he says. “This was just this thing that just wouldn’t let me go, everyone wants another one. I was reluctantly following it because it just wouldn’t quit.”

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Nearly 25 years later, Lovesac is a public company with a unique sales model that pairs ecommerce sales with low-pressure physical showrooms. “We pivoted to a direct consumer model where we don’t sell anything in our showrooms. We don’t even call them stores. We don’t carry inventory. These are, as we view them, showrooms for the Internet and everything ships to you essentially like a web sale,” Nelson says. “You could sit in there and buy this thing on your phone while in our showroom, we don’t care. We’ve created a whole system that encourages that.”

Listen to the full podcast to hear more about Nelson’s entrepreneurial journey from college student to CEO, the company’s ups and downs over its 25-year-history (including an investment by Richard Branson and bankruptcy a year later) and how Lovesac weathered the pandemic with sustained momentum.

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