Start Up King Shawn Nelson, Founder of LoveSac Shares Retail Tips

Ever since I developed the concept for sweet & charming mentors and competition judges have told me, “you really need to meet Shawn Nelson, the Founder of LoveSac, he’s global, he’s wired for retail, he’s got it figured out…”, but I didn’t know how to arrange that meeting until recently (a friend of a friend introduced me by email). I was thrilled yesterday to not only meet Shawn, but his adorable and talented wife (a concert pianist!), Tiffany, who is also an entrepreneur in retail, owns her own shoe boutique at The Gateway in SLC called Pears (isn’t that clever for a shoe store? Get it? Pairs of shoes? We’ll be featuring her soon and she’s agreed to be a guest blogger).

We met for lunch at Thaifoon, one of my favorites at The Gateway and talked about retail and creating a brand. Shawn made some excellent recommendations to me personally for sweet & charming.

The following are excellent tips by Shawn Nelson that I’ve learned that can apply to anyone building a brand or retail concept:

1. Don’t compromise your brand, if the concept will work best in a store, don’t start in a kiosk, consider a temporary lease and/or a small space. Even 600 sq feet is better than a kiosk.

2. If you are considering franchising your concept, and the thought makes you sick…don’t do it. However, there are upsides of franchising because you can grow faster and the franchise owners have skin in the game so they are more willing to make it succeed, more than employees.

3. Own your trademark, ASAP. Shawn talked about when they were initially being approached to franchise LoveSac and they didn’t own the mark, another company had owned the name for 22 years and he didn’t know what to do because “LoveSac’s name is “special”, there IS NO OTHER NAME.” So, for good measure he had his attorney check it again two weeks later and suddenly it was abandoned!! And he quickly filed for it and they were able to franchise with the name. Amazing timing. This story and other great experiences about Shawn’s start up experiences are available on the Business Jive podcast . (You can also hear him singing NY State of Mind by Billy Joel and Tiffany playing an impressive Rachmaninoff piece.)

4. “Be your Brand.” Shawn does this SO well. He is a talented stage performer, he used to sing/play professionally six nights a week in China! While he calls himself a “hack” compared to Tiffany (concert pianist), he is super talented and continues to perform with his band. No wonder that he won The Rebel Billionaire show he has charisma and style, and is very likeable. What is amazing is that while he can “be the Brand”, he can also “be CEO” and understands the fundamentals of business really well and that is why his company is global and has the “sticky factor” talked about in The Tipping Point book.

5. Have a Heart. Shawn has one, a big one. He reaches out to others (including me) and has a charity that he supports (MS) as well as recognizes where he came from, the people that have been there from the beginning, and is humble. He even has a photo of his grandpa on his website! Even though he’s considered “rebel Shawn” by the media and uses that title in his company, that’s just part of the image, part of the huge brand. He’s smart, methodical, down to earth, and doesn’t take himself too seriously.

6.”Just do anything,” he said in a news article. “This typically comes last, but in my book it’s first…Be what you will be, not what you are…embrace economic pressure…and finally, you must be willing to boldly recognize what you are and what you’re not.” Shawn embodies this concept…he is a proactive, get it done guy. He’s built a dream castle by thousands of LoveSacs…and never, never gives up! Sheer determination, hard work, and faith.

Shawn has a blog at right now he is running a contest for a description for the best answer of “alternative furniture.” You can check it out. Maybe you’ll win a messenger bag, just like Shawn’s.

It was a great time, thanks, Shawn and Tiffany for sharing your day with me and teaching me so much.


  1. wow. some really unique insight from shawn. thanks!

  2. Tony

    you had lunch with him to learn how to screw people over and file for bankruptcy? lol. 3.0 million in debt and they just closed their Gateway mall store

  1. 1 Paul Allen (the lesser) » Advice from Shawn Nelson

    […] Kelly Anderson blogged about her lunch visit with Shawn Nelson of LoveSac and his wife Tiffany who owns a shoe boutique at the Gateway in Salt Lake City. Shawn gave her advice about retail and brand building. […]

  2. 2 Shawn Nelson on Business Success and Failure « Newspapergrl

    […] Paul Allen blogged about my friend Kelly’s lunch with Love Sac founder Shawn Nelson. At first a lot of comments were attacking Shawn. Then several people defended him. Shawn himself made a great comment. As a blogger I love it when I blog about a person or company who comments on what I wrote about them. […]

  3. 3 Shawn Nelson: Business Successes and Failures - NewspaperGirl

    […] Allen blogged about my friend Kelly’s lunch with LoveSac founder Shawn Nelson. At first a lot of comments were attacking Shawn. Then several people defended him. Shawn himself […]

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