Two UC San Diego Alumnus Make It Big with Ugly Christmas Sweaters

You should never have trouble finding an ugly Christmas sweaters again thanks to Tipsy Elves, a startup by two UC San Diego alumni. Nicklaus Morton, Muir ’05, and Even Mendelsohn, Revelle ’06, believe the ugly Christmas sweater is here to stay and have created a business around the concept.

Morton and Mendelsohn hatched upon the idea for Tipsy Elves in 2011 when they couldn’t find any ugly Christmas sweaters at their local thrift stores. “Both of us had been invited to several ugly Christmas sweater parties, but had trouble finding a sweater to wear,” Morton said in a recent article in the UCSD News. And so they set out to fill the gap in inventory.

In the first year of Tipsy Elves, they sold 5,000 sweaters with just 12 unique designs. But that was just the start. Realizing they were on to something, Morton left his job as an endodontist and Mendelsohn left his job as a lawyer to run the company full time. But it wasn’t until 2013 when things really took off.

Thanks to a 2013 appearance on ABC’s Shark Tank, Tipsy Elves received an investment from venture capitalist Robert Herjavec when became a business partner and friend. Before the show, Tipsy Elves had about $750,000 in sales. Today, they are projecting more than $10 million.

Morton and Mendelsohn are also dedicated to charity. “Our designs and charity program are two of the most unique aspects of our business,” Mendelsohn told the UCSD News. Through the Sweaters 4 Sweaters program, a portion of every sale is used to manufacture fleece hoodies for children in need.

As for how their alma mater helped create Tipsy Elves, they both feel it played a significant role. “Both Evan and I feel like we gained valuable experiences and connections from going to UC San Diego; it set us on the right path for the rest of our lives,” Morton said.


About the Author

Kelly Vo    

Kelly Vo is a writer who specializes in covering MBA programs, digital marketing, and personal development.

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