Tipsy Elves (the online retailer of ugly Christmas sweaters with a humorous twist) not only gained national media attention when it was featured on ABC-TV’s Shark Tank in 2013 but a financial infusion from Shark investor Robert Herjavec. Founded in San Diego in 2011 by lawyer Evan Mendelsohn and dentist Nick Morton, Tipsy Elves espouses a simple mission statement: “We make the world’s most outrageous apparel to make your life more fun.”
Following the successful Shark Tank deal, Tipsy Elves has expanded its “fun” approach into more than twenty clothing categories, including Hawaiian shirts and swim trunks, ski suits, patriotic clothing, Pride (LGBT) gear, and Halloween costumes.
The company also has opened four Tipsy Elves’ pop-up stores across the country—including San Diego, Denver, Dallas and New York – and is soon to open an additional seasonal store in Santa Clara, California.
Nonstop Signs, Inc., of Los Angeles, a division of San Diego-based 858 Graphics and an industry leading graphic design, print and sign business, began working with Tipsy Elves in 2015 to create pop-up store signage and graphics.
When Tipsy Elves had the opportunity this summer to move to a superior location featuring an exterior entrance at the Westfield UTC mall in San Diego, Nonstop Signs turned to Dibond® aluminum composite material by 3A Composites USA to create affordable exterior signage that could weather the elements.
Not only would this Tipsy Elves’ retail location do business longer than previous seasonal pop-up stores—with an opening in August 2018—it would be filmed for a Shark Tank success story episode.
Tipsy Elves’ design team developed multiple concepts for store signage, according to Cole Canedy, chief operating officer, 858 Graphics.
“They needed everything from interior wall graphics to basic interior signage and exterior lettering,” said Canedy. “Dibond was perfect for the exterior of the store due to its economic pricing in comparison to channel lettering as well as its ability to withstand weather and to create nice dimensional signage.”
(Dibond is an aluminum composite material consisting of two pre-painted sheets of 0.012-inch aluminum bonded to a solid polyethylene core—a unique composition that makes it approximately one-half the weight of aluminum. As the flattest panel on the market, Dibond offers a superior surface for direct digital printing; it also can be routed and returned to add dimension or roll-formed to deliver sweeping curves. Dibond offers outstanding durability in outdoor applications and won’t bow or oil can.)
Nonstop Signs utilized 3mm black Dibond 4-by-8 foot sheets to fabricate a two-layered Tipsy Elves exterior sign, which was cut with a CNC router. Black Dibond panels forming the base layer were seamed together to create the 14-foot-wide-by 27-inch-tall sign.
An Océ Arizona 460 GT flatbed printer was used to direct print Tipsy Elves’ lettering in both white and colored UV inks on black Dibond. The CNC-routed cutout lettering was adhered to the black background Dibond layer with 3M 4919F VHB self-adhesive tape. The finished sign was installed directly above the store’s exterior entryway with concrete screws.
“The Dibond printed wonderfully,” said Canedy. “We print a lot of white ink on Dibond. The contrast between the black Dibond and the ink is very cool. The Dibond looks satin while the ink is more matte.”
Nonstop Signs also turned to 3A Composites’ graphic display boards to create additional store signage for Tipsy Elves.
Sintra® PVC board by 3A Composites USA was selected to direct print a smaller non-dimensional version of the exterior sign for interior installation. Sintra in the Bright White color and 3mm thickness was direct printed and CNC routed to create the 6-foot-wide-by-2-foot-tall sign for wall installation with 3M 4919F VHB self-adhesive tape.
Additionally 3mm Bright White Sintra PVC board was selected for direct printing promotional 12-by-16-inch point-of-sale signs placed about the store as well as a 22-by-34-inch sign positioned in a metal frame at the store’s entrance. This Sintra sign extends above the metal frame to display Tipsy Elves’ logo, while smaller printed card stock is inserted on either side with changing promotional messages.
Fome-Cor®, the original foam-centered board by 3A Composites USA, was selected for direct printing a 9.5-foot-tall-by-28-inch-wide sign for installation above a kiosk that allows customers to search for additional styles and sizes available from Tipsy Elves’ online store. Bright White Fome-Cor board with clay-coated paper liners in the 3/16-inch thickness was direct printed in three sections with a seasonal holiday green background and white lettering and graphics. The sign sections were abutted one above the other and adhered to a wooden frame with adhesive.
Additionally Bright White Fome-Cor board in the 1/2-inch thickness was utilized to direct print a non-dimensional Tipsy Elves’ logo sign with CNC-routed lettering. The 6-foot-wide-by-2-foot-tall sign was positioned on a wall near the store’s ball pit play area. “Both the Sintra and Fome-Cor boards are very easy to print,” said Canedy. “We never have problems with these materials.”
Nonstop Signs purchases its 3A Composites’ graphic display boards from the San Diego branch of distributor Piedmont Plastics.
Nonstop Signs completed the retail location’s signage and graphics program by printing self-adhesive vinyl graphics for installation on storefront windows and Tipsy Elves’ mission statement for an interior wall.
“Tipsy Elves loved all of the signs and graphics,” said Canedy. “They were super-excited about the Shark Tank filming and being able to represent their brand so well. I loved using 3A Composites’ materials. They were easy to utilize and they last longer than many other substrates.”
The Tipsy Elves San Diego pop-up store is generating a great deal of attention, according to Canedy, who said the company has ordered additional signs for more locations.
“I am happy to see the publicity that our work with Tipsy Elves is getting,” said Canedy. “It’s great to see the growth our company has achieved.”