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The clothing company got its start in Groton and recently launched a retail store in Mystic.
An accomplished team of entrepreneurs has brought its booming business back home to Groton! Ivory Ella is an online apparel company that was launched with a greater mission in mind than simply earning profits. More than anything else, the founders had a desire to give back. They set their sights on a global issue: helping to save elephants.
Ivory Ella kicked off in 2015. Co-founder Matthew Fiano, who grew up in this region, explained that he and his teammates were inspired by the growing awareness and national discourse surrounding elephants at the time.
“News of large populations of African elephants being killed due to poaching for their ivory had increased in the media. We learned that between 2010 and 2012, more than 100,000 elephants were poached, which is devastating and unnecessary. And around the same time, the Ringling Bros. Circus was facing pressure to stop using elephants as performers. It seemed like a smart time to build something around the elephant.”
Fiano explained that the Ivory Ella team actually met online. He said they all had prior experience with social media marketing. Prior to Ivory Ella, the founders had started a women’s bohemian clothing line, and noticed that items with elephant logos tended to sell well. They took that combined expertise and ran with it.
Ivory Ella Started in Groton
Ivory Ella launched online on April 18, 2015 in Fiano’s basement. The business started with a single T-shirt bearing an original elephant design. More than 500 of the shirts sold in just 15 minutes. Within a week, the newly formed company had sold more than 7,000 items. They were booming with new orders and requests for additional merchandise.
The team moved to a warehouse in Mystic to package and ship out its merchandise. But by August of 2016, Ivory Ella needed much more space. The founders moved its base to a 65,000 square foot warehouse in Westerly, Rhode Island.
In addition to its online presence, Ivory Ella clothing and bedding is now sold in more than 140 retail stores nationwide. By year’s end, they hope to double that number.
Back Home to Mystic
When the Ivory Ella team decided it was time to open a retail store, they had only one location in mind: back home in Mystic. The flagship store at 40 West Main Street had its grand opening in June of 2018.
Fiano describes the support from the community as overwhelming and humbling. “I’ve lived around here my whole life. The people here really make an effort to rally around good causes. And the business community is awesome; everyone works to support each other.
"There has also been a ton of interest here in the community about our mission to save elephants. They want to see Ivory Ella succeed.”
Fiano also praised Groton area officials for making it easy for Ivory Ella to open a brick-and-mortar store. “The chamber was super accessible and willing to help. It was great that we could get started and open a store without any major difficulties.”
A Mission to Give Back
Ivory Ella made a commitment to donate 10 percent of all its profits to elephant conservation and other charitable causes. To date, the company has given more than $1 million to Save the Elephants, a research and conservation organization based in Nairobi. The group is working to stop poaching and preserve elephant habitats.
Ivory Ella has also used its profits to benefit causes closer to home. More than $600,000 has been donated to various local charities including Homes For Our Troops, the American Heart Association, and Operation Warm.