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Elephants, bees, and other wild partnerships that make a difference: Q&A with Ivory Ella

Ivory Ella is a brand founded to save elephants by sharing profits with Save the Elephants. They now support other causes too, work with influencers, and run the Club Ella program. Despite the pandemic, they continue to expand and plan to launch collections for marine conservation and pollinators.

Partnerships that make a difference
Cristy Garcia
Cristy Garcia
Chief Marketing Officer
Read time: 6 mins

Beautiful, intelligent, emotional, and social, elephants are to humans one of the most fascinating and relatable creatures on the planet. Their numbers are also being devastated by poaching and habitat destruction. The founders of Ivory Ella built their company around combating the threat. 

Ivory Ella is an apparel and accessories lifestyle brand founded in 2015. They launched with a mission to save elephants through direct profit sharing with Save the Elephants. That mission has expanded since then to encompass other wildlife and humanitarian causes, including pollinators. A portion of profits from the company’s Save the Bees collection is shared with Pollinator Partnership and helps raise awareness of threatened ecosystems.  

Impact’s VP of Marketing Crisy Garcia synched up with Ivory Ella cofounders Rich Henne and Ryan Duranso to learn more about the brand, their partnership goals, and their mission-driven business model. 

Cristy: Elephants are inextricably linked with your brand, so tell us about how you decided to branch out to support both the largest of wild creatures and one of the tiniest through your Save the Bees line?

Ivory Ella: It’s funny elephants and bees actually had a connection we discovered very early on in our partnership with Save the Elephants. Dr. Lucy King, a superstar in the conservation space, created a project called Elephants and Bees. Lucy uses the sounds created by bees to scare elephants and keep them away from crops grown by local communities. A huge focus for us is the betterment of human and elephant coexistence, and this is one of the key projects that has had tremendous success. Not only that — elephants and bees both serve as keystone species, meaning that should one disappear, the ecosystems they thrive in will be destroyed. 

Here’s the direct link to find out more:

Cristy: You actually support a fairly diverse array of causes, from wildfire recovery to the Austin Area Urban League to Hearts & Bones Rescue — what’s the common denominator? Any new charitable partnerships in the hopper?

Ivory Ella: First and foremost, we are a community-driven brand. We listen to the requests from our community to help some of the most vulnerable in the world and we act. With our print facilities, we are in a rare position to launch a campaign quickly and provide immediate relief to those that need it. 

Cristy: Now to the revenue side of your business: Tell us how partnerships fit into the Ivory Ella model. How big of a channel is it for the brand?

Ivory Ella: These collections represent a large portion of our sales. While that might be the case, it is important to remember that all of our products contribute to the donations we are able to make each year. So from that standpoint, the mission is what drives all the sales of the brand. When you shop at Ivory Ella, you are shopping for the story and the impact above all else. 

Cristy: What kinds of partners do you have in your network at the moment? Do you plan to expand them in any way?

Ivory Ella: We work with a variety of partners — from cashback/discount to content-driven affiliates. We would love to tap into Impact’s capabilities with our influencer partnerships in the future.

Cristy: Is there a type of partnership you would really like to grow or a specific type of partner that you’re always seeking?

Ivory Ella: Our ideal partner is one that will help us acquire new customers through engaging content, whether it be on social or via a blog. We are always looking for new ways to spread the positive message and mission of Ivory Ella.

Cristy: What role does the Impact platform play in your partnership program? Is there one aspect of the technology that is particularly valuable to you?

Ivory Ella: The most valuable aspect of Impact is the detailed reporting and analytics that the platform offers. We are able to isolate top-performers and build relationships with them specifically to increase our performance. Impact is a critical piece of our marketing strategy overall, driving 6-9% of our revenue.

Cristy: You’ve mentioned to me in the past how important partner content is to driving sales — influencer content as well as affiliate content. Can you tell us about some particular campaigns that were really successful? Are you able to repurpose partner content to other marketing channels?

Ivory Ella: Absolutely! We have seen the most success with this strategy on Tiktok. We have been very lucky to have so many of the Gen Z creators want to support our brand and mission. They have happily aligned with us to make short-form video content. With the current trends toward video in social, this content has been perfect to use on Tiktok, Instagram Reels, Snapchat, and more! 

Cristy: If you had the ear of your ideal potential referral partner right now, what would your pitch be for working with Ivory Ella? (Other than helping to save elephants, which anyone can get behind!)

Ivory Ella: We are always focused on aligning with current events in the world and developing products that can make a positive impact for them. We recently launched a “Texas Strong” tee, where we donated a portion of proceeds to the Austin Area Urban League. This gives our affiliate partners consistently new and interesting content to push to their audiences.

Cristy: In the Impact universe, there is a category of partnerships designated as “charitable,” in which a brand will partner with a nonprofit to share revenue and in exchange reach and gain awareness with new audiences. Barkbox is a great example of this. Is there a two-way aspect to any of your partnerships with nonprofit organizations?

Ivory Ella: We have always been closest with our friends at Save the Elephants. They have consistently supported our mission and have never been shy to share our message to their community. We are confident that both of us have received some of our most loyal community members by supporting each other’s missions and sharing each other’s stories with the world. 

Cristy: Club Ella seems like a great way to organically turn your shoppers into ambassadors for your brand. Can you tell us a bit about the program and the results it delivers?

Ivory Ella: Absolutely! Our customers gain reward points from purchases, referrals, or shares/engagements on social media. They can convert their points into savings on their next order. We generate around a half percent of our revenue from referrals and rewards through the program.

Cristy: I, of course, have to ask about your pandemic experience. How has this past year affected Ivory Ella, your people, and the causes you support?

Ivory Ella: It has been very difficult for everyone but especially our charitable partners. As you can probably imagine, when the world was going through such trying times, individuals didn’t have the extra income to spend on donations. Many of our partners saw their donations shrink by as much as 90%. It was a critical time for us to step up and bring the spotlight to them so we did not forget all the important work happening around the world even while we battled the pandemic. 

Cristy: Finally, what’s on the horizon for Ivory Ella? New products or campaigns we can “bee” looking for this summer?

Ivory Ella: We have a lot of new capsules coming, but we are extremely excited to launch our Save the Oceans collection later this summer where a portion of the proceeds will be going towards marine conservation and coral reef restoration. If you’re looking for something sooner, keep an eye out for Pollinator Week in June where we will be dropping many more designs to support our honey bee friends. 

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