Alexander Mendeluk always saw himself being in the spotlight, but as an actor, not as an entrepreneur. As the child of a Hollywood movie director, Alexander grew up on television and movie sets. “That whole world helped me explore my imagination.” That imagination fueled his passion and interest in storytelling, which led him into acting.
After graduating from film school he moved to Los Angeles and became a professional actor (Alexander Mendeluk’s IMDB page). His breakout role was soon to come, but it wouldn’t be on a movie set. “Out of nowhere, literally, came SpiritHoods.” SpiritHoods are faux fur animal inspired hoods, “embracing the inner animal inside that we all have.” The company started with accessories, and is now moving into apparel as well.
After a couple of years of working as a professional actor and an entrepreneur at the same time, Alexander was faced with a tough decision. “You’ve got to make a choice. You can be a jack of all trades and a master of none, and that’s not really what I was interested in doing.” So why choose being an entrepreneur over being a Hollywood actor? “As SpiritHoods matured and I matured, I realized that there was more opportunity and a better route as an entrepreneur than an actor. It came down to being able to control your own destiny. You have a lot more control with your world as an entrepreneur than you do as an actor.” It was a great choice.
Two years after their launch, SpiritHoods started to become a celebrity of its own. The product has become a symbol of music and festival culture and appeared in countless magazines and on the heads of many celebrities. Celebrities spotted wearing a SpiritHood include Venessa Hudgens, Pink, Snoop Dogg, Jon Hamm, Kesha, Justin Bieber, and Conan O’brien. The publicity and praise the company received in the media helped SpiritHoods achieve a celebrity-like status. The company even made an appearance on ABC’s Shark Tank, where they turned down an offer from Daymond John.
A sharp rise in demand and popularity doesn’t always translate to sustained success. In response to avoiding becoming a fading fad, Alexander replied, “Most trends that come and go, go pretty quick.” SpiritHoods is now in their 5th year after seeing an initial explosion in demand and exposure for their brand.
What separates SpiritHoods from the numerous fashion trends and fads that have quickly disappeared?
“What has kept us alive is our community.” The brand built behind the fashionable hoods is stronger than any fad. SpiritHoods has been able to build a strong community with their partnerships, giving back, innovating, and telling and sharing stories. The company donates 10% of net profits to 5 nonprofit organizations that helps endangered animals. They have also been awarded the PETA Libby award for the best cruelty-free accessory. The hoods have brought music fans together, given hope and pride to customers, raised awareness for endangered species, and given back to many of the animals that were the inspiration for their products. SpiritHoods makes an nearly impossible not to route for them.
Would you rather be the superhero lead in a blockbuster movie or build SpiritHoods to have an evaluation of $250 million?
“$250 Million hands down, woooo!”
What about at $50 million? “I’d choose the $50 million. When you’re an actor, you’re a cog in the wheel.” Alexander explains that with SpiritHoods he has the ability create a change in the world that would not occur with being a superhero in a blockbuster film.
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– Career/life goal: “I wanted to get to a position where I could influence positive change. I thought I could do that through acting, but you can do the same thing with your company, if not more.”
– Advice on thriving in a partnership.
– “We’re currently in an entrepreneurial renaissance. The Barriers to entry have never been lower. The ability to influence the masses has never been easier and the tools that are available for us to create are endless. Right now is the best time, the best ecosystem in our history to begin.”
– How SpiritHoods have helped create long lasting memories for many fans.
– “If you are going to get in a partnership, make sure that your roles are clearly defined from the beginning.”
– “If you believe in an idea, just run with it.”
– “Entrepreneurship can give you the freedom to do whatever you want.” “You can create the world as you want it.”
– What’s next for spirit hoods? A fall line of faux fur jackets. They are also working on wearable tech including LED lights and a super-secret line extension that will be released in 2015.
How many hours a week do you spend on SpiritHoods? “Maybe 27 technical, 9-5 hours, but always on call. We used to do a lot of in-office work. Right now we have custom-tailored the business to more of a remote type of operation, which allows us the freedom to be on the go. SpiritHoods is always a phone call away.”
How much sleep do you get a night? 8 Hours.
What is the weirdest idea you’ve ever received for a SpiritHood? “We’ve got a list of SpiritHoods that goes on for days. Fish, crocodile, pink monkeys, zebra wombat squirrels, hybrid animals that you couldn’t even think of, glow in the dark animals, you name it. The weirdest hood we just created was a lemur.”
If you could add one entrepreneur or entertainer in the world to SpiritHoods, who would it be and why? “I’d bring Richard Branson on for sure. That man is the epitome of visionary in my opinion. He’s putting people in space, and I think that’s pretty cool. Maybe we could have SpiritHoods in space.”
If you could star in a movie opposite one Hollywood actor, who would it be and why? “Maybe Brad Pitt. He’s always been copying my style. It would be cool to finally get on screen together and rock it out.”
Who would be the director of the film if it couldn’t be your dad? “I’d direct it!”
*Alexander Mendeluk is a member of the YEC and is also launching The Disruptive. Thank you to the Young Entrepreneurs’ Council for the introduction to Alexander.