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David Allan Pivots from Acorn Hours to Tagless Style

4 min read

David Allan, who founded Little Rock startup Acorn Hours and guided it through the 2014 fall installment of the ARK Challenge startup accelerator, has pivoted.

Allan is the new CEO of Tagless Style, another Little Rock startup that participated in the ARK this fall.

The pivot was a small one in that Allan had collaborated with Tagless co-founders David Hudson and Gabe Couch over the course of the ARK‘s three-month run. His work with Acorn Hours amounted to an audition, and the Tagless guys were impressed.

“We got to watch him work on Acorn at the ARK, and that’s what sold me,” Hudson said.

Acorn Hours is a service that tracks and verifies students’ community service hours for schools and nonprofits, and it will continue to serve existing clients with Allan in a part-time role. Tagless Style partners online shoppers with personal stylists who hook them up with name brand clothes from Goodwill and ultimately other charitable organizations.

The arrangement with Goodwill satisfies the Tagless mission of doing social good through “textile conservation” and supporting organizations that serve people in need.

Hudson and Couch launched Tagless through Little Rock creative agency Few, which Hudson co-founded with Arlton Lowry and for which Couch is a designer. The Few crew is developing a portfolio of tech-based startups that includes Grades.io and WriteGov.

In addition, Few is responsible for the up-and-coming national tech conference Made by Few and its companion Designed by Few competition.

While competing at the ARK, Tagless officially launched its service in October strictly through word-of-mouth and within a month had 60 customers signed up. Hudson realized he needed to bring someone in to run the Tagless operation so he could devote time to Few and its ancillary projects.

Hudson said Few does client work to fund its startups and wants to eventually produce two or three ventures a year. But Tagless, he realized, needed a full time hand.

“I was being pulled in too many directions,” Hudson said.

The day after pitching their startups  at the ARK‘s fall Demo Day, Hudson offered Allan the Tagless job.

“David said they needed someone with skills they thought I had — the ability to manage and help create a vision,” Allan said. “It wasn’t automatic — I said I’d think about it and called him back over the weekend — but the chance to work with the Few guys was a thrill.”

Allan said the ARK‘s “family atmosphere” promoted collaboration, and though he didn’t realize it at the time, afforded him the opportunity to give Hudson and Couch a test run.

“I had seen some of Few’s design work and through the ARK could see what it was like to actually work with them,” he said. “We got to test each other out.”

Allan will continue to work with Acorn Hours on the side and hopes to one day fill out that team with the right pieces, he said. But for now, it’s full steam ahead developing the Tagless Style brand.

Goodwill donated 5,000-SF of space in its Little Rock distribution center to Tagless, from which two Tagless employees sort through donated clothes, wash and press them and put together individual boxes for customers that are currently available through a monthly subscription service. Tagless is focusing on men’s clothing for now, but plans to branch out to women’s and children’s clothing, housewares such as TVs and even collectibles such as comic books.

Hudson said Tagless could work with Goodwill to help sell anything that organization takes in.

Tagless pays Goodwill normal price for each item of clothing that it would otherwise sell in its retail outlets. The cost for the Tagless monthly subscription service is $10 a month which includes consultation with a personal stylist, washing and pressing of all clothes and upscale presentation in a box that is mailed free of charge.

Customers typically will pay around $20 for a name brand shirt through Tagless and maybe $30 for a nice pair of pants, Allan said. Customers pay only for what they keep and can return anything they don’t want free of charge.

Hudson said a typical shopper would be surprised at what they can find in the Goodwill store including many upscale, name brands.

Meanwhile, Tagless continues to build up its clothing inventory at Goodwill.

“By early to mid-January, we’ll really be flowing,” Hudson said. “By then, the inventory will be where it really needs to be.”

The subscription model could change, Hudson said.

“That’s part of the exploration of this,” he said. “It could be monthly, quarterly, when you need it. We’re still figuring out the model.”

Aside from its participation in the ARK and subsequent media coverage that went along with it, Tagless has operated strictly word-of-mouth. Expect that to change in 2015.

“I’ll be curious to see what will happen when we actually start marketing,” Hudson said.

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