The Ellie/PV Body Experiment Revealed?

March 29, 2013 · 22 comments

A lot has happened since I first posted Ugh, Sorry Guys… PV Body Change. Marcus Greinke called me personally. I was invited to LA to see the offices and check out the new product. I discovered an article that suggested PV Body was a “throw away” company to test how expensive it was to acquire customers and see if people would sign up for a monthly service providing fitness clothing.

I was also the recipient of an unintentional reply all from Marcus that started with “Holy Shit, That’s the girl the spewed all that hate about us. Gotta be really careful with her.” Did I catch your interest? Since the video of my promoting PV Body was uploaded originally to YouTube, I decided to go all 20/20 and do my own research on what the heck was going on. Below, you will find a video that I’m truly proud of and think you’ll find interesting.

The fun stuff:

Ellie told me that it was not their intention to start their own line when they first debuted PV Body. A former employee told me otherwise in an anonymous email. I’m not sure who I believe and I encourage you to form your own opinion.

I emailed the author of the PandoDaily article. I asked him if Ellie was the plan all along and he responded, “I can’t answer that explicitly, because I don’t really know what the team planned behind closed doors.”

However, if you watch the video, the article suggests otherwise.

He added that, ”I think what you’re experiencing here is the cost of doing business with a startup. It’s also what makes it fun supporting new companies. Changes happen, problems happen. It’s to be expected. But it’s also why you were able to get a great deal on a few month’s worth of name brand items and now get access to a reasonably high quality new brand at low prices. Building a company and brand to compete with Lululemon, et al, is incredibly difficult. I don’t think the Ellie guys are trying to be deceitful or manipulative. They’re just trying to figure out a model that works. Don’t expect them to be perfect from day one.”

Would love you thoughts on this below.

And if you are curious why I felt the need to publish this video, the comment on the YouTube video below pretty much sums it up.

“I did sign up. You led me TIU and other things, so I thought why not? (They should be careful with you, you have a strong, smart, and loyal audience.) I got one shipment before I cancelled. None of the clothes were designers I heard of, but i loved the pants. But the shirt was WAY to small. I tried calling, emailing, following up daily for over a week. Never spoke to anyone. Finally I cancelled, BEFORE your announcement went out. I hate dealing with company’s where no one seems to work there.”

I am very picky about the brands that I feature and this relationship hurt me and my credibility. I don’t appreciate getting taken advantage of especially when it affects my reputation and brand.

Disclaimer: I was compensated by Ellie/PV Body for the referrals that I made in November. I was not compensated (obviously) to make this video. I am wearing their tank top is the video to show that they are not terrible to look at, I just do not know if the quality is up to standards yet based on only having washed them one or two times.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Brittany Kimmet March 29, 2013 at 11:33 am

Very interesting. I signed up when the “special” went around just before the new year. I didn’t end up getting my first shipment until about the end of January, and since the “change” had occured, I figured I’d get Ellie. I ended up getting the other brands (not a big deal), but the sizes were way off, I sent it back in and just got the return the other day. But again I got not Ellie branded clothes, which I found even more interesting.

I have skipped the months (budget reasons) so I haven’t received Ellie yet, so I can’t speak to the quality. But all the changes and lack of correspondence definitely makes me think twice about continuing. The start-up being in May definitely makes sense though with all that does take to design/revise/create such an extensive clothing line. I’m not a fan of the concept of starting a company to test the waters then acting like the change came because of feedback, when in reality it was planned all along.

I like honesty. Be honest with me, you’ll keep my service. Thanks for the video and all your research!

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2 Brittany Kimmet March 29, 2013 at 11:35 am

And I love all that you do and put out on your blog, thanks for being such a great inspiration in health and fitness!

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3 Katie @ HungryRunner March 29, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Impressive video and journalistic skills, Sara! I didn’t subscribe to PV Body or Ellie but I remember you publishing that post and I just wanted to say that I think it’s so awesome that you are so honest and transparent with all of your readers. It looks like you put a lot of effort into this video and into finding out the truth. Kudos!

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4 jennyv April 10, 2013 at 7:06 pm

Agreed!! ^^

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5 Natalie March 29, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Having been one of those people who e-mailed you in the beginning of all this feeling like I was screwed over by the customer service and the product, thank you!!!
I believe all along that the company intended to launch Ellie…no way that they could say “Oooh this might work better!” and re-launch so quickly.
Very deceptive and not cool, but thank you for showing us the background of what is really going on with this company!

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6 Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution March 29, 2013 at 1:45 pm

I signed up for PV Body. I used a special “20%” promotion that I got from a blog. I didn’t get my 20%, but was charged the full amount. I got the PV Body clothes, not the Ellie stuff, and I’ve postponed my shipment every month since. I want to keep my subscription at the current cost (the cost has gone up, but I’m apparently able to grandfather in the lower cost), but I’m not 100% sure I want to order yet. I like the way the clothes look, but I’m not 100% sure they are worth it. Waiting to get more feedback.

That said, I completely agree that this was their plan all along. How could it not be? Like you mentioned, it’s not possible to launch an entire clothing line in that short amount of time.

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7 JPPilates March 29, 2013 at 5:02 pm

This is actually one of my favorite videos you’ve done so far! So interesting. What a lot of work to dig all of that up, but SO HELPFUL to share the facts and let viewers come to their own conclusions. True journalism! I can’t get over that email. Wow. Wow. Wow.

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8 Pavement Runner March 29, 2013 at 7:55 pm

Very interesting. I have been on the outside looking in and keeping up to date with various blogs and your content in particular. We, as bloggers, need to be very careful when we talk and help share the love of a brand… it’s not cool at all when what we think is a good thing, turns out not to be.

I’m glad you decided to investigate and do research on your own. Kudos for putting all the information out there and letting everyone form their own opinion.

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9 kate March 29, 2013 at 8:20 pm

As someone who has worked with a lot of startups and YouTubers alike I will say this. This brand sounds shady. Marketing shouldn’t be doing QC. I worked for a brand once before that was very small and I was dismayed with their products I asked them if they had anyone doing QC and they didn’t. Marketing shouldn’t be doing that. I know because our job is the sell. Its getting the information out and correct. For a brand to change services like that such as is in the vain for MyGlam to Ipsy you have to be careful because it’s a branding change. Whoever was behind this shouldn’t have expected anyone to stick with the brand since it’s hard to do unless your open and honest like MyGlam was with Ipsy though I still feel like they were having brand confusion with the original name more than anything. The sad truth is a lot of startups are great and honest and work with transparency, but then you have the shoddy brands that do exist a lot of times in LA trying to make a buck and work the market in their favor. Also, it’s never appropriate for a CEO to respond to any email to anyone like that especially if it’s the vain of a business relationship, which it was. That alone should prove the company doesn’t deserve any positive feedback. They ruined their market trust and that’s that.

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10 Steph March 29, 2013 at 8:59 pm

That’s a very interesting video. I actually signed up for pv.body back during the first round of blog posts that went around and never received anything. Luckily I was able to get my money refunded, but I was not impressed, and when they changed to the ellie brand, I was really glad I cancelled my subscription. The clothes may be nice, but they have no brand equity, and therefore I would have a hard time paying $50 for an unknown brand of unknown quality.

As for the quality control, I definitely think it’s a little strange that the marketing employees are doing that work. I’m a quality control engineer at my company (for a totally different product, but same concept) and most companies require, at the minimum, an engineering degree, but also commonly years of experience in the industry. I checked up on the Lulu careers page and they had an opening in quality assurance that required a textiles engineering/science degree, so…maybe sketchy.

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11 Shell March 30, 2013 at 11:34 am

I did sign up for pvbody and had a terrible experience. Everything took forever to get to me. And then the sizing was off and they sent me the same bight blue neon pants two shipments in a row- once with a terrible peach and gray top. I complained and was ignored. Especially because I felt like all the bloggers who were sent clothes received much nicer things- tricking us into thinking ours would be like that, too. Still ignored until I decided to complain on twitter with my blog profile instead of personal. That got me a response and they fixed things, but I was annoyed that I was ignored as a regular customer.

I have stayed on with Ellie but have only done one shipment. I have that blue top you were wearing in the video and I do really like it. The pants were very thin though. I passed on a shipment this month.

I feel like this was all very shady on their part and I don’t appreciate being tricked. Even though they are crazy expensive, at least I know what I’m getting with Lululemon.

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12 Kristina March 30, 2013 at 11:35 am

I have been watching all of this unfold while being happy I did not sign up myself (contacted several times by both…). I have heard more bad than good, from lack of follow through and communication to inaccuracies in size, poor quality.

The disposable brand or platform is definitely being used today (I believe it is here and felt that is what opensky did a couple years ago when they “cut off” the majority of bloggers spreading the word for them), although I cannot understand how anyone thinks deception is a good business model.

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13 Sashea March 31, 2013 at 4:42 pm

I first heard about the company through your youtube video and was super excited to try it because I liked the concept. The excitement quickly went away when it took almost 3 weeks for me to get any information on when my order would be shipped after it was placed. They finally responded when I took to social media and complained. I did get brand name products the first go around but it didn’t match the profile I selected so I decided to do a return which took another 3 weeks. This coupled with numerous complaints left a bad taste in my mouth so I decided that I wouldn’t use the
service until they worked out their ‘growing pains’. When they switched over to Ellie so quickly while continuing to run promotions, I realized that PV Body was definitely a throw away company and they totally did a bait & switch. I also noticed that even though the company’s facebook and twitter accounts were bombarded with complaints and Ellie was new, they had tens of thousands of followers and likes. I did some research of my own and found out that more than half of their followers and likes are FAKE! This just added to the deception.
I wanted to do a review on them to alert unsuspecting customers of what they were getting themselves into so I decided to purchase clothes from their new line using a coupon code. The order took 2 weeks to arrive this time. Which is still a bit long but way
better than the 5+ weeks it took on my 1st order. I was actually pleasantly surprised by the clothes. They are cute, fit well (for me at least) and comfortable. It is a total knock off Lululemon but if they were upfront from the start, many people might be fine with it. There’s so much distrust with them that I wouldn’t recommend anyone doing a subscription with them.
I only tried them out based on your recommendation so I’m very glad you posted an update with your “20/20″ investigative work:) I can’t believe the CEO tried to warn the VC against you and copied you on that message. What a loser?! Good job!

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14 madeline March 31, 2013 at 4:43 pm

So I started with PVBody and I’ve since continued with them during their transition to Ellie. Yes, they have had MAJOR problems with communication and shipping. However, their customer service has been excellent (I’ve received an entire outfit for free plus other goodies) and their Ellie line clothes are truly AWESOME. I am a LULU aficionado, I am not a brand ambassador for Ellie and I have to say, I love their clothes. They are going through some major growing pains, and I have spent a lot of time emailing with their customer service department, but through all of the frustrations, in the end I am a very happy customer. Maybe give them a few months to work out the kinks and then give them a try again?

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15 Nic April 1, 2013 at 8:57 am

I decided to try Ellie just for the heck of it.

I got the same top you did, had the SAME issue you did! haha. And the quality of it just didn’t seem to be up to par with the other brands they had been sending me as puravit. Now the pants they sent me were the consistency of nylons AND they had a snag in them! I was peeved. So no, I absolutely do not think they are of good quality.

I returned them both within a few days and asked for a full refund. They emailed me offering me discounts of the new stuff, but to be honest their stuff is not original looking and after seeing the quality, I am just not interested. I had to reply to them multiple times saying, no I want a full refund, I was pretty nice about it too. Then they emailed me yet another time with the very first email they sent me! At this point, I was at the end of my rope and just replied with “wow, that’s insulting. Give me a full refund.” FINALLY they came through with that, but I also said I wanted to cancel my subscription in my correspondence and that has yet to happen. God only knows how I do that.

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16 Kimberly @ Healthy Strides April 1, 2013 at 3:49 pm

I was one of the bloggers who commented on your “Ugh” post (and I saw my face in the video). I had ordered at a special rate, didn’t get it and it took me nearly a month to have card refunded – after returning the outfit. I wasn’t overly impressed with the outfit and I certainly wasn’t pleased with the customer service. I’ve been curious about what the Ellie line looks like but hate that you have to “sign up” to see the clothes and I wasn’t going to do that with no intention to buy. I’ve appreciated your honesty and openness along the way.

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17 Mer April 5, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Wow. Great video, and great job sleuthing this out. I think you’re definitely right. All the signs and evidence you present point to them attempting to pull a fast one. Their pushback only makes me think that more. Good for you for not letting this go. I bet they figured no one would challenge them. Way to go protecting your followers!

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18 Kelly April 29, 2013 at 3:30 pm

I know I’m late to the party but thought I would add my comment. I was one of the original October 2012 subscribers. I had the usual problems with late shipments etc as everyone else. I’ve since stayed with them through Ellie to see about the quality of clothes. I’m a sucker for exercise clothing and if there is a deal associated with it I’m all over it. Well I recently got my shipment of their “Coral Collection” and I’m not impressed at all. The seams in the pants are very rough and tend to rub you the wrong way during yoga. I could only imagine if I was a runner. The capris that I got are blue but look black on the website. I really wanted to like them and gave them more than a fair shake. I just don’t think I can continue my relationship with them.

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19 Andrea May 17, 2013 at 12:45 pm

LOVE this video! And finally, someone who exposes Ellie (PV.Body) for what it really is…a total SCAM. There is NO WAY that in a few short months they could finance, design, source, manufacture and market their own Ellie line. There is no doubt in my mind, that this was the plan from the very beginning – develop a customer acquisition strategy via name brands, then bait and switch to their own brand.

I signed up in November/December after recommendations from my fitness blogger friends. It has been nothing but a complete and total nightmare. I expected to receive some of the name brands they were advertising, however I only received some cheap made in China brand that I never heard of. Funny though, because my blogger friends were receiving brands such as ALO and Lululemon. I definitely think there was some cherry picking going on for those who were marketing and advertising it…

I also signed up during the Lululemon promotion and never revived my gift card (after months of being told I would). I was billed multiple times, my orders would never ship and the only way I could get them to ship was after harassing them on Facebook (because I could not get a response from phone calls or email.)

While the clothes to appear cute, but they are completely nonfunctional for any type of fitness. While running I had to hold my crops up because they kept falling down. During yoga, I constantly had to stop and pull up my pants and readjust because I kept “falling out” in multiple areas. And forget squats or any type of lunge unless you want a thong peek-a-boo. Bottom line: you get what you pay for. In my opinion, the Ellie line is total garbage.

Sorry I am late to the game, but thank you for giving me a place to voice my opinion and share my experience. I hope this helps others who may be considering this company.

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20 Every Man Jack September 1, 2013 at 9:21 am

@Andrea – You are right and I also love this video.

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21 Loretta June 12, 2013 at 6:43 pm

I’m probably one of the only people that can say they got good customer service from PVBody/Ellie. I won’t say that shipping was good – 2 weeks to ship to NY State.

I exchanged multiple times, never received ANY LuluLemon, but did get several good leggings that were made in the USA; American Apparel! Also, I got an addition shipment for free. Justin became a frequent contact and would send me free goodies – hair ties, a headband, and a water bottle.

I was never given the Lululemon gift card I was promised, the PV Body bag or T-shirt I was promised that the bloggers got.

I have 4-5 pieces from Ellie, they have stood up over 3-4 washes and are all made in the USA – which I would pay extra for. I do have those coral leggings that looked black and turned out to be navy.

(And unlike Lulu none of my leggings are see through.)

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22 Andrea July 15, 2013 at 12:30 pm

I have had the complete opposite experience with my Ellie merchandise. After 5 months – MAYBE 12 washes (cold cycle and lie flat to dry), my Ellie pants are literally coming apart at the seams. The are totally falling apart unlike my Lululemon crops which I have had for years. The craftsmanship on them is just far inferior to many other brands.

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