Since I first read about 19-year-old Lani Lazzari on Like a Boss, I have admired her potion-making abilities and hard-working demeanor. This week, I had the opportunity to interview Lani, who recently pitched her line of all-natural body scrubs, Simple Sugars, to investors on the hit ABC show “Shark Tank.” Her business has seen tremendous growth since she first started it at age 11, but taking a deal from “Shark” and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban—$100,000 in exchange for 33% of the company—has helped her business sky-rocket! Here’s what Lani had to say about swimming with sharks and her growing business:
Why did you want to appear on “Shark Tank?”
Lani: It came about because one of their producers contacted me. Up until that point, I had never thought of going on the show. I had heard of it. Then they contacted me and when I found out more I realized how good of an opportunity it was. When they first reached out to me, I never expected it to go anywhere. Before I knew it, they were telling me they wanted me to come out to LA for the show, and I was out in LA for five days.
Lani: A lot of it was making sure all of our numbers were solvent. During the taping, a lot of the questions were things I already knew the answer to.
What was the experience like watching your “Shark Tank” experience on TV for the first time with family and friends?
Lani: It was kind of horrible [laughs]. I hated watching myself on TV, but it was really exciting as well. I knew what happened, but a lot was edited, so it was definitely cool to see how they put together the show. The show was taped about six months in advance, so after we actually taped it, we couldn’t tell anyone. The only person who knew was my mom. It was a big secret. So it was exciting to reveal to everyone.
How has Simple Sugars grown since “Shark Tank” aired?
Lani: It’s been so crazy. After the show aired, we got over 15,000 orders online within three days. That was significantly more than we got the year before … I think we are one of the most popular products they’ve had on “Shark Tank.” To date, since [late March], we have had 23,000 orders. It’s really cool how much the business has changed in such a short period of time. We had five people working for us prior to the show. Now, we have 20 employees and seven interns, a mix of full-time and part-time.
What has a typical day been for you post-Shark Tank?
Lani: Depending on what the daily crisis is [laughs], I’ve been working from 8 am until midnight every day since the show aired. I have been going in and setting the production schedule for the day. Everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing. We do manufacture all of our products in house. That’s generally how I start out. We get a ridiculous number of emails and phone calls every day. I have to be there to make sure that my team is working the way they should be and work with them to resolve issues. Everything is a little different every day is a little crazy and hectic; I haven’t taken a weekend off since the beginning of February. It’s definitely a lot of work, but it’s fun at the same time.
How has “Shark Tank” affected you as an entrepreneur moving forward?
Lani: “Shark Tank” has definitely been a big opportunity and we have seen crazy, quick growth, but it hasn’t changed much about our strategy. We are still going forward with our original plan moving forward, but I am in a completely different position moving forward. Originally, I focused on a lot of operational things. Now, I am learning how to manage all of these employees and our production schedule. Prior to the show, all of our employees were doing things operationally; now we have had to hire people to answer phones and emails and work on the business side of things, too.
What exciting plans does Simple Sugars have for the near future?
Lani: Right now we are focusing on expanding our online and wholesale opportunities. Ideally, we are hoping to pick up some additional retails across the U.S., not just locally [in Pittsburgh]. So that is exciting. This summer, we are also going to launch two new scrubs, raspberry and lemonade, which come out later this month.
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