In episode 419 of ABC’s Shark Tank, 19-year old natural beauty entrepreneur Lani Lazzari negotiated a deal with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban for a stake in her Simple Sugars brand of facial, foot and body scrubs.
Shark Tank Tidbits
In an inspiring presentation, the recent high school graduate talked about how she took her junior year off high school off to work full-time developing her company, making huge strides in branding, sales and distribution.
Daymond John graciously declined saying there wasn’t much he could add to Lazzari’s venture. In spite of receiving a product demonstration that she enjoyed, Lori Grenier showered the teen with praise about her personality before bailing out, citing huge competition in the marketplace as her reason. Robert Herjavec says his participation would require a split that was inequitable before giving his no. With unnecessary harshness Kevin O’Leary declared there was “No way in hell” Simple Sugars was a million dollar product before Cuban took court in the suspenseful end of the segment.
As a Pittsburgh native whose three-year old suffers from itchy skin, Cuban had his heart strings pulled with sentimentality by Lazzari’s sales pitch. Even so, he countered her 10 percent proposal, and asked instead for a 33 percent share of her company in exchange for $100,000 and investment of his valuable time.
Back in 2005, as a sixth grader with sensitive skin and a case of eczema, Lazzari decided to make holiday gifts with her two younger brothers using a salt scrub recipe she found online. She was immediately bit by the natural beauty bug, and began mixing recipes with natural oils from Whole Foods. With rave reviews from her inner circle, it wasn’t long before she saw the business potential in her hobby.
Starting with sales to family and friends, she launched an online storefront by age 13. With a $2,000 investment from her parents, she turned the basement of her family’s home in the Fox Chapel suburb of Pittsburgh into her workshop and office. Shortly thereafter, Simple Sugars became a full-fledged family business when the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center ordered more than 2,000 foot scrubs for a charity walk, requiring her mother and grandmother to join forces.
At the time of her Shark Tank appearance, her staff had grown to include six employees and six interns, and had relocated from the family home to a separate workspace in Pittsburgh.
In The News
Shark Tank isn’t the first time Simple Sugars has been hailed by the press. The up-and-coming company was featured by Forbes when Lazzari was 15.
Before her Shark Tank appearance, she took a cross-country road trip in an attempt to meet Ellen DeGeneres to promote her products and educate the public about the benefits of using natural products. “I got to be where I am today because I believe in myself. I think that every girl should have big dreams and the confidence to make bold moves. I love being an entrepreneur, but I know that at my age I can be a voice and an example and hopefully inspire other young women and even adults to follow their dreams,” Lazzari said in the video she recorded for DeGeneres.
The brand creator's rule of thumb: “If you wouldn't eat it, then you probably have no business putting it on your skin!” Simple Sugars products are made free of parabens, phthalates and sulphates and have no artificial colors, preservatives or scents. The blends truly are simple, starting with pure cane sugar, and a combination of oils like grapeseed, jojoba, safflower, organic soybean and sweet cherry kernel. Look for fresh add-ins like cocoa powder, lemon zest and strawberries. For a little bit more, you can add a dose of emu oil to your blend. The scrub is available in the same formulation but with more masculine packaging in the smooth for men collection.
Products are never tested on animals. Rather, the sensitive-skinned staff self-tests all formulations, noting its gentleness for conditions like acne, eczema and psoriasis.
Where to Buy
You can buy Simple Sugar products online and in select retailers in the U.S. Most recently, some Giant Eagle grocers began carrying the scrubs. Contact the company directly if you have interest in wholesale orders and personalized products for corporate gifts or wedding favors.