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Taaluma Totes

Taaluma TotesJack Dufour and Alley Heffren seek an investment to grow their socially conscious back pack company, Taaluma Totes, in Shark Tank episode 617. Taaluma Totes are tote sized back packs made from traditional fabrics from developing or under developed countries. The company was started in 2013 by Dufour and Heffren who share a love of traveling, bright colors, and socio-economic philanthropy.

The idea came to them while traveling together in Uganda. Alley saw a swatch of fabric she liked and had a skirt made out of it. Jack took some fabric and had a seamstress make a back pack out of it. Each pack is a “limited edition” since the fabrics are made in small batches. They source their fabrics all over the world. When the pair decided to make a go of Taaluma Totes (Taaluma means culture in Swahili), they launched an unsuccessful Indie GoGo campaign that raised a little more than $2300 on a $10,000 goal.

That didn’t deter them or their mission. The business model is unique: they source their fabrics in developing countries, ship them to the USA where they are sewn into back packs by disabled workers, 20% of the profits are then provided to small farmers and villagers in the developing country via a micro loan. When the loan(s) are repaid, they buy more fabric and start all over again. It is their goal to connect cultures through their efforts.

So far, the pair has met with modest success. They likely want a Shark to help them scale quickly. Will the Sharks tote some cash to Taaluma Totes and invest?

Taaluma Totes Shark Tank Recap

Jack and Alley enter seeking $110,000 for 15% equity. They tell their story and hand out samples. Daymond LOVES the product but thinks they don’t charge enough, he thinks they should sell for $100, not $65. . The other Sharks like them too. They explain how each tote funds a micro loan. They’ve done $60K in 10 months.

They explain they want the investment to expand their campus ambassador program. Robert likes the product, but thinks it’s too early, he’s out. Mark thinks it’s a product, not a company, he’s out. Lori thinks figuring things out on their own is a better option, she’s out. Daymond says their margins aren’t big enough – he’s out too. Mr. Wonderful says they didn’t value the company properly, he’s out too.


Taaluma Totes Shark Tank Update

The Shark Tank Blog constantly provides updates and follow-ups about entrepreneurs who have appeared on the Shark Tank TV show. The weekend after their initial air date, they received 8,000 orders. They’d only sold about 1000 bags the entire time they were in business up to that point. They were forced to improvise because they had to focus on churning out bags. They have a kind of crowd funded fabric acquisition process now. The couple used to travel 10 months out of the year seeking out fabrics in the far corners of the earth. Now, travelers, can ship Taaluma a minimum of 15 yards of fabric. That’s enough for 12 bags. When one of those bags sells, the traveler gets $15. The couple married in October, 2016.

Fast forward to November, 2022 and they are still in business with annual revenue of $3 million.

*editor’s note: my daughter has two of these and she loves them.

Posts About Taaluma Totes on Shark Tank Blog

Back Packs

Taaluma Totes Company Information






  1. I ordered a tote for my wife on 2/21/2015 and as of today have yet to receive my tote. I have heard all the excuses from Taalma; we didn’t anticipate the “Shark Tank Effect” and we had a problem getting the material, its taking longer to train the new sewers, bleah, bleah, bleah. What an epic failure to not anticipate the explosion in sales created by an appearance on Shark Tank even if you don’t get a deal. Taaluma took my money immediately and didn’t wait until the product shipped as most online businesses do. So you see it’s a Ponzi scheme of a sort. They take your money to fill the orders that were taken before yours and hope people will be understanding and wait 6 months or more for something they have already paid. Unfortunately if you can’t fulfill your orders people stop ordering and when they stop ordering you have no money to make the totes that were ordered and paid for in advance because you already spent the money, Sounds like a Ponzi to me. I just canceled my order and did receive a prompt refund, however, how much longer can Taaluma continue? if you have ordered your tote and still don’t have it, I would suggest requesting your refund now before there’s no money to refund.

    • Update; copied and pasted from the Taaluma website; **Due to the TOTE-ally unreal amount of support, totes are on back order… But by snagging one now, we’ll be able to get you totin’ by Sept. 15th!**


      • File under: unprepared.

      • File under: Complaint from someone who’s never had the balls to start his own company.

        Entrepreneurs and their ventures struggle and stumble as they grow… Amazon, Uber, Pandora, and Google all had glitches and gaffes. Steve got his money back; what else is Taaluma supposed to do? Come over and cook him dinner? Yeah, they should’ve anticipated the “Shark Tank Effect” better, but getting everything in place ahead of time is harder than you think. And accusing the company of criminal behavior is ridiculous.

        Until you’ve had the guts to stick your neck out and face the (quick-to-complain) public with a venture that you’re putting in 80 hours a week to do everything you can to succeed, cork it and go back to your happy little safe life. And no, I have absolutely no relationship or connection to the company. I’m just a ‘Shark Tank’ fan who appreciates entrepreneurs who are willing to step up and try to make cool stuff happen. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t. But they try, which is more than 95% of people can say.

  2. We waited out the shark tank effect and so glad we did. My daughter and I love ours and we just ordered a 3rd now that they are no longer backordered.

  3. Chantelle says

    Beautiful, well made bags! I know many people who have ordered. Some had to wait, but when they received the order, they all said it was worth the wait. I didn’t have to wait long. In fact, I got my tote in less time than I did when I placed an order from a large and very well known company. Taaluma is growing, and they’re making an impact.

    Ponzi scheme? I think we are just so used to buying Made in China, low quality items that we have now come to expect everything immediately.

    Keep up the good work, Taaluma.

  4. James W says

    Steve is too cynical

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