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The Original Comfy

the original comfy

Highlights

  • Brian and Michael Speciale pitched The Original Comfy, an oversized sweater/blanket, on Shark Tank.
  • The Sharks were impressed by the cozy product and its potential.
  • The pitch concluded with a deal after enthusiastic negotiations.

Overview

Category Details
Name The Original Comfy
Founders Brian and Michael Speciale
Industry Apparel – Loungewear
Product Oversized, fleece-lined hooded sweatshirt/blanket
Funding Self-funded pre-Shark Tank
Investment Ask $50,000
Equity Offered 20%
Valuation $250,000

Brian and Michael Speciale want to find a fit with a Shark for the Original Comfy, their over-sized sweater/blanket, in episode 910, the 2017 Shark Tank Holiday Special. The Original Comfy is a fleece-lined, over-sized hooded sweat shirt with a soft micro fiber exterior. The brothers say it’s reversible, too. It’s perfect for curling up on the couch, taking in that cold winter game or just adding a layer on a chilly day. Unlike a blanket, body heat stays trapped by the hoodie design.

Michael got the idea for a sweatshirt/blanket when he saw his nephew (Brian’s son) lying on the couch in a HUGE sweat shirt. He was right next to a fleece blanket and the image struck Michael. A few months later, he had the prototype for the Original Comfy.

The product isn’t in production yet. The brothers started a Kickstarter campaign last summer (2017), but quickly pulled it because they weren’t prepared enough. Even their website said “opening soon” prior to the air date of their episode. This is the first true start-up in the Tank in years. Will a Shark think their business idea is original enough?

The Original Comfy Company Information

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Kickstarting The Comfy

The Original Comfy Shark Tank Recap

Brian and Michael enter seeking $50,000 for 20 percent of their business. The brothers burst into a song touting the Comfy as “a blanket that’s a sweatshirt.” They get a few chuckles and applause from the Sharks as they don the oversized sweatshirt. With the inevitable comparison to the Snuggy (they call it “a certain infomercial product”), they say they’re different because of the plush material and the pocket.

They hand out samples to the Sharks who like the product. They don’t like what comes next: they have zero sales. It’s a brand new product. They are ready for their first order, however. After telling the story about how they invented The Original Comfy, Lori states she does a lot of business with the Snuggy people, so she goes out.

Mark doesn’t think the brothers are ready, so he goes out too. Robert likes the product and he knows the Snuggy sold over 20 million units; he takes a flyer and offers $50,000 for 50% of the company. Barbara jumps in and offers $50,000 for 30%. Michael counters with 25% but Barbara declines. Kevin offers a flourish, pretending he’s interested, but he goes out. After some back and forth, the guys accept Barbara’s offer.

The Original Comfy 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 guys sold out of all their inventory within 24 hours of airing on the show. With Barbara’s help, they continued to sell throughout the summer. They even appeared on QVC and sold out. In the fall of 2018, Bed, Bath and beyond began carrying the product in stores. They’ve since gone on to have their products in Costco, Kohls, Zappos, Amazon and The Paper Store.

The Original Comfy gets an update in episode 1012, the 2018 Shark Tank Holiday Special. Just about one year after airing on the 2017 Holiday Special, we’ll see how far they’ve come. In the update they reveal they did $20 million in sales for the year.

In 2019, according to USA Today, they were the fifth largest earning company in Shark Tank history with lifetime sales of $150 million. Apparently, they spend a lot of time suing to defend their patents. In February, 2020, the company appeared in The Shark Tank Greatest of All Time Special in the “greatest money makers” segment. Over the years, they did licensing deals with Marvel, Disney and some colleges. Apparently, the Covid-19 pandemic saw a spike in sales since, as Michael says, “it’s the ultimate work-from-home uniform.”

Trouble Brewing

In the spring of 2021, Brian appeared on HGTV’s Self Made Mansions. Feb. 20, 2021 was declared the first National Comfy Day. 2021 was not a good year for the business. Supply chain issues and some mismanagement pushed the company to the brink of bankruptcy. In June, 2021, Michael bought out Brian and Barbara’s shares as neither of them wanted to assume more risk.  Later in 2021, they were unable to get product from their Chinese factory in time for the 2021 holiday season due to increased customs bond costs.

In February, 2022, the company fired their CEO. In March, 2022, the company’s now former CEO, Susan Hudson, sued the business for breach of employment agreement and promissory fraud, allegations the brothers deny. They claim they fired her because she spent too much on advertising, contributing to the company’s financial woes. Hudson claims she secured financing for the business to cover its bond costs in exchange for an equity stake. She claims the company’s financial woes are due to Barbara, Michael and Brian taking too much cash out, leaving the business cash strapped. The case is set to go to trial in September, 2023. The 2023 season will see Disney and college licensed Comfies on the market.

Going it Alone

In June, 2022, Michael bought out Brian and Barbera for an undisclosed amount. As of August, 2022, the company is still in business and doing around $15 million in annual sales. Lifetime sales, per Barbara Corcoran on Shark Tank Live in September 2022, are over $400,000,000. Michael is seeking a buyer for the company as of February, 2023, and he’s determined to keep the company afloat whatever it takes. As of July, 2023 the company is still in business and awaiting the civil trial date.

In October, 2023, the Comfy was listed as one of the Top 15 Shark Tank Businesses, coming in at number 6 with $550 million in lifetime sales. In November, 2023, the company announced a partnership with clean beauty brand Tower 28 Beauty to design and sell a co-branded Comfy. For the 2023 Holiday Season, the Comfy can be found at Macy’s, Kohls, Fred Meyer, Target, Sportsman Ski Haus, Al’s Sporting Goods, Bob Wards, AAFES, The Paper Store and Amazon.