There is a Swag Essentials Update segment in Shark Tank episode 704. If you recall, entrepreneur Lydia Evans' memorable line in her initial appearance was quite humorous. Lydia, a happily single woman, told Daymond she likes “long, romantic walks to the bank!”
Despite her cheery nature and quality product (glycerin-based soaps embedded with loofah particles), Lydia didn't score a deal. I spoke to Lydia about a week before the SWAG Essentials update segment was announced. Lydia was very coy and careful about what she said – lest she violate her non-disclosure agreement with Shark Tank's producers – but I guessed she'd filmed an update segment! It was a long road for Lydia and her business to get to the Shark Tank and she's apparently met with a lot of success.
Swag Essentials Road to Shark Tank
Lydia attended an open cal at SXSW in Austin in 2014. “There were a ton of people there,” she explains, “but I went in with all my heart, shooting from the hip. My current office manager said she thought they'd call and I heard back about a week later. I ended up taping in July, 2014.”
“When I finally got in front of the Sharks, they loved me, but it was so heart-wrenching, I thought I was going to faint. As you saw, I was ‘too early' for the Sharks, but two weeks after my air date, we had a fulfillment center up and running. Now I have a lot more people helping me, but I still make everything.”
“The bottom line is, it's a kick-ass product that does what we say it's going to do. The formula is ‘heaven sent,' but without the loofah, it would be just another soap. It's really for a niche market – our customers are looking for a solution and seeking results for a particular problem and the soap was a new addition to my line. Adding it was what allowed me to take other products to the next level.”
Lydia recalls how the SWAG Essentials soap came to be: “My brother (a barber) kept calling me and saying ‘baby girl, can you make up something for men after they shave?' After asking me about 18,000 times, I realized there was a market for this. At the time, I was doing laser hair removal and I saw a lot of men with Folliculitus. When I decided to make my brother a product, I thought ‘I'm gonna fix him!' I put everything in a glycerin-based soap with the loofah as an added exfoliate and made up some samples. When the samples flew out, I started making more.”
Those initial batches of SWAG Essential netted Lydia $54K in sales. While she felt like a big success, the Sharks thought it wasn't an invest-able business.
SWAG Essentials Update – The Shark Tank Effect
“When the show aired,” Lydia continues, “the site went off. We were having a watch party and I was caught off guard by the response. We weren't as prepared as we should have been, but remember: when you go on Shark Tank and don't get a deal, there's no infusion of capital to prepare for the Shark Tank effect.”
When I questioned Lydia about sales figures in the year following her appearance, she wouldn't give me a hard number. I asked if they were 2 times previous sales, 3 times, 4 times, 5 times, 6 times? She replied: “We're well over that” when I got to six times. Do the math, that's well over $325,000 in sales! Not bad for someone who left the Tank without a deal. Hopefully Lydia's found someone to take those long romantic walks to the bank with!
“I'm so proud and grateful for the feedback that I got from the Sharks,” she continues. “I took their feedback and injected it into my business. I applied what they said and did it. Mr. Wonderful called my business a hobby, but I was able to turn it into a business.”
“I'm in 17 retailers now and we still sell online. I'm on Amazon, but no big box stores yet. I'm working on a few things overseas now, too. Everyone's goal in business is different. I know where I want to be and I know my customers. I enjoy what I do and I'm lucky I get paid to do it.”
What's next for SWAG Essentials?
I'm comfortable where my business is now, but I still like to push myself out of my comfort zone. After Shark Tank, I'm looking at things from a measured perspective and doing more planning. I know when you get to certain profit level, people want to make decisions for you, and I don't want to go there yet. I still have to deal with all the things that go wrong every day.”
“I think without the exposure, I wouldn't be where I am today. Any business with a good product and plan will be successful, but Shark Tank did have an effect. If I am I gonna air again, I wonder will I be able to handle it? All I can do is the best I can every day. I can tell you we've introduced three new products since airing – just look out!”
At the conclusion of our conversation, I asked Lydia if she had any advice for would-be entrepreneurs. Her answer: “To whom much is given, much is required. People get lost in the illusion of starting a business, make sure you're ready before you start. A lot of people don't get that much more comes with success than success.”
I had one other question for Lydia. She answers it on The Hot Dog Truck.