This Girl Launched Her Startup at 11-Years-Old. Now She is Business Partners With Mark Cuban
I first came across Lani Lazzari after watching an episode of Shark Tank on Hulu Plus. What impressed me about Lani was not because she started her own company at 11-years-old, but of how well-spoken and versed she was in her industry at such a young age. At only 19 years of age, Lani is also one of the best sales-pitchers I have ever come across. Even on Shark Tank, investor Robert Herjavec noted that she was one of the best pitchers they have ever had on the show.
Lani’s startup is Simple Sugars, it manufactures and sells all-natural skincare products particularly for sensitive skin. Her products are mainly sold online through her website and in select retailers.
Lani managed to secure an investment from Mark Cuban on Shark Tank and have seen incredible growth in her company since then. In a recent interview with Live With Kelly and Michael, Mark Cuban noted that Simple Sugars is one of the best investments he’s ever made on Shark Tank.
NextShark recently had the pleasure to catching up with Lani. In this exclusive email interview, Lani talks about her company’s growth after SharkTank, facing challenges because of her age and gender, and working with Mark Cuban.
Since the Shark Tank episode aired, your business has grown tremendously. Can you give details on how much it’s grown?
We got an enormous response from our Shark Tank episode. We received 10,000 orders in just the first 3 days after our episode aired, and they just kept coming after that. We had to move into a bigger production space and went from 4 employees to 28 all within a week. It was a huge challenge to scale the business so quickly, but we did it.
What have been the biggest challenges for you in running your own business?
One of the biggest challenges we face right now is finding the right people to work for us. Since we do all of our manufacturing, we not only have to hire for management level positions but also for production. We have a very specific type of company culture, and that’s something we strive to maintain, so it can be really hard to find the right people and to find people who are committed and take what we’re doing seriously.
Have you had to face any major obstacles because of your age and gender? You’ve mentioned before that sometimes people don’t take you so seriously, how do you deal with that?
Not being taken seriously is something I’ve struggled with ever since the beginning of Simple Sugars. I’m 19, I’m a girl, I’ve never taken any business classes, so I think people assume that what I’m doing isn’t real. When I first tell people, sometimes they think I’m just a little girl making things in my kitchen. Even people who know me well often don’t understand the scope of what I’m doing. I just always have to assume people aren’t going to take me seriously until I prove it to them. So that’s what I do.
What are some of the ingredients people need to watch out for in the cosmetic products they use today?
There are hundreds of chemicals that are used in personal care and cosmetics products, but the ones I always recommend watching for are parabens, PEGs, sulfates, and phthalates. If you remember to watch out for those ones, it’s a really big step in the right direction.
In the Shark Tank episode, you accepted an offer from Mark Cuban of $100k for 33% of the company. What is working with Mark Cuban like?
It’s been great to work with Mark! Especially in the insanity following our episode, it was great to have his support. He’s always there if we need something, but he doesn’t try to run my business for me.
After your slot on Shark Tank, Robert Herjavec said you were one of the best pitchers they’ve ever had on the show. Where did you learn to be such a good pitcher?
Honestly, I don’t know! I think it’s just a natural skill for me. I’ve never taken any classes or been coached. Going into my pitch, I just knew that I am an expert on my business and no one know Simple Sugars better than I do, so I felt ready for anything they could ask.
What’s the biggest piece of advice you would give to people aspiring to be entrepreneurs?
I would say my biggest piece of advice would be to stop making excuses about why you can’t do it, and get out there and make it happen. When I started Simple Sugars I had tons of reasons to not do it, but I decided to go for it anyways. I think that if you find something you’re truly passionate about, you’ll find a way to make it successful.
Lastly, what are some exciting things coming to us from Simple Sugars?
We just released our Pumpkin Body Scrub (which will be available through November) and we have new scents coming out for the Holidays – so stay tuned to find out what they are!