How this entrepreneurial couple raised over $5 million after declining $400K on Shark Tank

Mildred Europa Taylor June 19, 2023
Photo Credit: CurlMix

Husband-and-wife duo Tim and Kim Lewis launched natural hair care line CurlMix in 2015 as a DIY box for curly hair. “We began that way because I was spending a lot of time on YouTube,” Kim told The Chicago Defender. “I collected ingredients from the tutorials and would go home to make the products myself. I thought about how much time and money I would save if someone just sent me a box with everything I needed. My husband was the one who convinced me to do it because I wasn’t sure that the market would love it.”

In two years, their flaxseed gels were making waves because it was hard to get them in stores due to the cumbersome process involved in preparing them. To prepare them, the couple will boil real flaxseeds and then extract the gel before looking at ways to preserve and package them. Many of their customers started using the flaxseed gel for their wash-and-go’s and once the couple realized that, they decided to focus on their flaxseed gels as well as moisturizers as the two products were their best-selling products.

By 2018, they had made their first million dollars. “We were super excited and couldn’t believe that we turned our business around in like a year,” Kim said. “In the year prior, we made $100,000 in revenue, so that was a huge deal for us.”

The couple, whose mission is to make organic haircare products more accessible to women with curly hair, have since added handmade and organic shampoos, conditioners, serums and other clean, natural hair products to ensure that every woman can do a Wash and Go.

By 2021, Kim and Tim had raised more than $5 million in equity crowdfunding after leveraging WeFunder’s services for crowdfunding to expand their community’s involvement in the business, they told SUBTA. Interestingly, this came just two years after the couple had rejected an investment offer from Robert Herjavec on television show Shark Tank.

The couple declined a $400,000 deal that required them to give up 20% of their business. The night before appearing on Shark Tank, they had agreed that they would not give up more than 15%. And so when investor Herjavec offered $400,000 with a 20% stake, they rejected it.

“I wanted to be honest and truthful. I wanted to be proud of the decision that I made on TV,” Kim explained to The Chicago Defender. “I did not want to say that we would do a deal and then not do it, because people do that. I wanted to be true to who I was. So that’s how we ended up turning it down.”

“And Robert (Herjavec) wouldn’t budge on the equity piece. What is more important than cash is equity. I treated each percent like a million dollars. So, when people would tell me that it was only 5%. I had to tell them that it was more than that. It was more like $5 million,” she added.

For Tim, he believed that their business was worth more than that, adding that it was growing to a billion dollars one day. CurlMix at the time was the first Black-owned beauty brand to ever use equity crowdfunding. They had chosen that path in order to build more wealth for their community, make their customers feel a part of any future decisions and also make them empowered in ownership of the company.

Figures show that Black-owned beauty brands do not get a greater share of funding and shelf space. According to a report from McKinsey, “inequity is rife in the beauty industry…More than 11% of all beauty customers are Black, yet Black brands account for a mere 2.5% of total beauty industry revenues.”

It also stated that from entry-level to the C-suite and from retailers to beauty houses, only 4 to 5% of all employees in the U.S. beauty industry are Black. CurlMix founders have been on the path to change that as they also hope to one day be the first Black-owned personal and household care organization, similar to Procter & Gamble.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: June 19, 2023


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