The past two years have been quite an adventure for Memphis sisters Madison Star and Mallory Iyana, the mini moguls who struck a deal on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” an Emmy Award-winning reality show where aspiring entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to “sharks” — some of the country’s best-known business magnates.
The sharks – among them moguls Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, Bethenny Frankel and Richard Branson — search for the best business ideas from aspiring entrepreneurs and select those businesses they want to back, using their own money. Contestants must deliver a pitch to convince the sharks to invest in their business. In return, the sharks receive a return on their investment.
The tween sisters’ company, Angels and Tomboys, LLC, which makes fun-scented natural handmade body lotions and sprays for their peers, had already sold more than $50,000 in products, thanks to social media promotion, grassroots marketing, and word of mouth, prior to the girls’ television appearance.
But following their enthusiastic pitch on an episode of Shark Tank’s eighth season, which included some song and dance, they received a major boost when Dallas Maverick’s owner Mark Cuban and Daymond John, founder, and CEO of apparel company FUBU, decided to take a gamble on the girls. The sharks, impressed with Angels and Tomboys’ already strong sales record, offered them a $60,000 investment deal.
“Throughout the process and the pitch, we kept a positive attitude and were confident that we’d make a deal,” said Madison. “Our brand serves a great purpose and we knew that one of the sharks would see that, and in our case, two amazing sharks saw and agreed that our brand was relevant and needed. We were and are still very much excited about landing a deal with both Mark and Daymond.”
The girls’ business idea stemmed from their desire for body care products that didn’t smell like mom’s. They wanted to create something subtler and less flowery that would appeal to tweens.
With the full support of their mom, Viara Iyadunni, Madison and Mallory developed a line of handmade, vegan-friendly body lotions and sprays using natural ingredients like shea butter and aloe. Their products are also paraben free so parents can feel good about safe use on delicate young skin.
“My girls have always both been very ambitious and caring young ladies,” said Viara, who refers to herself as the girls’ “momager.” “They are sharp to know that if they had a desire for age-appropriate body care products, there must be other girls their ages who felt the same way. So, not only is the development of their products a problem solved for their own personal use, but they provided a solution to a problem for girls all over the world. They are agents of change and I’m very proud of them.”
Angels and Tomboys’ lotions and potions have fun names descriptive of their delicious scents, including Cherry Star Glam, Watermelon Funk, and Frozen Hot Chocolate. The girls believe that when you smell good, you feel good. Each bottle is wrapped in a label featuring its own cartoon character, designed by the girls.
The name “Angels and Tomboys” reflects the girls’ personalities. Madison, 12, is the “angel” and Mallory, 10, is the “tomboy.” The products are made to appeal to all types of girls, from bookworms to ballerinas to basketball players. Their motto: “All Girls Are Created Equally Different.”
Over the past couple of years, these Memphis-made girls have been featured in Newsday, HuffPost, Black Enterprise, Jet Magazine, and Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, and have been guests on the daytime talk show “The Real.”
Madison and Mallory have managed to operate and grow their business while maintaining their status as honor roll students and making time to give back to the community. In lieu of birthday gifts, Madison and Mallory collect donations each year for their Memphis neighbors in need. To date, the girls have collected hundreds of coats and shoes for women’s shelters. They’ve also launched a nonprofit called Girlhood Academy, which aims to combat bullying and encourages self-esteem and self-respect. They also donate personal hygiene products to girls in impoverished areas.
Last year, these blossoming community leaders hosted the National Civil Rights Museum’s Student Forum Freedom Awards, honoring Rev. Bernice King, Hugh Masekela, and Morris Dee.
Angels and Tomboys have been selling products online, through the company’s website, Zulily, and Amazon, and at pop-up shops and tradeshows. But now the dynamic duo is preparing to open their own brick-and-mortar shop in Memphis’ Binghampton neighborhood. The building, located at 3078 Summer Avenue, has two retail spaces. The neighboring space will be occupied by their aunt, Omi Ogunwale El, a businesswoman and philanthropist who owns Green Goddess Vegan Foods. Clearly, entrepreneurship, philanthropy and girl power run in the family. Angels and Tomboys will have their grand opening during the first week of June, and Green Goddess Vegan foods will have theirs on may 19th.