NEW YORK — Launching a new beauty product is often compared to swimming with sharks.
And for one entrepreneur, getting funding for her innovative new nail product did involve sharks — the financial sharks of ABC’s “Shark Tank.” The reality TV route was fruitful for Barbara Lampugnale, the founder of Duality Cosmetics, who expects her company will swim toward first-year retail sales of $5 million.
Two weeks ago, the Connecticut mother of six daughters appeared on the show hoping the financial investors, aka sharks, would fund her new nail polish called Nail-Pak.
The product is not only color, but also features remover pads and a file screwed to the bottom of the bottle. She got the idea after weekly manicures with her daughters prompted her to find a solution to the myriad items needed for a color change.
Tapped out after spending $300,000 of her own funds (some obtained by selling her engagement ring), Lampugnale turned to “Shark Tank” for a $50,000 investment and a 20 percent stake to get it distributed.
On the show, Lampugnale’s item was fought over by QVC product guru Lori Greiner and entrepreneur Kevin O’Leary, who built his fortune in the software business.
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“I treat all of my products as if they were my babies,” Greiner told Lampugnale. “I put my heart and soul [into them] like they were one of my own.” Greiner, who holds more than 110 patents and markets 350 products, started her bid asking for 51 percent ownership. She promised to take it to QVC, where it would have an immediate audience. O’Leary countered with a $50,000 investment and only a 40 percent stake and said he could take it to QVC competitors.
Greiner, who has carved out a following for solution products, such as beauty product storage, warned Lampugnale of the pitfalls of selling a retail product without knowing the landscape. O’Leary countered he could take it and license it to Avon and wouldn’t need Greiner or QVC.
In the end, Lampugnale opted for Greiner and the lure of QVC consumers. The segment was shot in July, but the show aired on April 27 and the nail colors hit QVC the next day selling 600 orders in a few minutes with the blue and lavender combination, priced at $21.36 for two bottles (including nail files and more than 40 wipes) selling out first.
“Within our eight-minute segment, we sold through our inventory,” said Lampugnale. In the first two weeks on air, Duality Cosmetics has sold $500,000 worth of product. During and immediately after “Shark Tank,” the company received an average of 27,450 clicks per minutes on its own site.
Lampugnale envisions distribution beyond QVC and said she is in talks with a retail partner, although she won’t divulge the details.
Paying homage to her daughters, Lampugnale named the collection My Girls. There are currently three collections in both fashion and classic colors targeted at all ages, said Lampugnale. Plans call for quarterly color launches. She wants to focus on nail first, but isn’t ruling out other categories where products can have dual functions.
A fall and holiday collection is on tap for Nail-Pak. Nail continues to be the hottest category in mass and class, exhibiting double-digit sales growth in both channels, according to numbers from The NPD Group. Beauty has emerged as a promising category on “Shark Tank” with two other items, LipStix Remix and Nardo Naturals, getting deals from the show.