- Company: Skinny Latina
- Owner: Ana Quincoces
- Product: Cuban-inspired sauces, marinades and rubs
- Problem: Stagnating sales, lack of growth, disorganized marketing
- Marcus’s Offer: $75,000 for 15% equity (with conditions)
- Season/Episode: Season 7, Episode 3
Life Before The Profit
Ana Quincoces has lived many lives. In one, long ago, she was a high-powered attorney. In another, she was a mildly famous reality TV star, on Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Miami. In her most recent iteration, she’s an entrepreneur with a struggling business that Marcus Lemonis – star of NBC’s The Profit – wants to save.
Quincoces started Skinny Latina, an artisan sauce and marinade business, in 2013. But six years later, by the time of Marcus Lemonis’s intervention, the business had expanded no farther than the regional market, brand awareness was low, and sales were poor.
The sauce and marinade market is a giant market rife with opportunities, and Skinny Latina’s product is well-made with a small-batch manufacturing process to ensure maximum quality and deliciousness. But Quincoce’s success is hampered by her disorganization, her lack of effective, well-researched marketing – and what are sure to be a number of entertaining, delightfully embarrassing personality flaws that NBC will do their best to exploit and exaggerate over the course of the episode.
Skinny Latina makes four distinct products, all variations on a similar theme:
- Million-Dollar Marinade (the brand’s flagship recipe)
- Guava Fig BBQ Sauce
- Mango Apricot BBQ Sauce
- Skinny Latina Hot Sauce
Quincoces says she was inspired by traditional Cuban cuisine, particularly a popular condiment called Mojo, which functions as a sort of spicy Cuban ketchup. She started making her own version of the flavorful Cuban sauce, and her friends began asking for the recipe so frequently that she hit upon an idea: “Maybe I should bottle this.”
“Are you a chef?” Marcus asks, in their first meeting.
“I’m as much of a chef as anybody on Food Network.” Not exactly the humble answer we were hoping for. But as it turns out, she has room to talk. She was featured on Season 12 of the network’s hit show, Food Network Star.
Shortly after her second cookbook was published – she’s written three – the Miami Herald did a glowing writeup on Quincoces and, most importantly, her memorable appearance on Food Network. In May of 2016, the Herald shined helpful spotlight on Quincoces and her business, writing:
“Ana Quincoces has gone from Real Housewives of Miami star to The Next Food Network Star. The Coral Gables lawyer and marinade entrepreneur showed that her time on the Bravo show paid off — she was poised and camera ready. On the Sunday night premiere, Quincoces made a Cuban frita that judge Bobby Flay liked so much that he said he might steal the recipe.”
With so much early promise, it’s sad to see Quincoce’s business struggle. Hopefully, Lemonis and NBC can work a little TV magic to help rescue this delightful artisan sauce and marinade company.
It’s clear from the beginning that Skinny Latin suffers from a serious branding problem. Like many other subjects on this show, Quincoces herself has a highly original backstory and tons of life-material to market her brand – but she’s not using any of it. The product names and labels, Marcus notices right away, leave a lot to be desired. Million Dollar Marinade, for instance, reveals nothing about Quincoces or the product. It’s more of a generic place-holder than a viable product name.
Running the Numbers
“I haven’t grown the company like I should have,” says Quincoces, because she “didn’t want to put the company in debt.” While avoiding debt is a good instinct, Marcus is convinced there are ways to expand while staying fiscally responsible. Marcus digs into the numbers with Ana.
In one of the hugest red flags in Profit history, Ana reveals that she somehow doesn’t have financials for 2015, ’16, ’17 or ’18. She only has financials for 2019. “I didn’t have time,” she tries to explain – but Marcus (and the audience) aren’t buying it.
- Distribution: Publix, Whole Foods, Milam’s, Fresh Market (South Florida regional market)
- Cost of Production: $1.63 (Mango BBQ); $1.71 (Guava BBQ); $1.96 (Marinade)
- Retail Price: $4.99-$5.99
- Total annual sales: $40,000 (as of July 2019)
- Total invested so far: $50,000
- Total revenue streams: 3 (sauce sales, endorsement deals, TV appearances, book sales)
Marcus scolds her for the abysmal lack of financial documents, but is able to dig a little more about profit margins out of her before she breaks down in tears about the sad state of her Skinny Latina empire. She believes in what she’s doing, and she needs Marcus’s help to think big and get to the next level.
The proof of concept is there, but again, there’s no real solid financials to go by. Marcus is willing to put in a portion of an investment, but not by himself.
Ana reveals that she’s asked exactly zero people to invest so far, and that the mere thought of having to put work into acquiring investors makes her want to throw up. “Ugh,” she says, with a thick note of disgust.
“I’m not going to write a check for somebody who doesn’t have their shit together.”
Marcus is willing to invest – but only after she proves that she can raise money from other investors in an orthodox way.
Room For Improvement
Marcus takes Ana to a nearby friend’s popular BBQ joint – Woodpecker’s Backyard BBQ – where they can road-test the product for themselves. The cast and crew chow down on ribs marinated in Skinny Latina sauce, while Ana and the BBQ owner talk business. Essentially it boils down to this: “skinny” and “ribs” don’t go together.
“But people are buying it, Marcus.”
“Well, they’re not – or else I wouldn’t be here.”
(But also, you didn’t need Marcus to tell you that. Just ask the entire state of Texas if skinny and ribs go together. You won’t be able to hear the resounding shouts of “hell no” over the sound of enraged Dallas Cowboy fans throwing Lonestar cans and bottles of Sweet Baby Ray’s at your food truck.)
Whereas most celebrity products use great branding to sell a lackluster product, Skinny Latina is one of those rare cases where just the opposite is true: it’s a spectacular product that suffers from terrible branding.
To its credit, Skinny Latina has a more feminine packaging and branding identity than other, typically hyper-masculine sauce products. It’s the only female product logo, in fact, in the entire market – except for Chalula, which also happens to be the world’s best-selling hot sauce. But as market experts are quick to remind her, you can’t tell from Skinny Latina’s label anything about the actual product.
Why is great branding so important? Because the industry that Skinny Latina wants to dominate is one of the biggest and most competitive grocery industries on earth. A few quick numbers so you can see what we mean:
- U.S. Sauce and Condiment Market: $42.7 billion
- Global Hot Sauce Market: $2.29 billion
- Global Specialty Sauce and Condiment Market: $30.09 billion
- Dominating Brands With Market Majority: Hellmann’s, Heinz, Tostito’s, Best Foods, Kraft, Newman’s Own, Frank’s
To make things more complicated, Marcus compares the calories in a tablespoon of Skinny Latina to a competitor picked off a shelf at Milam’s and is amused to find that the so-called health-conscious Skinny Latina has nearly three times the calories of the competitor. “Nobody counts calories anymore,” says Ana. To which her friend standing directly beside her replies, “I count calories.”
False advertising, much?
Since Ana’s way of justifying her subpar business decisions seems to be refuting everyone else’s feedback, Marcus decides it’s time to teach Ana a valuable lesson in constructive criticism. They head off for a Skinny Latina focus group in Miami.
Focus Pocus, Miami Style
Back in Miami, the focus group is asked to examine each label for Skinny Latina’s products, and jot down a few words on each – essentially, their first impressions of the brand and what the product makes them think about. The results are equal parts hilarious and harrowing.
Here’s a sample platter of negative focus group responses to the Skinny Latina brand:
- “Skanky” (noted by multiple participants, including a vampiric young man with long hair who looked like he had just come from sleeping under a bridge)
- “She takes over the whole image”
- “All-Natural doesn’t mean anything”
- “Feels like a rip-off of Skinny Girl – both the name and the logo design”
And here, a few positive responses:
- “Skinny” and “All-Natural” (whatever that means)
- Tastes delicious
- Definitely features authentic Latin flavors
- Versatile; can be boiled and used as a sauce
Much of the feedback Ana rejects outright. “Ana can’t help herself but to react negatively to feedback, no matter what it is.” More feedback reveals that customers want to see the sodium and calorie counts on the front of the packaging, a critique which blows Marcus’s mind out the back of his face. “I’m sorry – did she want to know what the calories are? How weird! Do you think she counts them?”
Marcus gets an A+ and several gold stars for his liberal and expert use of sarcasm throughout this episode.
Now it’s up to Ana to take this feedback and figure out how to tell her story – and the story of Skinny Latina – in an engaging and profitable way.
In a heartfelt talk with Marcus, Ana reveals that part of the reason she has trouble taking feedback constructively is because of her strict upbringing. Her mother was hard on her and constantly compared her to the daughters of her friends, making her feel bad and enforcing a strict perfectionism – along with a deep hostility toward criticism of any kind.
A Skinny Latina Makeover
A visit to BlackDog Advertising is next – one of the best branding agencies in Miami. Their visit yields a wealth of fresh, new, fantastic branding ideas to help revive the Skinny Latina brand. New colors are bright and bold, calling to mind fresh and flavorful recipes. New logos are original and eye-catching, and they’ve removed the Skinny Latina figurehead completely. The mockups are great and the bottles look spectacular – so naturally, Ana hates them.
“It’s just so different,” she says, through her tears. Sadly, one of the built-in features of human nature is that we hate change, and we resist change at all costs – even when it’s good for us. Just because you’re on a TV show – or even several TV shows – that doesn’t mean you’re immune to these feelings. In fact, being on TV tends to amplify and distort those feelings, making them even harder to handle.
“It’s what I’ve made. It might be s***, but it’s my s***. It’s me.” She wipes away tears and tries to smile.
Ana’s reaction is human and genuine, and it proves to Marcus – finally – that this business really does mean the world to her.
After a final presentation in Miami (a hotel pitch to investors that is both disastrous and weirdly successful), Ana is able to show proof of concept and investment potential. Her second meeting with a small table of investors goes much better, and she’s able for the first time to handle her numbers confidently, run a beautiful presentation including the new branding, and make Marucs wonder out loud if it’s really her. “I thought it was an Ana impersonator.” The small group says yes to investment. And that’s great news for Marcus.
“I’m wiling to do a deal with her. She’s done every single thing I asked. She made the changes. She deserves a shot.”
Final Deal: Marcus offers to invest $75,000 for 15% equity, with the option to invest up to $125,000 for 25% equity.*
*A joint investor struck a deal containing exactly the same terms as Marcus’s offer – meaning Ana was able to acquire two major investors while retaining a minimum of 50% equity in her company.
Where Are They Now? Life After The Profit
For Skinny Latina, business has never been better. Ana Quincoce’s star has continued to rise, and sales have risen right alongside her personal brand’s rapid expansion.
The company’s website has been fully updated and streamlined, featuring the bold new branding designs and fun, vibrant aesthetic created by BlackDog advertising during the episode. Her full product line is front and center, showing several new flavors and products. The full Skinny Latina catalog now includes:
- 4-Pack variety set of Marinade, Guava Fig, Mango and Hot Sauce – $30.00
- 4-Pack Marinade – $32.00
- 4-Pack Mango-Apricot BBQ Sauce – $32.00
- 4-Pack Guava-Fig BBQ Sauce – $32.00
- 4-Pack Tropical Habanero Hot Sauce – $28.00
- 4-Pack BBQ Combo – $32.00
- 4-Pack Marinade/BBQ Combo – $32.00
As of June 2020, Skinny Latina is sold directly online and through distribution with Whole Foods.
Ana Quincoces herself now has a staggering 114,000 followers on Instagram.
As for the brand makeover, her website speaks for itself:
“Influenced by her latin roots, Ana Quincoces makes all her Skinny Latina Sauces & Marinades with TLC. You can taste the goodness in every bite. ¡Muy deliciosas!”
It’s clear that Ana took her experience on The Profit to heart. In the end, she was able to turn valuable – and sometimes painful – feedback into powerful, profitable action – without taking anything too personally. Her brand voice is vibrant, descriptive, and engaging. It tells a story that, before, was unclear or absent. You can tell from just a few seconds of browsing the Skinny Latina site who she is, where she’s been, and how she’s doing now.
But only time will tell where Skinny Latina is headed.
(Adios para ahora, amigas!)
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is strictly informational; INSIGNIA SEO is not affiliated with Skinny Latina, The Profit, or any of its subsidiaries.