After earning undergraduate degrees, Monica Ferguson and Becca Brown met while working at Goldman Sachs. While attending Columbia University’s graduate school together, they came up with the concept for the heel clips that would become Solemates. They worked to refine their product, and when they returned to Goldman Sachs, the business began to take off. Monica and Becca eventually quit their jobs to work full time to pursue their business dreams.
While the two friends and business partners were starting to see some profits, they dove into the Shark Tank looking for a $500,000 investment in exchange for a 10% equity share in Solemates. Would they get a bite?
Solemates on Shark Tank
Shark Tank Season 8 Episode 4
Becca began their presentation by saying that women have had a special relationship with shoes for decades. High heeled shoes make women look taller and leaner, but that look and feel come at a cost. The pair listed off such high heeled issues as sinking into the grass at a wedding, getting heels stuck in a street grate or sidewalk crack. It can be embarrassing and costly.
Solemates acts as a cap that snaps onto the end of a stiletto heel, increasing the surface area with which the heel makes contact. This eases the pressure support of the heel and prevents it from getting stuck in tight places. With Solemates, women can wear their high heels with confidence and freedom without worrying about ruining their shoes and getting hurt in the process. The clip-on heels came in clear, black, gold, and silver options.
Each pair had a retail cost of $10, with a pack of three different colors available for $30. They passed out samples and told Lori they had a pair of shoes she could try on. The male Sharks pretended to be angry; they hadn’t brought any for them to try on. Becca and Monica responded by saying they actually had brought samples for all the panel members to try. Mark sharply declined, but the others were up for trying them out.
Robert walked the stage in his heels and said they felt comfortable, and the rest of the Sharks agreed they could feel an immediate difference with the Solemates clipped on the heels.
Breaking Down the Finances
With the Shark shoe show complete, the Sharks got down to business and asked Becca and Monica about the finances of Solemates. Monica said that Solemates had generated $1.1 million in sales the past year, and they were expecting to increase to $1.5 million for the current year.
When Robert questioned whether they could actually make $1 million a year with their product, Becca told him that Solemates was already in over 3,000 retail stores, including Nordstrom, DSW, and David Bridal stores. Becca explained that Solemates was a product that women did not necessarily seek out, but after they snapped them on for the first time, they were customers for life. Monica added that their product fits in perfectly in the woman’s shoes and wedding industries.
Solemates was breaking even with a 65% gross profit margin. Becca and Monica had each invested $100,000 and raised $1 million through other investors. Though they would not reveal exactly how many investors they had, they did say that the two of them each own 40% of the business. Other than a full-time operations assistant, Becca and Monica ran the entire company by themselves.
Mark felt that the financials did not seem to work out in his head. A 65% profit margin on $1 million in sales should have yielded them $650,000 in profits. Monica explained the rest of the money was being used for web site development, graphic designers, and photographers. Each netted a profit of $30,000 in addition to a salary of $80,000 a year.
Lori felt Solemates were not something that everyone needs; eliminating half of the population right off the top. Even many women never wear heels for the most elegant events. Monica countered that women who don’t wear high heels would feel safe with Solemates. Lori said it was not a good investment for her, and she went out.
The numbers were still not adding for Mark, feeling that in order for Solemates generate $5 million in profits, they would have to sell $50 million in sales, which seemed highly unlikely. He also was out. Daymond also felt that it was too big a hurdle to climb and went out too.
Becca told the remaining Sharks that she and Monica would never have left their high-paying jobs at Goldman Sachs if they did not wholly believe in Solemates.
Robert conceded that Solemates was creating a separate kind of fashion accessory category. While the product appeals to a small percentage of the population, he felt that if it helped women look good and protect them from the pitfalls of high heels, they would buy it. Robert offered Becca and Monica $500,000 in exchange for 25% of the business.
Kevin was also still in the running and made an offer of $100,000 at 10% and the remaining $400,000 as a loan, which would put the value of the company at only $1 million.
Monica asked Robert if he would be willing to take 20% equity for the $500,000. He carefully considered the offer and eventually agreed to the deal.
Solemates After Shark Tank
Despite shaking on a deal in front of a national television audience, Becca and Monica never did finalize the deal with Robert. They did take advantage of the Shark Tank effect, and sales increased significantly after the episode aired.
Solemates has rave reviews online and from some prominent celebrities. Oprah Winfrey called them “genius” and has also been worn by Carrie Underwood, Demi Lovato, and Lauryn Conrad.
Customers are offered free shipping for orders over $20, and complete bridal packages are available. Monica and Becca expanded their product line and now sell related products like freshener spray, customizable shoe repair kits, and shoe buffs. They secured more distributors and are now available internationally.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is strictly informational; INSIGNIA SEO is not affiliated with Solemates, SharkTank, or any of its subsidiaries.