Philadelphia, Pa - The Beard Sisters, owners of Joyce's Soulful Cuisine and creators of Lulu Bang Sauce and Marinade, were recently on ABC's Shark Tank competing for the sought after financial investment and invaluable endorsement from the celebrity panel of respected entrepreneurs. I sat down with Kelly and Jorrae to talk about their family, their business and their Shark Tank experience at their Watch Party held at the Enterprise Center.
YouTube Video of the Beard Sisters Interview
LeShelle: First, I want to hear more about mother Joyce and brother Michael. How did they inspire Joyce's soul food cuisine and Lulu Bang sauce?
Jorrae: Joyce is actually our mother and she inspired us. It was her cooking; instilling values in us where family is concerned.
Kelly: We just wanted to honor her in a way that she should have felt that she really deserved to be honored.
LeShelle: I heard you say, and this stuck with me and it’s going to stick with me, that your mother’s legacy is alive, here in the earth. Michael “Lulu Bang”, how did you decide, "Oh, we’re going to name the sauce after him?"
Kelly: We didn’t have a name for it originally and everybody referred to it as “that sauce”. And, you know, so one day we were all around the table at the restaurant that we had a few years ago, trying to come up with a name. Michael loved chicken wings and he loved the sauce and we came up with the “Lulu Bang Wang”; we just called the sauce “Lulu Bang”!
LeShelle: I feel the love from your family. I see they're coming in from out of town to celebrate with you. So, tell me, what's it like when you have a family business deciding who does what role?
Kelly: Well, we decide based on what each of us are good at, or our expertise. Everyone can’t do everything. From the inception, being the one that created the sauces, I knew my sister Kelly has the expertise, the know-how to manage it. She’s going to take us to the next level and beyond. She’s is able to steer us as a family and as a unit. You know, so it is very important to identify who can do what.
LeShelle: Getting on Shark Tank is a game changer for your business but it's also a life changer. What advice would you give to an entrepreneur who might not make that cut because you were one out 45,000 who made it to the stage, made it to the actual tank. What advice do you want to give? What are the lessons that you pull from this entire experience that you could give to other entrepreneurs?
Kelly: It’s simple. Don’t give up. Don’t feel like a no is final. God has the final say. There were people there who had auditioned five, six, seven times. We were fortunate that we auditioned once and made it but that is not always the case. Keep persevering. We have been at this thing a long time. It’s just now manifesting. We know the Sharks said no. But God. I don’t even think they knew what they were going to say. By and large it is about the bigger picture of getting your message out there. Overall it was an awesome experience. We all got something out of it.
LeShelle: If anybody has not seen the episode yet, your pitch… That pitch was EVERYTHING. We saw 5 minutes of [them] arguing back and forth, saying, "Yes, it's worth it," and "Yes, there's money to be made here," but what we didn't see was the hour and a half debating back and forth of the sharks after your walked off stage, after they decided to not invest. That means that you left an impact. That means that you left an impression. I'm still trying to figure out how is it that the producers didn't offer y’all a show. There is no reason why y'all should not be on Food Network. Wendy should be calling y’all. Oprah should be calling y’all. [laughter]
Jorrae: Listen; if you go into that shark tank, they will eat you alive.
Kelly: You have to have a level of confidence about yourself or else don't go.
LeShelle: Right. So, the sharks said no, they would not sponsor you but what you got was the promotion. That promotion, advertising, marketing, how much is that worth right now?
Kelly: Four to five million dollars is the value of the advertisement of Lulu Bang sauce. What people don't know is… of course, you want the deal. But getting on Shark Thank, that is the deal. So, that's the deal you really want. And then after if you make the deal with the sharks, financial help is an added bonus.
LeShelle: Have any of the sharks reached out to you for mentorship or anything like that.
Jorrae: No, no, not yet. But we are open to it!
LeShelle: Okay. So, I just have one more question. What do you want people to know about your family?
Kelly: We're close as a family. We love each other. We believe in family first and then the rest is business. No matter what, we are going to be a family whether we are in business or not. So, you know, that's the key. Know our hearts. Always living the truth and valuing each other.