After experiencing first-hand the challenges of parenting, Duc and Lisa Nguyen created Baubles and Soles, a footwear brand for children. They provide shoes with interchangeable baubles that allow the wearer to make them look different every time. As of 2022, Baubles and Soles is valued at $1 million.
About the Founders
Lisa T.D. Nguyen is originally from Vietnam. She fled her homeland with her mother and lived in a refugee camp for three years. They settled in Australia, where Lisa studied law at the University of Sydney.
Duc is a native of Montreal, Canada and he relocated to the US to get a film degree. This helped him launch his first business venture, a wedding video production company.
Around this time, Lisa was in the Philippines helping other refugees with legal cases. When she was hired to become the Executive Director of a non-government organization called VOICE, she eventually moved to Washington, DC. There, she met the love of her life.
Establishing the Company
Eventually, Lisa and Duc got married and had kids. The couple got tired of shopping for children’s shoes that they would outgrow in a few months. This gave them the idea to make shoes that didn’t have to be replaced every time.
Mr. and Mrs. Nguyen created a footwear design that was slip-resistant, easily washable and had interchangeable baubles. Buyers only needed to buy one base shoe that could be paired up with 20 different baubles.
To swiftly and conveniently alter the shoe’s look, these bauble attachments can be simply clicked into the shoe’s forefoot. In 2017, they officially launched the business and made $150,000 in sales. The following year, they ran into some inventory problems, so they sought professional help.
Shark Tank Pitch
In 2019, Lisa and Duc appeared on season 11 of Shark Tank, asking for $100,000 in return for 15% equity. They were seeking a strategic partner to expand in the US. 80% of current sales were through wholesaling and international distribution.
The Sharks admired the company’s product, mission, and valuation because they were honest. However, they operate in a competitive market, and the Sharks weren’t confident it would be profitable in the long run. Things looked bleak when all the Sharks went out but Lisa didn’t give up.
Once she said if there was a way to de-risk the deal, things changed. Most likely she had a royalty deal in mind. Daymond John jumped back in and offered $100,000 for 25%. The offer wasn’t far off from the initial valuation, so the couple accepted.
After Shark Tank
Daymond John turned out to be the partner they needed. He helped Baubles and Soles improve distribution through wholesaling and the product is now available to buy on Amazon.com.
The Nguyen’s expected to make $300,000 in sales for 2019 but it remains unclear whether they achieved that target. Fast forward to 2022, and the children’s shoe company hasn’t been a huge success but is still doing well.
The business does stand out in a challenging market, but its current growth rate may not be what the founders were expecting. The annual revenue is estimated to be around $200,000, and the company is worth $1 million.