What began as gifts for friends and family ten years ago now has the opportunity to transform Sarah Oliver Handbags into a viable little business thanks to ”Shark Tank”.
On December 4, Sarah Oliver presented her business model – knitted handbags made by senior living residents – to the five tycoons of “Shark Tank”. If you’ve watched the show, you know that it’s not unusual for the “sharks” to not invest in a pitch. But not this time. Three of the five “sharks” teamed up for a 10% equity each in Sarah’s company.
Ms. Oliver had the breakthrough idea of employing and empowering a group of senior living residents known as the Purlettes + Two (the two representing the male members) of The Redwoods Retirement Community in Mill Valley, CA. As the backbone of Sarah’s company, they often knit together, giving themselves a wonderful sense of community and shared purpose. Each produces about three handcrafted handbags a week.
“They are so proud,” Oliver said of her senior employees at The Redwoods, “and that’s the most exciting part of this experience.”
Over the past decade, Sarah’s company had earned nearly $2 million in revenues, including $360,000 in 2015. The best selling handbag costs $47 to make and sells for $225.
Lori Greiner of the Shark Tank, also known as “The Queen of QVC”, said: “It’s so touching to me, actually it brought a tear to my eye. Because I think that often we don’t value enough our elderly in society, and you have given them all something to be excited about — they are feeling a part of something.”
Ms. Oliver said that because of her “Shark Tank” experience, her handbag company has received an outpouring of orders, emails and even some job applications. She plans on expanding locally first, and then seeing how far the “sharks” take her.
Follow their remarkable story here:
SGD is the Bay Area advertising, marketing and branding agency specializing in seniors and boomers. We’ve repositioned, rebranded and relaunched senior living communities in California, Kentucky, Maryland and Virginia attaining an occupancy rate of 90% or more in very competitive markets, despite recessionary times.
About the Author Gil Zeimer is a Creative Director / Copywriter at SGD Advertising specializing in senior / boomer, healthcare, lifestyle, financial, travel / leisure and technology brands since 1984.