The Bartons enjoy watching the TV show “Shark Tank” together as a family. And now, they might just be on it.
The family runs Bebe Bartoons, a line of cute lip balms for young girls. The products came courtesy of daughters Danielle, 12, and Heather, 11. Originally just an idea, the animal-shaped lip balms quickly grew a life of their own.
“People loved it,” said Michelle Barton. “They were like ‘oh my god, you have to make more!’”
While the daughters provide creative direction, the parents Andrew and Michelle run the logistics.
Their whole business started with the Bartons partaking in other businesses. Every time they went to the store, Danielle and Heather wanted to buy new lip balms. Eventually their house was full, and the girls started posting their passion for lip balms on social media. Soon, this led to the girls drawing their own designs for lip balm cases.
Michelle has a background in design, so she’d help bring their imaginings into the real world.
“They decided how all the animals would look and I’d make them,” Michelle said. “It turns out it’s really hard to make a smiling penguin!”
Now, with over three years as a family business, they decided to pitch their idea on Shark Tank.
The family practiced their pitches the entire drive from Tucson to Palm Springs, California, and when they arrived, they were ready for the producers. The actual day of the Shark Tank pitch was possibly the most grueling part of their entire marketing experience thus far.
“I had no idea what we were getting into,” Michelle said. “The line was five blocks long, it was a twelve-hour day of work.”
But even this didn’t stop their excitement. Danielle and Heather did the entire pitch themselves: product demonstrations, speaking and all. Both girls are students at Leman Academy in Marana, where delivering speeches is part of the curriculum, so they were well-prepared. The only time the parents spoke was after the pitch, when it came to finances.
“They’re giving speeches every week,” Michelle said. “So when it came to Shark Tank, it was actually pretty easy for them.”
When they received their first phone call, saying that they made it onto the next round of Shark Tank, they were happy to say the least.
“We were all jumping up and down together,” Michelle said. “They were so excited.”
To continue their upward progression, they had to make a video and submit it to the producers. This resulted in a second phone call two weeks ago, congratulating them and saying that they were in for the next level. This doesn’t guarantee their pitch will be shown on TV or that they’ll win, but it does mean they’re moving up.
“Everyone from our family called,” Michelle said. “They were all rooting for us.”
They’re hoping to go to actual filming for Shark Tank this fall, but even if their pitch isn’t accepted, the family remains strong. They already have a tight-knit business without going on TV, their products are sold in over 1000 stores nationwide, including right here in the Tucson area.
“Even if we don’t make it all the way with Shark Tank, I don’t think we’ll slow down.” Michelle said. “As a parent, you’re so involved with everything that your kids do,” Michelle said. “So when all of this happened, of course we embraced it. It’s just so awesome.”
BeBe Bartoons lip balm can be found at DeRusha Salon (8567 N. Silverbell Road #111), Plunkett’s (420 N. Wilmont Road) and Mildred and Dildred in the La Encantada Mall (2905 E. Skline Drive). They can also be found online on Amazon or at bebebartoons.com.