Disappointment is a staple piece in the wardrobe of an entrepreneur. Learn to accept that there will be victories as well as trials and that’s all part of the norm for many businesses. I give you” The guacamole dress story”. The day I was set to film, the other pitches took too long. I was at the end of the day so they told me to go home and maybe next season I would get to come back to LA to film. So, I went to my hotel and cried and got guacamole all over my Shark tank dress. They called me back 3 hours later saying they found a slot for me if I could stay. I triumphed smiling with joy. I washed my dress with hotel shampoo in the bathtub at the hotel, blow dried it, and wore it on national television the next day. Ahaha. Still makes me laugh.
As a part of our series about the ‘5 Important Business Lessons I Learned While Being On The Shark Tank’ I had the pleasure of interviewing Meredith Jurica.
With more than 10 million dollars in sales in just a few years, along with a breakout appearance and deal on ABC’s “Shark Tank” for her revolutionary line of Makeup Junkie Bags, Meredith Jurica (aka MJ) has become a burgeoning power player in affordable beauty, fashion, and travel accessories. Frustrated with what the market had to offer when storing large makeup items, this mother of two young daughters created her own pattern for the perfect multi-functional cosmetic bag that doubles as a clutch with a conveniently attached wrist strap (retails for 30 dollars-50 dollars). The Makeup Junkie Bag’s magic that sets it apart from every other bag is that is lays flat, which allows easy and full access to all materials while eliminating the chances that the bag will fall over sending products everywhere.
Named by USA TODAY as “One of the Top 10 Travel Bags,” Makeup Junkie Bags are handmade in Texas, sold in more than 2,000 stores nationwide, and come in more than 400 trendy styles and seven different sizes. Each of the bags are characterized by a signature brightly colored zipper, a suede tassel, and MJ hand-selects each designer fabric for each of the lines. From the trademark “Glam Stripe Bag” to the newer “Later Alligator,” Makeup Junkie Bags are on a constant quest to find the fabrics that reflect their customers’ lives. They are the company for the working woman, the loving (and often exhausted) mom, the grad student, and the social butterfly.
Hailing from Texas, MJ received her Master’s in Speech Language Pathology before she decided to conquer the world of cometic bags and travel accessories. It all started after making several bags for herself, and when her friends loved them she began to make bags as gifts for her friends and family. The interest in the design she created and patented inspired her to start a business from her kitchen table, and what started off as a hobby, eventually exploded into a serious business grossing over 1 million dollars in sales her first year!
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit more. Can you tell us a bit of the backstory about how you grew up?
Hi! Thanks for having me. I grew up near the beach in Corpus Christi, TX. I come from a big family. After high school I went to college and hold a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology. I have always loved clothes, makeup, beauty products of any kind. Putting together outfits and trying new makeup techniques was how I spent my free time. I love people and have a large, wonderful circle of tight friends. I now live in the Houston, TX area and have 2 daughters. I worked in Speech Pathology for 10 years but for the past few years I have been the CEo/Owner/Founder of Makeup Junkie Bags.
Can you share with us the story of the “aha moment” that gave you the idea to start your company?
Sure! As a true “makeup junkie”, I own tons of makeup. Modern day cosmetics are so much different than the cosmetics that have been around for years. Now we see all these large artist pallets and full-sized brushes that are supposed to make us look like Heidi Klum and Tyra banks haha. I was frustrated that no cosmetic bag company was keeping up with storage of modern-day cosmetics. I had an upcoming trip and so in preparation of my travels I went to the local craft store and purchased materials to make my own cosmetic bag that would house all my things. I wanted it to pack flat, be leak resistant, and open down the middle so I could see everything. The design did exactly as I intended it to and I was so pleased. I mimicked the 12-inch size I had made for my makeup and made a larger one for my shower toiletries as well as smaller sizes to pack face creams, eye care, chargers etc. I was excited to take them on my trip and never really knew it would turn into a business.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Oh bless, where do I even start?!!! Can you say FairyTale?? About a year in I was featured in USA Today’s ten best which I couldn’t believe because I was still making the bags myself in my house. In a few short years I have been issued a Design Patent on the bags, I have been featured on Shark Tank, on Good Morning America deals,along with several other press mentions. I employ dozens of people here in the Houston area and I am one of only few sewing manufacturing factories in TEXAS. We wholesale to over 5,000 boutiques and stores nationwide. My own mind is still blown!
Can you share a story about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or take away you learned from that?
Oh boy. When I first started making Makeup Junkie Bags, I did not know what wholesale was/meant. I was purchasing all of my supplies at full retail price therefore yielding no profit to speak of whatsoever. Haha. My background is medical/education so rookie mistake. In the first few months I discovered buying in bulk wholesale and googled everything I could to teach myself how to manufacture, market, and sell something in the absence of business training of any kind. The lesson learned was that I have a lot to learn but also that you can learn new things and grow every day to fill the holes in.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I am ALWAYS designing and developing new things under my brand. In addition to my travel bag line, I make purses, totes, fanny packs, I have a cosmetic line called MJ Cosmetics, and I recently launched Modern Jester clothing which is my own apparel line I manufacture here in Texas. I think domestic made products are enjoyed by many and I am happy to offer ample customization to retail customers and stores alike.
Ok, thank you for all that. Let’s now move to the main part of our interview. Many of us have no idea about the backend process of how to apply and get accepted to be on the Shark Tank. Can you tell us the story about how you applied and got accepted. What “hoops” did you have to go through to get there? How did it feel to be accepted?
Sure thing. There are several ways you can apply. You can fill out an online application or you can do an open casting call at a convention center. I applied online, uploaded pics and videos of myself and my product as requested and filled out the application. I assumed it was a pipe dream at that point to really be chosen. Several months went by and then I got a call from a producer. I was a little stunned at first…is this a prank??!! They asked me questions and were so friendly. They instructed me to submit a formal application video answering a series of questions. You can still find my Makeup Junkie Shark tank application video on YouTube. After that it was rounds of cuts. Lots of videos and phone calls. With almost 40,000 applicants to my season and a meager >100 of us made it, I still can’t quite believe it really happened! When I found out I was invited to film, I cried like a baby and cracked open a nice celebratory bottle of Cab Sav!
I’m sure the actual presentation was pretty nerve wracking. What did you do to calm and steel yourself to do such a great job on the show?
Yes, it can make even the most confident person unsteady! I practiced in front of my friends who I met on the show, took a lot of deep breaths, and just kept telling myself “What have you got to lose, just be yourself”.
So what was the outcome of your Shark Tank pitch. Were you pleased with the outcome?
I was given 3 offers. One from Sara Blakely to just loan me money, one from Kevin Oleary, and one from Lori Geiner which I ended up taking on the show. I was very pleased and enjoyed the experience very much. I own 100% of makeup Junkie Bags as we did not execute our partnership after further discussions. Sometimes it is better that way for both. Lori is so sweet and encourages me to this day to keep soaring and reaching. I am thankful for mentors like her to watch.
What are your “5 Important Business Lessons I Learned While Being On The Shark Tank”? (Please share a story or example for each.)
1. Disappointment is a staple piece in the wardrobe of an entrepreneur. Learn to accept that there will be victories as well as trials and that’s all part of the norm for many businesses. I give you” The guacamole dress story”. The day I was set to film, the other pitches took too long. I was at the end of the day so they told me to go home and maybe next season I would get to come back to LA to film. So, I went to my hotel and cried and got guacamole all over my Shark tank dress. They called me back 3 hours later saying they found a slot for me if I could stay. I triumphed smiling with joy. I washed my dress with hotel shampoo in the bathtub at the hotel, blow dried it, and wore it on national television the next day. Ahaha. Still makes me laugh.
2. Even the experts I admire do not know “everything”. On my episode when talking about stores it was said “Meredith I don’t mean these little boutiques you sell to”. They don’t know those little boutiques have sold over 10 million dollars in Makeup Junkie Bags to date. haha
3. Patents are important. Knockoffs are prevalent. Protect what you have made. Mine has helped me shut down several copycats already.
4. I learned from watching my fellow contestants and listening to advice from the Sharks that EVERYONE does things their own way. Forge your own unique path and stay the path. You can follow someone else’s exact business plan but putting your own stamp and twist on things will set you apart.
5. Network, network, Network. I have had some pretty spectacular things happen because I chose to interact with everyone i met on the show and nurture those relationships.
What advice would you give to other leaders to help their team to thrive and avoid burnout?
Breed a culture of hard work, gratitude, and love for one’s job. Do not let negative people into your business. Walk in your employees’ shoes so you know what their days feel like so you can stay in tune with them and their needs.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Hmm so much to think about with this question. I find it fills my heart when strangers are kind to me. At the store, coffee shop, wherever. It makes my day better than when I encounter grumpy people haha. I would encourage everyone to do a kind thing for a stranger every day hoping the ripples would reach so far that world actually becomes a better place. I’m a dreamer by nature. I am a smart girl, but I love to live in the clouds of joy.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Imagination =+ Cultivation = Manifestation. I used to repeat this when younger trying to improve in gymnastics to make the cheer team or do well on a project. it is SO relevant in my life because everything I make now and what we are started from a seed in my imagination. I put one foot in front of the other. I kept moving. I cultivated. Manifestation hit me when I moved into 18,000 sq ft of office and warehouse after starting at my kitchen table alone a few short years ago. It is a fairytale dream to me.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
I have been privileged through Makeup Junkie Bags to meet some of the most inspiring celebrities and entrepreneurs. That being said…If I ever had the chance to meet Reese Witherspoon, a woman I have watched since I was little, I would give her our hot pink REESE bag ( that sold out by the way ) and enjoy that very much. I kept 2 aside just in case she ever discovers my products! Ha! A girl can dream, and this girl never stops. It’s part of who I am. (Imagination = Manifestation).