Sienna Sauce Company CEO, 19, Eyes New Opportunities As She Waits for 2021 'Shark Tank' Deal to Come Through
Tyla-Simone Crayton and her mother have come a long way from their days sleeping in a car. With the help of her mom, Monique, the 19-year-old has seen to it that her Sienna Sauce is a household name in many major retailers. And she's just getting started.
Two years ago, Tyla-Simone Crayton, then 16, hit it out of the park on "Shark Tank." She stood in front of the panel of wealthy entrepreneurs on primetime television and pitched her product, Sienna Sauce, hoping to land an investment deal.
On the show, "shark" Kendra Scott immediately got behind it. The jewelry designer seemed to relate to Tyla-Simone. They both are from Texas and both of their first employees were their moms.
“I’m going to give you your $100,000 but I want 20% of the company,” Scott said on the show. Tyla-Simone happily accepted. The TV appearance helped Sienna Sauce sell about $300,000 worth of product in 24 hours.
Now, on the heels of Tyla-Simone’s anniversary of being on “Shark Tank,” she tells Inside Edition Digital that she is still waiting to finalize her deal with Scott.
“We didn't receive the $100,000 because we're still in due diligence. We'd love to have her. We'd still be interested but it just hasn't come into fruition,” Tyla-Simone, 19, says. Her company is now raising capital on their own. To date, Sienna Sauce has raised nearly $100,000 on Wefunder.
“Sienna Sauce and Kendra Scott are doing their due diligence on the deal made on Shark Tank, and have not yet come to an agreement as it relates to the financial investment,” a representative for Kendra Scott tells Inside Edition Digital.
"Shark Tank" did not respond to Inside Edition Digital's request for comment.
The delay has not stopped Tyla-Simone from running her business while also going to the University of California Berkeley. The sophomore also plans to soon apply to the university's business school.
Her experience in college is very different than her last two years of high school. She was homeschooled for her junior and senior years, didn't go to prom, and didn't have a "real" graduation. The unorthodox end to her high school career came after spending much of her childhood moving from school to school. “I've never had a school where I've stayed all four years and been able to create that pride and community, so I wanted to go to Berkeley and get that experience," she says.
Tyla-Simone was eight when she fell in love with a sauce from her favorite chicken wing spot in New York City. When she moved to Houston, she tried to recreate the flavor in her kitchen and then begged her mom to let her bottle it. And thus, Sienna Sauce was born.
Inside Edition Digital first met Tyla-Simone when she was 15 and getting her business off the ground. Sienna Sauce is now sold in more than 500 retailers, including Target, Hy-Vee, Wegmans, World Market, Walmart.com and on Amazon.
“Inside Edition has really helped my dream and my goal. It was such an honor back then that they chose me to do an interview,” Tyla-Simone said. “Actually, it was one of my first take-off interviews. It's the one that all of the other media stations use all the time,” she said in a 2020 interview with Inside Edition Digital at the World Food Championships in Dallas.
Her mom, Monique, couldn’t be more proud as she helps run the business while her daughter is away at school. “I am grateful and beyond humbled and I'm inspired by my daughter every day,” Monique says. “It's just fulfilling to watch her grow this brand and do it now while being a full-time student as well. That's even more impressive for me as her mom.”
In the last three years, the company made $1 million in revenue.
The success Tyla-Simone and her mother have found is worlds apart from years ago, when the pair struggled with homelessness.
“I remember when my mom used to wake up early in the morning, and heat up the car for me, and then make sure it was warm, and tuck me in, so we would be warm,” Tyla-Simone says.
“We were never mentally homeless, and I want people to understand that,” Monique says, getting emotional. “That's the biggest piece for me. And I never sugarcoated anything for Tyla-Simone.”
Tyla-Simone says it took a leap of faith to grow her business from nothing. “Knowing what it feels like to not have money – people wouldn't take the risk of jumping into entrepreneurship where nothing's guaranteed," she says. "You don't have a consistent stream of revenue.”
She’s now focused on getting Sienna Sauce into school cafeterias and restaurants. She's also partnered with a national distributor, “which is going to open up so many doors for us for 2023,” her mom says.
Three years ago, Tyla-Simone told Inside Edition Digital her dream would be to sell Sienna Sauce in Walmart. Now, she’s eyeing a partnership with Disney.
“If you've ever seen the movie, 'Princess and the Frog' about Princess Tiana, the only Black princess," she says. "She has a dream of creating a restaurant. That’s me, too. I still have my dream of wanting to have Sienna Wings. Just some partnership with the product or with the sauce in their launch of her [at Disney World] because they're creating a whole section of the park around Tiana. We'd love to partner with Disney on that for the first Black princess.”
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