Here's What Went Down With Nopalera Skincare After Shark Tank

Sandra Velasquez started Nopalera with a dream: to build a beauty brand for Latina consumers. "I saw a lack of high-end bath and body products on store shelves that spoke to the Latina consumer (me!). As the nation's largest minority group, I knew that creating a brand to fill this space would make millions feel seen and proud," she told Accelerators in September 2022.

But the journey wasn't easy. "I started in my kitchen with a big mission: to build an aspirational Latina beauty brand. The only problem was, I didn't have any money to start a business nor did I have any contacts in the beauty industry," she revealed on LinkedIn. But Velasquez wasn't going to let her limited knowledge in the business world stop her from building her dream. "I enrolled in formulation school, studied for a year, and made the products myself for the first year with my Amex," she recalled, noting that she was so strapped for cash when starting the business she had to get a credit card payment plan to pay a graphic designer.

Knowing she would need some help to scale the company, Velasquez decided to apply for "Shark Tank" in 2022. And she made sure she was ready for whatever the Sharks could throw at her. "Preparing for the show was a great way to practice being ready for any and every possible question about our business. These are questions one should know the answers to anyway, especially if one plans on fundraising," she shared on her Nopalera blog. And this is what happened next.

Sandra Velasquez turned down two deals in the Tank

It was January 2023 when Nopalera's episode of "Shark Tank" aired, during Season 14 of the ABC show. Appearing in front of Mark Cuban, Daymond John, Kevin O'Leary, Lori Greiner, and guest Shark Daniel Lubetzky (the founder of founder and executive chairman of Kind LLC), Sandra Velasquez asked for $300,000 for a 5% stake in of her business. She explained that her skincare brand (which included the likes of specialty soaps and moisturizers) was created with her Latina roots in mind, using cacti as a prominent ingredient.

Velasquez let her products do the talking as she handed the Sharks goodie bags with them inside, leaving them intrigued. They were also intrigued by her figures. Velasquez explained she'd made $607,000 in sales in 2021, plus $305,000 in 2022, anticipating that the business would become profitable by the end of that year.

Then came the decisions. Greiner was first to drop out, followed by Cuban, who admitted he thought Velasquez's valuation of $6 million was too high. Lubetzky was also unwilling to invest. But that wasn't the case for Mr Wonderful. O'Leary was willing to give Velasquez all the money she was looking for — but for 30% equity. Lubetzky then changed his mind and offered $300,000 for 25%. But Velasquez explained she knew her self-worth and wasn't willing to negotiate to give away more than 10% of her business. So she left without a deal.

Nopalera sold $300,000 worth of products two weeks after appearing on Shark Tank

Some viewers may have been surprised by Sandra Velasquez's decision to turn down two offers on "Shark Tank," but she later explained on her blog she had some help in the tank that viewers didn't see. "I brought my ancestors into the tank with me. I envisioned them standing next to me on my left side and on my right side," she shared. "I walked into the tank with a deep pride for everything my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents have gone through to get me to that moment on stage. I felt them. I heard them whisper in my ear, 'Mija, stand in your worth.'" Know her worth she did — and it paid off.

Despite not landing the funding she wanted, much like other beauty brands to appear on the show, such as Youthforia, Nopalera still felt the "Shark Tank" effect. According to WWD, the company brought in $300,000 worth of sales in the first two weeks after the episode dropped. Luckily, Velasquez was prepared for the huge demand. She launched the brand on Amazon to make it more accessible shortly before her episode aired. "Some of my founder friends who had been on the show warned me in advance that we should be on Amazon because America is going to go there. So in advance, I launched on Amazon quietly and sales were 50/50, 3,000 on Amazon and 3,000 orders on our website," she shared.

Nopalera got funding outside of Shark Tank and is still trading today

Nopalera may not have got a Shark on board, but the company received a second round of funding in 2022 and, as of January 2024, is still in business. Although this resulted in Velasquez giving away 40% of the business, Beauty Independent reported the company had raised an impressive $2.7 million in seed funding, which the founder put towards expanding the company through increasing stock levels and hiring more employees. 

And it's certainly come a very long way since its conception in Sandra Velasquez's kitchen. Per the website, Nopalera offers a wide range of different skincare products via its website, including soaps, exfoliants, moisturizers, and cleansers. Perhaps Velasquez herself put it best when summarizing her business journey and Nopalera's huge success on LinkedIn in November 2023. "My story has become one of inspiration to the community of what is possible when you commit to your own evolution driven by a mission larger than yourself," she wrote on the social media site. "400+ retailers, multiple award nominations, a seed raise, 'Shark Tank', a pop up store, high customer repeat purchase rate, and a growing organic customer base, all against the backdrop of a global pandemic, world wars, and a declining economy."

And Sandra Velasquez still has big plans for Nopalera

Whatever happens next for Nopalera, it sounds like Sandra Velasquez isn't afraid to keep moving forward with the brand she built from the ground up. The entrepreneur shared her mantra with We All Grow, explaining, "I don't have the fear of failing because I have no plan B. I'm committed to learning and making it work."

And it sounds like Velasquez is even open to bigger business getting in a piece of her action in the future. "A brand like ours could be really attractive to an Estée Lauder, for example, that wants to have a diverse portfolio and reach our community," she told Beauty Independent. "Why we would be so valuable to a strategic like that is because we've built an authentic community, and you can't fake that."

As for her advice for others looking to mimic her business success? "Begin with the end in mind. Decide what you are creating for whom and where," she said while speaking to Accelerators. "When you know where you are going you can price accordingly and cut out all the noise along the way." Sound advice, indeed.