Monday, August 8, 2022

The Christmas Tree Hugger After Shark Tank – 2018 Update

The Christmas Tree Hugger Shark Tank

Perfect for those who want to get into the holiday season, the Christmas Tree Hugger is designed to make faux trees look like real trees. Easy to use, the product simply wraps around the pole at the base—and you’re done! The ultimate finishing touch, it makes artificial trees look extra real in a matter of seconds.

The brainchild of Ryan Kelly, the product had come to be after he and his wife noticed that their artificial Christmas tree had an ugly “fuzzy green pole” at the bottom. Wanting to make her happy, he searched for a fix on the internet. To his surprise, however, there was nothing out there that could be used to remedy the eyesore. With that, he took it upon himself to create a natural-looking solution.

Getting to work, he soon found himself measuring hundreds of Christmas trees on display in stores. From there, he did a few sketches before getting hands-on with the prototype. Using materials that he had bought from home improvement stores, he eventually put together a preliminary model. Many hours of trial and error later, he had himself a final product. Proceeding with the project, he eventually sought out manufacturers who could help him fine-tune the item.

In need of more funding, Kelly launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo in 2015. Though it started out slow, the funds soon came rolling in. By early December, they had reached 40% of their funding goal, with the support of dozens of backers. From there, it wasn’t long before they reached 100% of their goal. In fact, they had eventually gone on to reach 129% of their goal by the time the campaign ended on December 16, 2015, just a couple of weeks before Christmas.

Before long, the products were being shipped out to customers. Fast forward to 2017 and it was announced that Kelly would be making an appearance on ABC’s Shark Tank. Featured in the ninth season, the episode later aired on December 3, 2017just prior to Christmas.

The Christmas Tree Hugger on Shark Tank

Walking into the tank, the entrepreneur wishes the everyone a happy holiday, before telling them that he is seeking $100,000 for 20% equity of his company, The Christmas Tree Hugger.

Gesturing towards a small box, Kelly introduces the sharks to his product, the Christmas Tree Hugger. Highlighting the abundance of artificial Christmas trees, he explains that the item helps to “fix the fake” by concealing the “ugly secret down below”—that is, the fuzzy green pole at the bottom, which seemingly takes away from the holiday magic. Stating that he has a solution, he goes on to wrap the hugger on the pole, which instantly gives it a “realer” look.

As the sharks look on, Kelly continues by saying that it can also be used to hide messy cords. Elaborating, he states that they can simply be run through the hugger, and under the skirt. Continuing his pitch, he explains that there are a couple of different designs—including natural bark, birch bark, both of which can also be reversed to reveal a candy cane pattern.

Finishing up, Kelly eventually goes on to hand out some samples. As the others examine the product, Kevin asks about the entrepreneur’s day job. Responding to the question, he states that he works as an art director in advertising. Asked how he had come up with the idea, he explains that he and his wife were not too fond of the “fuzzy green pole” on their artificial Christmas tree. Continuing, he shares that he’d thought of the idea after wondering how he could make it more real. With the support of family and friends, he eventually began to sell them online, he says.

Despite his explanation, however, Kevin doesn’t seem too impressed with the product. Defending the concept, Kelly tells him that people do care about how their trees look. Asked about his sales just seconds later, he reveals that he’s done $50,000 over the past year and a half. From there, Mark asks about the production costs, to which he’s told $1.37 including packaging. Continuing, he states that the Christmas Tree Hugger sells for $17.99.

Asked whether or not most of the sales are online, Kelly reveals that they’re also with QVC. Prompted by a question from Lori, he goes on to explain that they had sold 1,000 units in five minutes during the Christmas in July sale, which impresses the sharks. Continuing, he states that they plan on going back to QVC closer to the holidays. To their dismay, however, he eventually reveals the fact that they haven’t reordered any additional units as they still have many in stock from the previous sale.

Diving deeper into the topic, Lori inquires about the reordering, to which she is told QVC will probably air the products again come the following Christmas season. Elaborating, Kelly tells her that the Christmas Tree Hugger has received nothing but positive five-star reviews on the platform. Just as he finishes talking, Barbara asks about the price on QVC. Giving her his attention, he replies that they were selling it for $20.

Just as Mark expresses his awe, Kevin asks about his other sales and future plans. In response, Kelly states that they did $12,000 last year, which is largely due to a deal that he had landed with Kroger. With further prompting, he reveals that they had ordered 1,500 units for 130 stores nationwide. Asked whether or not they will be reordering, however, Kelly says no, as they had only managed to sell 40% of the stock.

To his chagrin, the sharks do not seem all too impressed with the story’s ending. Asked why they won’t be reordering, Kelly admits that the product had not sold that well, which everyone else agrees with. Continuing, he acknowledges the fact that grocery stores such as Kroger might not have been the ideal retailer for the hugger.

Continuing to ask questions, Kevin subsequently inquires about their 2017 revenue. In response, he states that they will make $220,000 if the rest of the stock sells. With further prompting from the shark, Kelly says that $110,000 will be profits. While Lori doesn’t the numbers as an issue, she points out the fact that she prefers to invest in things that “fit to a broad mass audience.” Noting that it’s not the right investment for her, she becomes the first to drop out.

Thanking her for her time, Kelly looks on as Robert eventually begins to speak. Though he commends him for starting the business, he admits that he has difficulty “believing in the product”, which leads him to back out of a deal just seconds later. With that, just three sharks are left.

Breaking the silence, Barbara goes on to compliment Kelly on his accomplishments. With that, the entrepreneur takes the chance to highlight once again the fact that he had landed his deals with QVC and Krogers through cold calls. Despite her kind words, however, Barbara eventually also makes it known that she will be backing out. Just as Kelly is thanking her, however, Kevin chimes in bluntly to say that the market “doesn’t care about [his] product”, which leads the creator to raise his eyebrows.

Continuing, Kevin reasons that QVC is only willing to work with him again, in order to get rid of their inventory. As Kelly looks on, Mark cuts in to say that that is not true. After more talking, Kevin surprises everyone by telling him that he should “take it behind the barn and shoot it.” Asked for his opinion, the entrepreneur admits that the sharks are the first ones that he’s encountered to feel that way towards the product.

Interrupting Kevin, Mark applauds him for having made the cold calls to QVC and Kroger. From there, the sharks talk briefly before he asks Kelly about the sale price. After telling him that he had sold the units to Kroger for $6 each, Mark confirms the fact that he had made over $4 in profit per unit, to which he agrees. As the entrepreneur looks on nervously, Mark and Kevin eventually get into somewhat of an argument regarding his work.

After a drawn-out discussion, Kevin drops out. With that, Kelly gives Mark his attention as he begins to talk. While he compliments the well-designed package and concept, however, he mentions that he only sees it “as a product and not a company.” Much to the disappointment of the entrepreneur, he also backs out. Despite not having landed a deal, he lets the sharks know that he will not be quitting anytime soon. After a few final comments from the panel, Kelly turns around to exit the tank.

The Christmas Tree Hugger in 2018 – The After Shark Tank Update

Many months have passed since Kelly pitched his product to the sharks on Shark Tank. How is the company doing nowadays?

After the episode aired, they saw a huge spike in sales that lasted for several weeks (the fact that it aired a few weeks before Christmas definitely helped). Not only that, but they’ve received countless positive reviews online. All in all, the “Shark Tank Effect” has gained them a tremendous amount of traction. According to a recent interview with Kelly, it has also allowed them to seek out new deals and opportunities with sellers.

In terms of other news, the Christmas Tree Hugger has since also been made available at a number of online retailers. Compared to before, when it could only be purchased from their official website, the product can now also be found at Amazon, Walmart, Home Depot, Wayfair, and Zulilly, to name a few. Considering that, it’s likely that their sales will continue to go up come this holiday season.

What Customers Think of the Christmas Tree Hugger

As far as we can tell, the Christmas Tree Hugger has been doing fairly well since their appearance on Shark Tank. For one thing, they currently have a 4.5-star rating on Amazon out of more than two dozen reviews. Looking at the comments, most customers agree that it’s an effective way to conceal the “ugly pole” at the bottom of faux trees.

Similarly, on Facebook, the product has a 4.9-star rating out of 13 reviews. As with those who had purchased the item on Amazon, most users are happy about the item.

Will we be seeing Kelly back on Shark Tank? Unfortunately, seeing as how he wasn’t able to land a deal on the show, this appears unlikely. Nonetheless, it would appear that the product has since taken off—if anything, they’ll probably do even more sales this upcoming holiday season.

Brooke Carter
Freelance writer who loves dogs and anything related to Japanese culture.
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