Keeping Girls Loud: From Shark Tank Heartbreak to Empowering Young Women with Angelica Sweeting

Angelica Sweeting is the first Black woman to hold a utility patent in the toy industry, an accomplishment she’s proud to wear today – but one that did not come without a lot of ups and downs along her winding entrepreneurial journey. One of those highs was being featured on Shark Tank in 2017 and snagging a deal with shark, Daymond John, but shortly after the lows became very low. 

For the first time in 5 years, Angelica is able to discuss her Shark Tank deal gone bad, and how she’s bounced back from the hardest period in her life. As Angelica says, “Failure and mistakes are part of the process.” On this episode of Lift U Up: Inspiring Health Stories, get a first look at her new business, My Mella Magic, the first doll with interchangeable hair, and why she says her mission is to empower young girls to use their voice.

Entrepreneurial Spirit

Since her college days, Angelica Sweeting had an interest in business. After pivoting from her pre-med track, she fell in love with business after the first class she took, and knew she found the right place for her. After graduating with a business degree she found success starting a corporate career. 

Then one day, after being inspired by her young daughter, entrepreneurship called. Her daughter was upset that she didn’t feel beautiful, that she didn’t look like all of the “pretty” dolls in the stores and Angelica saw a space to make change. She designed a doll that had natural hair, dark skin tones, and facial features inspired by her daughter and other beautiful Black women. She saw quick success when her kickstarter for Naturally Perfect Dolls went viral, raising $85,000 and meeting her goal in just 48 hours. Angelica was doing what had never been done in the toy industry, and she was ready to take her business to the next level. 

Swimming with Sharks

As a first-time entrepreneur, Angelica was learning how to grow a business along the way. In 2017, she had what she thought was going to be a life-changing opportunity to do so – a chance to pitch her business on Shark Tank. Together with her husband, they went in with a plan and impressed one of the sharks enough to make a deal. But that’s where their good luck ended. In a turn of events, their shark backed out of their contract leaving Angelica with $100,000 of debt the year they were projected to make $1 million. Though she tried to pick up the pieces, Angelica couldn’t fulfill her preorders, she took the loss, and made the heartbreaking decision to close her business. 

Finding the Good in Failure

Embarrassed and discouraged, Angelica returned to the corporate world feeling like a failure, but she still had that hope that one day she would get to try again. Five years later, she built the courage to do just that. Not unlike the first time she opened, her inspiration came from her daughters who never let her forget the motivation behind the dolls. In some ways, the business changed for the better. Their name changed to My Mella Magic. They designed more dolls and Angelica created a way to have their hair interchangeable. Their mission was also expanded on, not only creating dolls to make young black and brown girls see their own beauty, but see their worth and use their voices. 

As a second-time entrepreneur, Angelica was also able to start this business with way more experience than she had the first time. Every lesson and every failure were important in her growth and role as CEO this time around. 

Since starting her second venture in 2020, Angelica designed her dolls’ interchanging hair and spent a year earning a utility patent, becoming the first Black woman to have one in the toy industry. Despite the highly competitive nature of the toy industry, this win alone shows just how powerful Angelica and My Mella Magic has the potential to be. 

What else can you expect in this episode?

  • The behind the scenes of what making a deal on Shark Tank is really like.
  • Angelica’s theory of why her shark decided to pull out of their deal.
  • How her original business inspired big box toy brands to create authentic representation, and why it is harder for Angelica to break back into the industry. 
  • What’s next for My Mella Magic.

Where to find My Mella Magic: