Mind-blowing. Whirlwind. Crazy. Amazing. Hectic. Gratifying.
Those are the words childhood friends Jess Edelstein and Sarah Ribner used Tuesday to describe the entrepreneurial explosion that's reverberated since the public went wild for their PiperWai natural deodorant after its Dec. 11 debut on ABC's Shark Tank.
Some of the comments on their Facebook page? Not quite so uplifting.
Where's my order?! This is terrible customer service. Empty promises.
Those were the most common ones, Edelstein said, as response to their TV appearance so overwhelmed the fledgling company that orders placed in response to it - many undoubtedly anticipated as Christmas gifts - have just been shipped.
Some customers were tired of waiting, canceling $50,000 in orders. Each 2-ounce jar sells for $11.99, plus shipping.
Call it the Shark Tank effect. So, too, is the $1.4 million in sales since the show aired.
"We haven't fully wrapped our head around the enormity of it yet because we're still in survival mode," said Edelstein, 27, a native of Lower Merion who went to Friends' Central with Ribner, 26, who grew up in West Mount Airy.
Humbled and stung by the more biting of the social-media venting, Edelstein and Ribner have made several changes to their production, payment, and order-fulfillment processes.
Well-timed moves, since a two-minute update on their business will air Friday. On March 4, the Dec. 11 Shark Tank episode will be repeated.
"We're going to get slammed again," Edelstein said.
This time, they're ready.
"We learned so much since Dec. 11," said Ribner, who is working on an MBA from Columbia Business School.
Though the post-Shark Tank challenges have been "painful," she said, "our company is a lot stronger coming out of it."
Big orders weren't the norm at PiperWai L.L.C., which launched in March 2014 and for the first 16 months handcrafted its deodorant in a community kitchen in Fishtown. The cream deodorant - which includes activated-charcoal powder, magnesium hydroxide, baking soda, and a proprietary blend of 11 essential oils - still is not carried by any big retailers.
Shark Tank-inspired orders - nearly $800,000 in sales in the first 72 hours - quickly overwhelmed the company's one manufacturer, Power Line Packaging in Conshohocken.
"My entire life is being consumed by it all of a sudden," John Vernon, vice president at Power Line, said in a brief interview last month. He said he could talk more when things settled down. He did not return a call Tuesday.
PiperWai has added a second manufacturer and has lined up backup suppliers for all its ingredients and packaging needs.
Heeding customer complaints, PiperWai has switched to a payment system that won't charge credit cards until an order has shipped.
After the operation "lost so many packages" through the Postal Service, Edelstein said, shipping now will be via DHL.
After personally responding to 10,000 customer-service emails each, Edelstein and Ribner now have help with that and social media, and plan to hire a bookkeeper.
They are awaiting finalization of their agreement with real estate maven Barbara Corcoran, the Shark who agreed to invest $50,000 for a 25 percent stake in PiperWai.
Corcoran has called for a roll-on form of PiperWai, expected later this year.
Despite the rough going, "we are so grateful" for the Shark Tank opportunity," Edelstein said. "It gives your business so much exposure you would not have otherwise."