…invents Bon Affair and wins a deal on Shark Tank with Mark Cuban

by Steve Kang

When I first met Jayla Siciliano, I was surprised to find so much energy and spirit packed into such a small frame. She’s a wonderfully charming person that keeps a smile on your face but after just a few minutes with her, it’s very obvious she’s fiercely driven and focused.

Jayla grew up in New Hampshire but moved to the West Coast to attend UCSB. She majored in Global Studies because she wanted to work for a non-profit to help fight against global sweatshops. It also didn’t hurt that this major required her to study abroad, so she headed down to Costa Rica.

After graduation, she landed a job with Diesel Footwear and worked for Global Brand Licensing that had the rights to that particular brand. This allowed her to see how the industry actually worked. Eventually she decided to move back to the East Coast and accepted a job at Burton.

During this time, she had a side gig making customized handbags and belts. She’d always been able to sew and that’s what helped her land the job at Diesel because she could conceptualize how things are made. Her entrepreneurial spirit was instilled by her father, so she always had dreams of breaking free and doing her own thing.

She soon found out everything revolved around alcohol in the industry. All the events and entertainment made it an easy environment to party with coworkers, clients, and customers. It was intense at Diesel but when she got to Burton, it was taken up a notch. This is when she realized she needed to be more healthy. She never liked beer and shots were too strong. That’s when Jayla started pouring soda water into her wine to make a customized “wine spritzer”.

Her peers noticed and wanted to drink what she was enjoying. They would all turn to her and say, “Can I get a spritzer?”. That’s when the light bulb went off and her “AHA!” moment with Bon Affair was born.

She picked up and moved back to the West Coast with an idea and a dream but first she wanted to become a businessperson, so she got her MBA at USD. She then spent the next year and a half fundraising while bartending on the side to make ends meet. She eventually got enough investors to begin her first round of production.

As everybody knows, there are risks and rewards in being your own boss. Jayla unfortunately hooked up with a processing plant that yielded leaky bottles, as well as remnants of Bloody Mary mix from a previous run. Things went downhill from there and she lost around $100,000 in inventory.

Jayla thought she gave it a good try and there was nothing she could have done until a different investor said if she finds another bottler, they were willing to try another run. At the same time, she decided to apply for the reality show Shark Tank.

She found a reputable bottler and had just enough money for another run. Fortuitously, four months later, right before the production run, Shark Tank producers contacted her to say she was chosen.

Regarding the hit reality show, Jayla was on set for about an hour but got edited down to 10 minutes. She mentioned it was much more intense than it appears on television and it ended in a blink of an eye.

Jayla just wanted an opportunity to grow her business. She was unsure until Mark Cuban heard her final plea and he accepted. She shook his hand and prepared for the silent waiting game. After four months of due diligence with Cuban’s attorneys, they finally closed the deal in February.

Siciliano was contractually bound to keep details about the show a secret until May 9th and when it finally aired, within ten days they had $80k in sales, including almost $180K in online sales. Her episode just recently re-aired, so she received some residual marketing from that, which she utilized towards increased staffing.

Siciliano says working with Mark Cuban has been an excellent experience. She expected just an introduction and a few meetings but he has a team dedicated just to his Shark Tank companies. It was his initiative to utilize an aluminum bottle so it would be more eco-friendly as well as a great container for parties poolside, especially in Las Vegas.

She sends Cuban weekly updates and when she has a question, he responds immediately. Although the deal was 35% for $100,000, he’s done so many intangible things, it’s been well worth it, including financing the next production run.

Henry Wine Group, Cuban’s connection in Texas, accepted the product and now they are getting ready to go into Vegas and Tennessee. 

With experience, education, perseverance, and dedication, it looks like Jayla Siciliano is beating the odds. Through all success, she is also very humble and says she could not have done any of this without the support of her husband, James, being by her side every step of the way.

So next time you’re throwing a party or attending one, don’t forget to ask for a nice crisp, chilled, glass of Bon Affair and toast Jayla while drinking it!