Posts By: Abbye Shearmire

Swimming with the Sharks

Before our Business Development Manager joined the Steamatic USA team, Brandi Pierce decided to take on the Sharks. The Sharks of Shark Tank to be exact. At 33, Brandi sold her ‘67 barracuda to start her journey as a business owner. Not long after selling her first profitable business, Brandi opened her second business called Southern Swings. 

In the first 10 months of opening, Southern Swings was already making about $400,000 in profit sales, but Brandi had an even bigger dream. Wanting everyone to be able to enjoy a slice of this southern charm, Brandi aimed to take Southern Swings global. Needing a little help to make this dream a reality, it comes to no surprise that when Shark Tank had an open call in Nashville, Brandi dove headfirst at the opportunity. 

What was the interview Process for shark tank like? Walk us through the process.

“The process was a fun one! 

I went to an open call in Nashville, TN and stood in line with hundreds of hopefuls. It was a quick and streamlined process.

You get one minute to pitch your idea to their casting department. They tell you they will call you back within 3-4 weeks if your idea makes it through. 

Two weeks later, I got the call telling me I had made it through, and they will need a video submitted. I submitted it and it made its way up the ranks to the final round. 

Sadly, the last door between the Sharks and I was closed by an email from the last round casting crew that informed me my journey towards the Sharks had come to an end.”

What would you say was the biggest thing you learned from going through that process?

“I knew going in that I had a great and unique concept and after going through the process, it only confirmed that whatever I set my mind to, I could do.”

If you could go back, would you do anything differently? 

“If I could go back through the casting process, I would have sold myself more and how hard I’ve worked to get to where I was. I would have also made my video a little more focused on the experience of Southern Swings. So, a video with all the parties we had coming in and out of the spa having fun! And I would have filmed all the people that came from overseas just to sit in the swings.”

When you weren’t accepted how did that accelerate your drive to succeed in other areas?

“I didn’t get discouraged by not being picked. It just reconfirmed that I’m on the right route in life!”


Even though this route didn’t go quite as hoped for Brandi, Steamatic is all the better for it! Not long after Brandi sold Southern Swings, she brought her amazing entrepreneurial spirit and skillset to our corporate development team. Some of the most amazing qualities Brandi possesses are her unwillingness to ever back down from a challenge, her consistent positivity, and her willingness to share her knowledge and experiences to help others grow as well. The Sharks missed out, but we know this fierce competitor is only getting warmed up. Thank you for all you do Brandi!

Business Owners that Inspire Us

Earlier this year, Steamatic reached out to Trophyology to design and manufacture our revamped Steamatic Awards for 2020. After spending some time searching for the right awards to provide our Franchisees who went above and beyond this year, we stumbled upon the beautiful work Trophyology does to specifically recognize organizations like Steamatic and our Franchises. It didn’t take long for us recognize how amazing this local Austin, Texas company is. Under the direction of the talented and inventive Eva Schone, Trophyology presents a new, modern, and eco-friendly way to showcase high performers and personalize awards. After touring their website, learning about their story, and speaking with the team, we knew this was a company we wanted to support and we immediately related to their constant search for creativity and drive. Inspired by what we saw, Steamatic wanted to know more about the minds behind the Trophyology name. Fortunately for us, Founder and Creative Director Eva Schone sat down with us to speak more on the magic Trophyology makes daily.

Steamitic franchise of the year

Changing the Industry one Trophy at a Time

Eva Schone is a licensed and practicing architect and serves as an adjunct faculty member at the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin in the State’s capital, Austin, Texas teaching architecture and design studios. She founded Trophyology in 2011 and has since been recognized as an innovator by various business and design communities, as well as the promotional product industry. Eva honed in on a need in these spaces that she new she could use her skills to fill, and went for it.

What are some of the biggest hurdles you have had to overcome?

In hindsight, knowing all the things I know now, I had no business starting this business. But that’s also the best part about it. I approached Trophyology entirely from a design perspective. I observed a dire need for good design in an industry ripe for innovation and as a designer I felt 100% qualified to meet this need. What I didn’t have were appropriate resources, industry knowledge, and business acumen – all rather important aspects when starting a business. That meant that for the first few years, I made great personal sacrifices in my standard of living, invested my blood, sweat, and tears into the company, and accepted the fact that building my business would take a little longer. I most certainly chose an uphill path, but I’m feeling quite accomplished today when looking back in one direction at how far I have already come and I am enjoying the view when looking the other way. I feel that my own personal growth through entrepreneurship is one of my greatest achievements to date. I cherish this personal success and consider it the shiny flip side of obstacles.

How would you say you’re breaking barriers in the industry?

Trophyology set out to introduce excellent design and outstanding craftsmanship to an industry that was defined by standardized, predictable, mass-fabricated (inexpensive) product. Many people had just accepted and resigned themselves to the status quo because there were no good alternatives available and because they never thought about the topic of recognition in great detail. Once they see Trophyology awards, the response seems to be consistent: Oh my goodness: Yes! That’s what we wanted all along!

Throughout your experiences, what have been some of the biggest differences you have noticed in comparison to your competitors?

Trophyology distinguishes itself from its competitors by being first and foremost a design company that focuses on minimalism. Trophyology’s work is inspired by architecture, art, design, fashion, philosophy, psychology, and anthropology. We take design seriously and our design philosophy reflects our strong commitment to the creative process. Trophyology was also the first company to offer holistic design collections to its clients.

We decided early on to position our work in the realm of sculpture, art, and decorative objects – versus in the promotional products category into which awards frequently fall.

One of the most significant design changes Trophyology introduced was to eliminate the traditional trophy pedestal on which an object was mounted along with the typically haphazardly applied nameplate.

In addition to sourcing our materials in the USA, we are proud to craft our awards in Austin, Texas. Within our team, sustainability is a natural desire and an understood part of operations. We continually strive to improve how we conduct our work and its impact on the planet.

Who inspires you?

Graceful people who move through life with elegance, kindness, and power. There are women and men I greatly admire who have left a mark on history and others whose names aren’t written in history books but who equally inspire me on a daily basis.

When you run into roadblocks what inspires you to keep pushing through?

Drawing on past experience and knowing that I have been able to move beyond roadblocks before. And the lovely realization that sometimes obstacles look like big roadblocks from one side, but like silver linings from the other side. These days, it’s often more a curiosity to see which it will be.

The Value of Shared Values

Even though our industries are different, one goal remains the same, providing a unique and extraordinary outcome. The drive to be inventive, to see needs and to fill them creatively, and to continue to learn and grow. We strive to be the best business owners, employees, and team members that we can be daily. This is one of the like-minded standards both of our company’s share and a shared value we are looking for in potential new Steamatic owners.
Thank you Eva, for paving the way and inspiring future business owners that with a good attitude, never ending drive, and hard work, anything is possible.