Longhairs Do Care
ABC’s ‘Shark Tank’ was full of hair whips and high fives with these Fresno State alumni
By Eddie Hughes
The double doors opened, and Chris Healy and Lindsay Barto emerged with a rush of swagger that captured the nation’s attention on the Jan. 14 episode of the ABC hit show “Shark Tank.”
Healy and Barto, both Fresno State alumni who met during their days in the Sigma Nu Fraternity, pitched their business, The Longhairs, that makes hair ties for guys. The two didn’t disappoint, striking a deal with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban for $100,000 for a 20 percent equity share in the company.
Fresno State Magazine caught up with Healy and Barto and asked them all about the experience.
Fresno State Magazine: Tell us about your business and how you came up with the idea.
Healy: The Longhairs is a global fraternity for men with long hair. We publish original content, foster community and sell Hair Ties For Guys, the finest men’s hair ties in the world, and other superior products for men with long hair. Stemming from the notion that men shouldn’t have to use the same hair ties as their little sisters, or purchase them from the women’s hair care aisle, we recognized the glaring need for a superior men’s hair tie.
How did you get started?
Barto: The Longhairs was established in 2014, and we are located in San Diego. For the first year, we didn’t have any products or make a single dollar; all we did was publish original, quality content for guys with long hair. Once we started building an audience, we realized there is a very real community out there, and they really need our help.
Was there an experience from your time as Fresno State students that helped prepare you?
Healy: I can say without question our Sigma Nu Fraternity experience helped prepare us for starting our own business. Working together in the fraternity, from recruitment to leadership development, helped us figure out how to get things done. We’d sit around late at night at the fraternity house talking about starting a business together one day.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
Barto: We’ve never had a steady paycheck, a savings account, a 401K, paid holidays or any of those nice securities. We didn’t have jobs, we made our jobs. We have been grinding, and we still are, and there’s a long way to go before we’ve ‘made it.’
What’s your advice for a young grad who has a business idea?
Healy: Ideas are a dime a dozen, even good ones. The difference is doing what it takes to make an idea real. And that’s putting in the work. There is no such thing as overnight success, get rich quick or seven-minute abs. If you want to make it, you must be willing to put the work in.
Take us through the ‘Shark Tank’ experience.
Healy: That morning we got up at 4 a.m. We hit the hotel gym. We practiced our pitch while lifting weights, breathless. We knew if we could pitch mid-exercise we could do it anywhere, in front of anyone. The next five hours included breakfast, transport, orientation, walking the set, hair, makeup, audio, sound checks, wardrobe checks, run-throughs, set checks and more walk-throughs. Finally, it was just the two of us standing on a small carpet in front of those double doors leading into the hallway. We looked at each other, and we were ready. Those doors opened and we walked down that hallway, fearless.
Tell us about the deal you were able to reach with a shark.
Barto: While we would have welcomed a deal with any shark, we both believed in our hearts we were going to get a deal with Mark Cuban. We are extremely humbled, grateful and fortunate to have gotten the deal we did.
Did you make sure Mark Cuban has some Fresno State gear?
Healy: We still need to get him some Bulldogs gear!
How is business since the show aired?
Barto: Business has been on fire since airing. The first week we did about 10 times our average weekly sales. We’ve shifted our focus to sustaining our momentum and positioning ourselves for the long haul.
What’s next for The Longhairs?
Healy: Alongside our charity partner, Children With Hair Loss, we will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest hair donation in history. It will be The Great Cut on March 16, when men, women and children will cut their hair for children who cannot grow their own. We are seeking the support of every Fresno State alum and friend.
Anything else you’d like to add or that you’d like people to know?
We are proud to represent Fresno State and the Valley, and we attribute much of our success to our formative years spent there. You’ll find us cheering on the ’Dogs and wearing cardinal and blue at every sports event we can make it to.