Southern Culture Artisan Foods on CNBC's 'The Profit' four years after 'Shark Tank'

Credit: Rodney Ho

Credit: Rodney Ho

Posted Monday,  February 5, 2018 by RODNEY HO/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Atlanta's Erica Barrett runs an all-natural food mix company called Southern Culture Artisan Foods. In 2014, she appeared on "Shark Tank"  and won over entrepreneur and "Shark" judge  Barbara Corcoran. Corcoran committed to 38 percent of the company for $100,000.

But about half of these so-called "Shark Tank" deals fall through during the due diligence stage. Barrett and Corcoran ultimately could not come to an actual arrangement and Barrett left with a nice dose of publicity but no money.

She's now back on CNBC's "The Profit" on Tuesday, Feb. 6 to get help from turnaround expert Marcus Lemonis.

At the time Lemonis met her, she made pancake and waffle mixes, fried chicken mix, bacon rubs and grits.

Lemonis was impressed with her food but not so impressed with how she had run her business over five years. She committed to some loans with obnoxiously high interest rates and her debt had grown to a painful $500,000. "Colossal debts have clogged her cash flow," Lemonis said on the show.

It doesn't help that her overly critical hubby Andre has checked out. "You resent her so much," Lemonis told Andre. "The solution isn't telling her how stupid she is."

He said Barrett's husband needed to stop criticizing and start supporting her.

Lemonis, with an infusion of $75,000 and equity into Southern Culture, helped her reduce her debt, scale back some superfluous products, add new ones and create a more coherent story that binds her products together.

For Barrett, it's been a largely one-woman show until now. "I've never had to answer to anybody," she said on the show. She struggles to take criticism and fresh ideas and admits she has a hard time letting go of control.

But in the end, she absorbed Lemonis' advice and ran with it.

"It was an awesome experience," Barrett said in an interview. "I had a lot of debt but I felt like I had a great viable business. Marcus was able to fix and identify the problems. He really helped us re-brand our business and gave us some home."

She has been in retail and is readying to relaunch. And she said Lemonis has been responsive to her needs. "It's been a blessing and miracle from God," she said.

Here is part of her original "Shark Tank" pitch in 2014: