'Shark Tank' Successes That Make It Their Mission to Give Back

Sock company Grace and Lace blossomed out of a tragic situation.

March 26, 2014, 1:47 PM

April 30, 2014— -- Melissa and Rick Hinnant are basking in financial success from their frilly boot sock company Grace & Lace. Created in October 2011, the company sold $800,000 worth of socks in their first calendar year.

However, it wasn't always frilly socks and bows for the Hinnants.

Newly married, the Hinnants were excited to start a family and build the next chapter in their life. However, devastation overcame the Hinnants when they found out newly pregnant Melissa would be forced to remain on bed rest to try to save their baby daughter.

"She wanted to start sewing, and that's where her passion for sewing and knitted goods came from," Rick Hinnant said.

Unfortunately, the Hinnants lost their baby to a miscarriage and were left with many unanswered questions and heartbreaking pain.

"Number one is use your pain," Rick Hinnant explained. "Number two is let your pain transform you, for the better."

The Hinnants opened and operated their sock company out of a friend's basement and employed their friends and fellow church goers to help them sew.

"Out of this tragedy," Rick Hinnant continued, "we're now seeing what I call triumph."

Multi-millionaire investor and Shark Barbara Corcoran saw something in the pair when they appeared on season five of ABC's hit show "Shark Tank."

"When she started talking about how well-received her product was, and how she was selling it all through social networking, and had great sales, I thought, this is a winner," Corcoran said.

Corcoran invested $175,000 for a 10 percent stake, with a stipulation that half the money is a line of credit.

After their episode aired, sales skyrocketed for Grace & Lace. The company closed out 2013 with 2.8 million in sales, Rick Hinnant said.

Although their success is bittersweet, Grace & Lace made it their mission from the start to give back and help those in need.

"The financial side is great, but the heart behind the company is what we're more passionate about because we knew this company came from the loss of something so precious to us," Rick Hinnant said. "To have the ability to give back means everything to us."

The Hinnants were able to build two orphanages in India thanks to their boost in sales after "Shark Tank," Rick Hinnant said.

The Hinnants are naming the orphanages The Haley House, in honor of their baby girl that passed so unexpectedly. They are now planning on funding three more orphanages within the year.

"Never in a million years did I think that we would be making an impact through a pair of socks," Melissa Hinnant said. "But we are literally changing the world one boot sock at a time."

"If somebody has a great generosity of spirit, it multiplies," Corcoran said. "They always make money, that's just the way it is."

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Other companies that appeared on "Shark Tank" such as Tipsy Elves and Stella Valle, share in Grace & Lace's charitable mission.

From the start of their ugly Christmas sweater company, the men behind Tipsy Elves made sure they set aside money from each sweater sold in order to give back to those less fortunate.

"We give two dollars for every sweater sold to Stand Up To Cancer," Tipsy Elves co-founder Nick Morton told ABC News.

Tipsy Elves' appearance on "Shark Tank" and investment from shark Robert Herjavec led to a surge in profits that helped further boost their charitable donations.

In less than a week after Tipsy Elves appeared on "Shark Tank," the company brought in over $750,000 in sales. That's compared to their first year of sales which totaled $868,000, Morton said.

In addition to Stand Up To Cancer, Tipsy Elves also donates to their own Sweaters for Sweaters program, which takes some proceeds from every sweater sold and gives back to children in need, Morton said. He estimated the company donated $15,000- $20,000 in their first year of sales and they plan to continue the program, he said.

"I think you can always afford to give back in some degree," Morton said. "Anything can help and something tangible like a sweater to give to a kid at Christmas when it's cold; I think it's, it's very reasonable."

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Jewelry company Stella Valle is yet another shining example. Sharks Mark Cuban and Lori Grenier invested in Stella Valle, created by former U.S. army officers and sisters Paige Dellavalle and Ashley Jung.

Stella Valle created a special piece called the Brave Earring which sells on their website with the slogan "find your courage." A portion of profits from the earrings are donated to U.S. Veterans' Organization Team Red, White and Blue.

"When veterans come out of the military, it's really difficult sometimes to integrate yourself back into the civilian world," said Jung. "So it's all about taking veterans and getting them that physical and social interaction with everyone else in the community."

Whether it's a sweater to a child in need, or creating an orphanage for children in India, many entrepreneurs have utilized the exposure provided by Shark Tank to achieve much more than just personal gain.

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