Kiana Gomes: Drop, Fizz & Drink!
Kiana Gomes recently pitched her business on Dragons’ Den and now four Dragons are investing in her Cocktail Bomb Shop. Barely in her 20s, she is an exploding success story with her bubbling product.
When Kiana Gomes was just a kid, she used to watch Dragons’ Den wishing she could be in front of the Dragons one day. “I would dream of accomplishing something like that,” she says. “But it’s one of those things that you feel will be impossible to ever get there.” Spoiler alert: Gomes got there.
Parents pass on all kinds of things to their kids. And, in Gomes’ case, perhaps it was the entrepreneurial spirit. Her mom owned a kitchen store in Ottawa when Gomes was growing up and her dad was in sales. So, as a kid, she sold lemonade, went on to sell clothing online as a teen, then baked and sold cakes, but discovered that wasn’t very profitable. She worked in a soap store that sold bath bombs but she lost her job. In spite of all that, Gomes would prove unstoppable once she watched a TikTok video on chocolate bombs and an idea began to take shape.
“I thought it was cool — I saw a recipe showing how to make them and I thought I would try it and put them on Facebook Marketplace,” says Gomes, who’s now a university student in Montreal. She started getting orders and they started selling like crazy. So, Gomes started producing the chocolate bombs with friends and family, who were all working late into the night making them. In fact, they sold 12,000 hot chocolate bombs from last November to Valentine’s Day.
But you know how it goes — everyone is kind of done with chocolate after February 14. Gomes was discouraged, but she put her energy into researching ideas. She found an old article online about a bartender who had created a kind of cocktail bomb for a special event. That got her thinking, and she started experimenting in her kitchen. She came up with a cocktail bomb herself and posted it on TikTok. Loosely based on the bath bomb design, the cocktail bombs are dropped into a glass full of a sparkling beverages for instant mimosas, mojitos and even peach Bellinis. Garnish as desired, or don’t even bother. It doesn’t get any easier.
“It was just a random video and it ended up getting 2.5 million views!” says Gomes. That’s the good news. The bad news? “I didn’t have a website. I didn’t have packaging. All I had was this idea,” she adds. She got busy, hiring someone to come up with a logo and working on packaging. Everyone was helping: her boyfriend and business partner, who prefers to be behind the scenes, her parents, his parents, other family members and friends. “I’m really lucky that I had a good support network around me because I don’t think I would have been able to do it all myself,” she says.
Eventually, Gomes outgrew the kitchen and rented out a location, and the company, Cocktail Bomb Shop, now employs eight people. All of the bombs are made in Montreal and packaged with eco-friendly materials — even the wrap around the bombs is biodegradable. And that is when she gathered up her courage and auditioned to get into Dragons’ Den. To her surprise, she was chosen to appear in front of the Dragons. She looks very relaxed on the show; however, that was not really the case, says Gomes. She was super nervous before she was about to walk in. But the production team encouraged her and she started talking and continued pitching even when the Dragons were talking over her, and she got a little more comfortable. All of them were impressed by her numbers (more than $1.5 million in sales), and the Dragons wanted in. The final deal was struck: $400,000 for five percent for each of the four dragons.
As for her future plans, you better take cover because there are more bombs coming. Colour-changing hot chocolate bombs, maybe coffee bombs, too. And she has ideas for expansion, so she is headed to more markets in the United States.
Gomes has the right mix, really, with way more wisdom and experience than most people have at her young age. Asked what success means to her, she answers honestly. “Traditionally, you would think that it’s having a lot of money,” she says. But there is no joy in mistreating or exploiting people to make money, and it’s better to perhaps not make as much money but to be proud of what you’ve accomplished and ensure that people around you are happy, she adds. For Gomes, that’s the true bottom line. “If you feel like you’re doing something sustainable and you’ve created something good, I think that’s success.”
INTERVIEW BY ESTELLE ZENTIL