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Installing new lighting at home is one of those sneaky, seemingly simple tasks that can quickly become much more expensive and time-consuming than anticipated. That’s the exact home-renovation woe that Denver couple Rose Fierman and Caroline Matthes are on a mission to solve with Poplight, a rechargeable wall sconce that doesn’t require hard-wiring, power tools, or hiring an electrician. Now available for preorder for $95 per light (orders are estimated to ship this May), Poplight comes in a variety of colors and is designed to take the hassle out of sprucing up a space.
The concept recently caught the attention of a Shark Tank producer, who reached out to Fierman and Matthes after discovering Poplight on TikTok. “True story, I thought it was a scam and I ignored the email for a few weeks,” Fierman says. She eventually replied, and on January 19, Fierman and Matthes appeared on season 15 episode 10 of the ABC television show and accepted an offer from Kevin O’Leary. (His proposal: $150,000 for eight percent equity in the company; plus a $2 per-unit royalty until $500,000 is repaid, and then it drops to $1 per unit in perpetuity.)
That's only $1 per issue!
We caught up with Fierman and Matthes to chat about the, ahem, lightbulb moment that led to their new business, their TV debut, and what’s next for Poplight.
Editor’s note: The following conversations have been edited for length and clarity.
5280: Let’s start at the beginning. How did you come up with the idea for Poplight?
Rose Fierman: Caroline and I had just moved into our first place together in the Santa Fe Arts District. The houses in that neighborhood are very, very old.
Caroline Matthes: Our house was built in 1879—the wiring was insulated with horse hair!
RF: We wanted to install wall lights in our bedroom and, given the age of the house and the cost of wiring the lights, we realized that installing traditional wall sconces was not going to work for us.
CM: Rose and I tried to find an alternative that wouldn’t require hard-wiring, and we couldn’t find anything that fit our budget, aesthetic, or lighting needs. We were honestly shocked that something like Poplight didn’t exist.
Tell us about the process of bringing that idea to fruition.
RF: We’ve had to learn and grow at every step. One of the biggest challenges we ran into was that it is really, really, expensive to get started. So this past March we ran a Kickstarter campaign and raised over $160,000 in preorders for Poplight. This will help us with manufacturing. Plus, it was a ton of fun to do, and there’s now this awesome community behind Poplight.
CM: Neither Rose nor I come from a design or manufacturing background, so there’s been a learning curve at each step in this process. We’ve both naturally found our strengths, and I have really enjoyed the design aspect. Creating a product from scratch really encouraged me to look at everything in my environment with a different lens.
How does Poplight work, and where you can install it?
RF: We designed Poplight to be as simple and easy to install as possible.
CM: You don’t need any tools or special supplies.
RF: The base sticks to most wall surfaces and has a built-in level, so you can be sure your Poplight is perfectly aligned. Then you just swivel and click your Poplight onto the base. That’s it—it all takes less than a minute.
CM: Poplight is also as easy to remove as it is to install, and it won’t damage your wall. It’s ideal for bedrooms, home offices, hallways, and kids’ rooms. It works as an accent light, task light, and as ambience.
Tell us about your experience on Shark Tank. How has it impacted Poplight so far?
RF: Shark Tank has been such a fun ride. We worked with our producers for months and they were incredibly supportive and helpful at every step. The hardest part about the whole experience was keeping it a secret from our friends, family, and the Poplight community. The night the episode premiered, we had an over-2,000-percent increase in website traffic—plus lots of engagement across our socials. We are thrilled about working with Kevin. The deal we secured will help us order more inventory and develop our next Poplight design. Plus, there’s so much expertise he can provide to help us grow the business.
If you had the chance to do it again, is there anything you’d do differently?
RF: The whole thing was so exciting. It felt a lot like our wedding day—it went by extremely fast and when it was over it was hard to remember exactly what happened. We both wish we could have slowed down and savored the experience more.
What’s next for your business?
CM: Our first line of Poplights are these gorgeous, colorful elbow designs. We’re constantly looking for inspiration and have multiple designs in the pipeline. Our next two production runs will include different styles and finishes—the people want brushed gold.