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From startup to store shelves: How one conversation can make all the difference

From startup to store shelves: How one conversation can make all the difference

“One conversation can change everything, and Shoptalk made that happen.”

Shirah Benarde is CEO and co-founder of NightCap, a startup that sells scrunchies that unfold into protective covers to prevent drinks being spiked. Since launching in 2020 and landing their first big investment break with American TV show SharkTank, in 2021 – when she was just 17 years old – Benarde continues to attract interest through building her brand and networking and a key part of that is attending Shoptalk, the leading ecommerce event. 

When she attended Shoptalk last year, Benarde cold-pitched Forever 21 CEO Winnie Park after hearing her speak on a panel about female empowerment.

Shirah We sat in the front row and found her words to be so inspiring. After the panel, we approached her, thanked her and shared our own story. I had a NightCap on me to share with her and she immediately understood the concept. She said right then that she wanted to get it into stores.
Shirah Benarde
Founder of NightCap

Today, NightCap scrunchies are sold at all 400 Forever 21 US locations. “Our goal is to build awareness about drink safety and to make our product as accessible as possible,” says Benarde. “We want to have conversations and give as many people as possible access to safety.” While Forever 21 is their biggest retail partner, the startup also has strategic partnerships with more than 150 college campuses, along with dating app Bumble.

The power of conversation.

Benarde credits the power of conversation as an important part of her growth, both personally, and for NightCap.

Shirah Attending an event like Shoptalk is amazing because it allows people to be accessible to you. I like to tell other young entrepreneurs I meet that they should not be afraid to go for it. Don’t be afraid to approach someone, to ask questions or share your story. You never know what a conversation might lead to. One step can be a catalyst and open doors to something much bigger. I learnt one conversation can change everything, and Shoptalk made that happen.
Shirah Benarde
Founder of NightCap

Shirah Benarde cofounded NightCap with her brother, Michael Benarde. The pair earned a spot on the Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Retail & Ecommerce list in 2024. Benarde continues to be an advocate for attending market-leading events and an avid champion for Shoptalk. 

Nikki Griffiths

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