Fans of Shark Tank—the reality show in which entrepreneurs pitch their product to a lineup of brutally honest investors—won’t soon forget the episode featuring the Young family. Siblings Kaley, Christian, and Keira lost their mother to breast cancer and their firefighter father to a rare cancer he developed during the Ground Zero cleanup after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Their father had been an avid cook: He’d been the firehouse chef and had appeared on Chopped three times (and won twice). Just three months after his death, the siblings appeared on the show to carry on his dream, that his invention, a cutting board with a tray for food scraps, would one day be in every kitchen in America. In an emotional, almost unprecedented decision, all five Sharks signed on to invest a total of $100,000 in the Cup Board Pro.
With the help of the Sharks, the Youngs signed a deal with Williams Sonoma to produce and sell the innovative cutting board. They worked with the gourmet kitchenware retailer to improve the product’s durability, make it anti-microbial, and manufacture it in the U.S. “I think that people almost think it’s magic: you go on the show and all of a sudden, your product is here,” Kaley Young says. “It is magic in so many ways, but there’s definitely a lot of work involved.”
When their father died, Young was in her last year at FIT, and she became guardian to her 14-year-old sister, who is now 16. She also inherited her mother’s Pilates studio, Hot Pilates Secret, in their hometown of Wantagh, New York.
Now that the Cup Board Pro has a home at Williams Sonoma, Young is pursuing interior design and leading yoga and pilates retreats around the world. Mainly, she’s taking life one day at a time. “Whenever I make a strict plan for my future, God just laughs,” she says. “You just have to continue to be happy, because life’s too short not to be.”
(Image at top of page) The Sharks, along with Keira, Kaley, and Christian Young, present a check to the FDNY Foundation.