WOW!! Hi So what did you think about Friday’s episode (Episode 205) of Shark Tank Season 2? What was UP with that know-it-all who couldn’t listen?!! I have to fight every fiber of my being to not dominate this post “defending” myself, my actions (or non-actions) and my demeanor in the tank; it is what it is, and I am who I am!!
Making the Cut
It WAS an amazing experience; I am STILL in shock that my email to casting sent in August 2010 allowed me to take a swim with the “Sharks” and subsequently landed me on Prime Time TV on ABC! EVERYONE is asking what was/is the “secret” to getting on; honestly there IS no secret. Wait until they announce casting for Season 3 (fingers crossed for a Season 3!) send an email answering the questions they ask and…at that point it’s up to casting to decide if you’re worth a phone call!
Within 2 weeks of sending my email I received a call from casting (YAY!) and from that point it was a series of many phone calls, lots of questions, lots of paperwork and then I was asked to submit a 5 minute audition tape; and coming from someone who can talk (as evidenced by Friday’s episode..HA!) 5 minutes is SO short when you’re trying to show an outsider your passion and convince them that Hot Mama Gowns IS a business for the masses! I overnighted my audition tape to CA (which cost me $60!!) Money well spent! And then came the calls from the producers…and FINALLY the email with flight information…Hollywood bound!
I had two models for my pitch to help illustrate the reality of nasty, used, chemical smelling hospital gowns; and to show the Hot Mama alternative! Sandy Sunshine who is no stranger to lights & cameras and then my Hot Mama model Paige Smith who I ACTUALLY met on Twitter and with whom I formed an AMAZING friendship. She agreed to fly into LA to support me & be my Hot Mama. One of the reasons I connected with Paige is because she ALSO owns a maternity business; Pure Belly, which boasts beautiful & soft belly wraps, maternity tanks, breast wraps and more! She’s also the “special person in my life” I referred to in my first Shark Tank post who took me on my virgin trip to In-N-Out Burger (Animal Style all the way)!
I Went, I Pitched, I Said No!
Minutes before I stood in front of the sharks I did this backstage interview; and truly, I was not nervous! At that point I had successfully channeled my worried/anxious/nervous energy into excitement…it was GO time!
Eye-to-eye, toe-to-toe standing in that room in front of the Sharks was OVERWHELMING & awesome! The next hour of my life I’d spend pitching my heart & soul to the sharks; looking for money, looking for affirmation that I HAD created something amazing, and looking for a strategic partnership.
In order to grow to the next level and reduce costs (and offer lower prices on my gowns) I needed an influx of cash. Even though Barbara brought cash to the table in addition to her incredibly positive attitude & business savvy (and make no mistake I would have LOVED to partner with Barbara) the conditions weren’t in line with my vision and the sizing condition (to only offer S, M,L ) was in stark contrast to what the market demands. Moving forward this way would CONTINUE to ignore the sizing needs on both ends of the spectrum, a need that I AM fulfilling! EVERY woman, in EVERY size category should have a Hot Mama Gown that fits HER, not “most”. I was SO humbled and grateful that Barbara extended me an offer; it WAS a vote of confidence, it WAS affirmation that I am breaking ground. Hot Mama Gowns are NOT hospital gowns, they are NOT patterned after hospital gowns; they are SPECIFICALLY and thoughtfully designed for a mother about to give birth and to help facilitate a comfortable and successful breastfeeding relationship (not to mention the immediate skin-to-skin contact that is so critical to baby’s body temperature regulation and bonding).
I said no to Barbara’s deal because of her required changes to what I feel is an integral part of Hot Mama Gowns; sizing. And to give away 40% of my “baby” for such a small investment ($30,000) just didn’t make sense, or feel right. I will always be grateful to Barbara for extending an offer and seeing what the “boys” (hee hee) didn’t! To be validated to the point of someone wanting to give you their hard earned money is SIMPLY extraordinary, and the gravity of that is not lost on me.
Whatcha Up To Now
So…you’ve heard people say “God opens doors”, well, He opened the double doors for me!! You may have noticed our gowns are no longer $119-$139; they are now $89-$99 which is a HUGE reduction; and something that doesn’t happen too often in retail! And…you may have also noticed we launched the “Essentials” line which is a little easier on your diaper bag (wallet) with gowns priced $59-69 <insert cheers>!
So, now let’s walk through those double doors I was telling you about Shortly after I filmed, an unexpected cheerleader entered my life; total blessing to have met this person and truly grateful to have gotten to know them. This person has one of the purest hearts I have ever experienced and is so incredibly sincere, I am fortunate just to have them in my life, let alone the series of events they were about to put into motion. It is no accident God brought them into my life. This new friend connected me with a family member who has extensive & successful experience in all things retail, marketing and sales and what THIS person has accomplished in their own life is quite amazing so I was very much looking forward to “talking shop” and gaining some insights and expertise from this person. That phone call about strategy, sales, marketing and a whole mix of other things as they pertain to Hot Mama Gowns ended up leading to an A.M.A.Z.I.N.G strategic partnership that is about so much more than money, so much more than experience and is SO MUCH more than board room meetings and false pretenses. This “Angel Investor” (this is what investors are called who wish to remain anonymous, and rightly so!) is human, shares my vision and shares my confidence and enthusiasm for the brand and where we are going. THINGS.LIKE.THIS.DON’T.JUST.HAPPEN
I feel validated, I feel even more empowered, and if you can believe it I feel re-energized…to have someone with so much experience, who has climbed to such high ranks within their industry believe in me, and want to partner with me…it’s just AMAZING. And if you thought I was working hard before, this “Angel” makes me want to work EVEN harder and smarter to make them proud and show them I will NOT let them down…it’s going to be an amazing road! And that is the reason you are now able to luxuriate in a Hot Mama Gown for as low as $59. And this is ONLY the beginning!!!
You can also click here to read another update on myself and Hot Mama Gowns, written by Kirk Taylor, a self-proclaimed Serial Entrepreneur (and I swear I didn’t pay him money to say such thoughtful things..swear!!)
There is Loss and There is Light
I’m not entirely sure why I feel so compelled to add this, but I do, and I’m not going to question it or fight it. I filmed for Season 2 of Shark Tank in October; in November I found out we were expecting #3 (My daughter is almost 5 and my son just turned 3 this month!). I mean, you can’t get a higher high than that…SO much good was happening for me in business and in my personal life. The months ticked while I waited to hear if my segment made it to air, and then finally, a “Yes”, Hot Mama Gowns made the cut and my segment would air for 6+million people to see..again…SUCH high highs. It truly seemed that every day was filled with more good news and I LIKED IT!!
My husband and I went in together for my 19 week ultrasound, which is known as the “BIG” ultrasound, because we’d be finding out if we were welcoming a boy or girl into the family…and minutes after the tech started the ultrasound she stopped abruptly and told us there was no heartbeat. Yes, this was my reality. The doctor came in minutes later to repeat the scan and confirmed the news. I truly, truly felt like I somehow, someway was responsible…had I put so much energy into my business and was reaping so many rewards from Hot Mama Gowns that something in my life had to fail to balance it out. Devastating doesn’t COME close to the news we got on that day. That was March 22nd, I was almost 5 months pregnant, and it happened to be my Dad’s birthday of all days. And again, this happened in the midst of ALL the Shark Tank excitement, preparation, and normal every-day life of raising two kids. I was admitted that day into the hospital for an induction because I was too far along for any other options. I delivered on March 25th. Do I even have to point out the cruel, thick irony, that I was wearing my Hot Mama Gowns for those 3 days to deliver a baby that I couldn’t take home.
I am not a negative person; my ridiculous optimism is truly my gift from God, so I always find the good, the positive, and the light. Thru that experience I realized how much people loved me (and loved me hard), some people whom I’ve never met; how highly I was regarded by friends, colleagues, and even just acquaintances, how my pain was your pain. Yeah…this is reality, and it’s not always rainbows and unicorns, but this is me, I’m just as human and fragile as the next.
Everything that is/was/and has been Shark Tank has been an extremely welcome distraction, I’ve been working so hard and have been so focused; you have to have faith that everything happens for a reason, even if we don’t know it at the time, or ever know it.
I have been so humbled by such an outpouring of support before, during AND after my Shark Tank experience; you guys TRULY rock my socks!! Yeah, yeah, there are haters, so I just take my husband’s advice and put on my “Hater Blockers”!!
But just know that Hot Mama Gowns has ONLY just begun our quest for World Domination (at least in Labor and Delivery) for now!!
So much love and so many thanks!
The self-proclaimed “Hot Mama” (yep, it’s on my biz cards!)