My dream for my business was to open a new segment of the salon industry. There was a time years ago when the concept of products made specifically for men was unproven, though it has become one of the hottest segments of the market right now. I truly believe that children’s products are the next frontier! I explained my business plan in detail while in the Shark Tank and my experience lasted nearly two hours (though was cut down to about seven minutes and didn’t include my strategy in the final edit). I had been in business for over a year and knew that it was nearly impossible for a social worker mom to sell professional hair products to high-end salons. Doors were slammed in my face on a daily basis, as people assumed that I had whipped up a batch of homemade hair gel in my kitchen sink. Though this was never the case, I realized that I lacked credibility. Most people are very busy and didn’t take the time to listen to my pitch. Those that did were weary and didn’t want to buy something from me that they weren’t certain would sell. Most people are afraid to invest in something that hasn’t been proven, even though my buy-in was relatively small.
When the opportunity to partner with Mark Cuban arose, I didn’t hesitate. I think the business had generated around 15k in revenue at the time, though I hadn’t taken a penny personally since new businesses always need money. I viewed the partnership as an opportunity to get what I needed most, credibility. Mark has a proven track record of good judgement in business. He plays on winning teams. I would rather have 60% of a successful company than 100% of a struggling one. I am the majority shareholder and run the day to day operations, though I am pleased to be able to consult with him when I need. He is incredibly available; we’ve exchanged emails at all hours of the day and night since becoming partners a year ago. I think a good leader enables people to learn their own lessons, which Mark surely does. However, he provides an opinion when asked and offers guidance when needed. It’s an arrangement that works well.
While I am (by no means!) a haircare guru, I have noticed that people take the time to listen to what I have to say when they know that Mark is involved with the company. I think a common misconception about Shark Tank is that everyone makes millions of dollars after presenting on TV. Things don’t work that way, though the opportunity has given my business the chance it desperately needed. I am trying to do something that has never been done (sell kid’s hair products exclusively in high-end salons as an add-on item since moms frequent these type of establishments). Being first means that the road is long and bumpy.
The benefit of being first, however, is that you’re first! If I’m right and my theory does work, it will permanently change the landscape of the salon industry. I compared my vision to the story of Red Bull in the Shark Tank: While I’m competing with industry giants (they were up against huge companies like Pepsi and Coke), success means that you have opened a new market (remember when there wasn’t a section of energy drinks in every gas station and grocery store!?!). I am not motivated by money but rather completely fixated on following through with my vision. I am fully aware that it may not work and turned down opportunity from several big box retailers after appearing on TV (which was slightly terrifying). I could be wrong. But… I could be right :-) I am an eternal optimist and continue to move forward and up!
Shark Tank changed my business drastically by giving it visibility. Mark Cuban has given me credibility as a business woman, which has opened the door for me to have a real chance at success. I am so grateful for both and wouldn’t trade either for anything. If I had it to do again (appearing on the show or partnering with Mark), I would do things the same… in a heartbeat. People often want to know how things are going since my episode aired. I always tell them that I still don’t have all the answers, though things are going well enough that I am certain I want to keep working on Hot Tot again tomorrow :-)