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There are times in life that cause us to reflect on the lessons we have learned and the dreams we have chosen to pursue. It is Shark Tank casting season once again, a time where hopeful entrepreneurs are preparing their beloved businesses for an introduction to the sharks and the show’s 7 million viewers. It is hard for me to believe that a full year has passed since I was in that position. I have had the opportunity to connect with several people in various phases of the casting process, an experience that has reminded me of the wonderful fortune I have found in being selected for the show. While I still feel like I am in the early phases of my entrepreneurial journey, I am reminded of just how far I have come. I am certain I lack more answers than I posses, though have finally reached a place where I have learned to trust my own instinct and judgement.
When I began developing my first four products in 2010, I reached out to several successful women who founded companies I admired. I sought advice and encouragement though didn’t receive a response from most. The one woman I shared an interaction with was cold towards me and very secretive, the polar opposite of what I had hoped for and expected. Clearly life went on for me, though I vowed to be more supportive in the event I was fortunate enough to find success. While my initial willingness to make time for others stemmed from my commitments to giving more than I had received, I have since realized that I have been personally fulfilled by making time for others. Those interactions have birthed new friendships with like-minded and inspiring people. The opportunity to offer advice has helped me realize just how far I have come and revealed lessons I didn’t realize I had learned. It has also helped me feel connected to others, as anyone who works for themselves (and/or from home) can probably relate to the occasional loneliness such a unique position presents. Giving to others provides an opportunity to grow and connect.
Anyone who knows me even a little bit can attest to the fact that I am one of the biggest Oribe fans the world has ever known. The man is a creative genius; he is a hairstylist responsible for iconic looks over the past few decades. He has worked with high profile fashion designers, models, actresses, and makes regular women feel like bombshells. I have heard other describe him as the “Elvis of hair” and think the title suits perfectly. He is charming, charismatic, and oozes with talent. He is the front man for what I believe to be the best haircare brand in the world, appropriately named Oribe. Once a year this fantastic company invites their salon partners for a weekend of inspiration, Backstage as they call it. This year the event was held in Miami and I was fortunate enough to attend. While my goal was to educate myself on the salon industry, I left feeling encouraged, excited, and empowered. A stylist had warned me that my career will never be the same after attending; boy was he right!
Spending several days in the presence of the best hairstylists and salon owners in the world reminded me of the amazing opportunity I have been given. From a business perspective, I often view the task of orienting an entire industry to my little brand as an overwhelming and impossible project. My time in Miami, however, reminded me that this industry is full of amazing people who are seeking the next big trend. Years ago, I pursued a career in social work because I wanted to connect with others. Meeting such a passionate group reminded me that running a business has more similarities to social work than I originally realized. In the end, both are all about people. While I felt very nervous in an environment where I didn’t know many, I was welcomed and embraced quickly. I heard lots of positive feedback about my concept, products, and brand in addition to some honest criticism. The criticism was (seriously) appreciated, as it provides an opportunity to reassess certain aspects of my business. I returned home and immediately began working to improve on certain things and can’t wait to show those who made suggestions that I really do listen
Shark Tank casting and Oribe’s Backstage event have reminded me that we all have an equal opportunity to give and receive. Both are fulfilling experiences and help us become bigger, better, stronger, faster and more self-aware. I am overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude and inspiration as I’m reminded of how far I’ve come what can be achieved. I can’t wait to see what the future holds
I am often asked about my experience on ABC’s Shark Tank and have meaning to share details for a while. It feels a bit odd to find myself talking about a personal experience on reality TV, as I never imagined my path would lead me to this unique place. However, I am so deeply grateful for the opportunity and wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
I saw Shark Tank for the first time in February 2012 and loved the show from the beginning. As an ambitious mompreneur, I was thrilled to see others who shared my dream of building a successful company. I related to the contestants and was excited to have found a program that offered real-world lessons for people like me. After the episode was over, my husband casually stated that I should go on the show. As crazy as it sounds, I just felt like I would.
Over the next few months, Shark Tank seemed to be everywhere in my world. Multiple people in my business travels repeatedly suggested that I should try to get on the show. I filled out an online application but didn’t receive a response. A few weeks later, my company filled a large purchase order and had a bit of extra cash on hand. I decided to try my luck with a PR representative who specialized in children’s products, though my budget was limited and I could barely afford her. I explained that I could only pay her for three months and hoped that something good would come along to further my brand’s position. A week before our time together was over, I reminded her that I didn’t have the money to pay her for the following month. She sweetly encouraged me that my products were good and asked if I had ever considered applying for Shark Tank. I explained that I loved the show but reminded her that the chances of getting cast for something like that for a regular person like me (little sales and a big dream) was slim to none. She called me back less than 24 hours later: A Shark Tank producer had randomly contacted her looking for interesting baby and children’s products. As very good luck may have it, she suggested Hot Tot!
The casting process moved very quickly. I submitted a short video so network executives could assess my camera presence and also filled out hundreds of pages of paperwork. After receiving confirmation that I would present my line in LA I was paired with a team of producers so my pitch could be perfected. Though most of what is seen on Shark Tank is unscripted, the opening piece is something that is rehearsed to ensure that the required information is presented quickly and clearly. I really struggled with this part of the process, as I am not an actress by any means. Authenticity is very important to me and I worried that my discomfort would cause me to come across as unlikable or unprepared. I reminded myself not to obsess about things beyond my control, however, and committed to doing the best that I could.
I don’t remember much of my actual Shark Tank taping, as my nerves were in full force. I was terrified, afraid that I would destroy my brand, discredit my concept, or embarrass my loved ones. I have always considered Hot Tot to be my baby; like any good mother, I wanted to protect it at all cost. I did my best to keep calm to ensure that my three year old son cooperated since he was an important part of my pitch (toddlers can be unpredictable). I was relieved as he willingly walked down the hallway. The first few minutes in the tank were rocky. I was so nervous that my hands would hardly work as I attempted to style my son’s hair. If you watch my footage closely, you can actually see them trembling. I eventually found my stride but can honestly say that I never felt completely comfortable. I stood in the tank for nearly two hours though my footage was edited down to about seven minutes. I believe my final edit was a good representation of my actual experience. However, Robert did a lot more talking that viewers may realize, as his neighbor built and sold a well-known hair product line and he was very knowledgeable about my industry. The sharks were just like you see on TV: Mr. Wonderful was cynical and sharp (not mean, just savvy), Robert was kind, and Mark’s offer came out of nowhere.
Shark Tank provided a wonderful opportunity to show that there was a lot of science and expertise behind my products. Prior to appearing on the program, many assumed that I was a mom who had whipped up a batch of homemade hair gel in my kitchen sink (this was never the case). I work with the best team of formulators and clinical consultants in the beauty industry and was knowledgeable about common toxins used in children’s products and their affects on a growing body. My deal with Mark Cuban closed within about six weeks of taping and his investment funds were immediately used to pay for a series of intense clinical tests from a third party lab. The testing verified that the products were mild and gentle and allowed us to market the entire Hot Tot line as hypoallergenic. It also concluded that the products were gluten and soy free and that the wet line (Spotless Tot, Shampoo & Conditioner) is ultra-mild on the eyes. We have since earned the approval of animal rights organizations like PETA and The Leaping Bunny and are now certified as a cruelty free cosmetic company. Slowly but surely, Hot Tot is growing up!
So what’s next? Robert Herjavec was correct in his assessment that I had a long road ahead. I remain hopeful and optimistic that Hot Tot will eventually become a mainstream and recognizable brand, as I truly believe that we offer the very best professional hair products for kids on the market. I remind myself that Rome wasn’t built in a day. As one lovely customer so perfectly advised, “just keep swimming”. That I will
Children’s Hair Studio is the only salon for kids in Castle Rock, Colorado. Little ones can opt for a haircut in a red Ferrari or a pink princess convertible. Hot Tot Haircare is proud to be the line they have selected to service their customers who prefer natural and organic ingredients and a baby-fresh scent
The Giggle Guide is the ultimate online destination for information relating to today’s children’s marketplace. We were so excited to discover a fantastic article featured on their site that highlighted the very best personal care products for kids. Centered around companies who produced safe and natural products, the article said “Hot Tot is Tops for Children’s Haircare”.
Children’s Retail Today is a blog site devoted to getting the word out about innovative, imaginative and inspiring products for children to love.
Today marks the close of Hot Tot’s first official year in business. My very first blog entry compared the birth of my company with that of a child, so I thought it would be fitting to carry on with that theme as I reflected back on the first year:
The first year has included many sleepless nights, as a new business (much like an infant) requires a lot more work than many might anticipate. I worried what the future may bring, and second guessed many of my choices early on. Should I have done things differently? What if my current decisions cause harm in the future? I began to find my footing, however, and slowly started to feel more confident in my own abilities and ideas. After a while, I found my rhythm (as all new moms do).
While my journey is still very new, I have learned a few valuable lessons in the past year that I thought I’d share:
1. Most people are lovely and respond to authenticity. I have been overwhelmed with support and kindness from so many people and think that women, moms in particular, truly want to see other women succeed. I will not forget these wonderful people and will pay it forward if ever I am in a position to help someone else. I promise
2. A few people are nasty- there is nothing that can be done about that. Sales are tough and selling a product line that nobody has heard of makes things increasingly difficult. While most people have indeed developed some manners, there are those who are just plain rude. I have found peace in this knowledge throughout the past year, though I have had my feelings hurt on occasion (I know- I’m such a girl; this may be the ever-present social worker in me). Early on, I felt like their bad behavior might have something to do with my products, brand or approach. I have learned, however, that these people are negative and that doesn’t have anything to do with anyone but them. I strongly advise anyone who has encountered these kind of people to carry on and use these difficult experiences as an opportunity to persevere. That which doesn’t kill us….
3. If what you’re doing isn’t working, then do something different. While this sounds ridiculously basic, I have noticed that some of my best ideas have come as a result of some of my lesser ones. My first round of products were good, though I listened acutely to every piece of feedback provided by anyone who had ever used them (moms and hair stylists in particular). We reworked the formulas with our move to the U.S. (so glad to be an American company!) and though it was stressful, the result was worth it. I’m sure I will continue this process of trial and error for the rest of my life
Thank you to everyone who has helped me reach this point. I am so sincerely appreciative
Thank you to my husband for pushing me to pursue this. I can honestly say I never would have done it on my own because I was blinded by fear (still see myself as a social worker and not a business woman). I am having a blast and have found passion and deep satisfaction in creating Hot Tot and helping it find success.
I am truly enjoying my journey, and while it’s impossible not to dream about the destination (i.e. walking into Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys, Saks Fifth Avenue, etc. and seeing my products displayed beautifully!), I promise to enjoy the small successes along the way.
MomInvented is a site run by best-selling author Tamara Monosoff that features companies run by moms and provides business advice to women. Being featured on this site is an honor for me, as I still feel like I have a long road to travel before I can be deemed a success story. However, I have learned some lessons on my journey as a mompreneur thus far and am always happy to share them so that others might avoid the same pitfalls. This wonderful experience has given me the opportunity to interact with other like-minded moms… love it!
I received a message a while ago that a mom was interested in trying our Structure Whip since her son’s hair was finally long enough for a faux-hawk. I love sharing samples and dropped a few in the mail, though I never expected to see photos of the product in action. I stumbled upon this lovely review and wanted to share. What an adorable baby
While we totally understand that a child’s first haircut can be a scary experience for some, we were BEYOND excited to be selected for a fab feature (with lots of great tips for parents!) in Parenting Magazine. There are numerous product lines marketed to children (though Hot Tot is the only professional line formulated for the structural differences) and it is an honor to be chosen for this informative and helpful feature.