Time flies when you're having fun. Four years ago today, Hot Tot Children's Haircare was featured on ABC's Shark Tank. For anyone who isn't familiar, you can get a bit more information about the episode here. It is hard to believe so much time has passed! Wow. As I reflect on lessons and progress, I am beginning to understand the transformation that takes place when walking an entrepreneurial path. And while it sounds cliche, I realize that the journey matters far more than the ultimate destination. Don't get me wrong, I still plan for the future and am constantly contemplating my next move. But this experience has cultivated a patience in me that didn't used to exist. In the spirit of full disclosure, the cultivation of such patience has not been a completely blissful experience. But, I am a true believer that we get what we need when we need it. And the giver of such "gifts" isn't necessarily concerned with what we want. Make no mistake, I love (really love!) what I do. But I would be lying if I didn't acknowledge that legitimizing professional kid's hair products, an emerging segment of the salon industry, has been far more difficult than I ever could have imagined. Shark Tank has been a true gift. I will never stop wondering why such good fortune was bestowed upon me. Regardless, I am grateful. My gratitude has grown over the years and I am starting to believe that my purpose may not have anything to do with shampoo, but rather may lie in my ability to demystify the process so that others might pursue their dreams. My story is the perfect example of something that shouldn't work... yet it does. When I stood in the tank, I was green with inexperience. I didn't even know what I didn't know yet. But I felt ready for success and believed I would soon be an overnight Shark Tank millionaire. The day of taping, I rode to the studio in a van with several other nervous contestants. Producers asked us not to discuss our businesses so instead we engaged in small talk. We anxiously joked that one of us was about to make it very, very big. Secretly, I believed it was me. My brand was innovative and I was ready. Against the odds, I was preparing to take the biggest business stage in the world. Me, a social worker and mom who recognized my path and had the courage to pursue it. It had to be me. But it wasn't. The mother / daughter duo from Wicked Good Cupcakes were also in that van. They have done exceedingly well and are one of the show's greatest success stories. While I have joked that I missed my lightning bolt of luck by simply sitting in the wrong seat, I have come to understand the grace in unanswered prayers. Knowing your numbers is a key element to finding success in the Shark Tank. I knew my numbers and wasn't bothered or intimidated when it came to sharing them with the Sharks. What I didn't realize, however, was that standing in the tank would allow almost anyone to freely ask about my company's finances and feel entitled to such private information. The month my company appeared on Shark Tank, it made more than I had earned in an entire year as a full time, master's level social worker. By almost any account, we had done well. But I was ashamed, as it wasn't anywhere near the million dollar mark I had expected. Like many, I prepared to stand in the tank by watching reruns of the show. Each episode included an update, a chance to see what had happened to some of the businesses from previous seasons after the Shark Tank Effect had occurred. The updates were inspiring; I was certain the world would love my concept and Hot Tot would become an overnight success worthy of a mind-blowing update. When I stood in the tank, I had made about $20,000 (hence the lovely green hue of inexperience). So while the increase was significant, I still felt like a failure. The constant barrage of financial questions from viewers didn't help, but rather drove me deeper into the darkness of shame. I am a girl who always asks "why". I believe there are lessons, messages and meaning in almost everything and try to grow and rise regardless of my circumstance. While Shark Tank didn't make me an overnight millionaire, it changed my business and my life. Prior to appearing on the show, I struggled to overcome the common assumption (and huge sales barrier) that I had whipped up a batch of hair gel in my kitchen sink. The exposure from the show and value in having Mark Cuban as an investor set the stage for me to begin the process of educating parents on why their kids should not use hair products made for adults. I am now deep into the process and truly, truly love it. I am acutely aware of how lucky I am. Such good fortune has not been wasted on me. To the overnight success stories of the world, I offer my sincere congratulations. I understand and respect what goes into developing a company / product and am in awe of anyone who does it well, let alone fast. To the rest of us, I share my story in hopes of reminding you that wonderful gifts are often wrapped in discomfort and disappointment. I urge you to slow down and be as kind to yourself as you would encourage your children to be with others. If this were easy, everyone would do it. Fall in love with the process and the results will come. For those seeking the standard information expected in a Shark Tank update, I offer you this: The show has given me an inspiring network of supportive, like-minded "Shark Tank Pals" as well as a few ride-or-die friends (Shelly Ehler, I'm talking to you!). Shark Tank has increased my faith by a gazillion percent and provided great content and insight for my life's story. While I still don't have a yacht or a jet, I live in true abundance. My heart is full of hope and I am wonderfully stimulated by my work. To say I am grateful is a gross understatement. Hot Tot has become a part of daily routines for kids in places I have never been throughout the world. We have exciting things on the horizon and 2017 will surely be the year some big things come to fruition! While I'm not exactly sure what the future holds for me or my beloved company, I will enjoy the ride without expectation. I am committed, energized, inspired and evolving. Stay tuned...
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