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An inside look at an entrepreneur’s experience of appearing on Shark Tank, and the results despite leaving without a deal from the Sharks
When Deidrea Haysel went into the Shark Tank last spring to pitch Hot Mama Gowns, her line of specialty hospital maternity gowns, she didn’t come away with a deal. But she did leave with her fandom of the show intact, and with an amazing amount of buzz.
Question: What did you think that being on the show would do for you?
Answer: Truly in the most organic sense, I wanted to take my business to the next level. The whole TV realm didn’t phase me. But I wanted to pitch my idea because (the show) has the power to do that. It was an easy decision for me – I was a fan since Season One, and I got to know the Sharks from that perspective. I was getting as much background information on them as I could.
Q: Did you think that any one Shark would be more likely to like your idea than the others?
A: I thought that the most suited would be Daymond John, because he’s familiar with the manufacturing and distribution of clothing. I thought he would have the greatest resources and the money to do everything bigger, to buy everything in bigger lots, so I could pass the savings onto the customers. But (the investor) didn’t have to be a clothing person.
Q: Other businesspeople who have been on the show have told me that, as with most reality shows, the aired segments are just a fraction of the time spent there with the Sharks. How long were you actually in there?
A: About an hour. People don’t realize what’s happening in the background. One hundred percent of it was me pitching my heart out. Everything that was said (in the aired version) was what I said – some things were mixed around a little bit, but I felt it represented me.
Q: I guess it’s all about editing.
A: The more dramatic, the better for TV. A lot of people don’t know that. They only see you on TV for 10 or 15 minutes, to figure out who that person is. In all actuality, it’s an hour’s worth of sound bites. There is a lot going on, and I got some great feedback. There were a lot of positive things that were not shown. And the Sharks are typecast, too. It’s interesting to see how they really were. I was very impressed by all of them.
Q: Was there any point during the show when you thought “Uh-oh, this isn’t going so well?”
A: I don’t think I had one of those moments, until they said ‘We’re out.” Their questions were really good. The edited version seems rapid fire but there was a lot of conversation and them understanding the niche market I’m in, with me bringing my experiences and what I’ve been doing. There was no foreshadowing or anything. They all came to the table with a lot of questions. They weren’t out until the very last one said “Out.”
Q: How soon after your episode aired did you see its effects?
A: After the first time it aired, we had tens of thousands of hits that night, and it stayed escalated in the tens of thousands for a week. And it’s stayed up since April (2011).
Q: What do you think it is about your product that the masses so responded to?
A: I think they didn’t realize that something like that exists. I gave birth to my first child in 2006, and I wasn’t medicated, so I had lots of time to think. You spend thousands of dollars on your wedding dress, and this day is as special, if not more. To tell the truth, I chose the vanity option! (Laughs) I was in full makeup, with my hair in curlers. I am glad that women have the option to feel comfortable and celebrated, and to not have their behinds showing. Our gowns fit a size 2-24. Larger or smaller sizes have always been (ignored). Overweight women don’t show (their pregnancy bellies) like other women. Larger sized women sometimes buy two or three of them, because they’re so used to being relegated to the back of stores, especially with maternity wear. I get the same feedback from the extra small girls. We come from the standpoint of feeling good, and not flopping out.
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