Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Swimming with Sharks

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. A secret we’ve kept for two years, and one that still haunts us in our dreams. A secret that, if we didn’t have pictures, would be pretty hard to believe.

It started like this. I was at Day’s Market, our local grocery store, and a week away from the due date of my fifth baby. I got a call from my sister who said, “I know this is terrible timing, but I just got a call from an executive producer at  ABC, who liked our entry and we’ve made it to the next level. We have to send a video by Friday in order to move ahead."

Unbelievable.  Out of the tens of thousands of entries, Shark Tank had chosen Girlie Glue to submit a video. And since we didn’t have felonies (yay for following the laws of the land!) we moved on. I can’t say that I was totally surprised--Katie has an amazing way of making good things happen—and besides that, Girlie Glue really is a unique and awesome product.  Still though, getting chosen for Shark Tank? What are the odds? We were thrilled. And though it really was horrible timing, we got to work on our video.

At nine months pregnant in the beginning of June, I couldn’t have looked more swollen; but somehow, we charmed them anyway. Not long after submitting the video, we were greeted with the good news: we would plan with personal producers, Dominique and Laura, to help us make a pitch, organize a display and choose dresses (a much harder process than we would have ever dreamed).
We made it!
With our travel date set for September, we studied and quizzed and drilled. Businessmen and women quizzed and tried to rattle us. Entrepreneurs  looked skeptically over our pitch and gave us notes. We prepared and worked and when September came, we were ready.

With my  two-month old baby, our mom and Kate’s husband, Lance, we were flown to Culver City, California mid-September. We were ushered into a meeting where we learned about the process of shooting, and how we would spend our next hours and days. We  were advised by lawyers of how deals were to be made and changed after the tapings, and warned that our segment might not get air time, or we may not be able to tape. These scenerios were unlikely, so we moved on to other legal (and terribly boring) matters of business.

Kate and I were slated to pitch on the last of the taping days for the group—which meant we had some time to kill. With a newborn baby and no car, however, that meant a lot of walking across the street to the mall and the food court. Katie didn’t give me a break from practicing our pitch, so I’d try to grab a bite of Panda-Express during her parts.

Finally, our day to pitch came. We were transported from our hotel with a bunch of other entrepreneurs to the studio. Cute sisters from Surprise Ride and the sibling duo of Swim Zip were there, studying and rehearsing alongside us.  Katie chatted on the phone with Susan from Freshly Picked, who’d pitched the day before, hoping to get some insider hints.

When we got to the studio, we were handed a boxed lunch and shown to our air-conditioned trailer. We pitched, while pacing, to my mom and Lance, who would encourage us and try to calm our nerves. 

Nice ladies in a trailer one over from us styled my hair (Kate, of course, brought her own curlers) and put too much make-up on our faces. We were ready to be on television.  A golf-cart took us to the “Tank,” where we were shown how to walk and where to stop. We would stand without  saying a word for 60 seconds, whereupon we would start our pitch. I was terrified.

In the van on the way to pitch.

“We’ll be back to get you in 30 minutes” Dominique said, standing behind our display table. “You’ll be so great!” She and Laura gave us a thumbs up. On our way out, we caught a glimpse of Kevin O’Nealy—Mr. Wonderful. We made eye contact in his rush to his trailer and I gave him a grin.

Back at the trailer we waited, butterflies filling our stomachs.  We waited and waited and still waited, until something didn’t feel right. Nervousness skews one’s ability to judge time, but we were all certain it had been more than 30 minutes. We waited patiently though, trying to stay positive, and rehearse our pitch silently in our heads.
Getting ready in the trailer--check out Kate in curlers!
An afternoon at the beach to kill time (and nerves!)

Dominique and Laura showed up with long faces. “We’re so sorry. We’re really so sorry. This is the worst part of our jobs. We’re going to have to bump you. “ We learned that the daytime Emmys were taping that day and because a few companies took a little more time than they’d planned (thanks Wall Doctor!) they ran out of time.

Can we come back next week? We wondered. What about next season?  But next week was booked with other companies, and next season couldn’t be promised.

This is where my little sister, whom I love so dearly and in whom I have so much pride, broke down in sobs—the saddest I’ve ever seen her.  And my mom and Lance and I cried with her.  I’ve never wanted something like I wanted for her to have that chance. My heart was broken and most especially for Kate.


So we gathered up our few belongings and set pieces and got back in the golf cart and were driven silently back to the hotel.  And that is how we almost pitched Girlie Glue at Shark Tank.  Honest and True.

And just because it seems too sad to leave you with such an unhappy ending—we had a Taco Bell across the street from our hotel—and boy did we live it up there.