As the crazy week of our Shark Tank airing approaches, I have been reflecting on how all of this came to be...It truly is something that I never thought would actually happen. Of course I hoped that I would have the opportunity to pitch to the sharks, introduce the world to Myself Belts, and hopefully have a new strategic partner. These were just wishes though, crazy pipe dreams that we all have when we fantasize about exciting wild ideas.
Shark Tank Isn't For Me...Or is it? I started watching Shark Tank a few years ago when a business consultant mentioned that she could see me on the show. I watched it and thought, "is she out of her mind!?" First of all, what were the odds that I would actually make it on. Secondly, those Sharks can be MEAN! Why would I publicly, in front of millions of people want to talk about my business and subject myself to people criticizing me? I watched the show for a couple of seasons feeling this way. Then, while watching ABC Shark Tank Season 5, something switched inside of me. I decided that the show could be an opportunity to gain a strategic partner to help the Myself Belts' brand to grow. The exposure would be amazing. I am a pretty private person, however, so the thought of telling the world our financial data and making myself vulnerable to critique and public scrutiny would be tough, but I decided it was worth the risk. I wanted Myself Belts to reach it's potential and scale in a way that we hadn't been able to do on our own. I knew that our patented and innovative one-handed belt closure helped kids with potty training, helped make the day easier for young children at school, and dramatically improved quality of life for kids and adults with special needs. I wanted the world to know about our amazing belt. I decided to apply. I figured it was a serious long shot but there was no harm in applying. What were the odds that it would really happen? At least, I could say to myself that I had tried.
40,000 Applications and Myself Belts is Picked My first step was to call another St. Louis company who had been on Shark Tank Season 5, Better Life, to get some advice about the process. They recommended their videographer, Nathan, so I gave him a call and we prepared my application video. It was great and I was really happy with it. I started this roller coaster, clicked "send" and posted the video for Shark Tank Casting, while sitting in an airport before leaving on a trip with my family for spring break. I could never have imagined that a few days later, I would receive a call from Shark Tank casting letting me know that I had made it to the next round. The next months were spent preparing for possibly taping, and not really believing that this was actually my life and I could actually end up on national television. Yes, I was nervous, but I never second guessed my decision. My mom did! She was worried that the Sharks would be harsh to me and who would want that for their daughter. I thought- I am a nice, respectful, smart person who patented an invention and had created a profitable business. Sure they could find faults with certain decisions, but I thought I was likable enough that it would be okay. You will have to tune in to ABC on October 31st, to see who was right- me or my mom!
A Tank of a Secret The spring flew by, and before I knew it I realized that this was actually going to happen. I had been moving through the application process one step at a time, not really realizing how far I had come. I was headed to Los Angeles. Ashley, a Myself Belts colleague, was my rock who traveled with me and supported me during this roller coaster. She kept me buckled in, calm, and helped me prepare. When we landed in LA, we couldn't quite believe this was a reality. Truly insane! Ashley had a close friend that lived in LA, so their adorable and amazing son, Tegan, was my helper on the show. It was fun to get to know both him and his family and share this wild experience with them. The trip was in June, and for the next 4 months, the whole experience was a secret. I have never had a large secret to keep. The only thing I could equate it to was when you keep your pregnancy a secret during the first trimester. But that is only for 6 or so weeks, this was for over 5 months!! We tried to stay calm and patient over the summer, plan for hopefully making it to "air" but knowing that nothing is guaranteed. Deep down, I felt that this whole undertaking of going on a reality television show was so wild for me to do and so out of my character, that airing would happen. I was right and we were told that we could publicly say that Myself Belts was on Season 6 of Shark Tank on October 10th. We had 3 weeks until our air date on Halloween.
Proudly Going For It All summer, my family and I had talked about how great it would feel when we could finally share our big secret with the world. My 3 kids had kept this secret for 5 months too! I was so amazed and impressed. We had all imagined how great it would feel to tell friends, colleagues, school friends, and the overall St. Louis community about this exciting news. And wow, how good it felt! It was so freeing. Carrying this huge secret/stress/anxiety/excitement for so long was a huge burden and it made it hard to be totally natural with people. These 3 weeks have been so fun because everyone is so excited and amazed that I did this crazy thing! As Halloween draws near, I am feeling less stressed and less worried about being judged. Sure, I am publicly telling details about my business and putting myself "out there" in a way that isn't comfortable. But I have also realized as I talk with people, that people who know me aren't going to judge me. They think I am brave, "going for it", stepping out of my comfort zone, and doing something that takes guts. They are proud of me. Hearing their descriptions of me over the past couple of weeks, makes me less worried about how I am edited, crazy faces I will make, things the sharks may say, and how I will look/be portrayed. Deal or no deal, I did something to try to help my business, that was my focus, and that is what I am focusing on now. I am grateful for the crazy opportunity and wild, unexpected ride.
Buckling Up For What's To Come The Myself Belts office is busy preparing for what happens after the show airs, the Shark Tank effect. We hope that the viewers will be impressed by our easy to use belt and will buy them for their kids, grandkids, as a birthday gift, or as a holiday gift. There are so many details to get ready- making sure our website works properly, having enough inventory, increasing personnel for order fulfillment, and making sure that all customers receive the wonderful customer service that we pride ourselves on. There is a nervous, bustling energy and adrenaline that I think will keep us all going for a long while. Feels good to write this and share all that has been happening. Stay tuned for part 2 after we air on ABC's Shark Tank 9:00 ET/ 8:00 CT on ABC! Thanks for reading, Talia