One single mom’s bridal business had three investors battling it out during Friday night’s episode of Shark Tank.
As a bride wearing a beautiful gown, you find yourself in many difficult situations – how do I keep myself from stepping on this dress, how am I going to walk in this dress, and most importantly, how am I going to use the restroom in this dress? While Heather Stenlake may not have an answer for the first two questions, she definitely has a solution for the third – her very own invention – the Bridal Buddy.
According to the product’s website, the Bridal Buddy is the only product on the market that allows brides to use the restroom while wearing their dress. The brides wear the product under their dress like a slip. When nature calls, they pull the Bridal Buddy up, stuff their dress inside, and slide their arms through the pre-cut arm holes. Simple enough, right? Well, while the concept is simple, it took Heather Stenlake many years to come up with the idea, and even more to get it in action.
As CNBC reports, it took Stenlake 15 years to develop her product into a functional, operating company. The idea came from when she worked as a bridal consultant in 1998 and was constantly being asked by brides how they would go to the restroom while wearing their dress. In 2002, she formed a blueprint that would become reality in 2015 when she decided to put her thoughts into motion. To help seek financing stability for the company, Heather appeared in front of the Sharks on Shark Tank and offered them a heartfelt pitch as to why they should invest their hard-earned money into her business.
Heather, a divorced mother of two, had placed her dreams of being a successful business woman on hold for years to focus on raising her kids and being a stay-at-home mom. However, her dreams never went away, and when she discovered her blueprints all those years later, she knew it was time.
“I am divorced now but I never stopped thinking about my product idea. And all though I didn’t have as much encouragement as I would have liked back then, I have a lot of it now,” she told the Sharks. “I put $40,000 of my retirement money in this product. That wasn’t easy, but I am glad that I did it.”
“Life happens. Without going into too much detail, all I will say is this. You know, surround yourself with positive, encouraging people because that is the way you get ahead. And I have found that out the hard way. Unfortunately it took me many years to figure that out.”
The Sharks could tell Heather’s words were sincere and seemed genuinely interested in the product. Mark Cuban, however, was the first to go out because he simply didn’t want to be in the bridal business. Robert Herjavec then decided against investing because he didn’t think the product would grow to its potential without being sold in the bridal stores. Despite two Sharks say no, Heather still had three who were interested- Barbara Corcoran, Kevin O’Leary, and Lori Greiner. But before they could state their offers, Heather’s model spoke up on her behalf.
Bride Kimmy – carefree and keepin' that dress clean in the bathroom stall! ???????????????? pic.twitter.com/a3z3j69Yuc
— Bridal Buddy (@thebridalbuddy) May 16, 2017
“I would like to say something on Heather’s behalf. Heather is an incredible human being. When she approached me about this, I was already working two jobs and the idea of trucking around at bridal shows on Sundays for eight hours in a cold auditorium was not all that appealing,” Marissa, who was modeling the Bridal Buddy, said. “But you know what, I got up here and I showed my underpants to the international community because I believe in Heather. And sometimes when you love somebody, it means you show everybody your underpants. She is brilliant and I am telling you right now, the way that brides respond to this product, I think some of ya’ll are making a mistake. They freak out.”
— Bridal Buddy (@thebridalbuddy) May 14, 2017
After Marissa’s speech, Lori was the first to make an offer. She suggested she and Kevin would do a joint deal, providing Heather with $75,000. The conditions being that they would each own 25 percent of the business, and Marissa would also be brought in as a 25 percent owner. Mark quickly forbid Heather from taking the deal, before Barbara chimed in and made her own offer – $75,000 for a third of the company. Lori fires back with a revised deal – Marissa is out, and she and Kevin will take 20 percent each, leaving 60 percent for Heather. Heather then counters their offer, asking if they would come down to 15 percent equity each. Barbara jumps in and said she would offer $75,000 for 30 percent equity. Lori and Kevin say they will do that same offer, ultimately winning over Heather and gaining the investment. Although Marissa didn’t get a part in the deal, she was still happy for her friend.
“I am not going to let them push you around,” Marissa told Heather as they were leaving the tank. “I don’t care who they are!”
On her website, Heather had some words of wisdom for others who are working on pursuing their dreams.
I’m still on my journey- and I am learning so much. Never settle. I teach my children constantly: ‘You don’t ask- you don’t get.’ Sounds very simple- but believe it. Write your goals and wants on paper and stick it on a mirror or your wall. Look at them every day and say it out loud. You’ll start to believe it.”
[Featured Image by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]