Saturday, September 29, 2012

My Shark Tank Experience Part 1

So I know you all have been dying to find out how I feel about the outcome from Shark Tank.  There is only one answer - ELATED!

I know people think getting a deal is the biggest thing on the show, but indeed it is not.  When I was approached initially by the Shark Tank producers I was very hesitant for many reasons.  I wasn't a start up and I had....well....baggage and I knew it.  But I decided to go in and give it my best shot and let the chips fall as they may.  The worst case scenario I could picture for myself was not NOT getting a deal, it was them ripping me to shreds, which did not happen thankfully.  What the Sharks had to say to me in the tank was honest and a big eye opener and an even bigger learning experience! I made immediate changes straight out of the tank that could make my company stronger and better.   I have never shied away from a learning experience, even a hard one, without taking what I learned and putting it to good use. 

Getting a deal from a shark is one thing, but deal or no deal, the exposure that a product garners after it airs can not be discounted in any way shape or form.  Not to mention if I do decide to take on an investor  it will be a well thought out process, not something I need to decide on the hot seat with the 24 second clock running (Great tactic though by Mark Cuban I have to admit).

I will confess, when I went into the tank I really wanted to partner with either Damon or Barbara.  But I can not say I left dissapointed when either of them declined.  I was prepared, I was ready, I presented myself well, I believed in myself and the product and was not prepared to give any more than 25% away - which would  not have been the case if a real offer was made and I knew that - especially after the "poo poo" started flying and the over 70 pocket diapers using my intellectual property was brought to the tank. 

It is important to me to be able to keep the integrity of this company how I want it, I am not ready to give that away and let someone only concerned with the bottom line and profits call the shots - although I have to say that is one thing I think cost me the deal - but that is ok.  I never make excuses for my integrity, business ethics or what I have done in the past. It is a part of  who I am. 

My company was born out of a need and a true passion to make a difference in all of the lives that it touches from baby to consumer to retailer to my own employees and family.  And while I have a huge buffet plateful of things to do now post Shark Tank - sacrificing my business philosophy for the sake of the almighty dollar is not one of them!

I have a lot more to write about this - so stay tuned for the next blog.  "Intellectual Property and why it should be respected" will be hearing a lot about this in the coming weeks. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Cloth Diapers Going Mainstream....Problem?

I have to say, I was very impressed with a blog post that I read today from the Cloth Diaper Guru on FuzziBunz being on Shark Tank.    It has been the consensus over the years throughout the cloth diaper industry (both users, retailers and manufacturers) that going big time was bad, that going mainstream was a sell out and many would wish to keep the modern cloth diaper movement under wraps (no pun intended).  But I have never understood that concept.  Why?

Is it not every parent's right to be exposed to such a solutions product like this?   There are so many people on this planet that hate using disposables, hate throwing them in the landfills, have babies that are suffering from chemical burns and diaper rash, are hurting financially but do not know that a good modern alternative exists to DISPOSABLE DIAPERS! They deserve to know about Modern Cloth Diapers TOO!  And exposure is how it's done no matter what form it comes in.  The more readily available they are, the more baby's bottoms will be in cloth instead of a disposable.  Isn't that the bigger picture here? 

Lets face it, Modern Cloth Diapers ARE going mainstream and it is a very good thing!  I can understand retailers of cloth diapers that have been mainly internet based, who helped grow this industry to what it is today fearing that having FuzziBunz or another big brand in a major Big Box store chain would kill their sales....I disagree.  If modern cloth diapering has gained enough interest and enough momentum to even be IN those stores - it just means even MORE exposure and enough business to go around.

And one more note to ponder to put some minds at ease - a product that is going to get into a Walmart will likely be a less expensive, lesser quality mainstream no bells and whistles product to appeal to the mass consumer - is this your customer?  At $20 its not the FuzziBunz consumer either.  Further, they will likely only carry one brand, one style and limited colors.  That leaves plenty of room for the specialty stores and boutiques to carry the higher end products with more style and flair and features that can be sold at a higher price.  If someone gets hooked on the concept by something they buy or saw at Walmart and then goes searching for bigger and better or more stylish then there will be stores that will be able to meet that need as well. 

Yes, we do have a lot up our sleeves over at FuzziBunz - great things - but one thing people can count on regardless of what direction is taken after Shark Tank is that we will always keep our values, always know where we started and always strive to be a company and a product that people respect.

You can read the Cloth Diaper Guru's blog here

Monday, September 24, 2012

Never Giving UP

Today an article came out in The Idependent about my appearance on Shark Tank, tomorrow the local news KATC is interviewing me for their segment  "What's Right in Acadiana" and I expect there will be many more like these to come after the actual air date passes.  But I was wondering what do I want my message to be when doing these interviews?  What do I want to leave people with after watching a news story?  I have been in business for almost 13 years, and the honest truth is that it has never been easy!  I think that holds true  for many people that bring new ideas to market - especially on a next to nothing budget.

My story is interesting of a mom who thought of something different and made it a successful product, but it is a similar story that we all hear very often - the "Mother of Invention" right?  What I want to leave people with after either hearing my story or reading an article is the perseverance that it has taken to get to this point because that is part of the story that is often left out.  The dedication and courage that it takes to stay in business when you would rather throw in the towel. And the motivation and the drive that it takes to jump over just about every hurdle put in  your way and keep on going.  That is what I have done despite one thing after another being thrown in my direction. 

I did not go looking for Shark Tank, Shark Tank found me and I am so glad they did.  Had I given up long ago after the first hiccup in my business, this opportunity would have never presented itself.  


Thursday, September 20, 2012

This week begins a milestone for me as Tereson Dupuy the inventor and the entrepreneur.  Today I closed a chapter in the life and times of FuzziBunz by selling our old warehouse building that held many joys, pains and lots of Fuzzibunz.  This Friday will be the airing of Shark Tank which will undoubedly change my business as I know it today. 

It is no secret that I have met many struggles in the last 13 years while building this business, raising three children and trying to stay ahead of the game and sometimes just stay afloat.  From entering an almost dead industry with a new off the wall cloth diapering product, to getting a divorce that left me with huge debt and uncertainty of my future, to having a son diagnosed with Aspergers to battling the ever growing and completely out of hand intellectual property situation that is effecting the entire cloth diaper industry - it has not been an easy ride.

But that is all about to change.  I can feel it.  I have always been one to do the "right thing" and I believe that when you operate in such a way, the right things come back to you.  Maybe it does not happen over night, but I believe it does happen.  And I believe my time is finally about to arrive.  It will be a ride for sure!

New posts coming soon!

Looking forward to sharing things with you! Stay tuned.