Back in our Summer 2011 issue, we featured The 7 Virtues line of perfumes. Company founder Barb Stegemann of Halifax started the brand, which sources organic scented oils from legal crops in war-torn or impoverished communities. What we didn’t say was that she took her product to CBC’s Dragons’ Den – successfully. They’ll be running an update about the company on tonight’s episode.
I asked Stegemann about the experience via email:
Was Dragons’ Den as scary as it looked?
Yes, I was so scared I thought I was going to pee my pants. They do this countdown as you “walk the plank” into the Den…ten, nine, eight…and you begin to wonder how crazy is this? But I got through it because I focused on my mission, the chance to share with millions of Canadians that we must do trade with nations that are experiencing war or strife to build peace by helping them rebuild.
When I am scared I always think of something bigger than me and I get through it. It works every time.
What were the best moments and the worst moments?
Best moments were when they offered the deal and hugged me. I seriously never ever in my wildest visualization imagined that!!! W. Brett Wilson invested in me and became the mentor I dreamed of. And right after you walk out of The Den, the producers and the entire CBC family come running out to hug you and talk to you and cheer for you and then the Dragons’ VPs of business talk with you and applaud you and make you feel really special. It’s quite a feeling I will never forget.
Worst moment is the time spent in the greenroom before you go on. You are so nervous and the other pitchers are there and everyone wants to try their pitch on you and it can psyche you out, so you want to remain somewhat reflective and quiet. Because otherwise you can begin to doubt yourself when the TV in the green room plays an old episode of a pitcher being told to get out of the Den, it’s unnerving.
So you really have to quiet your mind and focus on the bigger mission. Then your spirits are lifted by Sean Wise, a professor of business at Ryerson. He vets you just before you enter and he really helped me.
What advice would you give to someone looking for capital?
DO IT!!! Please do not live your life with any regrets. If you have a burning passion to launch a company and if it can make our world a better place, then you have nothing to lose.
Do your homework before you go on. I met with several amazing venture capitalists in my own community first to learn the language and to ask tips on the pitch. They were so generous with their time they even let me practice my pitch on them. I had never met these people in my life. I just reached out.
One of them, Mickey MacDonald, carried my fragrance in his boutique when I was literally out of my garage and in two stores. He taught me some of the language I used in my opening pitch. You have 90 seconds when you start to wow them. Also, listen to the producers. I was assigned to Molly Duignan. She is a business genius and really fun and she helped me contain my wild dreams into a clear, focused opener.
What impact has going on the show had on you or your business?
I was the first woman from Atlantic Canada to land a deal on Dragons’ Den and it changed my game. It gave me the confidence to cold call The Bay and now we are in The Bay across Canada at the beauty counters. The over half a million in fragrances we have had in sales in our short time in business allowed me to buy all the essential oils from my supplier in Afghanistan so that he is able to employ many farmers and their families benefit.
Beauty does have the power to transform lives.
For more information, and for Barb’s book, The 7 Virtues of a Philosopher Queen, visit the7virtues.com
Find the fragrances at The Bay across Canada!
Photo: Peter Schafrick
And if women entrepreneurs are your thing, don’t miss:
How four women launched their businesses – for peanuts
Reinvention is the best revenge
What it takes to be a civility coach
Our reinvention channel
Update: Barb shared that her pitch was called the best ever on Dragons’ Den on the show! Congrats!
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