…Firstly, I stayed focused. I had envisioned myself at the final stage, pitching to the panel so many times that I feel like I almost willed it to happen. Never losing sight of the end goal helped me pull through the more tedious aspects of applying and waiting. The result of my focus was being chosen to go to air and getting the funding I sought.
As a part of my series about the ‘5 Important Business Lessons I Learned While Being On The Shark Tank’ I had the pleasure of interviewing Gita Vasseghi. Gita grew up in southern California and majored in Art History at UCLA, which proved helpful while working in the fashion industry for over a decade. Aesthetics were at the forefront of both her work and personal needs to do her job successfully. The industry often demanded an on-the-go lifestyle that left little time for personal maintenance and she found herself in need of a fast and easy way of waxing her facial hair. Salon appointments required time and advanced scheduling, two things she was on short supply of. After enduring a trade-show presentation where her sales pitch fell flat because the focus was on her hairy upper lip, she launched a brand of portable, easy to use, discreet waxing kits, aptly named No Mo-Stache. At first, the product flopped on Indiegogo, securing only $600 in funds donated, but Gita shopped her product to small stores which led to her portable kits being featured in Real Simple Magazine. Not only did the feature deliver an up-tick in sales, she landed her first major client when Sephora, the French-based personal care and beauty store, reached out and asked to start carrying her product in 200 of their stores. A year later, she was selected to be a participant on the hit reality television show, Shark Tank, where she was awarded a financing deal that continued to help grow her brand and business. Today, Gita’s brand has expanded to include her original No Mo-Stache kit and two other portable waxing kits for eyebrow and bikini areas. Her No Mo products are currently sold at Sephora, Ulta Beauty, CVS, and Anthropologie stores across the nation. Additionally, as of December this year, No Mo products will be sold at over 1,500 Target store locations.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit more. Can you tell us a bit of the backstory about how you grew up?
I think the moment I realized I should come up with an actual solution for my own needs was after I had left a presentation at a trade-show in New York where the buyers I was presenting to openly ignored my sales pitch because they were focused on my lack of waxed upper-lip. It made me feel embarrassed, inadequate and my self-confidence took a major dip because of it. I hated the way it made me feel. That moment happened simply because I lacked the time to wax due to the fast-pace scheduling nature of the business I was in. I needed something that was more convenient than traditional waxing at home or salon treatments that were hard to schedule. I went home and began to sketch up an idea for a portable waxing kit that I could carry around in my bag and take with me when I traveled.
Can you share with us the story of the “aha moment” that gave you the idea to start your company?
This is less of a story than an overall theme. I have learned what I am personally capable of, despite getting less than stellar grades in school, not majoring in business at university and being someone who had no innate drive to become an entrepreneurial. I was just a person with an idea, a solution of sorts. To create a thought, nurture it into a concept, make that concept a reality and finally birth a business from it is something I hadn’t realized I was capable of. I quite literally took it one week at a time and plugged away at the tasks in front of me and slowly I began to build a business. If I can do this, surely there are other women who can and will, and that is inspiring to me, as it should be to others as well.
Can you share a story about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or take away you learned from that?
I had made the call to outsource getting 10,000 No Mo-Stache kits shrink-wrapped for my very first large order for Sephora. They were delivered a night before they were due to ship out full of bubbles. My kits looked like they were covered in clear warts, they looked terrible. I stayed up all night with a friend re-wrapping all 10,000 of them, my arms felt like liquid by the end of it all. After that incident, I shrink-wrapped all outgoing orders myself for a while but have since found a reliable company that does it for me. In hindsight, it is quite an amusing thing to have recovered from.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I have two new and exciting projects. I’m working on developing a new skin-care line to assist with a better waxing experience and I’m organizing an art showcase to take place on Valentine’s day of next year. The showcase will be a photography series of intimate portraits of over thirty women combined with an art book of these photographs for sale. All the proceeds from the event will go into a grant to be awarded to a female-led entrepreneurial brand or project. It will be my first initiative under the Yes Mo Foundation that I’m creating to help give financial assistance to female entrepreneurial projects. I want to give more yes to female self-starters.
Ok, thank you for all that. Let’s now move to the main part of our interview. Many of us have no idea about the backend process of how to apply and get accepted to be on the Shark Tank. Can you tell us the story about how you applied and got accepted. What “hoops” did you have to go through to get there? How did it feel to be accepted?
I had watched Shark Tank and was a big fan of what they were doing. I submitted a video pitching my brand and product. You can either do that or go to an open call in Los Angeles. A few months later they notified me that I had made it to the next round. I was thrilled, naturally, but it was not a guarantee that I was going to be chosen. Basically I spent the next few weeks to months answering every question or request they asked of me. They thoroughly research those that apply and are considering. Then I had to go and give my pitch in front of their producers on the Sony lot. That pitch led them to choose me to get taped for possible airing on the show. I was informed two weeks prior to being aired that I was selected to be on the show and was beyond excited. The two-weeks out time-frame allowed me to prep my inventory and get my ducks in a row, so to speak. My friends and I threw a viewing party in celebration and it was fabulous and somewhat surreal.
I’m sure the actual presentation was pretty nerve wracking. What did you do to calm and steel yourself to do such a great job on the show?
I had been visualizing myself on the show for months prior to actually making it on. I guess my practice of that worked well because it felt pretty natural going through it once it finally happened. I had rehearsed to the point of it feeling somewhat second nature. Of course it was still incredibly nerve-wracking but luckily I pulled through.
So what was the outcome of your Shark Tank pitch. Were you pleased with the outcome?
It was a fantastic experience overall. I was very happy with the outcome and was excited to have been able to be on the show and gain so much from the experience. It led to opportunities and doors opening that would have never been available to me otherwise. I’m forever grateful.
What are your “5 Important Business Lessons I Learned While Being On The Shark Tank”? (Please share a story or example for each.)
Firstly, I stayed focused. I had envisioned myself at the final stage, pitching to the panel so many times that I feel like I almost willed it to happen. Never losing sight of the end goal helped me pull through the more tedious aspects of applying and waiting. The result of my focus was being chosen to go to air and getting the funding I sought.
Secondly, I was patient. It was a lengthy process and maintaining patience with myself and the process proved to be the right move. There were moments along the way that I had doubt and needed to talk myself back from the ledge of bailing out of fear that I wasn’t going to be chosen. Having patience is a simple lesson that I would have easily overlooked had I not forced myself to be more so.
A third take-away would be that I stayed flexible with all that they were asking of me. I knew that I wanted to be selected for the show, but I needed to be flexible with how that may come to be. I had envisioned how it may happen, but I adjusted accordingly as each new turn in the process presented itself. How many times have you read that trusting your instinct is a good business practice? Well, it’s true. As interrelated as my first three lessons are, trusting my instincts and learning how to read those instincts almost carry more weight than the others combined. In a sense, my instincts told me to be focused, patient and flexible. I needed to stay steady in my pursuit of getting on the show yet adjust to the requirements at the same time. My gut told me I had a good product that solved a problem for women with on-the-go lifestyles and I leaned in to trusting that if I needed this product in my life, certainly there were others and that was a marketable product.
Finally, and this is more of a post-Shark Tank show appearance lesson, keeping a work-life balance. After I was on the show, it gave me exposure and with that came higher demands of me. It’s such a slippery slope to work on a self-owned and run business endlessly. I have learned to set work hours and make sure to take breaks. I’ve become okay with not every little thing being completed by end of day. Maintaining balance with my work schedule has forced me to streamline and better prioritize so that I can have quality time off from working.
What advice would you give to other leaders to help their team to thrive and avoid burnout?
Learning how to set boundaries and not cave to the pressure of feeling like I had to say yes to every opportunity that came my way were two big lessons. I think it’s best to evaluate all the possibilities or opportunities and then set your focus towards a few of them. It’s the old adage, quality over quantity at play. I had to break the thought cycle that anything that I said no to was a lost chance at possible growth for the business. I would also add that it never gets easier, even as business grows. The same amount of work, strategy and time needed are constants that never really let up. Becoming a success overnight, even with the right exposure, is simply not a reality. Growth spurts are terrific but you have to work harder to reach higher demand, so I would advise to keep that at the base of any expectation of starting your own business.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Female-led businesses are a passion interest of mine. I would like very much to help contribute to the growth and support of the female entrepreneurial movement, whether it be monetary, fundraising, patronization or mentoring. It is quite difficult starting a business, and being female adds yet another hurdle to have to overcome in a mostly male-dominated environment.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
A quote I’ve always been fond of is ‘open mouths get fed’. Basically my motto is to ask as many questions as it takes to fully understand what you need to and continue to keep asking them. I have never been afraid to ask what I need to know more about, how to do something correctly, where I need to improve, or why something is the way it is or could be. There is zero shame in asking, it’s the best way of learning really.