We caught up with The Red Dress Boutique co-founder and Shark Tank winner Diana Harbour to see how the company is doing today and learn more about the Shark Tank experience. Diana and Josh Harbour first founded The Red Dress Boutique in 2004 as “Athena’s Boutique,” an eBay shop the couple operated out of a spare bedroom.
One year later, they moved to Athens, GA and opened up a brick and mortar location due to the online shop’s success. When the name Athena’s wasn’t available, Diana’s mother reminded her of the little red dress she loved to wear as a child. The name The Red Dress Boutique was born, and the store began selling online in 2009.
That’s when things really started to take off, as Diana will explain in this interview.
Her story is one that might sound surprising, but with Diana’s determination, love for fashion, and business mindset, The Red Dress Boutique’s success before and after becoming a Shark Tank winner just seems to make sense.
Business: Red Dress Boutique
Deal: $600,000 for 10% equity
Shark: Mark Cuban
Aired: Season 6, Episode 5
The Red Dress Boutique Co-Founder & Shark Tank Winner Diana Harbour
You and your husband Josh risked everything and created a wildly successful clothing and accessory business, The Red Dress Boutique. You even landed a deal with Mark Cuban on Shark Tank – what makes your business really stand out from the competition?
We offer a personal shopper experience that is affordable to every woman and available to them in the comfort of their own home, sitting at their desk in the office or on their mobile device.
I style everything in complete outfits, something that had not been done before with online shopping so you can buy one piece or you can buy the entire outfit already styled for you. We are taking this feature even further with our new website which will be launching in January 2018.
How did you decide that you wanted to audition for Shark Tank? What factors played into your decision?
Josh and I were on our way to the MAGIC apparel show in Las Vegas when an ad in WWD mentioned that Shark Tank would have a booth there scouting new talent. So I walked right up to the booth and introduced Josh and myself. The producer said I had two minutes to impress him. We were there for thirty minutes. He loved the story.
Preparing to go on Shark Tank must be an intensive process. How long do you think you prepared for the show? What kinds of preparations did you make?
We approached the booth in February of 2014 and we shot our episode mid-June of 2014. Between February and June, we had weekly Skype calls with different producers of the show and multiple other auditions and interviews. We were confirmed to film in mid-May and we worked very hard on getting our pitch right and preparing all of our business data.
Making all the preparations, waiting for each callback, and (hopefully) pitching your idea to the Sharks can be intimidating for even the most seasoned business owner. You and Josh made it look easy. Do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs who are considering auditioning for Shark Tank? Do you think it’s a worthwhile pursuit?
Shark Tank was an opportunity we will never forget. In considering the show ask yourself how much of your business are you willing to give up for help, if you are willing and able to work with another partner who’s opinion and advice you must take into account and if you are ready to scale.
If we made it look easy, then we did our job! We were in the “tank” for an hour and a half and it was scaled down to 8 minutes of air time.
How did being a Shark Tank winner change The Red Dress Boutique? What are your sales like now?
The show changed us in regards to how we function on the back end. We had to quickly learn how to streamline our warehouse processes in order to fulfill all the orders for the “Shark Tank effect.” No one can anticipate the giant wave that comes at your from the initial airing. We did $1 million in sales in 5 days! Our sales are still increasing and our focus currently is on personalization with our marketing and keeping our website up to date with the ever changing technology.
What’s next for The Red Dress Boutique?
What’s next is a responsive website in early 2018. It’s been over a year in the design and build phase but with it will come some exciting new customer-facing features.
Looking back, what lessons did you take away from the Shark Tank experience?
Never lose sight of who you are and why you started your business in the first place. It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of the publicity, lack of privacy and people telling you who you should be or what you should be.
Also, no one can run your business like you do yet people are more than willing to tell you how to do it differently. Learn how to weed the chaff from the grain. And lastly, don’t lose sight of your priorities. Mine are God, Family, Job and I had to learn that the hard way. And if any of those get out of order, nothing works right.
Read more exclusive Shark Tank winner and contestant interviews on our Shark Tank Cooler Talk page!