Lately I’ve been thinking that we’ve been home from taping our Dragons’ Den pitch for over six weeks now and about the fact that I haven’t had the time to get to this blog post (and honestly feeling pretty guilty about it). We got home very late the day after taping (a Saturday) and then had to go get the girls the following morning. And then it was straight into a new week in which we presented to a panel at Small Business BC for The Successful You Small Business Awards – Business Growth Category and then BANG! Rebekah got marrried and went on her honeymoon for two weeks and I’m still not caught-up! Finally, throw in an order to our distributor for almost 1700 pieces just to keep things hopping!
Then I thought… “Hey, I’m actually doing you guys a favour!”, because now you’ll have six weeks LESS to wait until Season 6 of Dragons’ Den starts on September 22nd and we all start biting our nails to find out if we made it to air.
So really, that was a good thing right? I said RIGHT? Ahem…
Without further adieu, here’s the lowdown on our whirlwind trip to Toronto, Ontario and the fabulousness that was standing in front of Jim Treliving, Kevin O’Leary, Arlene Dickinson, Robert Herjavec and W. Brett Wilson to pitch “our little business”. Although I cannot tell you anything about what happened after I stepped onto that set, I will tell you that we had a blast and would do it all again in a heartbeat!
Now all the moms out there will know that “getting out of town” when you have (two) small children, whether you take them or not, is no small feat in itself. Not only did I have to pack for myself, but I had to pack for the business AND for both the girls (in separate suitcases no less as one was going to my sister’s in Vancouver and one was staying with my Mom so she could still go to school). And I HATE packing. I tell ya, I was cursing Mike’s name under my breath when he was all done in 10 minutes!
Our flight was at 7 am, so we ventured to be at the airport and parked by 5:30/6:00 am. I didn’t get to bed until 3 am. (I was packing, remember?) Do the math people. At least I was nice and tired that evening to help me adjust to Toronto time.
We flew WestJet for the first time and were pleasantly surprised by the friendly staff, the easy check-in and the fact that after booking the window and aisle seats on both legs of our trip, that we ended up with the middle seat empty (which was, of course, our plan, he he he). But really folks, ANYTHING is better than Air Canada, right?! We are planning to fly WestJet again when we travel to Vegas in October for the ABC Kids Expo.
So we arrive in Toronto, on time, collect our bags and jump on their amazing transit system, affectionately known as the TTC, which after paying only $3.00, dropped us off in the shopping mall below our hotel – how cool is that?! Speaking of our hotel, we splurged and stayed at the Fairmont Royal York, one of the old CP hotels, and it was grand to say the least (we didn’t splurge THAT much, the Dragons’ Den had a corporate rate there). Look up and to the lower right for a couple of pictures of this fabulous old world hotel. We get up to our room, I texted Pandora La Glamme, our fabulous model, to make sure we were still on schedule for taping the next day and then we relaxed for a bit while I went online to find a nice vegetarian restaurant to check out for dinner.
After weighing online reviews against the distance from our hotel, we decided on Sadie’s Diner, which was still quite the hike (but I needed it) and it turned out to be an EXCELLENT choice.
Sadie’s made THE best vegetarian hamburger that I have EVER had and then our waiter offered to make me a fresh batch of his homemade lemonade (YUM!). Mike ordered samosas and a wrap and was very pleased (and stuffed) as well. If you’re ever in Toronto, even if you’re not vegetarian (because you know I’m a flexitarian), check it out! It had a great 50’s diner feel, awesome staff, great food and even better prices! AND they had a “breastfeeding welcome here” sticker on their door! It was fun explaining my business to the tattied and pierced (male) waiter when the subject of the nature of our trip came up. He was all over it though!
Next on the agenda was COFFEE!!! I had spied a Starbucks on our walk down so we headed towards it and got caught in a horrendous downpour. Even with an umbrella (thank GAWD I grabbed it), we were still soaked by the time we got inside. So we hung there for a while, then caught a bus back downtown and hit a liquor store so we could have some drinks back in the room.
We hung out, had a drink and I rehearsed my pitch with Mike a few times before turning in. Then I was up again at 6 am (that’s 3 am my time) to get ready and rehearse some more before Pandora La Glamme showed up. (No rest for the wicked huh? For me, it was all about being prepared).
It was so great to finally meet Pandora (Suzy) after only speaking on the phone and via email for over a month. Well, she was just as fabulous in person (maybe more? is that possible?) as she was long distance and I was psyched for the pitch. She got ready, I practiced the pitch some more, we practiced together and then it was time to head to the CBC Studios about a five minute walk away. BUT, Pandora was having pastie problems. She had hand-made beautiful, red, glittery, heart-shaped pasties to wear during the pitch, but they weren’t dry enough and thus weren’t staying “in-place”. What to do…. what to do… yikes!
We arrived at CBC just before our noon call time and after checking-in (and being told we were third on), were given a multi-page NDA to sign (and attempt to decipher). We waited in the lobby for about 40 minutes for someone to come get us. While waiting, a bunch of other pitchers arrived and it was fun trying to figure out what their businesses were by what they were wearing, and what props they were carrying.
Finally a runner – Bryan – came and got us and took us upstairs via a large freight elevator. First on the agenda was a prop check. We were instructed to lay out everything that we were taking on-set onto the table. Then we waited for executive producer Tracie Tighe, senior producer Lisa Gabriele and our segment producer Molly Duignan to come by to check the props and hear about our pitch. We had already discussed our pitch with Molly at length weeks ago over the phone, but this was the other producers’ first taste of it.
Bathroom break! Pandora checked her pasties again and we realized that we couldn’t use them at all. We let Bryan know and he called for the costume department. (Sorry, we don’t have any pics of the problematic pasties.)
Next was a tour of the set. Along with the four other pitches in the afternoon segment of taping that day, we walked through the big doors (the ones that you see people LEAVING the set through on the show) onto the set and met Kevin, the floor director, who told us where to walk onto and off the set, where our “mark” was when we stood in front of the Dragons, what not to do (mention the date or time of year as who knows when your segment will air) and a bunch of other “TV stuff”. This was our first glimpse of the set and especially the chairs that would every so shortly be filled with actual Dragons. The whole thing was VERY surreal. At this time we got an update and were told we were second on.
Bathroom break again (just in case) as we were getting mic’ed next! We were supposed to go to the lounge/holding area next, but there was no time…
Next was hair and make-up along with a chat with Sandra Rayner – the CBC business consultant – about our numbers and our “ask”. After being told previously that my numbers were “good”, I was encouraged to raise the stake that I was offering for the amount of cash that I asking for. I was a little thrown-off by this so late in the game, but dealt with it all the same…
Then a lovely lady from the costume department showed up with some new (albeit oh so generic) pasties for Pandora and she went to the bathroom to take care of her booby business! (Sorry, no pics of this either guys!)
Then we were on! eep! I was pumped up with adrenaline more so than nervous. Another lovely lady walked Pandora and I out of hair and make-up and down the hall to a sign that said “ON THE AIR”. We walked onto the backside of the set where a bunch of sound techs had me start my pitch to check my mic. It was a dud – and apparently the first one in something like 14 days of taping! So then they had to re-mic me… (Hey, I didn’t mind all those male hands down my top for a second time!)
Then it was time for “the walk”. If you’ve ever watched the show, the pitchers walk across a breezeway with backlit windows and then down a flight of not-so-easy-to-navigate stairs onto the set. Well, to get up to that breezeway, we had to walk UP the stairs behind the set. I admit my knees were a little wobbly as I walked up the steps and then down the other side – I didn’t exactly wear flat footwear… <– fashion victim!
Aaaaaand that is where the story ends (for now) my friends.
Before I go however, I must give a huge shout out to ALL of the people that we met during our short, but memorable afternoon at the CBC – Dragons’ Den studios. Not only was everyone we met friendly, down-to-earth and super helpful, but they genuinely wanted you to do well! And for that, I thank you!
After dropping off our gear at the hotel, Suzy, Mike and I headed DIRECTLY for a cute little Irish pub downtown and had a much-deserved drink and late lunch. It was good to finally take a breath and relax, even if just for a moment.
To top-off the day, Mike took me to the top of the CN Tower for dinner as an early birthday present. We had a wonderful time – good conversation, great wine, fantastic food and we had an excellent view of the sunset. Then we spent Saturday cruising Toronto’s famous shopping districts – Yonge Street, Queen Street and Yorkville among others – and I picked-up a few things.
So if you have questions about anything that you just read or saw in the pictures, please leave a comment below and I will try my best to answer them. And please also keep your fingers and toes crossed that the next Dragons’ Den blog post comes sooner than later…