Earlier this year, our founder CC Conrad had the opportunity to compete on the Katie Couric show for a 10k female entrepreneurship prize.
The episode: “Mothers of Invention” Competition
The mission: Win.
And win it she did. Nothing says mom like “boobs” right? We got a little nervous when the audience gave out “oos” and “aas” for Aut’s Fireball cupcake. But CC’s Boobypack pitch won out in the end. From our side of things CC looked like a cool cucumber, like Beyonce in that elevator. She has a different story…
I may have seemed calm on the outside. But inside, I was Solange, kicking and screaming on mute.
Here’s some back-story– It’s 8pm the night before taping and my Boobypack model says she can’t make it tomorrow. Cue the mad panic. There was no way I was going to waltz onto the Katie set with only a mannequin beside me. I fire off 30 “HELP!” texts en masse and finally, one of my friend’s, friend’s, friend’s little sisters is up for the gig. I send her a lot of dancing girl emoticons. She sends me a few clapping emoticons. I send her a bunch of angel emoticons and then go back to rehearsing my pitch.
At this point, tensions are high but manageable at my sister’s NY apartment where I’m sleeping on a blowup mattress next to my little nephew, who happens to have some kind of disease where he needs to poke me every two seconds and call me a different barnyard animal. Fast forward through many “no YOU’RE a duck–now go the F**k to sleep!”s and suddenly it's 8am and we're shuffling our way into the Katie Show’s green room.
I see the two women I’m going up against setting up their products in different areas of the room and suddenly it dawns on me that we’re about to compete. We’re about to pitch our businesses in front of a live audience, which will then air on ABC. This is not a green room, I think. This is the training center, the Hunger Games Training Center. We need to either make alliances or scare the pants off of one another with our fancy bow-and-arrow-katniss tricks. I don’t have any fancy bow-and-arrow-katniss tricks so I settle on the former route and introduce myself to the competitors. Harmless enough except that my mom then takes my friendly tactic a bit too far and starts distributing the bagels and fruit left out for us like a proud soccer mom. “Best to go in there on a full stomach, kiddos.”
Meanwhile, I hear my nephew in the background, “how do you spell dush?” “What?” answers my sister. “I need to text Brandon that he’s a dush, how do you spell it?” I may have unwittingly upped the Barnyad Tourettes ante last night with a few more names… Time for hair and makeup.
Fast forward again to 30 seconds before show time. I can hear Katie Couric talking about Boobypack as I stand behind the set backdrop. The two other competitors are lined up behind me. My hands are starting to sweat. A very serious woman in a headset is holding her hand up in front of my face. “When I let my hand down, you walk out. And smile.” I felt like Sandra in Miss Congeniality, right before she goes on stage and tackles Miss Rhode Island.
Hand goes down. I go out. With a smile. I then see my mom sitting in the most visible seat possible, in her bright neon yellow sweater, pointing to both sides of her lips as she mouths “Bigger! Bigger!” I give a maniacally large toothy grin, start my pitch, hear the audience laugh at “fannypack for your rack,” then realize that I’m breaking out in hives around my neck.
For those of you who know me, I am slightly allergic to alcohol–many call it Asian Glow (a clinical term)–which makes me break out in red splotches sometimes when I drink. Minutes before the show, Aut had given out her tasty alcoholic treats as a good-luck-bottoms-up gesture. Their chocolaty goodness clouded my judgment and made me forget that we were in The Training Room.
The next few minutes are a complete blur. I remember saying something about Kickstarter, and Lululemon and avoiding eye contact with my Big Bird of a mother but mostly I just remember squeezing my sweaty hands very very tightly and trying to remember to breathe. Cool cucumber I was not.
When the audience voted Boobypack the winner of the “Mothers of Invention” challenge, my mom and sister sprang up out of their seats with joy while my nephew slunk down in his, probably realizing for the first time that he was surrounded by women.
It was a really great day to put it lightly– the high I got from it all far exceeded any stress that led up to it. And I think Solange would probably say the same.