Inspired or Deluded when you stick with your brand even when it's failing?

Did anyone watch Dragon Den last week with the pancake guy? Here's a summary article without the nasty and uncomfortable silences of the show after they insulted him and booted him off : The dragons were quite mean to him and well, in short - he looked like a fool. People tell me all the time "You should go on Dragon's Den" and this kind of episode makes me cringe and is exactly why I would not do it. I'm not saying never, I'm just saying I better have a darn compelling argument I can back up with dollar signs! I don't have a thick enough skin to be torn apart and humiliated like this...YET! Summary of show: Dude tried to sell a "pancake mix in a bottle that you just add water to and shake". This way kids and "on the go" parents can quickly have great tasting and healthy pancakes. It's a neat idea but it failed. Not being privy to his whole story, the show framed poor business acumen as the primary factor for the rise and fall of the pancake man (pardon the pun). What I connected with in this episode was the rejection he was facing and the choice to either give up (as the dragons were advising) or keep going.

Is that delusional that he's still going 5 years later with dismal revenues and losses?

Or is that Inspirational because he believes in his idea and isn't going to let anyone tell him otherwise. Watching that episode in current state? EEEK.

I reflected on my own experiences trying to get Baby Wisp off the ground. I made successful rounds at tradeshows, indie and farmer's markets to start out Baby Wisp when I used to make the products all by myself by-hand and then when I hired two people to handle the production in Edmonton. Here's a picture of me with my then 1 year old daughter in the summer '08 at my booth at the St.Albert Farmer's Market. Coincidentally, where two boutique owners approached me to wholesale to them and started the retailing evolution of Baby Wisp.

I thought the Baby Wisp brand and product were pretty successful then as a side business venture. I truly believed in it. I chuckle looking at this picture because I was so proud of my Linen N Things pop up tent ($89.99) that had a broken leg I used milk jugs filled with rocks to weigh down from flying away on windy days. Look at my lil baby girl, it just seems so long ago.

I met so many other small business owners and connected with my customers face to face. I felt it was getting my brand "out there" and had decent sales for such a low ticket item. I thought I was on a roll, things were getting big up in here! THEN...

I got a rejection letter from the busiest farmer's market in Edmonton in 2009. The letter simply stated "REJECTED - NO VALUE ADD" . I have the actual letter tucked safely in my office for posterity.

At the time I received it though-I was so pissed off. "No value-add" . What the heck does that mean? No Value Add - pffff....what do they know!!! I think I even emailed back something about explaining what that's supposed to mean. ooops, it was in the heat of my rejection ok!!!...But I was in actuality- deep down, past the "offended" emotion; I was upset. Upset that there was a possibility that they might be right.

The rejection didn't roll off me. But it didn't make me hang it up either. I guess by my own rationale, I was as delusional as the pancake dude, wasn't I? As a business owner you need to be the strongest champion of your brand and product in the face of any opposition.

However, you need to understand your market, your numbers, your timelines and a strategic plan on how to get there.

Pancake dude didn't portray that.

Fast forward a couple years since I was told Baby Wisp has no value-add... the Baby Wisp brand and our offerings are a galaxy away from its humble beginnings. We went from 5 stores that summer to approximately 225 stores carrying the product today. Thousands of accessories leave the warehouse every month. Thousands of people believe we have value-add.

So you GO- Pancake Man. You G-O! Check back in with us in a year. I want to know how that story ends.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.