Well here we are. Its been about 9 years since I started Toddlewood. Man, it’s been a difficult but rewarding process. I’ve met a lot of people, had a lot of folks in and out of Toddlewood and loved up a lot of kids. Like any business it’s had its ups and downs. Interestingly, I didn’t think of Toddlewood as an official business at first. It was simply something creative and fun that I wanted to do that would include my then 3 year old daughter, Skylar. Over time, I started relating Toddlewood as a business and that’s when the stressful part comes in. There’s a lot of red tape, governmental responsibilities and financial implications when it comes to any business..and Toddlewood is no different.
Well I’m not going to bore you with those details. I will say, however, that I’ve been quite successful in that I’ve formed great relationships with the media, from the Huffington Post, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fox, The View, just to name a few…but especially my good good friend at Access Hollywood who has been Toddlewood’s best friend. I’m grateful for their support and how their professional team makes all the kids who grace the Toddlewood red carpet feel so special…like real celebrities. Best partners ever! I must also give a shout out to my team past and present from Linda Fredereique, Robin Castansia, Tammy Montayne to Sandy Brereton, Shameika Bowman, Yaya, Danielle, Dana Curtin, Tameka Curwen, Jonise Boyd, Deirdre Brown, Peta-Gaye and of course Andrea Pitter Campbell. There are so many creative women from hair and make up, production, and design that the list is so long but know that I love you all. (I’m actually to scared to make the list and leave someone out 🙂 Yikes!
So here we are 9 years later and the question is…now what? Well, I’ll be honest, it’s been great but at times very difficult trying to build the Toddlewood Empire. I have to say that I think I’ve finally figure it out, right at the toes of Toddlewood’s 10th birthday! I can’t be more excited about what we’re about to launch in November! I think it’s going to be epic. So epic that I actually auditioned for my absolute favorite show in the world…Shark Tank.
Yes, two weeks before the casting crew were heading to New York, I got a message from a friend to audition for Shark Tank. So I did. Heck, why not? I put together some boards , mocked up my products and asked one of my amazingly good friends to come with me. She didn’t even hesitate but deep down I know she was thinking “uhhhh, is she serious and why did she ask me? I know nothing about this stuff…I’m a therapist!” But as a good friend would, she smiled and called us an Uber! We got to the auditions at Chelsea Piers and there were at least 400 people there. We met some interesting and determined individuals with big dreams and great ideas (well I’ll be honest, we were scratching our heads at most of the ideas…I mean really!) After 8 hours, we were up next. I went in to see the casting director and before is started she said “I’m sorry, I just got a message that they are kicking us out of the facility so we need to wrap this up quickly.” OMG. That comment messed me up so much! I tried so hard to capture her attention while trying to be mindful of her time limitations. She wrapped my up in about a minute and a half, meanwhile I watched other contestants before me pitch for at least 5 to 7 whole minutes. This is horrible. “I get it, thank you.” That’s all she said. We left and I told my friend to sit next to me in the corner and I cried hysterically for 15 minutes. You see, as a former advertising executive, I know how to pitch and I am good at it. I think I can sell sand to a camel in Dubai. I mean I have sales swag. But I wasn’t even given a chance! This broke me so badly.
We left and went to Hillstone restaurant where I begged my friend not to call Shawn. Of course she didn’t listen. The sight of my husband walking into the restaurant made me cry even more. He has a way of comforting me to the point where you just want to let it all out. You know when you’re about to cry but if someone hugs you then you lose it. That’s Mr. Fantastic. To top it all off, I asked for “Flying Chicken”, my favorite meal at Hillstones and they were out of it. I almost flipped a table. I started to cry in front of the waitress. The manager ended up coming over with her hands clasped prayer-like to see if there’s anything she can do. “Listen, I’ve had a very bad day and all I want is the flying chicken. Please do what you can to get me the flying chicken. Please.” And the look on my friend’s and my husband’s faces to the manager meant business. Needless to say, I had one too many cosmos that night…the rest was a blur.
Fast foward 8 days later, I get a call and an email from the directors from Shark Tank letting me know that I’ve moved on to the next round! WHAT?????? As happy as I was I wanted to flip another table to commemorate the fact that I wasted so many tears! But all is good. I submitted their next request but sadly my idea is far too new so I didn’t make it to season 9. Last week I was informed to resubmit by email only (I don’t have to audition again). So let’s see what happens. Now keep in mind that they are very serious about discretion so this will be the last mention of Shark Tank until one day you see me and the First Family Of Toddlewood on TV. Just saying 🙂