You saw her last night on ABC's Shark Tank - now get to know entrepreneur Jennie Nigrosh, the woman behind the 'Green Garmento' eco-friendly dry cleaning bags. BFTV caught up with her on Friday to ask about Jennie's experience on Shark Tank and what's ahead for the company.
"I honestly think it's probably the single most incredible opportunity for an American entrepreneur to have," said Jennie of the hit ABC reality series. "Who gets seven million people watching a show rooting for the little guy?"
It was a natural fit for Jennie, who "sort of had an entrepreneurial spirit my whole life," she explained. "I've always been in sales and I actually had my own catering business in Boston. All my family, they own their own businesses, and my husband owned his own business. It's kind of like in our blood."
"Actually moving forward with getting a prototype and getting things made, it was daunting," she added, "but my biggest word of advice is to have a plan - and do it with somebody, don't do it by yourself." With Green Garmento, Jennie's biggest supporter is her husband and business partner, Rick Siegel.
She and her husband were fans of Shark Tank, so they went to the network's casting website and put in their application to bring Green Garmento - which can be used as a hamper, a duffel, or a dry-cleaning bag, and is credited with saving two million pounds of single-use plastic in the four years of its existence - to the series.
When it came time to actually make their pitch in front of the panel of investor 'Sharks' - Mark Cuban, Daymond John, Kevin O'Leary, Barbara Corcoran and Robert Herjavec - they came prepared. "We decided first of all that it was just going to be me, because I'm the face of the company and I own a majority stake. That was strategy number one," Jennie explained. "For me, it was just about pitching the product. I really have such passion for what I do."
"It was surreal," she said of being in the room with the millionaire investors. "They actually are those people. They're not in any character other than their own. But it was neat. And it's not quite as daunting [as you'd expect]."
Jennie was unable to make a deal with any of the five Sharks, but she said that didn't make her regret her decision to participate in the show. "I didn't walk out a millionaire. I didn't have everyone saying how brilliant I was," she explained, "[but] I am thrilled that I did the show. I'm thrilled that I got to meet the Sharks and that they know my name. It came out well as far as I was concerned."
Her business is doing well even if Jennie didn't come out a winner on Shark Tank. Green Garmento is in a thousand dry cleaners around the United States and twenty countries. Some of the celebrities who've used the product include Ed Begley Jr., Jon Stewart, Felicity Huffman, William H. Macy, Forest Whitaker and Will Ferrell.
"I think every day we're surprised at something," said Jennie when asked what's been the most unexpected for her since launching the project. "Just that people have embraced our product. It's just us and we're doing something." And clearly, they're doing something which resonates with environmentally conscious people around the world.
(c)2013 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.