I contacted Jessica Haynes to get a Jeska Shoe update after Daymond invested in her shoes with removable heels in episode 420. Jessica is having the whirlwind ride of her young life in the aftermath of her popular segment on Shark Tank. She really connected with the audience. She connected with me and took the time to answer some questions.
Jeska Shoe Update on the Road to Shark Tank
What's Jessica Haynes' business background?
“I am from Emerson, Arkansas originally. With my family in the Hotel Business, I grew up experiencing business first hand. My mom, dad and Grandparents all work in the management of 5 hotels in Alexandria, LA. I spent several summers down in Louisiana learning the business. My Grandfather has been a true inspiration and mentor to me. He started in hotel construction at the age of 18 and began a Multiple Hotel Ownership Company at 34 years of age. He encouraged me to follow in his footsteps as an entrepreneur; he has always told me pursue my dreams. He always said, ‘If you don’t take a risk you never get the reward.'”
“I attended Southern Arkansas University for my Bachelors and Masters in Business. After graduation I took a job in Sales/ Business development working for my family’s company in Alexandria, LA. My favorite part of the job was working with employees. I was able to develop several training seminars for the company and I got to meet so many wonderful people who have been with my Grandfather for years. I was also working on my shoe company at this time finishing the patent applications and working with the engineers to finalize the design.”
“I took a position with Murphy USA in El Dorado as communications assistant in 2011 to experience working with companies outside the hotel industry. Murphy is a fortune 500 company and they taught me a great deal about creating and managing special projects. Unfortunately I had to leave Murphy as my shoe company began to take shape. Once the design was finalized it was time to present my shoe to investors. I met with several investors in the area. But many told me they lacked the contacts in the shoe industry to move forward.”
“With money running low, going to the next step and financial investment seemed impossible. That is when I decided to take my shoe to the Sharks. Doing Shark Tank has been a wonderful experience and it has given new life to this venture. ”
How did you come up with the idea for your company?
“One day I broke the heel of my favorite pair of shoes and I was devastated. I thought then, ‘wouldn’t it be great if you could just slip on a new heel?' I think this is an idea that many women can relate to. When you get a great fitting pair of heels you don’t want to lose them. And being able to match that great pair of heels with multiple outfits is a shoe many women would want. I never gave up that idea of an interchangeable heel. ”
Are you a fan of the show?
“I love the show. I was a fan before I ever decided to audition. It is inspiring to see other entrepreneur’s ideas and accomplishments. The advice and offers given by the sharks can be very educational. I have to admit, after I aired, I did stay away from Shark Tank for a while. I recorded all the episodes, but was too scared to watch them. The experience was all too fresh. Now that fear has gone away and I continue my Friday night tradition of watching the show. ”
Other than your pitch, what was your favorite pitch so far this season (or any other season)?
“My favorite pitch was Surfset Fitness. They presented well, and have a great product. I enjoy working out but it can get routine, this product offers a great new workout! And since I am from Arkansas that is probably the only way I am going to experience surfing!”
Which entrepreneurs who have not gotten funded would you have funded?
“I taped with Pretty Padded Room’s Bea Arthur and Psi Bands’ Romy Taormina so I am familiar with the entrepreneurs as well as their products. When you go though a stressful and exciting experience like taping Shark Tank with someone, you get to know the person behind the scenes. So I would have to choose someone that I taped with, of course we all know I don’t have any funds to offer so I will just have to wish them well!”
Have you purchased any Shark Tank products?
“I have a close friend who is battling Cancer. She is one of the bravest people I know. Psi Bands taped the same week as I did. When I heard about the Psi Bands I immediately thought of her and asked her to send one to my friend, we ordered two styles actually.”
Did you enjoy the trip to film the show?
My mom and I made both trips to California; the audition and the taping. When we went out to do the taping we had lots more luggage (all the displays etc) and the tension was higher. I don’t think either of us relaxed until the plane ride home. Then the reality hit me ‘wow I just made a business deal with Daymond John!'”
When did you tape?
“I taped in September of 2012. A production team even came to Arkansas to film some background on me as well, but I still had no idea if we would ever make it on the air. It is different opening your whole life to the cameras; I am not sure how the reality stars do that everyday. But it was a great experience for my entire family and definitely one we will not forget.”
“We taped with several people that have aired; Sound Bender, Psi Bands, Pretty Padded Room, and the HoodiePillow. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to talk with all of them and share this experience with them. I made some wonderful friends during that time and it is exciting to see them on the show as well. ”
What was it like waiting to hear?
“It was frustrating waiting to hear if it would air. People around town would ask me how my company is doing and then tell me ‘hey you should try out on that Shark Tank show.' All you can do is smile and say ‘that’s a good idea.' I was actually more anxious once I knew it would air, that’s when the nerves really started. I had taken a full-time job in marketing and suddenly now I had so much to get ready for the air date. It has been a crazy time, but my family has been right there with me.”
Did you do anything to juice up your website to compensate for The Shark Tank Effect?
“A website was just not in the budget before, but knowing I needed a website to capitalize on the publicity of the show, my family once again rallied together and we made it happen. I contacted a team of web designers and they were able to create a landing page in less than a week. It may be basic, but it has allowed us to track those people that are interested in receiving updates on the progress of the JesKa Shoe. I also had to join Twitter which, for this small town girl, was a new experience. We did have a launch party in my home town and we had people on Facebook and Twitter to communicate with my newly acquired shoe groupies. I am exhilarated by all the positive feedback we have gotten!”
Jeska Shoe Update: Swimming In the Shark Tank
What happened to your website traffic on the night of the show? What has happened since?
“The website exploded on the night of the show. It has been an amazing response. The Facebook page has been very busy as well. All in all the responses have been over 95% positive. I did also receive two offers of marriage and one person from Canada wants me to hook her up with Daymond. This is all quite surreal for this small town girl. I am honored and grateful for all the well wishers and shoe groupies that are waiting to see this product on the market.”
How long were you taping?
“The time in front of the sharks was actually 45 minutes. But it felt like much more than that. I remember talking to myself in my head thinking ‘time is in my favor, as long as I can keep them talking I am still in this thing.'”
How different are the sharks “in person” versus the personas portrayed on TV?
“The sharks were all very welcoming, but true to their personalities. I expected the tough questions from Kevin O’Leary. Barbra Corcorans and Robert Herjavec were both encouraging but straightforward in their criticisms. Marc Cuban bowed out early with some humor to break the tension. I knew that Daymond could relate to my struggles but I was also unsure of what Daymond would do, his body language is hard to read.”
Do you feel the broadcast treated you fairly or unfairly and why? What would you have included or deleted?
“I felt they treated me very fairly. Under the stress I got more emotional than I wanted too. Waiting for the airdate I had no idea what they would edit and what they would show. I was pleased they showed my strong points; they could have made it look like all I did was cry.”
“The question I have been asked the most since the show aired is ‘why did you not make a counter offer' and Daymond actually asked me that on tape too. I told them then, that I had seen several counter attempts on the show before that have actually cost the entrepreneur in the end. I knew I had the Shark I wanted and that I needed his expertise to get the shoes to market. So that is why I didn’t counter. When you have a huge catch on the line is not the time you want to test your fishing line to find out if it’s strong enough.”
“I think the line I am most embarrassed about is when I said, ‘the plan is I don’t have all the answers.’ I did go into a more detailed response but of course that didn’t make it on air. What I was trying to communicate with the sharks was that I was open to their suggestions. I went into that tank knowing I needed someone to help me make decisions. I was NOT going to go in telling them that I had the master plan and was not flexible or open to changes. I have seen entrepreneurs like that before on the show. No one wants to work with a know-it-all. Besides, my product has not even hit the market yet. I have an advantage over a lot of other entrepreneurs that go on the show, in that I could change my strategy easily. Do I wish I would have worded my answer better? Of course! But if that is my only complaint, I think I did pretty good!”
How did you feel when you heard the decisions of the Sharks?
“My heart and stomach dropped each time a Shark opted out. I just kept telling myself Daymond is still in and he is the Shark you want, so I just kept pushing. When he made me an offer I was so relieved and excited. I think that was the first real breath I took the whole time.”
Jeska Shoe Update After the Shark Tank
Did the deal with Daymond actually happen? What have you done together so far to move the business forward?
“Things were slow in the beginning but they are speeding up now that the show has aired. Our deal is not yet finalized, but we are exploring some exciting opportunities to take the JesKa Shoe to the next level. This takes time!”
What’s it been like working with Daymond?
“It has been a dream come true. As I have said before he was the person I had hoped to partner with. A young person with a new shoe idea trying to break into the huge fashion industry is kind of like trying to jump the Grand Canyon; Daymond is the bridge I needed to make that jump possible. He is so down to earth and I truly believe he wants to help me make my dreams come true. I know it’s a reality show, but that part was not for TV. He’s been in my shoes before and we can really relate to each other.”
“I have spoken with Daymond since the show aired. We have had a tremendous response from the airing and we are filtering through all the contacts.”
How long until we see Jeska Shoes in stores?
“I wish I could say tomorrow! But we are still finalizing some details on the pre-production. We are close but I just can’t put a timeline to it yet.”
Are you making any money yet?
We have to get the shoes on the market to begin making money but we have a great deal of interest in seeing that happen. As they always say, you got to spend money to make money!
Has your appearance on the show led to some of your other ideas getting a “second look?”
“The JesKa shoe is my first serious invention. Of course I’m always coming up with silly ideas, but nothing I have taken as far as the shoe concept. However, this process has definitely made me want to go back to the drawing board and see what I can create next. I can definitely see lots of expansions on this idea. What happens from here is really up to God and the Market really. I just look forward to seeing where it goes. I now know with certainty I was destined to be an entrepreneur.”
Any parting thoughts?
I think people are interested in the JesKa shoe because it is a great idea. Many women who travel have commented on how practical this shoe is. I believe people want to see the ‘Mr. Potato head of stilettos' on the shelves. And with the help of Daymond that is just what is going to happen!
I had one other question for Jessica. You can get her answer over at The Hot Dog Truck.