/ Entrepreneurship

If Dressing A Child Is Hell On Earth, Rags To Raches Is Heaven

We’re constantly moving and we’re constantly shifting. There’s so much more we want to expand into.

When I saw Rachel Nilsson, founder of Rags to Raches, on Shark Tank, I knew my life as a mother was about to change. Nilsson, the freaking genius that she is, created adorable snapless rompers with elastic necklines that allow parents to dress their children in one quick pull.

Maybe you don’t have kids. If that’s the case, you might not understand why these rompers are a big deal. So here’s what I need you to do. Go out into the woods. Find a wild animal. Maybe a badger or a raccoon or a skunk. I’ll wait here.

Did you get it? Good. Okay. Now. Dress the animal in a shirt with snaps on the bottom and pants with a fly. Snap all the snaps. Make sure the fly is zipped. Is the badger squirming? Yeah, they do that. Sure, you can try and hand it your phone or a toy or a bottle as a distraction but it probably won’t do much because the animal has made it his or her life mission to escape you and the clothes you are attempting to put on his or her body. The animal might bite. It might roll over. It might kick you in the face. You can try and use one hand to hold the badger down, but really, you need both hands to get those snaps snapped and pants zipped. It’s going to take some quick maneuvering and more than one attempt. Let me know when you get it.

You got it? What was that, like, twenty minutes? Congratulations. You just experienced what it’s like dressing a toddler.

Nilsson is a nicer mom than I am so she doesn’t compare her son to a woodland creature. But she does describe him as being “wriggly,” a wriggliness that inspired her to create a snapless, zipperless romper out of her husband’s T-shirt. When Nilsson and her husband’s law-school budget became tight, she decided to sell her kids’ used clothes on Instagram. Her friends went bananas for the T-shirt rompers. So she made and sold more. And more. Until she was making 200–300 a week and selling out completely. At that point she realized it was a business that could actually take off and that she should get a manufacturer.

Getting the products manufactured allowed Nilsson to do what she loves most. “The most fun thing for me is creating,” she says. Every Rags to Raches product has a little bit of her wrapped into it and there isn’t a single product that she hasn’t approved of or designed herself.

When Shark Tank held auditions in Salt Lake last May, Nilsson wasn’t sure she would audition. “It wasn’t something I felt like I was totally ready for,” she says. But at the last minute she threw a couple of rompers in her bag and showed up to the auditions just as the producers were packing up. She auditioned, wowed the producers, and was booked on the show.

Nilsson then went on to wow the sharks. Mark Cuban called her product the most profitable they had ever seen on the tank. While he and Laurie both declined to invest, the remaining sharks, Kevin, Daymond, and Robert fought long and hard to win an investment in Rags to Raches. Ultimately Nilsson chose Robert, whose vision for her company was to continue focusing on online sales. “Robert understood my vision more. He understood protecting my brand. I felt like he understood where I wanted to go with this,” Nilsson says.

Nilsson plans to use Robert’s investment to continue growing Rags to Raches and focus on unique, limited-edition products. “We’re constantly moving and we’re constantly shifting,” she says. “There’s so much more we want to expand into.”

While Nilsson and her brand are now located in LA, Rags to Raches began in the 801. “People here in Utah are so talented and know so much,” Nilsson says. She explains that the small shop support system helped her business take off and the collaborative nature of the blogger and business moms helped promote and push her products. “What is in the water in Utah?” she asks.

Published 3/3/2016