Shark Tank has been amazing for our business and I’m so happy that we were able to be featured on the show.

Look, I’m not suggesting you throw rocks at babies. And I’m certainly not condoning the practice of throwing rocks at babies. All I’m saying is that if you happened to throw a rock, maybe you were holding a rock and tripped, or a rock just forcefully slipped out of your hand, I don’t know, chances are, it would hit a baby wearing moccasins.

Such is the prominence of the Freshly Picked moccasins, not just in the company’s native Utah, but in each one of these United States. And now, with the recent launch of the hard-soled The Next Step Shoe, the brand is about to become even more ubiquitous in preschools and playgrounds everywhere.

You could call the rise of FP meteoric, but that might discredit the hard work Freshly Picked founder Susan Petersen has put into making her footwear brand a success over the last six years.

In 2009 Petersen found herself frustrated with the lack of well-designed baby shoes (read: shoes that actually stay on babies’ feet), and after buying a bag of scrap leather at a yard sale began experimenting with shoe designs on her son Gus’ feet. “I persisted through several attempts until I had created a pair of moccasins that not only looked adorable on Gus’ chubby little feet, but stayed on his feet as well,” Petersen said. She then decided to turn those adorable, well-fitting shoes into a brand.

Money was tight at the time, so in order to earn money to get her business off the ground, Petersen convinced her brother to let her keep old windows he was removing from houses. She then spent an entire summer banging glass out of the windows and collecting the frames which were encased in aluminum. At the end of the summer she took the frames to a scrapyard and recycled them to get money. “I made $200 and with that literal sweat equity, I started my business,” Petersen said.

Since that summer of recycling aluminum and starting her business with $200, Petersen has not taken any funding. The team has grown from Petersen, one seamstress and one customer service/shipping specialist into a 12 person office team and workers in multiple factories and a distribution center.

In 2014, Petersen appeared on Shark Tank and was met with more enthusiasm from the investors than I personally have ever witnessed on the show. Petersen accepted a deal with Daymond John who offered her $150,000 in exchange for a 25 percent share in Freshly Picked. “Shark Tank has been amazing for our business and I’m so happy that we were able to be featured on the show,” Petersen said. “What I think impacted our business was how we managed the exposure and used it as a platform to pull different marketing levers in our business.” Petersen and her team knew that the impact from her appearance on Shark Tank would not be sales, but instead marketing. Petersen mentioned the Freshly Picked social media accounts on the show and ran a Shark Tank campaign when the show aired. The weekend that the show aired, Freshly Picked gained 20,000 followers on Instagram, 11,000 on Facebook, and 5,000 on Twitter. “We worked really hard to educate those new followers about the brand and many of them have become users and enthusiasts for the brand.”

Petersen will be teaching fellow entrepreneurs how to leverage marketing to inspire enthusiasm for their brand when she speaks at StartFEST this September.

Published 8/26/2015