Melissa Hinnant: From Heartbreak to Shark Tank

October 12 - On The Dot
 
FIRST THOUGHT: A Little Grace

In one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes, Elaine goes on a job interview and the interviewer says she must have grace. Elaine says, “I like to think I have a little grace.” The interviewer argues that one can’t have a little grace; you either have it or you don’t. Annoyed, Elaine concludes, “I don’t have grace, and I don’t want grace.”

Everyone has a concept of what the perfect woman should be or say or do. It’s impossible to keep track of it all. So, today, take it easy, be yourself and get in your own good graces!

WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 50 Percent

Aside from the convenience of online shopping, one of the best things about purchasing goods on the Internet is getting surprised when the package arrives at the front door. It’s like a gift from a secret admirer! Well, except for the fact that it’s actually just your giant order of cat food from Amazon.

But, hey, you’re not the only one shunning the grocery store, pet shop or department store in favor of online shopping. In fact, 33 percent of millennial women say they would buy everything online if they could. And ever a generation of do-gooders, 50 percent of millennials who are parents say they prefer to buy products online that support causes or charities they believe in. If you’re going to spend your hard-earned money at an online clothing shop, you might as well give some to a good cause too, right?

WOMAN TO WATCH: Melissa Hinnant, Founder of Grace and Lace

Today’s Woman to Watch is proof that one little handmade idea can transform the world. In season five of entrepreneur-focused reality show Shark Tank, Melissa Hinnant pitched her business, Grace and Lace. The concept was a lacy women’s boot sock. You know, the totally adorbs trend of showing a peak of pretty texture outside your boots.

Melissa was already making a killing; she’d made $800,000 in sales in the first year. One of the TV Sharks, Barbara Corcoran, liked what she saw and invested $175,000 for a 10 percent equity stake in Grace and Lace. Once the episode aired, sales soared, and Melissa’s company closed the year with $2.8 million in sales.

But Melissa is in business for more than herself. With memories of her childhood summer trip to India, where she volunteered at the poorest orphanages, Melissa decided to use her business success for good. In 2013, Grace and Lace partnered with humanitarian organization Angel House, donating a portion of each sale to the effort of building orphanages in India.

Far from just a sock company, Grace and Lace now offers a bevy of lacy clothing and accessories, from leg and arm warmers to scarves, sweaters and ponchos. One of my favorite things is their lace extenders, which give a cute little flair to the bottom of a shirt while also adding some length.

You’re probably wondering how Melissa came up with the concept of a lacy boot sock. While pregnant with her first child, she was required to stay on bed rest for several months. Melissa took the opportunity to learn how to knit. Tragically, Melissa lost the baby, but she credits the knitting she learned to helping her work through her grief and begin the path toward healing.

It took Melissa five hours to make that first pair of boot socks, and although she swore she’d never do it again, the constant compliments she received from strangers were enough to propel Melissa to launch her company. Thus, Grace and Lace was born.

Out of heartbreak, Melissa used a needle and thread to find purpose and strength, and create a successful apparel business with a heart of gold. And it all started with one little stitch.

QUITE THE QUOTE

I’ll leave you today with one of Melissa Hinnant’s favorite quotes from an unknown author about overcoming life’s most difficult days:

“It is through the storms in life that you learn who you are, what you stand for and then, how to fly.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us!

To learn more about our conversation, check us out at OnTheDotWoman.com and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.

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