Shark Tank Success: Transforming the Fashion Industry With Adaptive Clothing For All (with Erica Cole)

💡 Speaker bio

No Limbits was created with the goal of providing easy and accessible solutions to everyday problems. After losing her leg in a car crash in 2018, our founder Erica Cole found that her new prosthetic leg wasn’t compatible with her existing wardrobe. Nothing would fit over her bulky prosthetic, which made getting dressed in the morning a pain and making adjustments throughout the day even more difficult. Erica eventually found that practicality ended up winning out over her own personal style, a compromise she hated having to make. Erica wanted to create something that would make life simpler, more enjoyable, and fashionable of course.

ℹī¸ Introduction

Welcome back to another episode of Frugalpreneur, the show where we celebrate the incredible stories of entrepreneurs who have built successful businesses while staying frugal. I’m your host, Sarah St John, and today we have a very special guest joining us. Her name is Erica, and her journey is truly inspiring.

In 2018, Erica experienced a life-changing car accident, which resulted in the loss of her left leg. Despite this significant setback, she didn’t let it deter her from pursuing her dreams. While studying chemistry at the University of Iowa, Erica entered a pitch competition and emerged victorious, which led her to start her own business.

Initially starting small with an alterations business, Erica’s entrepreneurial spirit didn’t stop there. She expanded her venture into an Etsy-like platform, showcasing her products to a wider audience. All the while, she diligently completed her chemistry degree, proving that determination knows no bounds.

Her hard work and innovative mindset caught the attention of big players in the industry. Erica received job offers from prestigious organizations like Los Alamos National Lab and Target Incubator. However, true to her entrepreneurial heart, she decided to focus on growing her own business.

Since then, Erica’s business has flourished, now employing six individuals. She has even taken her brand to new heights, participating in a Kickstarter campaign and making a memorable appearance on the hit TV show Shark Tank. But Erica doesn’t just stop there – she’s now partnering with Walmart for Disability Pride Month, a testament to her commitment to creating inclusive products.

In this episode, Erica generously shares her insights into the world of adaptive clothing and products for people with disabilities. She explains how these designs not only benefit those with specific needs but also have a broader appeal that can improve the lives of many. Erica gives us a glimpse into her favorite creations, such as pants for people with lower limb differences and a sensory collection for those with sensory processing disorders.

We also dive into Erica’s experience working with the incredible team at Good American, where she had the opportunity to bounce ideas off Emma and her team members. She highlights the fantastic support she receives from Mark, who is lightning-fast in responding to her emails, providing guidance, and adding credibility to her business.

Prepare to be inspired as Erica reveals her upcoming projects, including a much-needed adaptive outerwear option for those with limited mobility and dexterity in their hands. She goes into detail about how she designed this coat to accommodate difficult movements and improve the overall comfort and functionality for the wearer.

But it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Erica. She takes us through the challenges she faced in her supply chain and how she overcame them to ensure timely deliveries and accessible prices. She also recounts her exhilarating journey on Shark Tank, where an unexpected turn of events led to an incredible partnership and unleashed a flood of traffic to her website.

So, if you’re ready to learn from an exceptional entrepreneur who has turned adversity into triumph, tune in to this episode of Frugalpreneur with our remarkable guest, Erica. Get ready to be inspired and discover the power of determination and innovation in building a thriving business. Let’s dive in!

❇ī¸ Key topics and bullets

– Introduction to the guest, Erica

– Erica’s background and her experience with a car accident causing the loss of her left leg

– Transition from a wheelchair to using a prosthetic leg

– Erica’s studies in chemistry at the University of Iowa and entering a pitch competition

– Starting a small alterations business and later expanding into an Etsy-like venture

– Balancing building her business while completing her chemistry degree

– Receiving job offers from Los Alamos National Lab and Target Incubator but choosing to focus on her business

– Growth of Erica’s business and now having six employees

– Participation in a Kickstarter campaign and appearance on Shark Tank

– Partnership with Walmart for disability pride month

– Visit to Emma’s team and collaboration with Good American

– Communication with Mark and his fast responses via email

– Discussion on adaptive clothing and products for people with disabilities

– Highlighting Erica’s sensory clothing product and its versatility

– Designing pants for people with lower limb differences and wheelchair users

– Introduction to the new coat designed for people with limited range of motion or dexterity

– Challenges and improvements in the supply chain

– Feature on Shark Tank and the positive impact on website traffic

– Collaboration with the “dream team” from Shark Tank

– Success with reorders and indication that the product solves a problem

– Erica’s initial business model of alterations and shift to creating ready-to-wear items

– Kickstarter campaign to support the transition to ready-to-wear products

🧞‍♂ī¸ Discussion questions

1. How did Erica’s experience of losing her left leg in a car accident shape her entrepreneurial journey?

2. What role did the pitch competition play in Erica’s decision to start her own business?

3. How does Erica balance building her business while also finishing her chemistry degree?

4. What factors led Erica to decline job offers from prestigious organizations like Los Alamos National Lab and Target Incubator in favor of focusing on her business?

5. How has Erica’s business grown since its inception, and what strategies has she used to achieve this growth?

6. What was Erica’s experience participating in a Kickstarter campaign and appearing on Shark Tank? How did these experiences impact her business?

7. How are adaptive clothing and products for people with disabilities beneficial not only for that specific population but for everyone?

8. Can you discuss some of the specific products and features mentioned by Erica, such as the pants designed for people with lower limb differences and wheelchair users, and the sensory clothing collection?

9. How do Mark and Emma from Shark Tank contribute to Erica’s business, and how have they helped secure the Walmart partnership?

10. What challenges has Erica faced with her supply chain, and how has she adapted to overcome these challenges while maintaining affordable prices and timely deliveries?

Relevant Links

Shark Tank Appearance


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