Aimee Urista and Megan Jackson introduced their premium denim brand, Hip Chixs to the world on Season 4 of ABC's Shark Tank. Now, they are working to expand their brand with a Kickstarter campagin! We sat down with these Dallas-based entrepreneurs to hear about their path to create HC, their favorite "shark" and what they would like to accomplish with funds raised from Kickstarter.
What inspired you both to start Hip Chixs?
To create a better jean because we both love denim and couldn't find a pair to meet all our needs. Plus, we are entrepreneurs and wanted to work for ourselves and use our passions and talents to create a fun company with a personal purpose that suits other womens' needs as well.
How did you begin from Day 1?
From Day 1...well, Aimee had a dream while we were in college that we designed jeans together and she mentioned it to me at a party and we laughed and then came to me about 7 years later and was like—well, let's do this!
How many prototypes did you try on before getting “the one”?
About 5. Since we both buy premium denim, we had an idea of what each brand lacked and then took things we loved about certain favorites and used that inspiration to design our jean from scratch.
What do you think most consumers would find surprising regarding the production of a pair of jeans?
Oh my goodness...SO much! It is a tedious process... the designing and fabric, thread/stitch, pocket bag and hardware selection and design to the fitting process (seriously involved!)... to the wash process and label package considerations. So many washes to select from and colors... plus the branding package and not to forget naming the brand and getting it actually trademarked. It is similar to thinking about a blue print to build something... its a lot of steps, finding the right people to get involved, the designing, planning and actual execution involved!
Where did you get the name Hip Chixs?
It was a bottle of wine that inspired us. Naturally, we used one in our recent photo shoot campaign... and we drank it while designing our first line and here we are! We call it our creative juice.
What would you recommend to other entrepreneurs looking to get started in fashion?
Passion and relentlessness and perseverance... talent and knowing what you want.
What’s the best advice you have received since starting HC?
"Never, ever, give up...no matter what!" —Mark Cuban
People always say to never start a business with a friend…what do you say to that?
I think this is because people are afraid to ruin friendships. But, Aimee and I work so great together because we aren't fighting over the same position. She has a love for marketing and selling and I love design and creating our vision. We both come to the table with our unique drive and they sync up so well. Plus we make each other laugh and believe in being honest with each other... brutally honest and make sure we have lots of touch bases. I think it is smart to be in a business with someone you trust—whom better than your best friend.
We’re so excited to hear the news about your Kickstarter campaign. Did you always know you wanted to run a campaign? How did you come to the decision to start one now?
We actually set out to do this a year ago... and created the steps to do so but our lives got so busy! We weren't at a point that it felt absolutely necessary yet and now we are at a pivotal point where it is necessary for our future growth. We needed time to evaluate our business and speak with investors and make a decision of how much skin we wanted to have in the game and how much to divvy out to an investor... in the end, we believe that we want to stick with our original plan and do this on our own. After all, it's our baby!
What are your plans with funds raised?
We absolutely hope to make this a full-time business together. We hope to create a company infrastructure from which we can open an office and become fully functional. In addition to creating another larger round with more sizing and style options. We are getting many requests for sizes we have not had a chance to offer and would like to. Ws well as grow the line and offer more categories of clothing and eventually other products!
Can you share some of the specifics regarding what “rewards” those who pledge will receive?
We will be offering our jean at wholesale cost, which is huge for a premium product. We have created totes and t-shirts with our logo. Some of the bigger incentives will be to have dinner with us and be involved in designing our next line! The biggest reward is having a pair of jeans named after you.
What has the process been like in preparation for your Kickstarter campaign? Would you encourage other entrepreneurs to follow suit? How long have you been working on the launch?
It is very time consuming to prepare for. We made a voice over recording for a video we shot of the behind the scenes of our recent photo shoot campaign for our newest line. We hired some creative help for our verbiage and have had several meetings to get all the information answered in a fun way to interpret our personality of our brand. We had to write our bios and create imagery for the campaign.
Absolutely (encourage other entrepreneurs), we have heard so many success stories and hope to be one of them! It has been a year in progress!
Some of our readers may not know this but Hip Chixs was featured on Season 4 of ABC’s Shark Tank. Can you tell us about the process to get on the show? What was it like behind-the-scenes once you were there?
This is a hard question to answer because we are under a confidentiality contract. We basically were told we should apply to the show online and got a call back after we submitted for the show. Several conversations took place and then we were asked to create a video about Hip Chixs to tell them why we are different. We were selected to try out for the show and were flown to LA for about a week. We made it on the show and were on set for over an hour with the sharks... to which they edited down to 7 minutes! It was a major leaning experience for us both and one we look back on with bittersweet feelings but are overall grateful for what we learned. We got to brand Hip Chixs nationally, which was HUGE for a small business.
What was your most memorable experience from Shark Tank?
Megan: It would have to be the moment the doors opened and we had to walk out facing the sharks...eek!
Aimee: All of the emotions leading up to pitching to the sharks.
Before Shark Tank, your favorite “shark” was…
Megan: I loved Barbara... but sadly, she was not on our show, we had Laurie.
Aimee: Mine has always been Mark Cuban. I think he is the most business savvy person on Shark Tank.
After Shark Tank, your favorite “shark” was…
Megan: Mark Cuban, hands down!
Aimee: Still Mark Cuban.
You have achieved so much to be proud of since starting in 2011. What was the first moment when you thought, “Wow, we’re really doing this!” (Was it when you received your first delivery of product? Was it the first time you saw a customer wearing a pair of Hip Chixs?)
Megan: It was so many of these moments you just mentioned... but it was being on Good Morning Texas. So crazy and surreal. And I am sure Aimee will say being in People Magazine for our jeans!
Aimee: The first time I got to see our jeans in person. All the time we put into Hip Chixs and to see it first hand and then wear them. One of my favorite memories and thought to myself, wow this is really happening.
Running a small business is tough…what keeps you going every day?
We keep each other going... and our families inspire us and our friends encourage us... and we are too stubborn to quit.
Read more about Aimee & Megan's journey with Hip Chixs on the Towne & Market blog and please support their Kickstarter campaign.
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