LOUISVILLE, Kentucky -- Going on “Shark Tank” was one of the most stressful moments of Ashley Drake’s life -- and we’re talking about a woman who has been to war.
“I would say that ‘Shark Tank’ might have been more stressful than being deployed because it was just me,” said Drake.
Army Capt. Ashley Drake spent 15 months deployed in Iraq overseeing the transport of construction equipment throughout the country. There were some dicey moments, Drake recalls, but she always felt safe because she was part of a team.
Being the head of a small company though is a completely different story, she said.
“The Natural Grip was created out of the need to prevent my own hands from ripping and tearing while working out,” said Drake. “It was hard to find things to fit my hands because as a female I have smaller hands and nothing I was using was working. It was either too thick or bulky. It was hindering my grip on the bar. And I think my husband was sick of hearing me whine and complain and he wanted to try and help me solve that problem, so he created these things, which we now call The Natural Grip.”
Soon after the creation of The Natural Grip, Drake created a Facebook page to try and sell a few. She came to her husband not long after, breaking the news that if had plans for that weekend, he better cancel them.
“I called my husband and said, ‘We have 150 orders,’” Drake recalled. “He said, ‘What are you talking about? How’d that happen? Shut that down.’ I said, 'No, there’s no shutting this down. We’re going to have to make those this weekend.’ And he of course was a little disgruntled but we figured it out."
Drake then made it her mission to get herself on ABC’s “Shark Tank” and secure funding to help her new business. She walked in with one goal: To get a deal from Daymond John. But as fans of the show know, once in the Tank, anything can happen. Drake faced offers from both John and Robert Herjavec, and she followed her gut and chose Herjavec.
“The 'Shark Tank' effect is real. The month before Shark Tank we had only done $10,000 in sales. The month that we aired on “Shark Tank” we did $132,000. The goal this year is to hit a million dollars in sales,” she said.
An Army captain, entrepreneur, “Shark Tank” alum and wife, Drake is also the mother of a three-year-old little girl. A lot for one person to juggle, but she manages.
“I’m not going to lie, there’s a lot of things to balance,” said Drake. “If we get the family day where it’s just the three of us, those are few and far between, but we cherish those when we do have those. I work every day to build this company to the best that it can be so that, that is the end result. And really in my mind, there’s no other option other than that.”