Charlotte & Grant Reveal...The Truth about Their Dragons’ Den Experience

Charlotte & Grant Reveal...The Truth about Their Dragons’ Den Experience 

Did you see us on Dragons’ Den? If not head to BBC iPlayer to catch up. 

But what’s it really like to go on the famous show? 

“Brutal, brilliant, scary, surreal...” are the words coming out of the mouths of our Co-Founders Charlotte & Grant.  

So let's deep dive and unravel the truth about their experience... 

Where did the filming take place? Where did you stay? 

CharlotteAll of the filming for the show is done in Manchester, so the BBC production team organise you a hotel for the night before.  We happened to be pitching in June, when we were having a pretty few hot days.  I do remember the hotel being so deathly hot that we had to be moved.  The next room was tiny, hot and had no windows, Grant as usual though slept like a baby, I was awake most of the night trying to see if the aircon worked and stressing about the day ahead. Pre-pitching nerves! I was repeating the first two lines of my pitch over and over – even though it was the second half that needed the work.   

Grant – We'd been waiting so long for the chance to pitch to the Dragons, the lead up to it all became a bit of a blur. I remember driving up to Manchester, listening to the cricket on the way, to try and relax. As Charlotte said the hotel was roasting hot and we got moved to a room with no windows and no natural light, so we just sat there sweltering all evening.  We went out for dinner to try to relax, and joked about whether we'd find all the dragons at the next table to us. 

 Charlotte grant Clemence dragons den yardart

How did you know what to wear? 

Charlotte - My lovely friend Penny put me in touch in Australia with a fashion adviser and dresser to some really famous people, so I was super grateful for the advice. She chose me a fab shirt, but it was super expensive, so I thought I would wear it and send back...let's just say though after a two-hour filming session in a hot studio that was never going to happen (laugh).  However, I did already agree to myself, if I got the investment, I’d keep it.   

Grant - I think these things tend to be harder for the blokes, you are pitching to three guys with very different styles and you don't want to be judged badly for your turn out.  Your mind starts to play tricks on you a little bit, and you wonder what they're going to make of you. You don't want a dragon judging you before you start based on what you wear.  Peter likes people to have dressed up. Stephen is obviously a bit younger, and you don't want to look too stiff but I think we carried it off.  One of the strangest things though was, I was strolling around the studio in my shorts and a T-shirt for about three hours while we were setting up and doing the dress rehearsal.  Not really either Dragons’ style I think! 


grant Clemence dragons den yardart

 We see what you mean Grant! On the Dragons’s Den set. 


What was it like the day you went into the den? 

Charlotte – We went up the day before so it wasn't a major panic on the day, we had to be at the studio in Manchester by 8am the next morning.  We dropped off our stock that afternoon and chatted through the set we designed - so far so good.  Grant was pretty relaxed, I was, let's say a bit apprehensive.  The pitch was rolling over in my mind, again and again, and I found myself reminding myself of the figures ever couple of seconds.  Grant’s car journey up there was torture! (Charlotte laughs) 


Grant - I was actually really confident, confident in Charlotte, confident in myself, confident in the pitch and in our product. We've gone over it so many times we knew it was the best it could be. I knew we were prepared so I had no doubts we were going to give it a really good shot. We also had the good fortune to be first on in the day, so we got to set up and go straight in. We didn't have to wait around in the wings for ages like the other businesses who were going on last. 


How did you feel when you first walked into the den? 

Charlotte – To accustimise you to space, you see the den, before you pitch to the Dragons.  As Grant said we were fortunate enough to have the morning slot, so we could get straight in and designing, and getting it ‘pitch perfect’.   

I was in utter turmoil and now wanted the thing all over.   

The production team at the BBC were all so lovely though and are really great at putting you at ease.  A breakfast was laid on for us, but there was no way I could eat. 

We then spent the next few hours with the guys, putting our props together. That was fun and the YardArt wall they produced was brilliant.  They did at the last minute take away a wall as it was too large, but the overall look at the end was awesome.  We were though manically trying to revive the plants that had wilted in the car. 

Grant Clemence yardart dragons den

We took some pictures during this process and Grant got to sit in the Dragons’ chairs, to check out the viewpoints (and to take a sneaky look to see if the money was real).  The studio is big and it is daunting.  You have crosses on the floor, which you are instructed to stay on when you are doing pitch and throughout the questioning, which seems impossible, especially to those that know me, when I am particularly animated and excited. 

By this point it is all getting a bit real.  

You then have to do a practise pitch in front of the whole production team – it’s not bad enough you have to do it once, with the Dragon’s in front of you, you also have to do it in front of tonnes of people beforehand.  I was now feeling properly nervous and was wanting to call my business partner (Bex Lund) and tell her I wanted to come home and forget the whole thing.  The other half of me knew though that this was a chance in a lifetime – never to be repeated - and could change mine, my business partner and our family's lives forever. There was no going back and I wasn't leaving that den without an investment!!!! 

The extreme nerves made me go into tunnel vision mode. Get in, do well, get investment and get out...without being humiliated in the process. 

Grant - Like Charlotte says it's so strange, you spend hours in the studio on your own or with people you don't know, doing mundane things like setting up and drinking tea and making jokes. And then you get told to go out, get dressed and come back five minutes later - the doors open to the lift and you're in the same place you were before - but there's five Dragons in front of you! It's really weird how quickly it changes and suddenly becomes serious.    

dragons den investors

(Pic of the dragons) can we use this one??

What are the Dragons like? 

Charlotte – They were all very reasonable, but some of the comments that are made you know are specifically made for TV and to encourage viewer interaction.  The pitch goes on longer than what you see on air, to allow it to be edited down. Everyone who knows me, knows that I have a rebellious spirit and am quite outspoken, so I must admit it felt quite contradictory at times for me to stay quiet and be spoken to about how to run a business.   

I found Deborah Meaden particularly charming and she seemed like a very nice person – whilst being incredibly fair and honest.  Weirdly if you asked me before, would she have wanted to invest, I would have said no, but after meeting her that day I think she would have been someone wonderful to work with. 

We knew though that when Steven Bartlett, said he loved the product and would fill his offices with it (we’re in discussions with his team about what they’d like now the show has aired) we were off to a promising start. 

Peter Jones is a fair and nice guy. He asked a lot of valid questions and was keen to get down to the nitty gritty.  He thought the quality of our printing was excellent though.  

Sara Davies was just as lovely in life as she appears on TV and was completely into our story.  She loved the product and we had no doubt she was going to invest.   

Unfortunately, Touker Suleyman and ourselves didn’t click, but it's hard to win every Dragon over.  


Grant – One question we do get asked though is the lift real? (Charlotte interjects: But we can’t tell you that! No one wants the illusion spoiled.) But all I can say it was real to me.  I definitely felt queasy in it 


Did your views of the Dragons change after being in the den? 

Charlotte – Yes. My view of Deborah completely changed. I think I could be her friend! :) 

So, for those Entrepreneurs who are thinking of trying for Dragons’ Den. How did you prepare? 

Charlotte – I had my figures written on my hands for weeks and got anyone I knew to just keep asking me, about our gross and net figures for the last 3 years.  I just kept on repeating the pitch, making sure I knew everything I could possibly know about my business and the production side, inside out, so as not to get caught out.  I think it paid off, there wasn't anything I didn't know on the day. 

Grant - We practised the pitch endlessly in the car and at home. Charlotte learnt all the figures, so she really was in a great position to do it. 

(add pic at home practising)



What was the most challenging part of the day? 

Charlotte – I mentioned it before, but it's not answering back in the den when you know they’re trying to take you down a rabbit hole and back you into a corner (It makes for great TV.) You can't help but think they are trying to make you look like the village idiot.  You have to keep your calm and think when all’s said and done it is their own money that they are investing. 

Grant - I think you just have to try to stay on message and have the belief in what you are pitching. You know what you want to get across. You know what you want to say about your business, and you don't want to get distracted or taken down a side alley and say something you didn't mean to. You have to be quite disciplined.  


What Dragons were you hoping for investments from? 

Charlotte – I went in wanting Sara and Steven, as their business spirit and outlook both complimented the business really well – Sara for her experience in the craft industry and business knowledge abroad and Steven for his social media expertise.   

Grant – The same as Charlotte.  It would've been amazing to work with Peter Jones as one of the original dragons, but I'm not sure I ever thought our product would be his thing. 

Did you meet any other entrepreneurs? 

Charlotte: Yes and they were all full of hope and excitement.  Although it was such a blur, I unfortunately can't remember half their names, as some seemed so cool.  The lady after us, was doing jewellery made from melted down plastic – her stuff was amazing – I just wished I had remembered her name, I’ll be looking out for her!  Honestly, everything was such a blur, you forget so much.  Another guy we met the night before, he had been waiting all day to pitch! 


What happened after the pitch? 

Charlotte – You meet your investors backstage and you all hug and take a selfie, we were so excited and happy.  I did say to Sara, I hear investments fall through and she was very excited and said no way, and that she was going to make us very wealthy women.  Obviously, I’ll take that enthusiasm and promise any day.   

Steven was excited too, but Sara was the really excited one. We honestly hope that everything that we negotiated on the day will happen. 

Grant – I don't remember too much beyond going and sitting down in the dressing room and getting changed and patting ourselves on the back. You’re in that adrenalin moment.  We were just about to leave when bumped into Sara and Steven in the corridor. 

Would you do it all again? 

Charlotte – Never! 

Grant – Tomorrow  

Have you any regrets? 

Charlotte – Not going with just one dragon.  Whilst its brilliant that we have had two Dragons’ interested the accountability is twice as much. 

Grant - I really think it went as well as it possibly could've done. It's easy to ask yourself questions about what you would've done differently, but I don't think we could've pitched it any better.   

As long as the planned investments go through what do you plan on doing with the money? 

Charlotte – Bex and I have alloted it towards PR, Marketing, Social Media Investment andTrade fairs.... we wish to showcase our unique product to a wider audience and with investment money from the Dragons, this will now be made possible. You can have the best product in the world, but if no one know about you then you don't have a business.  Our first stop is The Ideal Home Show, Olympia London (2nd March - 7th April 2024) where we’ll be showcasing our Dragons’ Den Edit.  



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