Founder and CEO of Bodacious Cases and Ozark resident Arianna Russell is no stranger to national attention.
Having had her 100-percent American made protective iPhone case featured on ABC’s World News segment “Made in America,” and being a finalist in the Martha Stewart American made contest, Russell has some experience in the public eye.
So when she was asked to present at 1 Million Cups in Springfield Dec. 3, getting local support wasn’t the only thing she had in mind.
Russell is putting her Bodacious Cases into a new spotlight: “Shark Tank.”
“This is the first time I’ve ever done a presentation like this,” Russell said. “This is my practice run for the audition.”
Russell plans to audition for the television series “Shark Tank” on Jan. 5 to give her local business a much-needed financial boost into expansion.
If you’ve never seen the show, entrepreneurs of all kinds come before a panel of “sharks,” or successful entrepreneurs, and present their product or idea in hopes of one of the sharks investing something in their company — whether it’s money or other resources.
Russell plans to ask for $175,000 to expand her product lines, but she insists on remaining 100 percent American-made.
Currently, Bodacious Cases makes iPhone covers that not only protect against breakage and water damage, but also serves as a make shift wallet that can securely carry credit cards and cash.
Russell said she needs to develop cases for Android devices and other Apple products, but needs the funds for expansion.
While she plans to audition in Las Vegas, it’s not as simple as just showing up.
“You find out where it is and apply online,” said Cheri Russell, Arianna Russell’s mother and a fixture in the company. “We have to stand in line like ‘American Idol.’”
Bodacious Cases may not get an audition in Vegas, in which case Arianna Russell said she plans to head to the Miami, Florida, auditions as well.
One of the hurdles Arianna Russell expects to overcome, should she get an audition, is selling the sharks on remaining a 100-percent American-made company.
“‘Shark Tank’ always wants you to go overseas to manufacture,” she said. “I’m going to convince them otherwise.”
A part of Russell’s mission in remaining American-made is providing jobs for the local economy.
It’s her goal by next year to add 100 local jobs to the community.
Currently, Arianna Russell is shopping for an American company for manufacturing, though, having recently lost her Nixa manufacturer.
Accurate Mold & Plastics in Nixa decided to take its manufacturing overseas.
“It’s hard, they were like family,” Arianna Russell said. “It was nice to only have to drive 15 minutes to my manufacturer. I would like to find another local manufacturer but anywhere in the U.S. would work.”
Arianna Russell said she needs to find a manufacturer before her audition to help sell the sharks on remaining American-made and to show the company is on solid ground.
A step up on the competition
Even with those challenges, Bodacious Cases may have at least a small step up on the competition.
She has met Daymond John, one of the sharks on the show. Not only met him, but he has one of her cases.
At a 2012 trade show in Las Vegas, when the product was first launched, Arianna Russell ran into John and introduced him to her product.
“He actually tweeted at Arianna after meeting her and said she reminded him of himself when he was first starting out,” Cheri Russell said.
Even with that edge, Arianna Russell said she could use local support.
To help fund Arianna Russell and her local company’s pursuit of this endeavor, follow her updates on Facebook. Be on the lookout for a crowdfunding campaign to start in the next couple of weeks.