Linda Jensen in The Shark Tank

| Aug 22, 2011
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Hey gang, thanks for all the interest in my Surrogate Shopper business idea. Since it was recently featured in TGForum the idea has really taken off. I have had interest from clients and from others who wish to join me in growing the business.

However, I have even more exciting news to share with you. I got the idea to pitch my business to the producers of Shark Tank, the reality show where potential entrepreneurs try to sell their ideas to a panel of multi-millionaires to gain investment partnerships and dollars. They liked the idea enough to invite me to an interview and then to tape a segment for their show. It will air sometime in the future. The content of the program is supposed to be kept confidential but apparently some closet crossdresser working for the production company obtained a copy of the segment’s transcript and posted it online. So the cat is out of the bag. Here is how it went down. This transcript is for the descriptive video version of the show; the version for the visually impaired audience. Enjoy!

Shark Tank: Season 4 Program 3 Scene 1 Descriptive Video Version

Descriptive video (DV): The scene opens on a dimly lit sound stage where three men and two women are sitting on cushioned arm chairs facing a vacant floor below. As the light level rises a narrator speaks:

Narrator: Welcome to the Shark Tank. This evening, our panel of investors will consider proposals to invest in a number of innovative businesses from a line of children’s books to a pie business to a budding entrepreneur who is helping men buy the dresses of their dreams.

DV: The camera pans to the sharks

The Sharks

Narrator: Tonight our expert panel includes real estate mogul Barbara Cormorant, infomercial industry pioneer Kevin Partington, technology innovator Robert Herovic, fashion icon Diamond John and this week’s multi-millionaire guest panellist author, print and Internet publisher and event impresario JoAnn Roberts. Stay tuned we’ll be right back with our first entrepreneur, a retired political advisor who will ask the sharks to invest in her business helping men find the dresses of their dreams, yes you heard it right. We’ll be right back.

Commercial break:

DV: Returning from the commercial break the camera pans the panel looking on curiously as a strikingly tall and beautiful blonde woman strides confidently through the doors to the shark tank. The woman steps to the microphone. She is wearing fashionable 2” black leather heels, a straight-line grey skirt, slightly flared at the knees, a white low-neck camisole revealing a sumptuous cleavage, a tailored black blazer a pearl necklace and matching earrings.

Robert seems transfixed by the image before him.

JoAnn: (whispering to Robert) I think I recognize the tape job.

Robert: What tape job?

Linda: Good evening sharks. My name is Linda and I am here to ask you for a $250,000 investment in return for a 25% share of my company and a 10% share of the royalties on licencing agreements.

Barbara: Go ahead. Tell us about your business.

Linda: Until recently I was a steadily employed advisor to top government officials and businesses doing business with government. Then a series of political events in Canada caused me to lose my job and leave me with no immediate prospects of re-employment.

DV: Robert, who is Canadian, raises his hand to interject.

Robert: Let me guess. You were working for the Liberals

Linda: Precisely. However it was time for a career change, anyway. Well I had always heard that the secret to career happiness was to find something you enjoyed doing and get paid to do it. I loved to shop for clothes. I loved trying on dresses and suits and seeing how different styles would look on me.

Diamond: Doesn’t every woman? That is what the fashion industry is built on. But how could you get yourself paid to do that?

DV: The camera cuts to panellist JoAnn as a slight smirk comes over her face.

Linda: Yes, every woman loves to try on clothes and to try before they buy. That’s why in department stores the fitting rooms for women are much larger and more plentiful than those for men. I knew that if I was going to be a success I would have to go after a niche market. My company, Surrogate Shopper, offers my services to take men shopping to help them find the outfit that they would like to wear, that are of good quality, would look good on them and would fit. This overcomes problems they often have when buying feminine outfits on-line or from a mail order source.

Robert: What do you mean ‘dresses for men’?

Linda: Crossdressers mostly but some identify as transsexuals just starting their voyage of transition. There are also those who are questioning or curious and ‘just want to take a short walk on the wild side.’

Robert: What do you mean ‘walk on the wild side’?

Linda: It’s from a 1970s song where a transsexual person is mentioned. The phrase has been adopted by the gender community to refer to someone experimenting with gender identity issues.

Barbara: I love trying on new fashions, too but how do you make a business out of this?

Linda: By chance I came across a man who really liked the outfit I was wearing and asked how I’d purchased it. I told him I’d just gone to Macy’s, tried it on, liked it and purchased it. He told me he could never do that.

Robert: Of course he couldn’t. He’s a man!

Linda: But so am I! Nothing but his own fears prevents a man from presenting himself as a woman and doing his own shopping. However because of those fears I’m growing a pretty good business.

DV: Robert looks dumbfounded. He is speechless.

Diamond: I should have known it!

DV: JoAnn looks at Robert but sits quietly with a knowing smile on her face. The camera goes back to Linda.

Linda: I charge a daily fee plus a percentage of the purchases. My clients can come with me to the store or I can bring a pre-selected portfolio of garments to them.

Kevin: You are asking for $250,000. How many clients do you have and what was your revenue last year?

Linda: My client base fluctuates. Some give repeat business but many are a one-time shot. When a crossdresser, for instance, comes shopping with me my aim is for that person to get some nice clothes but also be coached to the point of being comfortable shopping on their own.

Robert: Developing a business that does not encourage repeat business is not good for the business. But what is your revenue stream? What makes you feel your company can be valued at a million dollars?

Linda: I have been in business for only a few months but it now occupies all my time. I’m getting requests from across North America. I can’t keep up with the demand so that is why I need the money to grow the business.

Kevin: Well what do you make on a typical day?

DV: Linda turns the page on a flip chart.

Linda: As you can see here my base fee is $200 for a half day visit to stores, plus 10% of the sales. Some boutique stores with which I have a relationship will also give me a finders’ fee. Some days I will have three clients — morning, afternoon and evening — and some days none. There may be easier ways to make a living but few would be as interesting.

Robert: Income figures?

Linda: I rarely make less than $500 per day.

Robert: We would not make any money loaning you $250,000 to make a return of $125 per day.

Linda: Nor would I at $500 a day. The future is in licencing and franchising the business. I have registered the Surrogate Shopper concept and name world-wide. ‘Surrogate Shopper dot com’and all its variations are mine alone. I need the investment to find potential franchisees in all the major markets. For a fee and a percentage of their business we would give the franchisee links to our website and contacts with the major department stores.

Diamond: So tell us how your typical franchisee would work with a client.

Linda: I can do better than that. I can show you. Here is a short video explaining how I meet with a client, discuss his goals and how we go about meeting those goals.

DV: The video show Linda and an unnamed man searching though the dress racks of a department store. His face is blacked out. They pick out a few dresses and Linda goes to the change room.

Linda: Here we see a crossdresser who wants to have some mainstream dresses but is concerned about his ability to pass in public. He didn’t feel comfortable enough to do his own make up, put on a dress and go shopping on his own. We have decided that he should come shopping with me and pick out some dresses that I can try on for him. There I have one of the dresses on as I come out of the fitting room area to show him. He will also see how relatively easy it is to ‘pass’ so long as you dress to fit in and do not go out of your way to offend people.

Diamond: What do you mean ‘offend’?

Linda: People have a pre-conceived notion about crossdressers being wild fetishist dressers who would appear in public in 6” stilettos, miniskirts and leather bras wearing lots of theater makeup. If you went to the mall dressed like that people would take notice and they would take offence. Here you see that to go shopping I was dressed in low shoes, casual slacks and a business like blouse. Except for the presence of our cameraman no one took notice of us.

JoAnn: That’s a nice dress. ABS, isn’t it? The way your client is standing he looks as if he is drooling.

Linda: Yes it was an ABS. You know your fashion. As to his drooling, you must understand that being in the women’s department of a major departments store such as Macy’s is a very charged experience for most crossdressers. I tried on five dresses for this client. He bought three of them. My revenue for the afternoon was $200 for the consultation plus $45 fee on purchases plus the section manager later rebated me a finder’s fee of another $45. Later that afternoon the client paid me another $200 for a makeover and other services. That made almost $500 for the afternoon.

Barbara: I like what you are doing turning a personal interest in to a business but men in dresses does nothing for me. I’m out.

DV: Linda nods to Barbara and looks to Robert

Robert: My specialty is the Internet and communication. Here is what I’ll do. I’ll chip in $125,000 for 25% of the business if you can find another shark to put up the other $125,000.

Kevin: The idea of losing repeat business turns me off. I’m out.

JoAnn: I know a bit about this type of business and I now remember Linda. She was the winner of a pageant I held many years ago called Princess of the Poconos. She has a great venture but I have a policy to ‘never do business with family or friends.’ I’m out.

Diamond: I don’t know Linda but I do know fashion and I know a bit about the large underground cross-dresser market. It’s huge. Linda if you are willing to give up 50% of your business I’ll come in at the same terms as Robert.

DV: Linda is shown grimacing about the option of giving up more of her business than she had hoped. She looks to Robert then to Diamond. She winks to JoAnn and turns back to Robert.

Linda: Gentlemen we have a deal and I would be honoured to take either or both of you shopping.

DV: Robert and Diamond rise and come forward to shake hands with Linda. Robert seems to be blushing. The sound is off but reading his lips he seems to say to Linda that he might just take her up on her last offer. The scene fades to commercial.


So that was it. In the time since then the investors have done their due diligence and prepared a line of credit for me. I am seeking out and interviewing potential franchisees in the various markets and we are considering branching out to a wider client base including disabled and shut-in women.

All the best,

Linda Jensen

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Category: Transgender Fun & Entertainment

Linda Jensen

About the Author ()

Canadian writer Linda Jensen is a long time contributor to TGForum. Before the days of the Internet Linda started her writing with the Transvestian newspaper. Her writing ranges from factual accounts of her adventures to fiction although frankly sometimes her real life adventures are stranger than the fiction. Linda is married to a loving partner who upon learning about Linda said, "she was part of you before I met you. Although I didn't know it she was part of the package I fell in love with. I don't want to mess up that package." "Does it get any better than that?" asks Linda.

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