Shark Tank Star Lori Greiner Shuts Down Chauvinists And Shows How Entrepreneurs Get it Done
12:00 pm, July 24th | by Laura Donovan
When “Shark Tank” reality star Lori Greiner has a lot on her plate — which is often — she typically thinks up a product that will simplify her situation. The entrepreneur, who is going strong at 110 patents, has made a living out of improving the lives of women with her inventions. The purse organizer, lapdesk/pillow, all-in-one nail polish (which includes a nail file, polish, and remover sheets), and magnetic glasses holders are just some of the items she has created to eliminate clutter and problems from our everyday lives, and she has many more ideas and products to come.
In honor of Greiner’s new holiday collection, which includes a lightweight mini-Christmas tree, The Jane Dough and InTouch sat down with the Shark to chat about her upcoming work and offerings. Here’s what the unstoppable businesswoman — who endured blatant sexism on her way up to the top — had to say about achieving greatness and succeeding as a female entrepreneur.
The Jane Dough: You’ve said before that your late mother was a huge inspiration for your work. Do you still try to channel her or think about what she’d say when in need of guidance or support?
Lori Greiner: No. When I thought about my mom and did things for my mom, I made her life easier while she was alive. Like she loved shoes. So when she was alive I thought of things to help her. After she died, I thought about in general what would help other people. I always feel like she’s with me, just in a different way.
InTouch: What does your own house look like?
LG: My home is pretty organized. My office is a nightmare. I haven’t figured out how to fix that. This is just my philosophy: If your home is neat and orderly and pretty to your eye, you’re in a better mood. You know how when you walk in and everything’s a mess and all the dishes are on the counter? For me, I’m instantly kind of crabby, and that’s why I like making products that make your life better because it makes women happier, it makes you saner, it’s a feel-good kind of job. So yes my house is pretty orderly.
InTouch: How did all of this happen? You got a patent lawyer and then what?
LG: When I first started, I was intuitive. I thought, okay, how am I going to make my product? I started Yellow Paging, searching and then I found a patent lawyer. I went in and had a very chauvinistic guy at first who really irritated me. My husband went with me because he wanted to hear what the guy had to say. He was just sitting on the sidelines, so my husband was sitting there and I would ask the question and the guy would answer to my husband. And this went on for about 15 minutes. And I looked at him and said, “You have just answered 15 questions that I asked you to my husband. I’m done with you. I’d like you to go to one of the partners of the firm and tell him that you were just so chauvinistic to me that I need them to recommend a female attorney to me and have her come here.” So he was like, “Uh, I’m so sorry,” but I was like, “You’re not sorry. You’re only sorry that I called you on it. There’s nothing you could say to make me want to work with you.” So he went and got a female, her name was Natalie, and she has been with me or 16 years and 111 patents later. That was in 1996.
TJD: You initially wanted to be a writer, right? Do you do it in any capacity or is it not as strong as this other passion?
LG: Correct. I really wanted to be a playwright. I don’t do it at all anymore. I did write this play that won an award so I think that satisfied me a little. It was hard. I mean I understand your world, it’s hard. I think it’s harder because you have to rely on other people. I only have to rely on myself. You on the other hand have a boss. You’re on the line every day, so to speak. It’s tough.
InTouch: Do you have any celebrity clients?
LG: Yeah. Most recent, John Travolta and his wife have my weekender back. I was telling them on QVC that Kelly Preston came up and said to me, “John was watching you and said ‘I have to get three of those.’” So they have it. Heidi Klum has my initial boxes. I make products for Joan Rivers. Celebrity hairdressers use my stuff. Oprah has my products. I was an Oprah pick.
TJD: Do you have any long-term projects or goals, i.e. putting out a book or doing another show?
LG: Yes. That’s it. Putting out a book. That is my closest. Do you guys know of any good publishers? The only thing that has been holding me back is a connection. I would like to write a book. I would also like to stay on “Shark Tank.”
TJD: Do you ever take any time off or are you all work, all the time?
LG: I do. I work a lot but if I’m traveling and working I try to have fun too. I try to go out to dinner. I like to go out to dinner and eat, so that’s fun. I take vacations. I will be taking a vacation in a few weeks, which is awesome.
This interview has been condensed and edited.