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Building a Thriving Business After Personal Tragedy

Shark Tank winners Rick and Melissa Hinnant talk about how they started their $7 million business after the sudden loss of their baby. Read Transcript

A few years ago Melissa Hinnant

snapped a shot of a lacy sock and tossed that photo online.

Well that sock helped launch a business,

one that's doing millions of dollars in sales.

Rick and Melissa Hinnant were excited to start a family.

In 2010 when Melissa was five months pregnant,

she was ordered on bed rest until the baby was born.

To pass the time, she started sewing and knitting.

They were heartbroken when Melissa lost the baby two weeks


But Rick and Melissa decided to channel that pain

into something good.

They launched their company Grace and Lace

by making and selling lace socks online.

After appearing on ABC's "Shark Tank" in 2013,

they hit $1 million in five days.

Please welcome to the show the founders of Grace and Lace,

Rick and Melissa Hinnant.

And it's so good to have you both here.

Thank you so much.

We are honored.

It's great to be here.

You know, there is a theme it seems

running through our program today of children who

have, for one reason or another, been lost,

been in terrible situations.

You as parents were in a terrible situation

with your first child, lost it.

I say lost, but didn't survive.

Was it five months when she was born?

Yeah, she was born, yep, about halfway through my pregnancy.


I mean, that is just so hard to even imagine

the heartache of that.

Out of that though, where you were

in the hospital on that bed rest before you actually delivered,

you started doing something that-- had you ever

done it before, the knitting?

No, I had learned to sew as a little girl.

And when I was confined to the bed rest in the hospital,

they told me I'd have to lay on my back for potentially

four months.

So I could only work with my hands.

And so I picked up sewing again and knitting and crocheting.

And that's really where my love for knits

grew, on that hospital bed.


Rick, you've always been a bit of an entrepreneur at heart.

Yes ma'am.

TERRY MEEUWSEN: I mean, you always

knew you wanted to do that, didn't you?

Well I've started businesses from seventh grade on.


And it's just been something that I naturally gravitated to

and loved.

So here you are in this difficult scenario.

And then the baby that you so believed

was going to make it because of your four

months of sacrificially lying still, you lose.

And you're left with the heartache of it.

How did you take that heartache and move forward?

There's really two decisions one can make.

And as believers that prayed with everything that we had,

had a ton of people praying for us,

we could have made a decision to be mad, bitter--


--upset, ask God why, why didn't you answer our prayers?

Or we could choose to trust in him, through the pain.

And I told Melissa about an hour after our loss

that we were going to make the decision to trust God.

And if we got an answer of why it happened, great.

But if we didn't, no big deal.

You know the Bible says that God gives us beauty for ashes

and the oil of joy for mourning.

But you kind of have to make a decision in the midst of that

that you're not going to stay there,

that you're going to let God move you forward.


So you throw up online a picture of a--

and this is kind of a form of it, but of a sock

that actually sticks out of the top of boots.


You know, it was on that time during bed rest

where I developed that love for creating.

And one day I just wanted to make

a pair of socks that had lace on the top of them that

stick on the top of my boots.

And I did, for myself.

And everywhere I went people would stop me and ask me

where I got them.

So Rick suggested I stick them up online.

And I did.

And they sold instantly.

And within a matter of three days,

we had sold over 500 pairs of socks.


Can I just say flying fingers.


And that was--


--funny thing because I was like,

how am I going to make all of these?

It took me five hours to make one pair.

So before we knew it we had trained a bunch of others

to sew them and to make them.

And before we knew it my accidental company

Grace and Lace was born.

TERRY MEEUWSEN: So "Shark Tank," Rick,

tell me about that, because that was a dream in your heart

as well.

Yeah, we had been huge fans from the very first episode.

And I even mentioned to Melissa early on in season one,

wouldn't it be cool if we had a business that

was on "Shark Tank"?

And sure enough this business comes out

of our tragedy, an accidental company

that we thought, but not accidental in God's eyes.

And I told Melissa after having the business for three months,

I really feel like we're supposed to be on "Shark Tank."

And she kind of looked at me and smiled.

I love you but you're crazy, whatever.

It's not going to happen, but you just do ahead and--

TERRY MEEUWSEN: Keep fantasizing about that Rick.

You just apply online.

And so I did, didn't hear anything.

I did about five times over a four month period,

didn't hear a thing.

And I said, well, maybe this isn't of God.

Maybe I missed it, because sometimes we miss it.

And I was on the phone with a good buddy of mine

and asked him if he wanted to partner with us.

And he said, "I do, but I really feel like you're supposed to be

on 'Shark Tank.'" And I kind of--

TERRY MEEUWSEN: Funny you should mention that.


I kind of laughed and chuckled because we

hadn't talked about it.

I said, "Why did you say that?"

And he said, "Well, I've been praying about it.

And I just feel that's what God has for you guys."

And he said, "I know a producer.

Let me make a phone call."


And within 15 minutes, we were on the phone

with the producers telling them our story.

They said, we love it.

We have you guys.

TERRY MEEUWSEN: You know, sometimes

I think God just wants to let us know,

this was really my idea, not yours.

RICK HINNANT: Yes, without a question.

TERRY MEEUWSEN: So you wound up partnering and doing business

with Barbara.


TERRY MEEUWSEN: And I mean at that point,

you must have had vision for this.

But were you stunned that it actually worked out?


It's surreal being on that stage It really is.

And we had done our leg work before the show and knew

and really felt the Lord leading us to partner with her.

So when we did finally get a full offer from her,

we knew that that was it.

Well let's leap forward into the success of your company.

You now have, is it more than 400 products?

Oh no, we have about 1,000 SKUs at this point.

We had probably 25 when we aired on "Shark Tank."

MELISSA HINNANT: About 40 employees, yeah.

So this is the initiator of the--

MELISSA HINNANT: That is, yeah.

[INAUDIBLE] that is.


What do you call these?

Are they called boot--

MELISSA HINNANT: Those are legwarmers.


MELISSA HINNANT: Yep, with buttons down them.

And then the business has--

OK, those are the legwarmers.

This is the boot top.


But you're actually-- are you wearing your pieces?


I'm wearing two of my pieces actually, yes.

So you know, like I said, I started

making this pair of socks with lace on it.

And now I've just come to really be

able to create what I'm missing in my own closet.

And so we create and design all sorts of women's apparel.

Yeah, this is my [INAUDIBLE].

So what do you call this?

MELISSA HINNANT: That's a lace extender.

So tops that you feel are maybe a little bit too short

and just want a little bit of extra length,

just like the one, you just--

I just put it under there and it turns any tunic into a dress.

TERRY MEEUWSEN: So you have just exploded in this business

that you're doing.

You're not just hungry for the profits,

as so many people would be in a business doing well,

but you want to make a difference as well.

You have some work going on in India.

Tell us about that.

When I was 18 years old, I went to India

and I spent my summer there.

And I had never seen poverty--


--like that.

I've been all over the world on mission trips,

and I left there with a note in my journal that said,

I've been so heartbroken.

I'm working in an orphanage seeing a baby

with a bottle strapped to its face

because there's not enough workers to feed it,

and a belly so extended from malnutrition.

And I left with a note in my journal

that said I've got to do something more.

Never in a million years would I think

the Lord would give us a business that

would be able to fund and support orphanages being

built over there.

So Grace and Lace has been able to build seven

in our last five years.

TERRY MEEUWSEN: Wow, talk about coming full circle.

Yes, we've been up to rescue hundreds of orphans

off the street.

What a plan God has in all things.

And who can ever understand it completely?

But what an amazing story you have

and what an amazing journey you're on.

It's so exciting to see where you're going with all of this

and how God has truly given you the desires of your heart,

and fulfilled his own promises.

Well we want to thank you for being on the program with us


Thank you for what you're doing.

If you're interested in what Grace and Lace has

to offer, both in product and also their involvement

in India, just go to

We'll tell you how you can see more about their product line.

God bless you.


Thank you Terry.


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