Melissa Hinnant’s first pair of boot socks did not seem like much of a big deal. In fact, she had no interest in making a second pair—until she wore them out shopping and was stopped repeatedly by ladies wanting to know where she got them. The socks had a sassy lacy top that dressed up the area between the top of the boot and the pant leg.
So, she made more, set up her Grace & Lace website, and in two days, had more than 400 orders. She hired friends and neighbors to make the socks and sold $800,000 worth the first year. As the business grew, Melissa and her husband Rick moved it into a large warehouse to be able to fill 150 orders a day from their website. Annual sales grew to $1.25 million.
Melissa and Rick were not strangers to the business world. Melissa’s family tree included a long line of entrepreneurs, and Rick was a serial and successful entrepreneur who had launched a dozen businesses. But neither had ever experienced anything like Grace & Lace! They needed help, mostly strategic help. And being fans of Shark Tank, where else would they go? They applied multiple times unsuccessfully, then it was one of those “they knew somebody who knew somebody” and they were fast-tracked into the tank.
They received offers from Kevin, Robert, Mark and Barbara. Melissa and Rick knew going in that they wanted Barbara.
Where Is Grace & Lace Now?
In the first 24 hours after the episode aired, Grace & Lace received more than 10,000 orders. In the first 2 days, they went from 6 employees to 36. In 5 days, they racked up $1 million in sales. In a few years, Grace & Lace went from socks to a whole line of women’s clothing and accessories, bringing in more than $20,000 in sales.
A portion of every sale goes toward building orphanages in India. Melissa had done mission work there when she was in high school and was dismayed by the children in orphanages who were malnourished and neglected. She resolved back then to help those children. Grace & Lace made it possible. She and Rick have opened multiple orphanages in India and rescued hundreds of children. They opened a Freedom Home in Nepal, where girls and young women rescued from sex trafficking learn occupational skills. They also have set up an internship program in which they mentor a young woman on earning a living in the fashion industry in India.