'I went on Dragons' Den but didn't get the dragon I wanted'

'Secretly I had been hoping to get Deborah Meaden'

Jasmine Wicks-Stephens appeared on Dragons' Den.
Jasmine Wicks-Stephens appeared on Dragons' Den.
  • Skincare entrepreneur Jasmine Wicks-Stephens had gone into Dragons' Den hoping to impress one dragon in particular, Deborah Meaden, on board for her beauty brand Faace.

  • But the mum-of-two walked away with three different dragons after securing a fantastic deal of a total of £60,000 investment from Touker Souleyman, Peter Jones and Steven Bartlett at 15%. She spoke to Yahoo about her experience.

I had gone onto Dragons' Den secretly hoping to get Deborah Meaden.

I'd heard through the grapevine that Dragons' Den is an amazing opportunity - I never missed a show anyway as a consumer! But I must admit I was always intimidated by the prospect of it. But I had heard from others how it did brilliant things for brands.

There was always an element of curiosity but I felt like I couldn't do it... Until a year ago. I don't really know what changed but I thought I had tried everything with Faace to make it successful and I thought if it was someone else, what would I say to them? I'd say go for it. So I decided to take my own advice and I applied.

I had secretly hoped for Deborah because woman to woman, I think that would have been nice. And from what I've heard through the grapevine, she really is very helpful and supportive of the people that she works with. Also because we try to do our best from sustainability perspective, I felt like we were quite aligned there.

Deborah Meaden said she was out. (BBC)
Deborah Meaden said she was out. (BBC)

So I was disappointed when Deborah said she was out. But obviously then I was very pleased because I still walked away with three amazing dragons. Touker Souleyman, Steven Bartlett and Peter Jones came in together which was really exciting - and I was delighted to accept their offer.

Steven was the first person to make me an offer. He offered me half the money. And then Peter came in after and then Touker joined them. All three of them felt like they had different kind of skills and contacts and aspects that they could support my business with. So that was really brilliant for me.

I was surprised to get three dragons though. Relieved perhaps I think is the word because after all the highs and lows of the experience you don't necessarily always know which way it is going to go.

Going into the den, I was pushing myself out of my comfort zone massively and I'm just not good at under pressure. It took me five attempts to do my driving test because I would crumble under the pressure. That I feel sums up that I'm great without the pressure.

I have no idea what's going to make my edit but there were some criticisms of things I've done that would be quite hard to hear in any environment. It was more about the way the business had been run, the way we've spent money in the past on certain aspects. It was so intense that I struggle to remember anything specific but I'm really intrigued to watch it back to remind myself of what I did say and what was said to me.

The entrepreneur launched her own beauty brand, Faace, in 2020.
The entrepreneur launched her own beauty brand, Faace, in 2020.

But I'm not a serial entrepreneur who has lots of successful businesses. I have a successful communications agency but it's completely different. I have created a product through a passion and you expect to have made some mistakes from a business perspective along the way.

I did sense though that the dragons are all really nice and they are rooting for you. They all had kind facial expressions and you can tell that deep down they want you to do well. The dragons were nice about me and they were complimentary of the products themselves. They were the two things I was most worried about because you don't want to say anything bad about you or the way you are coming across as a character. And equally, you don't want them to say anything bad about the product.

They won't show this in the edit but I had to stop filming so many times to go to have a glass of water. It was so nerve wracking. I kept getting that nervous dry mouth. Where I wasn't quite as articulate as I'd want to be, I'd have to take a moment and go have a drink then come back and carry on the conversation because I was so, so, so nervous. It was one of the most nerve wracking things I've ever done.

I did cry. There wasn't one particular thing that was said that made me cry. It was more the environment and the pressure. When you are in the den, you realise how much you want it. Then there is the pressure of it all. It just really got to me. It is tough, all the questions being fired off at you. Normally a financial investment conversation wouldn't be near that long.

Touker Suleyman, Peter Jones, Steven Bartlett
Touker Suleyman, Peter Jones, Steven Bartlett agreed a deal. (BBC)

You have no notes too, they are not allowed. Everything has to be in your mind. Whereas again, if you were in a normal investor conversation environment, you would have all of your spreadsheets and all of your notes in front of you.

Because it's a TV show, I thought it would be more of a buzzy show atmosphere. I had visions of the dragons getting their makeup touched up if they were oily halfway through. But there was none of that. It was like a real life situation. You can't see everyone around you. It's just you and the dragons. That was the main surprise for me.

In preparation, I had watched every single episode of the show that I could find and written down every single potential question that I thought I might get asked. I revised, revised and revised with post it notes around the house, teaching myself songs. I did feel really well prepared because I treated it like I was at school and it was an exam.

Jasmine Wicks-Stephens was delighted to get three dragons on board.
Jasmine Wicks-Stephens was delighted to get three dragons on board.

I've worked in beauty for nearly 20 years, helping other brands sort of tell their stories and launch internationally. And I'd always kind of known that I wanted to do something for myself and never really known what.

Then when I become a mum for the first time and a lot of my good skincare habits just completely went out the window. And I had this moment of realisation that what I was doing previously in my routine and what was out there just wasn't kind of relevant for me anymore as a time poor, tired mum.

So I came together with lots of beauty industry peers, journalists and experts - as well as my husband, Dan, who is a designer - to come up with the concept of Faace. Also at that time, our office was mainly females, and we were just period obsessed. We would go out to try and find something to kind of pacify our period skin, we also saw that there wasn't anything. So that's how we landed on the initial concept of straight talking skincare. And we launched with our period tired and sweaty face masks.

Now our brand is four years old. With the dragons onboard, we hope to fine tune everything we're already doing in terms of our social media strategy and our retailer strategy - plus what we're doing for our website and the products we are going to launch in the future. We want to be doing everything the best that it can be.

Jasmine Wicks-Stephens told her story to Lily Waddell.

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