Jean Hanger

Sponsored Content with: BDC

​There’s nothing more comfortable than a favourite pair of perfectly fitting jeans—and nothing more frustrating than having them shrink after a tumble in the dryer.

​When he began working for a jeans maker, Vancouver-based designer Steven Sal Debus got thinking about the modern-day dilemma of how to properly dry denim pants.

​The dryer is a no-no not only because of jeans ending up two sizes too small but also because their colour can run, damaging other clothes. Regular clip hangers don’t hold the shape of the sturdy bottoms very well; sometimes, they don’t even hold jeans at all, being prone breaking easily. Unwieldy drying racks, meanwhile, are time-consuming to set up and put away and tend to leave jeans with large creases.

​Sal Debus came up with the kind of simple device that consumers might wonder how they ever lived without. Called the Jean Hanger, it’s a hand-made, wooden contraption that holds jeans in place, helps them dry without wrinkling, and is easy to use.

​The long-time entrepreneur and fashion innovator found himself on Dragons Den recently demonstrating the hanger in a pitch that the panellists won’t soon forget: he had jeans with him, alright, just not on him. Rather, he presented the product in his skivvies.

​“Steven has a lot of experience under his belt and that earned him a comfort level with the Dragons that we rarely see in the Den,” says Robert Duffy, Managing Director, Growth & Transition Capital for the Toronto office of the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). “Steven held nothing back in his pitch to the Dragons. I mean, nothing quite says comfortable in the Den like pitching in your underwear.”

​Although Sal Debus stood out for his bold approach, his pitch was as substantial as it was good-humoured. Not only does his product solve a problem, but he also knows first-hand how businesses work—and don’t work. His most recent appearance on the Den was his second, and he was able to have an honest conversation with the Dragons about his successes and failures. His candour impressed the panellists and earned their respect.

​“Capital providers are usually comfortable with an entrepreneur having struggled or failed at a previous venture as long as it's apparent they've learned from the experience,” Duffy says. “In Steven's case, it's clear that his previous experiences have made him a better entrepreneur and given him a better chance of being successful with his hanger business. This creates the right environment for a great discussion about the business and the different routes that Steven could pursue for growth.”

​Securing a business loan is a cornerstone when it comes to getting a venture off the ground. With another source of capital outside of the Dragons to lift the Jean Hanger to the next level, Sal Debus was able to approach the Den on a more level playing field. That worked to his advantage.

​“The lesson here is that, in an ideal world, entrepreneurs should raise capital when they're not in crisis mode,” Duffy says. “Raising capital can take a long time, and you need sufficient runway to ensure you're not forced to accept terms and conditions you don't like and that you're able to choose the right partners.

​“And,” he said, “I happen to know of a bank devoted exclusively to entrepreneurs!”

This is paid content provided by or produced on behalf of BDC.

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