Freaker USA TV debut
Friday, October 19th, 8 p.m.
Yet again we’ve interviewed those crazy kids over at Wilmington’s most beloved, game-changing entrepreneurship that is Freaker USA (see previous stories/photo shoots here, here, here and here). The box-truck driving, grilled-cheese party-throwing, creative-bound business-makers continue churning out knit drink insulators as a trés chic accessory to any outfit, day or night.More than a Koozie, Freakers can fit on practically any drink container, from a can to a wine bottle, a jug of ‘shine to any ol’ glass. Some folks even wear them as hand and ankle covers. All made in the USA—a huge pitch to founder Zach Crain’s business model—they keep drinks cool or warm and endlessly hip, all of which started from a Stitch ‘n’ Bitch knitting club Crain attended years ago. Though he realized he wasn’t so good at making sweaters, he founded something infinitely more fun. And fun is what he and his small-knit group of Freaker employees (all seven of them) maintain keeps the seriousness of success more appealing. So far success has come, too, as Freaker has reached across the States, and from Japan to Switzerland, Canada to Slovenia and even into South Korea.
Crain is taking his small startup (they’ve sold 85,000 Freakers in their two-year infancy) to even greater heights on Friday night, when he appears on ABC’s sink-or-swim “Shark Tank.” The show pits a panel of business investors against one another to scour the next great opportunities by bidding on people’s ideas and products that they think would appeal to the masses and turn a buck. Their tough-to-impress attitudes and by-the-numbers mentality often intimidate and eat up the contestants. But with Freaker’s massively successful Kickstarter campaign from 2011—they secured over $60,000 to further their business model and travel nationwide, literally garnering facetime with consumers state-by state—and their patent on the Freaker, it definitely has shark appeal (except for maybe that whole “made in the USA” thing; the sharks ripped a guy a part one week for standing on that platform since they thought sourcing the product’s creation overseas would clearly allow more profit return).
We spoke with the Freaker media-gal-in-chief, Lauren Krakauskas, about Crain’s appearance on “Shark Tank.” Though not a lot is revealed on what to expect from the show—which airs October 19th 8 p.m. on ABC—one thing becomes imminently clear: Those sharks will be colorfully freaked!
encore: How did you get the Shark Tank gig?
Lauren Krakauskas: About six months ago, the producers found us via Kickstarter and we decided to jump in head first! Let’s go swimming. Do you have a pool? Hot tubs work, too. I pinky promise to invite zero sharks.
e: Who all from Freaker approached the big wigs and can viewers expect the same quirky entrepreneurship on TV as they get in everyday Freakerland?
LK: Zach Crain, our bearded bee CEO, inventor of the Freaker, was the only one that took the journey to primetime television’s underbelly. And, yes, you can absolutely expect the same quirk as (hopefully) anybody would expect! I can’t tell you much, but this is definitive: top hats, giggles, animal noises. There’s no way to tell how they are going to edit it, but it will be impossible to make it boring.
e: Tell us about your pitch. And I know you can’t say the outcome, but can you share some of the sharks’ reactions?
LK: I could tell you, but I’m sure there’s a special place in ABC hell for spoiler alerts. I think it’s called TV treason? (Disclaimer: there is no TV hell. They are all extremely sweet people. Maybe a detention center though? Guantanavision. This is getting weird. Next question, please.)
e: When was it taped and what would you say is the most surprising aspect that came from doing this show?
LK: Zach filmed the segment while sleep-walking one night! He’s really quite good at sleepy-time functionings. He’s sitting next to me now, and when I asked him about the “surprise element,” he shrugged his shoulders and mumbled something about room service in hotel rooms.
e: Has anything come out of this experience you otherwise wouldn’t have expected?
LK: Be wary of the mini fridges in hotel rooms. They are tricksters! Hey hotel mini-fridges of the world, hear me now: You are living a lie!
e: From “Shark Tank,” your most favorite shark is… And the scariest is…
LK: I’m personally drawn to Great Whites, but no disrespect to Hammerheads. I’m sure all sharks are created equally.
As for the scariest sharks… What are those little ones? The mini ones? Like seahorses but sharks? Those are terrifying. If I lived under the sea, I can see getting a itty-bitty-mini-shark infestation in my sea castle, because those kinds of things just gravitate this way. (Real-talk: TVGuide released a preview of Zach telling Robert that he loved him. So, there’s that.)
e: Did you get what you want out of the experience?
LK: Yeah, man! We have a new top hat and everything!
e: Will you make a shark Freaker now?
LK: Maybe! I’ll leave this in suspense for you (like those scary movies! BOO!). We just recently cut down our entire Freaker line to only 18 styles, but we have some fun plans in the works for The United Freakdom!
Edge of Urge downtown recently got a custom Freaker with two sharks on it that said “Nice To Eat You” and it’s magnificent! You know what else is magnificent? Swimming pools and hot tubs. Are we gonna do this or what?
e: What else is new in Freakerdom these days, outside of the show?
LK: Lots of things! All the things! Everything! For starters, we’re going to be setting up the Freaker boxtruck outside of the Soapbox on October 26th for the Justin Lacy & The Swimming Machine’s album release! Come play! We also just launched a new product in Freakerville named Cuppows! Check them out, they’re foxy, functional and made in the USA!
Check out a clip of Freaker Zach Crain appealing to the sharks (he’s the bearded guy in shorts and a top hat).