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Stay-at-home mom makes millions from pretzels

Pretzelicious Pretzel Knots by Painted Pretzel
Source: Painted Pretzel
Pretzelicious Pretzel Knots by Painted Pretzel

Stay-at-home mom Raven Thomas wanted to show her son the importance of pursuing his dreams, so she pursued her own and started The Painted Pretzel, a company that sells chocolate-covered pretzels.

She quickly realized that she couldn't keep up with the huge demand for her product, so she decided to go on "Shark Tank" to get more capital.

Before her appearance, she had $140,000 in orders that hadn't been filled. Her merchandise was available in Neiman Marcus, and she had a $2 million deal with Sam's Club that she had to walk away from because she didn't have the funds to fulfill the order.

Impressed with Thomas' success and passion, Mark Cuban was quick to offer her $100,000 for 25 percent, which she accepted.

After the show aired, her sales skyrocketed. She expects to reach $1.15 million to $1.50 million in revenue this year.

Thomas attributes her success to going after her dream.

"The worst thing you can do to a great idea is allow it to die in the same place it was conceived: in your heart."

What other advice does Thomas have for stay-at-home moms who have big ideas? Check out the Q&A below.

What was the biggest impact of being on "Shark Tank?"

Our sales increased well over 1,000 percent only two hours after the show aired and continue to grow because of it. Our brand recognition also grew tremendously. People recognize us immediately as having been a product featured on the show.

What is your relationship with Mark Cuban like?

Having Mark Cuban as a business partner has given the company even more legitimacy. He is obviously someone that millions of people admire for his business savvy, so having him on board is a huge asset.

The first time I received an email from him, I was completely shocked because I thought he would have a lot of middlemen, but that has not been the case. He is very accessible.

What would you say to other stay-at-home moms with big ideas?

I would say to not be afraid of the dreams in your heart. The biggest adversary of success is fear. Generally, I think we fear failure or embarrassment, which gives us an excuse for not trying to achieve. We can accomplish much more than we think when we put those unhealthy fears aside.

A lot of women feel like they don't know where to begin when starting a business and that having kids makes it too challenging. Most people have no idea where to begin and have to overcome several obstacles before obtaining success.

Were there any moments that didn't make it onto the show?

I remember Daymond saying that I didn't need an investment because I was going to make it anyway. That part did not air, but I remember thinking later that I appreciated his comment and even felt a little encouraged by it.

At one point, I felt like Kevin was attempting to see if he could shake me a little with his negative comments. I walked into the room knowing that I would never make a deal with him, so I was completely unfazed.

How are sales, and what do you project for 2014?

Our sales are fantastic. I've revamped my business model because I decided instead of working harder, I should work smarter! I was at the point of nearing burnout and my new model has not only increased sales, but has lightened my load. With the implementation of our new fundraising program, I project sales will hit between $1.15 and $1.5 million this year.

I went from being a big-box store type of company to being more tailored, to provide corporate gifts and fundraisers. Now we specialize in corporate gifting for Fortune 500 companies throughout the country.

By Jill Weinberger and Liza Hughes

Tuesdays have more bite with back-to-back episodes of "Shark Tank" on CNBC every Tuesday night at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. ET.


Meet the Sharks

  • Mark is the highly successful entrepreneur and investor who founded HDNet, Broadcast.com and MicroSolutions.

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  • Lori Greiner started with one idea and turned it into a multi-million dollar international brand.