By Beth Treffeisen
Broadcasted on the evening of Jan. 14, the cutthroat reality show Shark Tank that gives budding entrepreneurs a chance to bring their dreams to fruition began with a Boston local – Alice Lovell Rossiter of Alice’s Table.
The doors open, and Rossiter walks into a room filled with five “sharks”, Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, Daymond John, Kevin O’Leary and guest Sara Blakey, the founder and sole owner of Spanx.
Rossiter pitches her business Alice’s Table, a business that empowers women to create a community that prioritizes living well, working hard and encouraging them to build businesses of their own.
The platform allows women to begin their own businesses through the art of community marketing and events, currently focusing on the art of flower arranging and cocktails.
“It is a platform that allows people to launch their own businesses,” said Rossiter. “It’s not just pushing a product.”
By the end of her presentation, both Sara Blakey and Mark Cuban expressed interest in her business and signed on to be investors.
The business began in September 2015, based on the idea that many women are looking to get into the gig economy, but might feel uncomfortable in a role such as an Uber driver.
“There is a big hole in the gig economy,” said Rossiter. “There isn’t very much geared towards women.”
Rossiter thought it would be great to put on events that brought women together to network, making new friends while learning a new skill.
Currently she has 120 women who launched their own business in 30 states across the country.
Rossiter said this allows women to stay at home, have a flexible schedule, and have a leading opportunity, all in one.
“This is fun, creative, and social,” said Rossiter.
The executives, or the women who start their own businesses using this platform, hold events in both public and private spaces. To get started, women buy a kit that includes everything from pots, flower trimmers, aprons and more.
Alice’s Table handles all of the payment processing, customer support, platform access and more for the business. In return, executives get to take home 70 percent of commission on ticket sales before the cost of flowers.
Tickets for someone wanting to attend event have a range in price, but are generally around $65.
A public event is usually held in a restaurant, local store or bar. In Boston, previous locations have included Olives & Grace in the South End, Harpoon Brewery and Jack O’Neil restaurant.
A private event includes 10 or more people in a private home for a bridal shower, birthday or corporate event. They even have do-it-yourself flower arranging for weddings at a price-saving cost, with a professional flower-arranger is on hand to stem off any last-minute worries.
Rossiter said, “Flowering is just the beginning.” She hopes to expand this model in the future with different classes and events for her executives to put on.
The adventure to Hollywood began when Rossiter sent an e-mail to the contact form on Shark Tank’s website. After some intimidating calls, she said she was asked to come and be on the show.
“It was an incredible experience,” said Rossiter. “It was so much fun. I keep re-watching the show to remind myself – it did really happen.”
Alice’s Table was recently named Improper Boston’s 2016 Best Boozy Class and one of Boston Globe’s best new services in 2016.
A Brookline resident, Rossiter runs her business out of the Back Bay and is a former resident of the neighborhood.
Rossiter studied visual studies and consumer psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, and received a master’s degree in art business from the Sotheby’s Institute in New York City, before joining the start-up community.
As of right now, Rossiter is busy sorting through the incredible amounts of outreach since the show aired. She has plans to check in with her new investors Blakey and Cuban as she expands her business.
“It’s been a wild ride and it’s just the beginning,” said Rossiter.