Carman entrepreneur Scott Russell and his wife Giovanna Minenna had a chance to present the couple’s business ‘Brows by G’ to some very knowledgeable investors as the pair pitched their business on CBC’s hit show Dragons Den which will be airing on February 7, at 7 p.m.
“My wife essentially started ‘Brows by G’ with a chair in our condo, started taking clients, and broke into the industry,” says Russell. “It started to take off as she was basically the first person in Winnipeg to start doing microblading, the semi-permanent eyebrow tattooing procedure and it went from there.”
Eventually, ‘Brows by G’ grew too large for the couple’s condo, and after a couple of moves, the business finally found a space large enough to support a large number of new customers. Russell says in early 2017 the business got to the point where he felt he should hop on to help Minenna grow this business, as he could see how big the business was getting.
“G had come back from Toronto where she had done training in makeup and she was working on film and television,” he said. “We started dating while I was working for the International Arm of Manitoba Hydro and doing a lot of work overseas. I left my corporate job and joined Brows by G and we’ve been growing the business ever since.”
Currently, the business has a staff of 25 individuals between two locations, training programs across Canada, and even a couple of product lines from Brows by G in the works. Russel adds, their story for getting on Dragon’s Den is a bit abnormal compared to most because they were invited on to pitch.
“We won admission into a growth accelerator program through Furturepreneur Canada, which is a government entrepreneurship program. Through being accepted into that, some press went out and a producer from the show contacted us and said she follows ‘Brows by G’ on Instagram and asked if we thought about pitching to the Dragons. Eventually, they asked if we would pitch and we decided to give it a shot.”
Giovanna had actually met and worked with Dragon Arlene Dickenson before after doing her makeup for the Canadian Screen Awards.
“Being on the show was wild,” said Russell. “It was intense, we were there at 6 a.m. and we didn’t end up pitching until about 2:30 in the afternoon. It’s a lot of sitting waiting prepping with production people. There are a lot of cameras around, no retakes, and you have to have a solid pitch while thinking on your feet.
“The dragons didn’t pull any punches either,” he added. “They ask hard questions. They don’t manage themselves very well and will argue and bicker with each other, ask questions at the same time, they’re not overly organized so it’s important to pitch and remember what to say while making a connection and also managing their questions but making sure you’re in charge at the same time. It was really interesting.”
Russell’s family still remains in Carman, in fact, his mother was once the principal of Carman Elementary School. He knew growing up he wanted to be involved in the business world he just didn’t know how.
“Up until G’s business started to take off I was doing a lot of business development in a lot of cool places but it was working for a government company. I worked in probably 20 countries, but there is a totally different coolness to building your own business,” said Russell.
The episode is set to air February 7, at 7 p.m. Russell and Minenna are holding a viewing party inside Winnipeg that family is planning to attend. The episode was shot in May of last year and the couple has had to remain tight-lipped until the airing of the episode.