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Shark Tank's Emma Grede Says Secret To Success Is Investing In Inclusivity

British-born businesswoman Emma Grede became the first Black woman to appear as an investor on "Shark Tank" in 2021. She had built her fortune by founding the entertainment agency ITB Worldwide and partnering with Khloé Kardashian, Kris Jenner, and Kim Kardashian to introduce their successful product lines. 

In February, Grede spoke with Variety about her pioneering "Shark Tank" debut and investment philosophy. "It was always kind of mesmerizing to me that I was the first," Grede said. "I read that headline when everybody else did, but I never thought about being the first Black woman on 'Shark Tank' because there had always been a Black guy on 'Shark Tank' — Daymond [John] had been on there for years." 

In her two years as a shark, Grede has invested in a makeup line founded by two Black women, an apparel line aimed  at people with various disabilities, and a line of bridal products for people with all body types. "I have an ethos when I invest," Grede said, "and that really is about supporting people that wouldn't ordinarily get the opportunity." Grede is also the chair of a non-profit organization called Fifteen Percent Pledge, which has a core mission to convince retail establishments to dedicate 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses.

Grede jumped at the chance to invest in a line of handmade headbands

In Season 13, Episode 22 of "Shark Tank," Grede showed just how willing she was to invest in people who may not ordinarily have such opportunities, investing $150,000 for a 20 percent stake in Ooakshell, a line of handmade headbands created by first-generation American citizen Mika Bertholdo. Bertholdo had generated nearly $400,000 in sales in her third year in business, working almost entirely on her own to design, produce, and market her product. Grede was impressed by the product and its creator, particularly with Bertholdo's 81 percent customer retention rate. 

After hearing the pitch, Grede told Bertholdo, "You have a really incredible product." Bertholdo was moved to tears by Grede's enthusiasm and quick offer. 

Bertholdo explained that her tears were mostly out of relief that she would now have proper help to run her business, mentioning that she had been working between 18 and 20 hours a day and would now have time to spend with her husband and kids. Grede also complimented Bertholdo's artistry, telling her, " I think what you're doing is incredible." Grede thrn suggested that Bertholdo could even expand her product offerings to include more clothing items. 

"I really understand apparel," Grede said. "I can really help you."