I’ll never forget the day I took my kids for a swim at our local pool in Ladera Ranch, Ca. I had been sick for several days and still wasn’t feeling well. I was a bit on the grumpy side… When the boys were done swimming and wanted to go home, my oldest son Max asked me to make him a “tent” (hold a towel around him so he could change out of this trunks and into dry clothes in privacy). As I was holding his “tent”, my younger son Clark wanted me to hold his “tent”. I told Clark he would have to wait until I was done with Max, but Clark didn’t want to wait. He was 4 years old at the time and was not known for his patience. Max struggled to get out of his trunks and since I was holding the towel, I couldn’t help him get them off. While Max struggled, Clark began to throw a temper tantrum because “It was HIS turn!!” I was ready to snap. Already in a sour mood, this made it so much worse! I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs, “CALGON TAKE ME AWAY!!” I remember thinking… there has to be a better way. I wish I had something to drape over them and keep them covered while they change. Then I wouldn’t be in this predicament!

That night at 4:00am, I got my answer. An idea surged thru me like a bolt of electricity! I thought, if I took a towel and put a slit in it, they could wear it like a poncho. It would be a changing towel… a poncho… a ShowNo! I didn’t know if it was brilliant or stupid. I jumped out of bed and ran to my computer because surely someone had to be doing this. When I found they weren’t, I was amazed and thought how could that be? I heard within… “Because it has been waiting for you. Follow this in faith Shelly. It will take you places that you won’t believe.”

And so I did and so it was! My towel has sold at Legoland CA and FL. Six Flags Magic Mountain, Raging Waters, Sea World and Disney World to name the big venues. It has sold in dozens of other water parks and still sells in swim school all across the country. It has been featured on The Today Show, Good Morning America, The View, and of course Shark Tank. I have sold so many towels, sewn so many towels, folded so many towels, packed so many towels (we sold 4,500 on GMA and Brian and I, along w/ friends and family, packed every single one) ordered so many towels, bought so many towels, transported so many towels, shipped so many towels, inspected so many towels, fixed so many towels, cleaned up and inhaled the lint of so many towels, loved so many towels and cried over so many others. It has been a long journey. It has not been easy.

There have been so many ups (real high ups!) and downs (super low downs!) but after 6 years, I know in my heart it is time to “throw in the towel”. I am proud of ShowNo. I am proud of what I accomplished! I learned so much and have come so far. When I started, I had no clue how to manufacture a product. I knew NOTHING about fulfillment or distribution or MOQ’s or shipping terms like FOB or line sheets or EDI or margins or COG’s etc. Two years ago, I manufactured my product in China! I had no clue how to do that? Granted it was a complete disaster, but I did it! I confronted fear over and over again. Battled the voice of my head that told me I wasn’t smart enough and that I was a complete moron! The loudest came before filming Shark Tank. Fear, doubt and shame worked overtime trying to get me to turn around but I didn’t. I walked straight thru the fire and walked out with a check in my hand. I was so proud of that. It changed me.

When my Shark Tank deal turned to crap. I felt like such a huge failure. I felt like what I had accomplished meant nothing. I worked so hard to try and fix it so that I could still have my “happily ever after” but as hard as I tried, I couldn’t fix it. I felt broken for a really long time. It affected all aspects of my life. I pushed people away in my shame. That still makes me sad to think about.

I know now, that I couldn’t fix it because there was nothing to fix. It worked out exactly as it should’ve. In fact, I think it worked out perfectly! That experience – the whole thing – came to point me towards the path of my destiny. I once cursed my “Shark Partner” for kicking me to the curb. But now I thank her. She taught me so much more than she thought she did and none of it was about business. All lessons are blessings. When we embrace them, we receive the gift!

I have been buried in towels for 6 years!!

Shelly J Ehler Towels

I know now that this journey had absolutely nothing to do with towels. It was about something so much more. So much bigger and so much better. Through it, I found my purpose and I found myself. Mission accomplished. That is why I don’t need to continue with my towels anymore. I held onto the business because I was trying to prove something but I don’t need to prove anything anymore. The towels came to teach me a lesson. I learned it. I am so grateful. Time to move on! (Thank God because I am so sick of towels!!!)

As for what the future holds for me… I have an idea… but I still really don’t know. I don’t need to know. There is so much love in a surprise! I am happy. I am at peace and I have a family who loves and adores me. What a blessing.

7 Responses to Throwing in the Towel

  1. Paula says:

    We love ours– my grandchildren all have them!

  2. Leola/Lee Charles says:

    Shelly. I think you are grand! I also think you have something here. I also believe that you are not the only fish disappointed by the shark tank. What they do is good for some, but how they can do some of the things they do to people, knowing, what they have gone through to get to the top and some of those same people have in some way contributed to their wealth, is beyond me. Many nights I sit there watching and yelling: “WALK AWAY-WALK AWAY!” Because the Sharks can see the value in the inventor’s product, want to steal it (and not always for the money) but to feel what I call: That New York Exchange Gush. But more importantly, I believe…that you and your blog can help many before they reach that tank. Let them know that walking away is better than giving it away. What is for us is for us and the value I just received from reading your story, is something I have only heard twice as a Christian… We are exactly where we are supposed to be. But God has bigger things for you, you are just not destined to fail or be poor by any means. You’re one of those folks I heard T.D. Jakes talk about when I watched him frequently. You’re the kind of person who can be thrown into the worst part of New York City naked and come out fully suited with a few others on your arm, rings on your fingers and diamonds everywhere. God will never let us down, but He will never get in the way of our learning. God bless you sister, you are the best.

  3. Sad to see you closing shop as we loved you product. Always sold like hot cakes. Hope the future is bright and blessed.

    Mike Williams
    American Kids Sports Center

    • ShellyJEhler says:

      Thanks Mike! Just now seeing this! I am negotiating the sale of my company so you may be able to get them again soon!!

  4. susie says:

    This was an amazing article. I admire your attitude and your insight. I truly believe God has a plan for all of us and sometimes its for a long while and sometimes it for a short time. Its NEVER in our time. The fact that you have already realized this just makes you stronger and smarter then the majority of us. Thank you for your honesty, insight and your courage to explore your dream. You are an inspiration to others. No matter what the outcome.

    • ShellyJEhler says:

      I am just now seeing this comment. Thank you so much!! It means more to me than I can tell you!! God Bless…

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