KPU design instructor appears on CBC show Dragons’ Den

Cheryl LeBarr joined her two co-founders to pitch MADE, their outdoor ski apparel company

MADE founders from left to right: KPU alumna Capri Philip, KPU technical apparel design instructor Cheryl LeBarr, and Dustin Butcher. (Submitted)

Kwantlen Polytechnic University design instructor and graduate Cheryl LeBarr was featured in an episode of Dragons’ Den, a Canadian business reality TV show, which aired on Nov. 30.

LeBarr, who teaches in the Wilson School of Design’s technical apparel design program, joined her co-founders — fellow KPU alumna Capri Philip and Dustin Butcher — to present their custom ski outerwear business, MADE, to five investors called “dragons.”

“For us, Dragons’ Den was really exciting. It’s a Canadian staple. Everybody knows Dragons’ Den in Canada,” LeBarr says.

“It was one part seeking investment at the time and two or three parts just a really great marketing opportunity and a great experience to be in front of a lot of viewers.”

The CBC show brings on aspiring entrepreneurs who pitch their business to the dragons and share what percentage of their company they will give in exchange for investment money. MADE’s co-founders asked for $300,000 for 10 per cent of their business.

Venture capitalist Arlene Dickinson was the sole dragon to make an offer for the amount they requested, but for 35 per cent of their company.

In the episode, Butcher said MADE is well structured to become a large-scale business like other outdoor apparel companies worth more than a billion dollars. He also expressed concern about giving up 35 per cent of the business on a smaller investment and asked about negotiating a new number.

Dickinson then canceled her offer, saying MADE is a long way from being a billion-dollar business and she did not know how coachable they would be.

When the team left the den, dragon Manjit Minhas said Butcher rejected the offer by himself, without consulting his co-founders.

But LeBarr says the three went into the den with specific parameters on what they would accept.

“We were negotiating based on that. Dustin, in the show, got a little bit of a negative spin, but Dustin was just following the agreement that the three founders had already made, which was that we weren’t willing to go above 25 per cent,” LeBarr says.

She adds if the co-founders were to have taken the 35 per cent offer, it would have been irresponsible to MADE’s future investors because they had already been in discussions with others.

Despite not getting a deal in the den, LeBarr says the company now has investors, who offered better terms than what the business got on the show.

Being on Dragons’ Den remains a big accomplishment for the co-founders, including LeBarr, who grew up watching the show.

“One of the big brands that’s been on Dragons’ Den before, Holy Crap, is from my hometown, so I witnessed their growth after they’d got on the program, and it was a very proud hometown moment,” she says. “So it’s really cool to be able to have that bit of story for myself as well.”

There has also been a rise in people reaching out to MADE, mentioning how they saw them on Dragons’ Den and would like to know what the business is about, LeBarr says.

The three created MADE in 2020 based on their individual challenges. While LeBarr and Philip had issues with finding the right fit in a jacket, Butcher wanted to design his own features.

Customers can choose their ski apparel designs and use an AI measurement tool to get their right fit, reads a press release. MADE has since focused more on their technology than jackets, with the company developing software to process the AI that can then be licensed to other companies.

“We want to see brands like Patagonia, North Face, and Arc’teryx pivoting their product to this because it’s better for consumers, the environment, and the brand’s bottom line,” LeBarr says.

For her design students, LeBarr hopes her appearance on Dragons’ Den will show them that they can do it, too, someday.

“I hope my students can learn a more holistic picture of the fashion industry and really see how what they’re learning in class is applied across different departments and across an entire business.”

To watch MADE’s pitch on Dragons’ Den, visit