By stepping in 'Shark Tank' tonight, Pinellas couple hopes to score investment dollars

SAFETY HARBOR — Just when you thought it was safe to eat a second bowl of ice cream, summer temperatures arrived and with them shorts and short-sleeved blouses.

But fear not.

Those upper arms need not flap in the breeze. Thighs that jiggle like Jell-O can be history. And muffin tops that dribble over waistbands can be smooth and tight once again.

At least temporarily, according to Penilopee LaRosa.

She says her affordable line of clear, thin, "no pinch" cosmetic adhesives called Skinnies Instant Lifts, when applied to troublesome body parts, will make cellulite and wrinkles seem oh so yesterday. She has developed a product specifically for the upper arms, too.

To apply the adhesives, you peel off the paper backing, apply one side to the skin, pull the adhesive taut, and then stick the other side to the skin. A patented no-pinch strip in the center gathers up loose or excess skin.

Tonight, Penilopee, 47, and her husband Nick, 56, will appear on ABC's Shark Tank to pitch their products to a panel of five rich and shrewd investors, a.k.a. "the sharks," who could help them become millionaires. The episode was taped in September.

So will the sharks bite? Or be on the attack?

Will midthigh shorts make a fashion comeback?

Could a generation of women see their feet once again?

Because they signed a confidentiality agreement, the LaRosas aren't at liberty to say. You'll have to be among the 6 million viewers expected to tune in tonight to find out if the sharks decide to invest in the LaRosas' business. The episode airs at 8 p.m. on ABC.

In the meantime, their dining room is filled with boxes of Skinnies products in anticipation of a flood of new orders.

Penilopee was free to discuss their Oldsmar-based business and how they got on the show.

What was it like to pitch your idea to the sharks?

It was like being in a room with five Simon Cowells. (Only these people eat Simon Cowell for lunch, added Nick.) I've been on TV before and I've been in business meetings before, but I've never conducted a business meeting in front of TV cameras. It was intimidating and intense.

When else have your products been presented on television?

I was on HSN twice last summer. Our Skinnies arm lifts have been featured on the Rachael Ray Show and the thigh lifts were shown on the Today show. In 2011, Skinnies were selected for the 38th annual Daytime Emmy Awards swag bags and named one of the "hottest new fashion trends" by the bag organizers.

How did you land a spot on Shark Tank?

We applied in May along with 9,000 other applicants. Then it's a long waiting process where they examine both you and your products. They do background checks and go through all the legal processes. On Sept. 11, 2011 — the 10th anniversary of the terror attacks — they flew us to Los Angeles. We were among 85 finalists. Of those, they pick 52 that will actually make it on the air.

Where did you come up with the idea for Skinnies?

Four years ago, we were visiting Florida (from Tulsa, Okla.) and I wanted to wear a pair of shorts. My thighs were a disaster, so I taped them up with pieces of duct tape. When I pulled the tape off, it shredded my skin. But I knew if I could find the right adhesive, it could work. I tested 200 different formulas and substrates before I found the right combination for my thighs. After that, I started praying about a product for my flabby arms.

Is this your first invention?

No. In 2001, I developed a product that helps infants sleep safely on their backs. We've since sold it to another company and it's now called Baby Sleeps Safe. I've also invented Smooth Sleepers to prevent pillow-induced eye wrinkles. My ideas for inventions come from things I've needed, but they really come from the Lord. I'm a strong Christian and an ordained minister.

How do you market Skinnies?

Online. Our website is instant lifts.com We find that people Google whatever they want to fix. After we found out we were going to be on the show, we expanded our bandwidth and are now prepared for 65,000 hits.

By stepping in 'Shark Tank' tonight, Pinellas couple hopes to score investment dollars 03/15/12 [Last modified: Friday, March 16, 2012 11:21am]

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