Hallo, ich bin Diane

Ich bin der Designer der Zebedee-Hängeschiene

"My bedroom is in a loft conversion with sloping ceilings. Large, freestanding wardrobes took up the tallest part of the room, meaning my bed was shoved to one side under the sloping ceiling. "

Mein Schlafzimmer befindet sich in einem Dachgeschossausbau mit schrägen Decken an beiden Enden des Raumes. Jahrelang lebte ich mit großen, freistehenden Kleiderschränken, die ich aus meinem früheren Zuhause mitgebracht hatte. Sie nahmen den höchsten Teil des Raumes sehr gut ein, d.h. mein Bett wurde unter der schrägen Decke zur Seite geschoben. Nicht ideal. Ein Schlafzimmer sollte ein Ort der Entspannung sein, aber meines war es nicht. Alles war unausgeglichen, und ich brauchte mehr Platz.

I realised that what I needed was hanging rails, which followed the angle of the ceiling. I could then devote one end of the room to hanging space and a walk-in wardrobe area, leaving most of the room for my bed.

Fabelhafte Idee, bis auf eine Sache... ich konnte nirgendwo abgewinkelte Hängeschienen finden. Und ich habe weltweit gesucht!

Ich konnte einfach nicht verstehen, warum es sie nicht gab.

Jetzt bin ich ein recht praktischer Mensch. Ich hatte ein retro-industrielles Online-Möbelgeschäft. Ich bin so etwas wie ein Hobby-Restaurator und liebe es, Möbel und Beleuchtung zu retten und sie wieder in Ordnung zu bringen. Darüber hinaus ist mein jetziges Zuhause das zweite Objekt, das ich restauriert habe, wobei ich einen Großteil der Arbeiten selbst und mit sehr wenig professioneller Hilfe durchgeführt habe. Ich liebe die Herausforderung, und wenn ich nicht weiß, wie ich etwas machen soll, finde ich es heraus.

Wenn ich also vor dem Problem stand, dass ich abgewinkelte Hängeschienen haben wollte und keine finden konnte, was konnte ich tun, als meine eigenen zu entwerfen?

Also spielten wir 2017 und ich mit einigen Konzepten herum, und drei Versionen später wurde Zebedee geschaffen. Nach meinem eigenen Entwurf gebaut, passte ich sie an den abgewinkelten Raum an, und sie funktionierten wirklich! Ich war begeistert!

Da die unhandlichen Schränke weg sind, hat sich die Größe meines Schlafzimmers jetzt verdoppelt. Es ist organisiert, mit Unmengen an Hängefläche auf der Hälfte der Fläche, die die Schränke eingenommen hatten. Mein Bett ist zentralisiert, mit einem schönen großen Kopfteil und viel Platz zu beiden Seiten. Es gibt so viel mehr Platz! Meine Kleider werden nicht mehr weggequetscht und vergessen. Sie sind leicht zu sehen und zugänglich, was mir auch Zeit und Geld spart, wenn man bedenkt, dass ich die Gegenstände, die ich vergessen hatte, sogar besaß. Keine unhandlichen Schränke mehr, kein Warten auf maßgeschneiderte Schränke, nur noch Zebedee-Schienen!


Und was noch besser ist - ich habe ein völlig neues und originelles Produkt entworfen - fast zufällig! Überzeugen Sie sich selbst. Ich liebe das, was Zebedee für mich gemacht hat, und ich bin sicher, dass es auch für Sie funktionieren wird.

My Journey to Dragons' Den.

Catch up on BBC iPlayer, Series 21, Episode 10

A few years ago I bought a dormer bungalow in a village just out side of Grimsby, never dreaming that it would basically change my life.  In my early fifties, I designed a clothes rail for the sloping area of my bedroom and by my mid 50’s it was patented and trademarked in 30 plus countries. That in it self, is totally crazy.

But more was to come.  In March, 2023,  I received an email which I was pretty sure was a scam of some sort.  It claimed to be from a researcher for the BBC, wanting to know if I would be interested in appearing on Dragons’ Den.  I did a little checking, and then replied, very reluctantly, to find out a little more.

I say reluctantly, because I do not like cameras, and have always said I would not do Dragons’ Den.  We had a little chat, and I explained my concerns and I said ‘no’ but the  BBC chap asked that I think about it.. so I took the upcoming bank holiday to do so.  I did some research and it went back and forth in my mind.  Finally I decided I had to do it, for Zebedee.  Also, I don’t like being beaten by something stupid like a fear of seeing my self on film!

That was the start of a very long, time consuming process.  They needed a short video example pitch as a form of interview.. which in itself took ages and about 150 takes!  And there was a massive amount of due diligence, which took a month to get together (copies of patents, proof of sales, accounts..)

Once I was through all that process, and was invited to appear then the work on the pitch started.  Every word of what I wanted to say had to be double checked and practiced, forwards backwards and upside down!  And then there was the seven years of accounts to memorise.

I had to think on that one.  I ended up with a bit of a memory palace around the workshop, with each area covering a different years accounts, and turning the figures into rhymes which made them easy to memorise!

“One nine eight, I have a date,

he’s a hundred years old,

And he acts like he’s eight!!”

I then had to just walk round the workshop in my head and I could visualise that years figures.  I spent hours in the workshop with my eyes closed pointing at different walls and reciting what was there.  But my biggest worry was then that I would slip up in the den and refer to some 100 year old boyfriend or something.

I also had to binge watch previous episodes of Dragons’ Den as I’d even avoided watching it as I found it so scary!  I watched as many as I could so I could work out the formula for the program, so I’d not take things personal in the den and to try to grow a thicker skin.

To help with the camera issues, and to get use to facing the Dragons’, I printed off a photo of each, and pinned them in order, on the wall above my desk so I could talk to them!  I have to say, that didn’t work so well as I was still terrified in the den (although heaven knows why). I also pitched to a fake Dragons’ Den at the local business support group E-Factor, with all the fake Dragons’ sworn to secrecy!

We needed a portable display, so I contacted one of our Trade partners Peakcraft, swore them to secrecy too and commissioned them to build a fabulous display for us.  This was so tight time wise that we had to pick it up on the way to Manchester!

Now.. the day of..

My old school friend Tracy Todd and I, travelled down the day before, with her drilling me the whole way.  We found the studio and  dropped off the props.  We then had to be back at the studio for 7:30 am as we were going to be first in.  The props were set up, makeup done, sound checks, camera action!

Some of it I admit is a panicky blur.. Tracy was amazing and so were the Dragons’ Den support team.  Four plus hours later, we reloaded the van and headed home, happy to have secured a Dragon.

Yes it was tough, and yes the deal wasn’t what I wanted, but when I stood there, thinking frantically about the 40%, I knew I had to see the journey through to its end.  A lot of what had been discussed I was already working on.  I already knew that we could not cover the USA market from the UK so some compromise on production location would be necessary.  I’d also been thinking about how effective the name would be for the worldwide market, although I am happy with it for the U.K.  I was also pretty sure that Sara would understand it more and her research would back up Zebedee as the trademark, after the Den.

Basically I also realised that I hadn’t put my case over for the U.K production and name strong enough, and hoped that we could iron out and work out any kinks in the deal and work out the best way forward for the business together!

All this flew through my head in a few seconds!


The last few months have nearly been as bad as the prep!  It’s a lot of work.  The BBC say from the start that you aren’t guaranteed to be aired, and even when you are, you just know its going to be sometime between January and April!  You actually get only a couple of weeks notice of the airing date.

That does cause a lot of strain.  If your suppliers need 6-8 weeks notice, do you order a massive amount of stock for January or March?  Can you cover the larger than normal January invoices if you aren’t shown till April?  It’s one heck of a juggling act and a big gamble.

In the mean time, you are still sorting the legal stuff for having an investor.  It is not unusual for it to take over a year, before your Dragon is signed up.  So although very supportive during the process and always there for advice, they can’t financially help during this time.

Then of course there is the dreaded airing of the program!  All I remembered of being in the den was getting upset in the pre interview, and when I stumbled and froze in the den.  I actually did not remember all the nice things the Dragons said about Zebedee.  I was literally dreading it, and if I could have cancelled it the week before I would have.  I was bouncing off the wall!  My family, friends and team were amazing at keeping me calm-ish.

I spoke to another couple of businesses that Sara had invested in, and that was a massive help.  All my doubts, quandaries and fears were not unusual.

The airing wasn’t actually that bad and was a massive relief!  The editors I think, were very kind to me, but also it helped to see how much the Dragons really did like Zebedee.  I honestly had spent months thinking I’d messed up big time!

And afterwards.. wow.. I was not prepared for the bombardment of well wishes!  Customers from years ago, getting in touch with photos of their Zebedee and saying how amazing Zebedee is and how well I’d done on Dragons Den.  The orders took off as well, so did social media and local news outlets.

So yes, appearing on Dragons’ Den takes a lot of time (which I could have spent building the business in other ways),  is a massive amount of work, and is very stressful.  But it’s been one heck of a journey and  I’ve learnt a lot and even though I’ve spent most of the last year totally stressed out, I am now glad I did it.

I’m now even a lot more comfortable on camera – or at least I’m getting there!  🙂

Diane x

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