This Friday night, we’ll witness a pair of unassuming young Raleigh fashion entrepreneurs try to convince the world’s most famous Sharks that sorority recruitment and bridal fashion is big business.

Their company is Frill, a made-to-order dress and skirt making startup that launched three years ago while founders Sharon Bui and Kate Steadman were students at North Carolina State University and Appalachian State University.

More than 40 sororities around the country have hired the company since then to design custom dresses or skirts to outfit hundreds of members, each paying $60 to $120 an item. Now, those women are visiting Frill to buy monogrammed jewelry, bags, hats and other accessories, or dresses for their weddings. The founders envision Frill will become the one-stop shop for sorority recruitment and gifting year-round.

At least that was the pitch to Shark Tank during the filming last June. The women can’t reveal much about the show, besides that they nailed the questioning—a tougher tank was a gathering of friends and family who grilled them prior to the event, leaving them in tears but ready for their national television debut.

Many things are striking about the women, considering trends today in entrepreneurship. They have surprisingly few advisors. While Bui was a member of the Garage at NC State, the founders didn’t go through an accelerator program or work out of an incubator. According to NC State’s Entrepreneurship Initiative, they entered the lulu eGames but didn’t make it past the first round.

They funded the company with $850 from their own bank accounts, and are profitable today with salaried employees and a line of credit from a bank.

Their idea was born from a problem Bui witnessed firsthand as a member of Chi Omega sorority. She spent hundreds of dollars every year on expensive dresses that didn’t fit right. She thought there had to be a better way to give sorority girls a contemporary and memorable look, while factoring body types, personal style and budget. She wasn’t a designer, but was working toward a degree in fashion textile management. She paid extra attention in her required entrepreneurship classes at NC State. And she taught herself to sew.

Bui and Steadman met as interns for a now defunct local designer named Austin Jade. Bui handled marketing and customer relations there and Steadman, an advertising major with a minor in apparel at App State, worked in production, sourcing materials and developing relationships with pattern makers. The business struggled and they learned some lessons in what not to do as entrepreneurs. But the key realization was that they worked well together and had complimentary skills.

They joked about starting a business together, but it wasn’t until Bui recognized the problem of dressing for sorority recruitment that they had a viable idea.

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