Chicago momtrepreneur to appear on ABC’s Shark Tank

Kim Preis poses with her son.

Kim Preis poses with her son.

What is it really like to swim with sharks?

“It was a surreal experience; I’m glad that I did it,” says mom entrepreneur and Lakeview resident Kim Preis. “It was amazing, but it definitely tests your mental toughness.”

The sharks she’s referring are not of the Jaws variety. They’re seven tycoons affectionately known as the “shark tank”, which is the namesake of their business reality show on ABC. Last September ABC executives chose Preis’ business proposal out of 20,000 applicants to be pitched on air to the killer millionaires.

In the second season of Shark Tank, seven investors listen to business pitches from a myriad of entrepreneurs and then individually decide whether or not to invest part of a more than 10-million-dollar pool in their ideas. In return for their investments, the sharks get to propose business models for and claim stakes in the entrepreneurs’ businesses.

After passing the preliminary interview process, Preis was invited to submit an audition tape, which lead to a week long final casting call in Los Angeles.

“I’ve been working to build my maternity line to make it more accessible to everyone, and as an entrepreneur, I thought it looked like a great opportunity,” says Preis who debuted her Samson Martin line, partially named after her husband Samson, in 2003. Preis was motivated to create Samson Martin to celebrate pregnancy and motherhood, and encourage pregnant women to embrace their baby bumps through sexy form-fitting tees and tank tops.  

It started with “Due in…” tees that illustrate which month a baby is due to be born. For example, expecting mothers with babies arriving in spring can choose pink tees doting the phrase “Coming this…” written over spring flowers. There are equally popular tees available for mothers due in the summer, fall and winter.  Samson Martin also makes new mom, infant and baby tee apparel as well.

In the season finale that airs this Friday, Preis tries to convince the sharks to invest in her business—to help her turn it from a line of tees sold in small upscale boutiques like Belly Dance Maternity and Preggers in Chicago, to a full collection sold by mass merchandisers such as Target, JC Penney and Kohl’s.

When asked about Samson Martin’s success on Shark Tank, Preis says she can’t give away details about Friday’s finale. “You will have to wait and see what happens,” she laughs. “I think it’s going to be a cool episode because throughout the season there has been a bit of a focus on a lot of moms who were pitching their own businesses, so the show was a good way to promote the idea of mom entrepreneurs.”

Tune in to the Shark Tank season finale tonight at 7pm on ABC. For more information about Preis’ line, visit


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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)