Fredericton entrepreneur lands appearance on Dragons' Den

A Fredericton entrepreneur hopes an appearance on a national television show will help grow his businesses.

Jeff Alpaugh Custom has been selected to appear on the CBC television program Dragons' Den.

The company makes custom-designed dress shirts – both in fit and design – for men and women.

"I'm all about you wearing you," said company co-founder Jeff Alpaugh in an interview.

"If you want the right arm purple, the left arm pink, the front black and the back white, bang, I'm going to make you a shirt like that, you know what I mean, and I'm going to put your name on it, not my name," he said.

Alpaugh's adventure in the clothing industry started when he was a 19-year-old business student.

He said he went to a clothing store to pick out a suit for his business co-op program job interviews.

But after dozens of interviews and still no internship, Alpaugh wondered if the suit had something to do with it.

"So the suit that I was wearing, if you can picture, I'm 19, I weigh like 145 pounds, a very slim teenager, and this suit was like five times too big for me," he said.

Alpaugh later applied for a job at a men's clothing store called Harry Rosen, but was turned down because he lacked experience.

But that didn't last long – he soon landed a job at Moores, where he spent several months learning the ropes before later being hired part-time at Harry Rosen.

After graduating business school in 2007, Alpaugh spent several years in the military before deciding to open his own clothing business.

"I always enjoyed the transformative effect that putting the right clothes on people had on them," he said.

Dragons' Den application

Alpaugh successfully pitched his business to Dragons' Den producers in Fredericton in early March, and will now have a chance to pitch it to the actual Dragons on April 29.

He said he's going to ask for $100,000 – half for a cross-country tour to promote the company, the rest to help design a new website.

"It's cool, it's clean, a lot of beautiful pictures of shirts on there, it's not world-class," Alpaugh said about his current site.

Alpaugh said he'd like for customers to be able to design their own shirt on a 3-D model without having to leave their home.

He said he's feeling confident about the pitch, even knowing the Dragons will hammer him on the fact there are so many clothing companies in the marketplace.

"I'll just put the question right back," said Alpaugh. "Have you ever seen a clothing company like this? Where have you gone and designed your own shirt?"

Alpaugh said the episode is expected to air sometime this fall.

In the meantime, the company has launched a line of dog collars called Barkspoke, where customers can order dog collars that match their dress shirts.