Auburn University – Bachelor of Science, International Business
Allison Dorst founded Pinks and Greens because of one problem: the inability to find stylish, yet functional golf clothing for women. Frustration ever mounting, Allison eventually realized her solution might also be an opportunity — there was a clearly defined gap in the market begging to be filled. Armed with her own experience, a lot of research and a vision, Allison launched Pinks and Greens from her one-bedroom New York City apartment (three months post-baby, might we add!).
Beginning in the world of women’s golf, Pinks and Greens now offers active apparel of all types for women who play hard in style. In an activewear environment Allison describes as “sterile, impersonal and uninviting” Pinks and Greens is all about delivering an experience reminiscent of the boutiques women love. And it’s a simple idea that sports-loving women are totally getting behind. “I know from the resonance with our customers, their loyalty and brand evangelism, we’re onto something,” Allison professes.
One of the greatest dangers to any organization is when you create a culture of ‘Well, this is how we always do it.’
What inspired you to launch Pinks and Greens?
I started Pinks and Greens because I was growing frustrated with my inability to find stylish golf clothing. Men always seemed to have plenty of options — from the big-box stores to pro-shops to online — yet women seemed to be left behind. Seeing this gap in the industry, I jumped at the opportunity to create a business that would fill it and change the sport apparel game
What did you attend college for and what did your path look like from college graduation to business owner?
After college graduation, I headed into the recruiting sector as a finance and technology recruiter in New York. During this time, I created and ran a successful multi-million dollar IT recruiting division. As I became interested in the fitness retail sector, I began to research on my own after work. I continued this research for almost two years before taking the plunge and starting Pinks and Greens.
What does your typical day look like? How do you prioritize your schedule?
For me, every day varies. I spend time with my children in the morning, work most of the day on a variety of projects. from talking to investors to our brand representatives and customers, and then I’m heading home again to spend time with my family. After everyone gets to sleep, I work a bit more on Pinks and Greens, completing or finishing up projects as they come in and are due.
Because we’re a startup, everything seems to take priority on my schedule. It really boils down to juggling and organizing. First, I work on anything that has an urgent or upcoming deadline. Those things have to be completed, so I get those done as soon as I can. As far as my other projects — those without deadlines — I try to dedicate an even amount of time to each. Keeping organized is obviously so important!
What is it about your job that makes you feel it’s the right fit for you?
This job is the right fit for me because there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t learn something new or fail to be challenged. I love that aspect of the job — and this makes it perfect for me.
What challenges keep you awake at night?
By far, the thing that keeps me awake at night most is that there just isn’t enough time in the day for me to get everything done that needs to be done.
As an entrepreneur, is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what’s one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
To be honest, I really don’t have much of a work/life balance right now. With a startup, I just can’t. I know in the future I will, but right now, I’m very focused on my work. That being said, I think one tactic is to make a conscious effort to be present with my family. When I’m spending time with my husband and kids, I’m spending real time with them.
Was there ever a moment in your career where you’ve thought, “I made it!” If so, what was it?
Have I made it? Working at a startup you never feel like you've made it! We’re always trying to improve, tweak and build upon our successes and learnings. I’ll admit though, having two women that I look up to — Arianna Huffington and Mika Brzezinski —recently tweet about Pinks and Greens felt pretty amazing.
What’s your personal mantra?
There’s this quote from Henry Ford that I just love: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” This quote is my personal mantra right now because it’s an ever-present reminder that as a business owner, I have to continue to be an innovator in order to be able to bring my customers the best products available.
What qualities does it take for someone to be a successful entrepreneur?
Far and away, a person needs to be passionate in what they’re doing to be a successful entrepreneur. If you don’t have a passion for what you’re doing, it’s only going to become more and more challenging.
Second to passion, you need to have the willingness to solve any problem. When you’re running your own business, you’re going to be confronted by different problems and you have to have the perseverance to take these challenges, learn from them and continue with what you’re doing.
What do you feel it takes to stand out amongst other sports fashion brands?
We’ve created a branded shopping experience that delivers a personalized boutique atmosphere with the convenience of a department store. The current retail environment for sports and activewear is sterile, impersonal and uninviting. We want to turn it over on its head; to create a Tory Burch shopping experience at a J. Crew price point for activewear. Our goal is to take the intimidation out of shopping for activewear and make women feel comfortable, so they can have the confidence to participate in sports and exercise.
I know from the resonance with our customers, their loyalty and brand evangelism, we’re onto something. Women want clothes that are for REAL women. At Pinks and Greens, women of any age or any size can find an outfit that makes them feel good about themselves while being active.
What do you think is a top quality of a successful business?
They listen to the customers. I know from personal experience that by listening to our customers, we hear what new brands to stock, learn what our customers love and hear what they don’t. More than 60 percent of our customers are repeat shoppers, because we take an interest and try to speak as often as possible with them. There’s that old expression, “The customer is always right”, and while that’s true, it’s important to actually listen to them — not just agree with them.
What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?
I’d tell her to leave the corporate world sooner. Don’t get me wrong, I learned a lot and was fortunate to work with really smart people who were willing to share their knowledge and mentor me, which is hugely important. But overall, there were a lot of restrictions. So much of my experience was about why we can’t versus why we can.
I think one of the greatest dangers to any organization is when you create a culture of “Well, this is how we always do it.” An unwillingness to question the status quo can be dangerous. At Pinks and Greens, we pride ourselves on a culture of challenging ideas and a willingness to admit our mistakes and we use those mistakes to make ourselves smarter and better at our jobs.