Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, Allison Dorst attended Auburn University and received her Bachelor of Science in International Business. Allison worked for many years as a finance and technology recruiter in New York, during which she created and ran a successful multi-million dollar IT recruiting division. In 2010, Allison struck out on her own to launch Pinks and Greens, and in only 4 short years has grown the business to become the premier online destination for stylish women’s sports and active-wear, with over 100 brands for Golf, Tennis & Fitness.
Tell us about your journey to where you are today.
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 and even 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 the gap and change the sport apparel game. I launched Pinks and Greens from my 1 bedroom Manhattan apartment, just 2 months after giving birth to my first child. It was definitely a learning experience but I loved the challenges that I faced. From figuring out how to start a new business, to expanding our products to tennis and fitness, everything I’ve done with Pinks and Greens has allowed me to be in charge of my own destiny.
How has your life experience made you the individual you are today?
I started working when I was around 12 and really, I’ve been working since then. I was always looking for something to do and I always think I had the drive in me to start my own business, but I only discovered it through working in the New York corporate environment. Through working in New York, I saw that my assertiveness and my drive grew over time; it was always in me, but it took me a while to see it in me.
What have you learned from these highlights and challenges?
I have to say the number one thing I learned is that no one will do it for you. Anything that you want to do is completely on you to do. In any work that you do, you have to give all of your effort into it and know that there is no such thing as an overnight success. It all comes down to hard work and a lot of effort.
Why did you want to start your own business?
Like I said earlier,I saw there was a market in the sports apparel industry whose needs weren’t being met and I jumped at the opportunity to serve that market. I had no idea when I was starting out just how large Pinks and Greens would grow and the impact it would have on the women’s sports apparel industry.
How is Pinks and Greens transforming the women’s apparel industry?
Pinks and Greens is for women, by women. The sport apparel industry is so male dominated that it’s so difficult to find golf, tennis and fitness apparel that is actually stylish! Pinks and Greens is transforming the industry because we offer women, of every shape and size, high quality apparel paired with excellent customer service. We are a one-stop shop for stylish active wear and we carry over 100 designer brands. We believe that all women should be able to play well and look even better.
What have been some of the best moments since starting your own business?
To be honest, looking back, each quarter since I’ve been in business has had an amazing moment. From having my first customer, to hiring my first employee, every small accomplishment felt huge in the early months when I was working out of my one bedroom apartment. But the best moment for me since starting Pinks and Greens was discovering that there was huge appetite for stylish active wear in the women’s sports apparel market, and some women, particularly women over 40+ were being completely ignored.
What advice can you offer to women looking to start their own business?
My number one piece of advice would be to do a lot a research before starting anything. Learn about the industry that you want to go into and talk to as many people as you can find who work in that industry. It’s important to talk about the industry as a whole and all of the pros of starting a business in it but it is just as, if not more, important to talk about the negative aspects. Ask industry veterans what keeps them up at night, what were some of their setbacks early on and what advice they would have to get through tough moments. It is so important to ask these tough questions because the more you know before going into an industry, the better prepared you will be in your business.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Wow, yeah that is a real challenge for me. Honestly, right now I don’t have much of a work/life balance because I’m really trying to grow my business. I have two small children at home and while I make time for them, once they go to sleep, I’m back working trying to make Pinks and Greens better. I think (and hope) that a work/life balance is something that will come later in life, once my children and my business are a little older.
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
Mentorship has really made a tremendous difference in all aspects of my life. I am constantly seeking knowledge and advice about my industry and there are so many people who know more than me who have been willing to share their knowledge and advice. I value everyone I have talked to in the industry, new-comers or veterans, because each has something valuable to offer when it comes to running a business. Right now, in the retail industry especially, technology is so stressed but I sincerely believe that the older generation, the industry veterans have such great insight and advice and it is so important to form strong relationships with them.
Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
Two female leaders who I really admire is Meg Whitman and Sarah Blakely. Meg Whitman ran eBay and is now running HP and I feel like she is such a great example of a female leader in corporate America; Sarah Blakely, the founder of SPANX, is such a great role model, especially for women because she founded her empire from scratch, all on her own. Both of these women and the work that they have accomplished have helped me become the type of leader, and business owner that I am.
Which words sum up where you have got to today?
Insomnia. Drive. Curiosity