Allison Dorst, Pinks and Greens, Woman Entrepreneur

Allison2Allison sent me a short comprehensive email after seeing me on a TV segment where she actually saw herself in the background asking me a question at an 85 Broads Event.  She told me that she started her business, Pinks and Greens, out of her one bedroom apartment in Manhattan four years ago.  The business, an ecommerce platform for active women, now has employees, revenues and a clear vision.  In that time she also became a Mom of two kids.  Needless to say that an entrepreneur like that attracted my attention. 

Allison grew up in New Orleans.  Her Moms side of the family is Cajun French.  Her Mom stayed home until Alison went to high school and she began to work with a friend eventually getting into real estate.  Her Dad was in the family shipping business which got acquired right before Alison went to college.  After she left the family then picked up and moved to Destin Florida, which Alison calls the Redneck Riviera where they already owned a condo.  Her Mom and Dad then decided to go into business together. 

Allison graduated high school and went to Auburn University where she majored in international business.  She loved it and stayed for four years. In the summers she worked at the beach in Destin juggling a variety of jobs including pumping gas at the local marina starting at 5am.  She also bartended and worked the waterpark.  She has been working since she was 14 years old.

Allison decided that after college graduation she would drop all her stuff in Florida and go abroad.  Her first stop was to visit a friend in NYC who was working for a magazine.  She got there and fell in love with every part of NYC.  She loved the vibe, the beat of the street and the energy of smart people who out there pursuing their dreams.  So instead of getting on the plane to go abroad she decided to take an interview just out of curiosity.  She landed the job, walked outside and into a Verizon store where she bought a cell phone and waited there until it was completely charged.  She decided she was now a NYer.

She started doing entry level recruiting for technology companies.  They train you on how to hire the right people placing engineers that wrote Java and so forth.  She was working for a third party service recruiter. Allison moved up the ladder eventually running divisions.  She started their financial practice from scratch.  They did placements from trading portfolio management companies to finance and accounting to tech.  She stayed from 2001-2009.

In the back of her head she always had this idea, even in college, that she wanted to build a company that would take an industry and flip it on its head from brick and mortar to online.  She was always drawn into ecommerce.  On her honeymoon they played golf as she grew up playing the sport.  When they got back she looked at the pictures and felt like she looked like a man in the clothes she was wearing.  She had not played golf in years but started to take it up again because her husband played too.  She could not find the right clothes so she started to do some research. 

What she found is that the clothes exist but they are not being sold online.  She picked up the phone and began to call the brands.  The first brand told her that they would not sell to a ecommerce business.  Allison thought that was absolutely ridiculous.  It had to do with their relationships to pro-shops.  She decided she could change that.  She applied the vetting she did to recruiting to her business.  She launched her business out of her studio apartment which began to resemble an oversized closet.  Three months in she had a baby and after that left her day job.

She had a second kid and moved to NJ.  She says it is her fantastic nanny that allows her to focus on the business full time.  So how did she build this business without raising cash?  She played around with her IRAs, breaking them down into different accounts and taking from one to pay off the other and so forth.  This year Pinks and Greens will do an impressive revenue number. She has a handful of employees and the business is growing.  

Allison is an impressive entrepreneur.  She literally built this business, Pinks and Greens, on her back and I love that she did it with two young kids and a move from the city to the suburbs.  She carried her kids and business with her to the next stop.  She has big plans and after meeting with her I am not surprised.  A quiet killer.   

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