Dawn Smith

maisol media, LLC - Copywriter
Atlanta, GA

    How I Savor the Success: Grace Kang of Pink Olive, Inc.

    August 26, 2009

    Savor Bites: Tiny morsels of this and that to grow your business and mind.

    Shine a Light from American Express and NBC Universal

    From New York to Los Angeles, America is home to some of the world’s most inspiring businesses. And American Express and NBC Universal are ready to spotlight one of them with the Shine a Light contest. The winning business owner will receive $100,000 in grants and marketing support. Deadline: September 13, 2009.

    New England Grassroots Environment Fund
    New England-based organizations with a plan to address the long-term sustainability of their community could be eligible to receive funding from New England Grassroots Environment Fund. The NEGEF selection committee will give preference to organizations with a well thought out action plan to make their surrounding environment healthier and more sustainable. Deadline: September 15, 2009.

    The Stevie Awards for Women in Business
    Best Entrepreneur, Best Executive and Best New Company of the Year are just a few of the awards handed out by The Stevie Awards selection committee. Nominate another business owner or yourself to receive this 16-inch, 24K gold statuette and national recognition. Deadline: August 31, 2009 or September 30, 2009 (late).

    The Perfect Pitch 2009
    In October, entrepreneurs will congregate in Marina del Rey to climb up the entrepreneurial ladder. Brave entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to present their business ideas on the main stage in front of venture capitalists, angel investors and keynote speaker, Sir Richard Branson. Deadline: September 8, 2009.

    Women entrepreneurs struggling to make their voice heard in the business arena should take Beca Lewis Allen’s advice: “Yearn to understand first and to be understood second.”

    By Dawn Smith, CEO and Copywriter at maisol media, LLC

    Savor Story: How I Savor the Success: Grace Kang of Pink Olive, Inc.

    Pink Olive ProfileFashion retailers, like many small businesses, are feeling the sting of the economy. We knew Grace Kang’s tale of growth would make for a good Savor Story. When we found out this business owner also advised entrepreneurs in the fashion industry, we knew that we had to snag some of her secrets for you. We pulled Grace away from the New York’s biannual Gift Show to find out how she grew Pink Olive, Inc. into a booming online boutique and two brick and mortar stores (East village and Brooklyn) in just three years.

    When did you first fall in love with the idea of becoming an entrepreneur?
    I was fascinated with the idea of running my own business since I was little. My aunt owned a chocolate company with my uncle in Korea. I admired their spirit and tenacity and wanted to do the same thing. Now, I have a niece, Katie. She is a mini-me and wants to run Pink Olive, Inc.

    How did you make the leap from fashion buyer at Bloomingdale's to running Pink Olive?
    After I graduated from Cornell, I became an assistant buyer for Bloomingdale’s. After my seven-year mark, Saks Fifth Avenue recruited me to help launch their new buying team for their dot com division. I learned a lot about marketing and buying for a website vs. brick and mortar store. From there, I went to work for Barney’s New York. Everyone I worked with was of the entrepreneurial spirit. Leaving was bitter sweet, but I knew it was my time to launch pinkoliveboutique.com.

    You managed to grow an online store into two bricks and mortar boutiques at a time when many businesses are shutting their doors. What are the essentials in the Pink Olive marketing toolkit?

    Here are my three essentials for starting and surviving a new business. First, be realistic. Many variables go into running a successful business. Not only do you need a great idea, but also the timing has to be right for your product or service, and it doesn’t hurt to know the right people to help you execute your strategy.

    Second, know why you went into starting your own business. We all want to make money doing what we love, but when your motive is driven by money, it will show. I never asked for a raise during 10 years of working in the corporate world. It was given to me based on my performance and merit.

    Third, surround yourself with other entrepreneurs and have faith. Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely process. You need to surround yourself with other entrepreneurs who are going through what you are. It will encourage and inspire you to think differently. When I started my business, I used to network and attend events and conferences for entrepreneurs. It’s also one of the main reasons why I joined Savor the Success.

    You consult other fashion entrepreneurs. Is this a move to diversify your business, or a way to give back to the industry?
    It is a combination of both. With anything, it is smart to diversify yourself so you are not putting all of your eggs into one basket. I also love retail. It’s what I know. If I can help someone starting out in the fashion/retail world that wants to break into this business, I am happy to do so.

    What is the one thing you find yourself repeatedly telling your consulting clients?
    Don’t be afraid to say “no” or walk away from an opportunity. When I left Bloomingdale’s, I thought it was the right time to open my own business. I searched for the perfect store space, but they all fell through. It was not the right time. I’m glad everything worked out the way it did because I learned about the ecommerce end of the retail business at saks.com and how to mix creativity and business at Barney’s.

    By Dawn Smith, CEO and Copywriter at maisol media, LLC

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