This story is about…
Name: Diane Prince Johnston
Company: Winnie & Kat
Industry: Direct Sales Clothing & Fashion
What motivated you to start your business?
In 2009, I had to take over a family business on the brink of bankruptcy. Every day, I commuted three hours on Los Angeles freeways and flew to offices around the country. On one drive home, I knew I needed to make a change. Because of that, I hired someone to help run the company and I eventually sold my shares to him. Finally I had the freedom to re-invent myself and create a new life. Six months later, I founded a new social selling clothing company that empowers women like me to reach for their dreams.
Tell us about your business…
Winnie & Kat is a new womenswear brand that launched in late 2012 out of Malibu. We call our Social Selling model, “Successes through Dresses.” Our contemporary clothing is sold solely through Independent Stylists – in person and at home parties or “trunk shows” and online.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
I learned as much as possible by asking questions from experienced Direct Sellers: company owners, consultants and independent sales representatives. I generated buzz by sharing the idea with my friends. I assembled a design team and I began making clothes.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Facebook, word of mouth, online advertising and lots of Trunk Shows where we show the clothes and share the business opportunity in person.
What have been your biggest challenges so far with running your business?
Inventory management and clothing production. It has taken a few months to get that just right and now I believe that we are there.
How did you overcome these challenges?
By continually sourcing new partners in manufacturing and design.
What do you love about running your own business?
I play the movie in my head of how I will feel when we are a big success. It may sound corny, but I envision myself being interviewed on business news shows about how I did it. I also think about the Independent Stylists and their future successes, driving Winnie & Kat cars and telling the stories of how they they made their own dreams come true.
What’s your favourite quote?
Fake it until you make it!
Who inspires you?
Mary Kay Ash inspires me. Her accountant told her not to take the risk of starting Mary Kay. Like me, she was a single mother of three.
Do you have a business philosophy?
In business, make the best decisions that you can at the time. Keep what works. Throw away what doesn’t.