[quote style=”boxed”]If I could change anything in the world, I’d bring a balance to the equality of men and women all over the globe.[/quote]
A former east coast college athlete and business major, Joanna Kinsman resides in Marina del Rey, California, designing and managing the operations of her luxury swim line, Miss Kinsman.
The lingerie-inspired line is comprised of great attention to detail including lace trim, unique lace covered strings, and custom metal logos.
Brought up by an entrepreneurial family in a small town in Maine, Joanna has always had a fascination for new business ventures, beginning at a very young age. From selling crayon drawings, to lemonade then jewelry, her creative side played a big part in these ventures. She eventually began designing clothing and bags as a past time, making inspired pattern and fabric changes with the help of her mother, a former yet still very talented seamstress.
The designer has always been known for moving about, from Boston, to San Diego, to Maine, and while back on the east coast, she was invited to feature her first bikini samples at an upscale Boston event. Her new approach to swimwear resulted in an overwhelming response from the local media, and transpiredinto additional fashion shows and shoots.
The designer has moved to Los Angeles in 2012 to work on the line full time, bringing her dreams into a reality, and making Miss Kinsman available to women on lounge chairs, sandy beaches, and runways everywhere.
What are you working on right now?
The line is available online and I’m coming up on my first consumer buying season in the US, working on getting into shops as well as focusing on distribution channels, marketing, and PR. My first intern just began in marketing, and I am about to begin driving traffic to the site and seeking capital to grow the brand.
Where did the idea for Miss Kinsman come from?
When I first came out with a line for a fashion event, I wanted something that was cohesive and unique. I tested trims of all kinds, but the lace pieces I’d sketched went so beautifully together that I continued to design additional silhouettes that women would love.
How do you make money?
Aside from online sales, the goal is to sell the line via sales reps, as well as online through an affiliate program targeted to fashion bloggers and online media.
What does your typical day look like?
Every day is different. I’m always learning, networking, making calls, sending emails, finding inspiration, attending meetings, and having fun. It never feels like work.
How do you bring ideas to life?
My designs start with a pencil sketch, a digital drawing, and then these are developed into a sample. From there, a pattern is made up for additional sizes. The most amazing part is seeing these designs take formation, and into a photo shoot, as a complete work of art that I couldn’t be more proud of.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I love that Brazilian bikini bottoms are becoming more widely accepted in the US, a trend that has been a staple in swimwear for countless.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
My worst job was the most recent one that I had in Maine. I was a part owner of a company that was funded by someone from whom I learned “what not to do”. I watched hundreds of thousands of dollars be squandered on a business that lacked a true concept, observed decisions be made based completely on emotion, and saw employees be mistreated, including myself. I’m confident that I will be able to avoid these mistakes, among many others that I witnessed there.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Oh absolutely – there has been such a learning curve to developing my line without a fashion background that I’d cut much out by seeking an internship or job shadow. I’d additionally have sought out more reliable manufacturers from the start, as my first two attempts at this failed. Fortunately I’ve found someone whom I can trust, with the best quality, custom support, and prices that I’ve found in the industry.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
A former employer always used to teach others to “take imperfect action” and I suppose I do this frequently, in order to get something out there, and then fix it later. This goes for web development, the R&D design process, photo shoots, and so much more.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Most recently, I lost a lot of money to a contractor and missed an opportunity to have my line shown at the Miss California pageant. I was devastated that the company I hired had botched the job and there wasn’t anything I could do. I believe I compensated by working harder to find more opportunities to make up for this loss.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I believe that with outsourcing there is a huge opportunity to develop entire teams in other countries to perform work, including graphics, web design, research, telemarketing – you name it. Anyone could easily manage a team and see a quick ROI, simply by marketing this as a company capable of delivering a quality product or service. You could even hire someone overseas to manage the SEO and call prospective clients to build your business.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
If I could change anything in the world, I’d bring a balance to the equality of men and women all over the globe. This could minimize violence, crime, and poverty everywhere. This mentality begins at an early age, so teaching boys and girls to be friends with one another, placing a strong emphasis on learning this from their parents, and teaching it in school.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I’m a complete nerd when it comes to things like WordPress, and I pride myself in being pretty savvy with setting up websites for other people. Sometimes it’s a nice break from working on my own stuff. I also have a huge sweet tooth and am fascinated by cool architecture.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
1) Odesk.com – I don’t know what I would do without outsourcing overseas to keep my costs low. My administrative assistant is in India. He edits my pictures, sends emails on my behalf, updates my website, and the list goes on.
2) SignNow.com & DocuSign.com – This is where I sign all of my contacts with the use of a digital signature. No more printing, signing, scanning and emailing back. They even have a mobile app!
3) Jing – I use this to create quick tutorial videos to train my overseas contractors and my interns. I can record my screen with the click of a button and a link is created to easily share.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Celebrity Leverage – this book opened my eyes to the game of PR, and nearly every angle and media outlet you can use to make your business successful.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
@SeamBliss – for anyone in fashion, you’ll love how responsive and informative they are
@jadapsmith – Jada is so inspirational and personal in her tweets
@lawsoattraction – Nothing wrong with a little motivation quote to retweet every once in a while!
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
Today! I was doing a photo shoot in Malibu and there are always funny things that happen when you’re shooting bikinis – models dancing to stay warm, watching the reaction of passers by, and an overall light hearted energy that exists during these photo sessions.
Who is your hero, and why?
I can’t say I have one particular hero, but I do have quite a few mentors and people I look up to personally and professionally all over the country.
Which accomplishment are you most proud of in your business?
The fact that I’ve launched the line on my own without any outside funding thus far is quite an achievement to me. My proudest moment though was my first runway appearance. I couldn’t stop beaming.
If you weren’t designing, what would you be doing?
Racecar driving absolutely. I love driving fast!
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.