Written By: Katherine Price
Pink Bow City is a new Minneapolis based on-line company that offers clothing and accessories based upon the Pin-Up girl look with modern flair. We recently met Keona at Fashion Network Happy Hour and were fascinated by her company and the revenue and on-line results that she was able to produce in a few short months. She is a true entrepreneur who’s brand is positioned for success.
KP: Keona – firstly, that is a beautiful name. Is there a story behind it?
KT: Thank you! I kind of have a story behind my name. I am roughly 50% Native American and my mom thought that I would have dark hair and skin and wanted something different for her beautiful native baby. She looked through Native American name books and found Kiona, which was traditionally a boys name. She modified it a bit to Keiona when I was born, which was her version of the name for a girl. After a few months of me being born people had a hard time pronouncing the name with all of the vowels, so she legally changed the spelling to Keona which is pronounced (key-oh-na). After all of that I turned out to have completely fair skin and dirty blond hair, but I still love having a different name!
KP: Secondly, your website Pink Bow City has been up for 3 months and it’s facebook page has over 5,000 ‘likes’ already, that is impressive! We, at Sol Inspirations, love you for your ambition, your girl power, your style and your business savvy but can we love for your stance on ethical fashion?
KT: The whole idea of how my company got started is fundamentally “green.” Pink Bow City started out as Pink Bow Vintage back in 2010 and was completely green because it was just me buying and selling upcycled clothing. We rarely sell any vintage items anymore, simply because of how time consuming it is to hunt for unique items all of the time, however, our company still holds onto the roots of being conscious of how we can give back. That is really the whole purpose of Pink Bow City. I started the company in order to give other local and non-local up and coming designers an opportunity to sell their fashion for a reasonable commission. We only charge 20-25% commission for everything that we sell on our site. As all designers know, that is quite less than any retail or large distributor will charge for commission. We do this so that our designers can still have an opportunity to make a living off of selling their designs and have a very professional website platform and exposure to sell their work. All of the items that are sold on Pink Bow City are hand sewn by the designer themselves. As soon as an item is ordered on Pink Bow City the design will then be created in the size requested and be shipped out within 1-2 weeks. The way we run our company provides fair wages for all of our designers, made in the USA or Europe goods, and cuts out so many emissions it would take to have an item manufactured the traditional way and shipped around the world to get to the consumer. It also cuts down any waste that normally comes from over manufacturing an item and having it not sell.
KP: What gave you the inspiration to start Pink Bow City? Where did the name came from?
KT: My love for thrift shopping just turned into a company from me realizing that I could make money buying things at thrift stores and selling them for more online. I would always see vintage stores online selling vintage items for 50-100+ dollars and see the same thing at a thrift store for $5 and just inherently knew the opportunity. Thrifting quickly became not fun once it turned into something that needed to produce results every time I went out shopping. The fun in thrifting is that it is a treasure hunt, you never know if you’re going to find a gem or not. Having the pressure of always having to find gems for a company at thrift stores is very difficult. It also became too time consuming being a full time college student and working 30+ hours a week at my day job. Wanting to continue getting business experience, since I am an entrepreneur at St. Thomas, led me to start the concept of what Pink Bow City became.
I chose the name because I have always had a love for bows. I use to be what someone might call “emo” or “scene” when I was in high school. Since I was 12 or 13 I would always wear a bow in my hair. People use to make fun of me – until it became “cool”. I knew Pink Bow City was only going to be a women’s clothing website focused on femininity, so I thought the name Pink Bow would be very fitting. Pinkbow.com was already taken by a cancer memorial, so I modified it to be Pink Bow City. It ended up being more fitting anyway, because it captures the community we are trying to create with our Pink Bow City website.
KP: At Sol Inspirations we know the fashion world can’t just turn around and “be 100% green,” we want to meet people, brands, designers and consumers where they are currently and take steps to change the thought processes towards a more sustainable total system. That being said we think that it is important to highlight even the smallest aspects of brands, the parts that are progressively challenging the fashion scene norm.
Finally to the questions, are there specific designers that you feature on your site that are ethical designers? If so which aspects are important to those designers: Fair Trade, Organic Cotton, Vintage Textiles, Conscious Pattern Making, Zero Waste Production, Etc?
KT: All of our practices are completely transparent, what you see is what you get. We don’t advertise any of our fabrics as being organic, because we can’t guarantee that they are. What we are able to promise is that all of your items are being made from the designer cutting down on emissions and providing fair wages. This is just simply the way that our company runs.
KP: How do you verify that they aren’t “greenwashing” or saying what they think people want to hear regardless of actual practices?
KT: To be honest I never really cared about the environment or unfair working conditions enough until I became educated. I have always had a passion for wanting to change the way that our society views food and originally attended my college with the mindset that I was going to open an healthy fast food drive thru. I myself have a fast food addiction and I think that it is too easy for our society to continue to spiral into bad habits with not enough healthy options. However, when I really started researching what it would entail to start that kind of business I realized that it would entail me being someone who worked in the fast food industry, which quickly changed my mind. Fashion just seems so much more glamorous! When I was a freshman in college I took a course that was called “Christian Morality.” This course really opened my eyes to the fundamental issues that are happening currently in our world. We learned about all of the issues with food production, war, poverty, and what it meant to make a “living wage.” The class really opened my eyes to what the rest of the world goes through at the expense of the US having a privileged life. After that course I started to care a lot more about global issues such as unfair working conditions and our environment. This January I had the opportunity to study abroad in Germany and take a course called “Sustainability & Psychology.” The one month course focused on learning how Europe makes an effort to be environmentally aware and how socialism provides a more fair playing field. I really fell in love with the culture of Europe. I would say that my passions have definitely changed from being about food issues to being about human issues, such as making sure everyone has the chance to make a “living wage.” Those values are exactly what I am trying to instill into my company.
We definitely miss the vintage section of Pink Bow City (and would encourage Ms. T to reconsider the brand’s position on such a section, winky face!) but we love the passion that Ms. Keona Tranby is putting into her brand and we love the attention she is showing the local Twin Cities’ scene. Congratulations to all the designers on Pink Bow City and we hope that you continue to push the boundaries of fashion.