News, Summer 2015
The Pinkstore Takes Fourth Year in E-Commerce Business in Stride
STORY BY JENNIFER LITTON | PHOTOS BY DEBRA S. KAPLAN
Beka Doolittle had a light bulb moment, and it changed her life. The Elkhorn mother of three was working as a personal banker in 2006. “I really just hated the micromanagement. I really hated the ‘be at work at 8:15 a.m., leave at 6:15 p.m. and you get one hour for lunch.’ You’ve got to get permission to go to a kid’s game. That kind of stuff. It drove me crazy,” Doolittle says.
Doolittle did some soul-searching and thought long and hard about what she could do with her life. She wanted something that fulfilled her, yet also allowed her to help provide for her family. “I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur and be my own boss. I can’t think of of a time when I didn’t want that,” she says.
One day during her lunch break from her unfulfilling job, she bought a pink hair straightener and a pink hairdryer and didn’t think much about it afterwards. “About a week later, all of a sudden this light bulb went off. I was like, ‘Hey, I love the color pink. I wonder if I could do something with it,’” Doolittle says.
It was that light bulb moment that was the genesis of her company. “Right then and there, I came up with the concept for the Pink Store. Just bam, it came in my head,” she says.
ThePinkstore.com sells a variety of items with one thing in common—the color pink. Looking for a pink paper lantern? Doolittle’s got it. How about a stainless steel pink flask? Yep, she’s got that too. Doolittle’s eye for design and passion for pink helped her to curate an impressive collection of must-have items for the pink enthusiast.
This September marks Doolittle’s fourth year as an e-retailer. Her educational journey has involved research and networking, speaking engagements with local universities and several TV news appearances.
And let’s not forget one widely publicized legal battle with Victoria’s Secret over the word “Pink.” If you’re keeping score, the little retailerthat- could sent the big guys packing. Victoria’s Secret withdrew its opposition to the trademark for Doolittle’s shop.
“My attorney told me to settle for $5,000. I said ‘No way, they can pound sand,’” Doolittle says.
Doolittle’s battle with the lingerie giant was widely featured on the metro area’s evening news channels. This gained her a bit of notoriety. A man at her gym told her she was a badass. “I’m not trying to be a badass. I’m like, ‘This isn’t right. I’m not going to be OK with that.”
Her tan yet sinewy arms are artfully bedecked with tattoos that reflect her true self. She imprinted “Shine Your Way” across her arm after hearing the song of the same name by Owl City. “It is such a good song. I got the tattoo because you know what? That’s me. It’s how everyone should be. If you believe in something, you go for it and you do it.”
Doolittle’s success did not come overnight and or without a learning curve. After coming up with the idea in 2006 and creating an LLC (Limited Liability Company) a year later, it took Doolittle another four years to purchase her website.
“Life happens. We got married and had a baby and lost jobs. And kids graduated from high school. So I thought why not start small? Buy a dotcom and see if that works,” she says. Luckily, her husband was supportive. “We took income tax money we probably needed for bills. He’s like, ‘Just do it.”
She finds the community support in Omaha to be overwhelming. “This is our home. This is our community. It’s amazing. It really is if you put yourself out there.”
“If there’s ever anything I want to do community- wise with my business, it would be nothing for me to call up other business owners and partner together on something. I think that speaks volumes for Omaha. I think Omaha has come a long way in that respect.”
Doolittle’s advice to hopeful entrepreneurs? Do your research. “I wish I would have researched it just a little bit better.”
Doolittle admits she likes to fly by the seat of her pants. “It is my nature to be impulsive.” Although starting her business was not an impulse, she wishes she had more knowledge in some areas of business. “This is not saying that people can’t just jump in, because you can. I did and I’ve learned as I’ve gone, which is okay too.”