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#empowerment #flourish #personalgrowth #womeninleadership May 08, 2022

My wardrobe used to be divided into sections based on size - all based on how much weight I lost or gained. 

Can you relate? 

I’ve always wanted to look good in my clothes, but struggled to attain that elusive trifecta of “good fit, reflect my personality, real comfort.”  You see, I’m a “petite pear,” and have long harbored extreme ill will against designers and the fashion industry in general, for catering to (what I perceived to be) tall, buxom, non-curvy bodies. 

I’m grateful to say that my own personal growth has included a good bit of work in the body image department, but I interviewed a woman on my podcast this week, who has a passion for helping women feel GREAT in their clothes. 

Yes! There are actually women out there who have figured it out and love helping the rest of us!

Dana Dunton is the owner of Mainstream Boutique, in Sheboygan, WI, and one of the reasons I wanted to chat with her is because her business just happens to be a franchise. 

After my conversation with Diane Pleuss, the Franchise Matchmaker, I wanted to talk to someone who had actually done it. And NOT with a recognizable fast-food version. 

I had NO idea Dana’s story would be so compelling and inspirational… and how beautifully she would prove the Unconventional Leader principle - that when we find our passion, there is always a way to make it happen. 

Unconventional Leaders LEAD

At EVERY level, in ANY area, using their UNIQUE gifts.

Below, are my big takeaways from this delightful conversation.

Dana’s story is such a beautiful example of Unconventional Leadership.  She knew she wasn’t fulfilling her potential, and she wanted more. She tried several things, as many of us have done. But when she stumbled into her passion, she knew - immediately. She visited the Mainstream Flagship store in Charlotte, and on the way home, emailed the corporate office - from the plane. 

John Maxwell says leaders are decision-makers - usually quick decision makers. That doesn’t mean Dana didn’t take the time to gather all the relevant information. The process took over four months, and included all the same steps Diane Pleuss shared with me last week. But Dana knew, very quickly, that this was an opportunity she wanted to pursue. 

She wasn’t alone in that process though - I’ve noticed that many of the women who have taken big steps to pivot in their careers have done so with the support of at least a few important people, and Dana is no exception. 

Proving the idea that those in our network can often see something in us before we do (Kelly Hoey, podcast episode #78), her friend hauled her off to “go shopping,” taking her INTO the Mainstream Flagship store, because she could see that this was an opportunity for Dana to live her passion. 

Dana’s employer at the time sounds amazing! They allowed her to reduce her hours while still keeping her benefits while making the transition. Many times we don’t think to ask this of an employer, but I’ve seen this request granted more than a few times. 

Then there’s her husband. He was willing to push her to make the decision, even taking out a second mortgage on their home to do it. While that may sound risky, as we learned last week, this is one of the funding sources common to franchise purchasers.   

Another thing that makes leaders stand out, is that they always have a principle by which they live, and at least one habit that supports it.

When I asked, Dana shared a story that warmed my heart… one of generational wisdom. Understanding what you can control goes a long way toward managing all kinds of issues in your life, but the fact that she remembers hearing - “you can’t control the things that happen to you, but you can control your reaction to them” - in her grandfather’s voice, is priceless. 

That truth has lived with her since she was a girl, and has shaped how she has grown into a business woman running her own thriving business with staff and an online presence. She lives that out in front of her staff, and in her family - empowering those who come after her to take ownership of their own thoughts and actions, and helping to create open, centered and empowered future leaders. 

She sounds like a coach!

To best live out her principle, Dana has developed a few habits that start her off on the right foot every day. 

  • She makes a mental checklist in her head first thing - I marvel at people who can do this before they get out of bed. I need coffee.  
  • This is her method for ensuring she starts the day out understanding what she CAN control, and making a plan to do so.
  • This also keeps her centered in TODAY. Remembering that today is what you have, enables you to focus, and be present with the people who matter. 
  • And, her list and practice always includes exercise. She understands the value of keeping her body healthy, because that helps keep her mind clear and healthy as well.

So - are you wondering if it’s possible for you to go into business for yourself… well - YES, of course! 


Green Flags - Are you suited to business ownership through a franchise?

Dana suggests you consider:

1. Identify your passion. 

I’ll bet you already know, deep down, what your passion is. It’s the thing your brain spends time on when you haven’t directed it to concentrate on something else. It’s what you lay awake at night thinking about. It’s the thing you do in your free time - all your free time. 

Dana knew hers, but she hadn’t figured out how to turn that into a business.  Initially, she thought her passion was shopping, but as soon as she started looking at options, it came into clear focus. She wanted to help other women understand that having the right clothing - fit, personality and comfort - can literally change their life, just like it did hers. She loved figuring out how to feel good in her clothes and wanted other women to feel that way too. She thought, however, there wasn’t a way to make money doing it.

The odds are, your brain’s telling you the same thing about your passion. “You can’t make money doing (fill in the blank).” Perhaps you like creating fun artwork, or maybe it’s the way you make people feel (hello, Professional Encourager, here). It’s also likely your passion is  hiding just beneath that thing your brain says you can’t do. Just like Dana’s “shopping” turned out to be “changing women’s self-image.”  Now she’s able to help the women who enter the doors of her boutique feel great about clothes and their body. 

2. Determine whether this is this a genuine passion.

Let’s just stick with Dana’s example - she said she LOVED to shop… but what was the purpose behind it? If she was just shopping to ease boredom or anxiety, that’s not the same. She had to dig a little deeper and see that she REALLY loved taking her friends on shopping trips and completely styling them - and they were not allowed to look at size labels. Right?  

That’s her genuine passion - helping her friends feel good and look good without the angst and drama associated with the (literal) labels and baggage that come with the actual shopping. 

Digging down beneath the things you enjoy to the reasons WHY you enjoy them in order to find your true passion can be a good bit of work. But it will show you what’s real and genuine. 


Advice: When you figure out your passion, now what? 

1. Look for the next step for YOUR passion.

Time to do a little strategic dreaming! Do you have the skills you need to pursue it? How about education or knowledge? Is there a networking or Facebook group you can join with others who are headed in the same direction that you can start learning from?   

2. Ask for help!

Women - especially strong, independent and driven women - tend to skip this step. Trust me, I know, I’m guilty! Even when others offer help I have a hard time accepting it, then feel guilty when I do. That’s just our socially pre programmed brains - but asking for help is necessary. I’ve learned a good bit about the benefits of asking for what you need and want, and they aren’t as selfish as you might think. 

Others want to help you - especially other women. We want to see you succeed, and even need to see you succeed. Your success gives us hope that we can do it too. Asking for help also provides someone else with the opportunity of being the helper. Asking for help also reminds you that you’re not alone. You’ll be surprised who says YES, when you show up with a very real dream and passion. There’s something about that energy that’s infectious. Trust me! 

 3. Write things down.

Writing your dream down makes you at least 50% more likely to fulfill it. Even if you just scribble it on a piece of paper and stick it in a drawer! If you take the time to break it down into long, medium and short term goals, write them down, tell them to someone else, and allow others to hold you accountable - the chances of your success skyrocket to a whopping 90%!   

If you’re not ready to write down goals or make plans, one way to start dreaming is to create an unfiltered “want or desire” list. Just pull out a piece of paper and start writing things down. Don’t filter yourself… don’t qualify anything… just let your mind and heart speak. 

A Vision Board is a simple, easy (and fun) way to begin dreaming. If you’ve never made one before, you can get the replay of the Vision Board Workshop we did back in the early part of 2022 totally free Right Here.

Did this article inspire you? Have you been on a personal growth journey and find you are at the next step but not sure how to proceed? 

Maybe you need the support of a community where you can dream, grow, experiment and explore, with group coaching, teaching, encouragement and gentle accountability. You need my community, Launch From The Beach. You can hop on my calendar for a 30 Minute Free Consultation and let’s get you a strategy in place. 

Until Next Time!

Where to find Dana: Mainstream Boutique Shop

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