How an Athens woman went from a cubicle to CEO of The Red Dress Boutique

Secrets of Success

From her cubicle at a credit card company in Columbus, Ga., Diana Harbour saw a flat trajectory for her life ahead. It terrified her.

Eight hours a day, the English lit major wrote bland paragraphs of boilerplate to be printed on credit card statements. She also plotted her dream.

Eight years later, 32-year-old Diana and husband, Josh, run an Athens clothing store called The Red Dress Boutique. They also have a much larger online retailer by the same name. The Harbours say they expect $8 million in sales this year, far above what they had just two years ago. They have about 40 employees and are preparing to expand internationally.

Harbour explains how she did it on our premium website:

Harbour’s tips

1. When leasing space, negotiate for the landlord to pay for finishing the interior.

2. Don't over order merchandise. Keep meticulous records of what affects your sales so you can better forecast.

3. No one else will run the business exactly like you, so factor that in when you expand locations and have limited time at each.


Each Sunday, the AJC brings subscribers insights from metro Atlanta’s leaders and entrepreneurs. Business editor Matt Kempner’s “Secrets of Success” shares the vision and realities of entrepreneurs who started their dreams from scratch. The column alternates with business editor Henry Unger’s “5 Questions for the Boss,” which reveals the lessons learned by CEOs of the area’s major companies and organizations.