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Getting to Know - Jana Platina-Phipps posted by: Dana Helms

She is a queen, Trim Queen that is! Let’s explore the entrepreneurial playbook of Jana Platina Phipps!

Jana Platina Phipps, the Trim Queen, is a trimmings expert known for her refined vision in the use of embellishment in home decor, fashion, and DIY.  She customizes private label trim programs for interior design distributors, home furnishings manufacturers, and retail stores nationally.  As the Trim Queen she chronicles how she and the design community uses trimmings creatively.  Jana believes “Embellishment is a creative form of self-expression” and a powerful design tool. She recently entered a new business partnership with ThreadCo a NYC-based trimmings manufacturer and added sequins to her design repertoire.

(DD) What have you built, and what inspired you to build it? 

(JPP) TrimQueen the brand was born after a WithIt Leadership conference in 2013.  There was a presentation about the power of blogging and during conversations with other attendees, they encouraged me to try it, that I had a unique POV worth sharing.  (I’d been in trims since 1995 and my client Louise at Eastern Accents called me Trim Queen) Writing my first post, I reached out to a few members for feedback and help on platforms, editing, design, and how to build eblasts.  WithIt was in essence my inspiration and my first audience that launched my personal brand.  I have Stephanie Lowder, Leslie Newby, Leslie Carothers, Amy Van Dorp and Betty Lyn Eller, especially to thank. TrimQueen’s visibility catapulted me into teaching, speaking engagements, conducting workshops, hosting tours and experiential travel, and created many new business opportunities.

(DD) Were you born a builder, or did you have to learn to be one?

(JPP) I was born a “grow girl” as Betty Lyn calls it.  From an early age, I enjoyed seeing fruits of my labor, whether playing in tennis tournaments or upcycling vintage clothing, I like transformations, progressing, and getting in and physically making it happen. Sometimes my issue is when to stop, I can get obsessed and physically exhausted. I am learning boundaries, even at age 52! when it’s ok to put something down and return to it later and feel good about the progress.

(DD) Who was the first woman you looked up to, and why? 

(JPP) When I was 14 and a ranked junior tennis player in California, there was a female lawyer who reached out to me to play during her lunch break at our club.  It was a rule in those days, that men at lunch hour could bump the women off the courts and she was having none of it, she was a working woman!!! It impressed me and also that she acknowledged my value as a kid and had the guts to play me. 

(DD) What do you think is the greatest risk you ever took? 

(JPP) My first major risk was moving to NYC from California, but the biggest risk was quitting my lucrative job and starting my own business when my daughter was two.  The company I worked for and helped build gave me no flexibility and because I was missing seeing Giovanna grow up, I worked with a business coach, created a plan, then took the leap of faith and left.  It was gut wrenching but the right thing for me to do. As Jackie O said, “If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do matters very much.”

(DD) That is an amazing quote! I am going to write that one for myself on my mirror!

(DD) What makes you doubt yourself, and how do you manage it?

(JPP) I doubt myself all the time, it’s just part of the process of decision making. What I try to do is separate the feelings from the facts and consider the facts to get me out of insecurity that may be an illusion. Sometimes there is no right answer to a situation and ultimately, I just need to commit then make a conscious effort to flip my fear to faith over and over again and move the needle.

(DD) How do you know when to leave someone or something?

(JPP) People or situations “drain or sustain”, so when someone or something becomes too draining, or when there isn’t reciprocity, it’s time to reevaluate the relationship.  I had a therapist once tell me that I kept giving my gifts to an employer and they kept refusing them, she said “STOP GIVING THEM YOUR GIFTS”! I’ve stayed in unhealthy relationships before, both business and personal, because there are many factors and lots of fallout to moving on. No one can really know what you are dealing with behind the scenes. I try not to judge others’ because there is lots of backstory to my own situation that people would be unaware of from my “Facebook highlight reel”.  Friends know that within my family, we struggle with mental health and addiction issues, the “right path” is not always so clear cut.

(DD) How do you practice being brave?

(JPP) I reach a lot. I say yes, then figure out how to do it and ASK FOR HELP. Also, from experience, I’ve never regretted taking an opportunity that seemed beyond me at the time.

(DD) Knowing what you know now, was it worth it?

(JPP) YES, everything I have ever done has brought me to this point in my life.  Mistakes, victories, joy and pain, that’s how life works. I work on forgiving myself and acceptance and celebrate the present.

(DD) What do you value most in others?

(JPP) I value creativity, dedication, hard work, openness, and integrity.  I also value kindness, people who are empathetic and take the time to “see and hear” others.  It’s a very unique leadership skill critical to maximizing potential and happiness. 

(DD) What about yourself?

(JPP) I have a curiosity about others and the world, and those closest to me do too.  I am a very hard-working person and I try to “exceed expectations”.  I am also a connector and like acknowledging what makes others’ unique to lift them up and also to create opportunities and collaborations.

(DD) What holds you back?

(JPP) This may not be a popular answer but it’s the truth. Professionally what holds me back is my family and being a mom. There are many things I cannot do/attend prioritizing my family but the rewards of having my children outweighs any incremental career advancement. Things happen in time, it’s not always as fast, but they happen. Also, as you mature, your definition of success changes.  Mine changed when my kids were born.

(DD) What is one thing you are afraid of? (JPP) Mediocrity!!!

(DD) What is your biggest vice?  (JPP) Venetian Spritzes

(DD) What keeps you sane? I have a feeling it involves a ball and a racket.

(JPP) Playing tennis keeps me sane, it is a moving mindful meditation that melts the world away. My daily texts of accountability and encouragement with my WithIt gal pals, and my amazing mother, save me.

(DD) Tell me something you wish you would have kept doing? (JPP) Playing tennis in college.

(DD) Oh, that is similar to me. Softball. I loved it!

(DD) What about something you wish you stopped sooner?  (JPP) Certain relationships

(DD) Motivational Quotes:

(JPP) “Rowing not Drifting”

“Progress over Perfection”

“Relaxed Intensity = the ZONE” Happy Bhalla (tennis coach)

“Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most” - Lincoln

“You can have it all, just not at the same time”

(DD) What keeps you going and building?

(JPP) The opportunity to be creative, building an amazing team, learning every day, empowering others, and getting new opportunities to explore the world.

(DD) Where do you see yourself in 20 years? 

(JPP) Eventually, I want to live part time in Venice and make art!  I also hope to be a doting, involved grandmother teaching my grandkids to play tennis and make things!

Each and every time I do another interview with an amazing woman from the home furnishings industry I am quickly reminded, we are all human, we are all just women with dreams and it is important to continue supporting each other, always!



Dana Helms

Myriad Software, Director of Sales

Blogger note: WithIt women features no-holds-barred in-depth interviews with female leaders and future leaders in the home furnishings industry. WithIt’s goal is to give insight into what successful women have done to push through feeling stuck, frustrated, and overcome barriers in order to build incredible brands, self, and businesses.

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