The North Texan, Volume 39, Number 3, Summer 1989 Page: 8
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By Lynn Dancey Rudkin
Alumna Bonnie Boynton ('70) is an effervescent dy-
namo whose expertise and hard work have spurred her
from classrooms at the University of North Texas to the
ownership of a business that rakes in $10 million in
retail sales annually.
In 1977, the entrepreneur founded Bonnie Boynton
Enterprises Inc., originally an accessories and belts re-
source that operated under the name of The Good Ship
Enterprise. Orders were shipped from the bedroom of her
home to Neiman-Marcus and The Carriage Shop, her
first customers for elegant pigsuede flowers, which were
made from the skin of a pig instead of cowhide that
normally is used for suedes.
Today the Dallasite is recognized as a dress and
sportswear designer whose apparel business shows signs
of continuing success as orders pour in from more than
1,200 fine specialty and department stores nationwide.
Her success story sounds almost like a fairy tale, but
Ms. Boynton said the company didn't just materialize.
While apparel manufacturers around the nation closed
their doors or curtailed production and generally be-
moaned lagging sales, she used a $10,000 bank loan to
open her business on a full-time basis in 1979.
"They say ignorance protects you. I truly believe that.
It did not occur to me that I might lose that $10,000. I
was never afraid. I'm not even sure I was excited. It was
just something I had to do," she said with an air of re-
"'That loan was backed by my parents, so 1 should
have been :worried about it from their standpoint, but I
waigr't. It never occurred to me that this might not
And work she did, with a vengeance.
"When I started The Good Ship Enterprise, I literally
committed my life to work," she said.
No task was too menial. She designed; sewed; ordered
office supplies, fabric, thread, buttons and bobbins; vac-
uumed; dusted off desks; and even cleaned the bathroom.
She poured energy and sleepless hours into building
At first, a 20-hour day was the rule. "That's gotten
better," she said with a shake of her head. "BOt I still go
to work at 7:30 most mornings and leave at 7 p.m. I put
in long hours and I do work a lot of weekends."
Like many executives who find it difficult to leave
their work at the office, Ms. Boynton sometimes slips
back into the work mode after she arrives home in the
"If I'm really thinking about a group (of clothing) or a
fabric or something, I'll play it over in my brain and
dream about it. That is really the highest pressure. I'm
just kind of a magician turning a dial. The 20-hour days
lessen as each year goes by, although I don't foresee
working fewer hours than I am now."
She expects no less from others. While Ms. Boynton
is friendly and outgoing with a personality that sparkles,
she also admits to another trait. "I'm intense and pretty
tough. I expect a lot out of myself - and out of others.
I'm fair, but I expect a lot. I can't bear incompetence or
A master of details, Ms. Boynton designs her apparel
for a 20- to 70-year-old age group of women who shop
at specialty and department stores. Her line, labeled
Bonnie Boynton, is sized petite, small, medium and
The mood of her clothes includes "a lot of detailing,"
such as a tab on the inside back of a shirt, she said.
"Details are kind of like neat little surprises. And it's
important that the clothes we sell are comfortable, not
stiff in structure. That's what we're trying to do."
About the customer profile for whom she designs,
Ms. Boynton said she's "in an enviable position for the
first time. I am my customer. I am my target. And that's
great! Sometimes I make things a little more extreme in
the way I put something together than maybe our cus-
tomers might want, but most of the time if I'll wear it,
it goes on the line. If I say 'I won't wear it,' it doesn't go
on the line."
Her line is sold to buyers for retail stores at apparel
markets five times a year in New York, Atlanta, Los
Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Miami, Charlotte and
Dallas. "I work every Dallas market," she said. "That is
the only way I know if I'm on target (in what I design). I
actually work with the stores I sell to and I hear directly
from them what we're doing right and what we're doing
wrong. That way, I know where to make adjustments.
"You can hear it from your salesmen all day long, but
if you hear it (from buyers) yourself, it just makes a dif-
ference. Every designer should have to sell his or her
Her industriousness in staying in touch with all as-
pects of her business began paying dividends in the early
"About three years ago was the first time when I
would go to sleep at night and think, We're really going
to be open tomorrow for sure.' " By that time, she had
long ago repaid the bank loan.
Except for her husband of less than two years, radiol-
ogist Creed Wyatt, it's a family business. "My mother
runs the office operations, my brother runs production
and my cousin runs shipping, so we're all very commit-
ted to the business froma family standpoint, as well as a
financial standpoint," she said.
Ms. Boynton stays involved in the company's fi-
nances and designs all the apparel produced each season.
It's not unusual to see her sketching away on a yellow
etails are kind of like neat little
suprises. And it's important that the
clothes we sell are comfortable,
not stiff in structure. That's what we're
trying to do.'
legal pad or on a scrap of paper as she chats on the tele-
Her fall collection includes luxurious wool jerseys,
rayon gabardines and challis prints, rib and flat knits,
textural tweeds and rugged washed cotton twills and
flannels. Silhouettes are feminine, but never fussy, with
jackets playing a pivotal role. Pants are plentifully
pleated and fuller at the leg. Signature detail - tucks,
pleats, darts, draping, tab shoulders, double-button fronts
and covered buttons - abound.
She brings depth and detail to fluid fabrications,
counterbalancing them with the casual elegance of
She's always been dedicated to expending the energy
needed to produce a salable line.
"You're trying to hit a goal or the economy is crater-
ing or something. You're always trying to better your-
self. If I don't put out a line better than my last one, I'm
not progressing. You never lick it," she said.
Just as building her business wasn't easy, Ms. Boyn-
ton said earning the degree that gave her a foundation to
succeed also required drive. She was three credit hours
away from graduation when a children's wear manufac-
turer, Texas Infants, offered her a design position in
The art department couldn't waive the requirement, but
did work with her so she could accept the position and
continue to graduate on schedule with a degree in cloth-
ing and textiles.
Ms. Boynton said Dr. Mary Evans cut through red
tape and personally spent Saturdays teaching her how to
design children's wear so the graduation requirement
would be met. "I can't tell you how much that kind of
support to a student meant. Her comment to me was,
'You're here (at North Texas) to get a job. You have one
and we're going to make sure you keep it and do w
University of North Texas Summer
4r i .~"i
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University of North Texas. The North Texan, Volume 39, Number 3, Summer 1989, periodical, Summer 1989; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc119053/m1/8/: accessed November 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting University Relations, Communications & Marketing department for UNT.