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Design Time

Expecting parents welcomed two bundles of joy: a new baby and a design business.

Vital Stats: Emma Gardner and Patrick McDarrah, 38 and 39, respectively, of Emma Gardner Design LLC

Company: Litchfield, Connecticut, company that designs and develops fine contemporary interior products

2006 Projected Sales: $1.5 million

Maternal Bliss: Expecting her first child, Gardner knew she wouldn't have time outside work to focus on her love of art, so she took her creative energy and started a business. "It dawned on me that designing area rugs would be a perfect fit," says Gardner. So she spent a year researching the market and created a portfolio of designs.

Business Travelers: Excited by his wife's idea, McDarrah left his job in 2002, and the couple set out to find showrooms in big markets, positioning their rugs for the high-end, contemporary set. After meetings at five trade showrooms and retailers, four agreed to carry the line.

"I Knew I'd Made It When...": After the initial meetings, "We knew we had something on our hands," says McDarrah. Three months later, they embarked on a seven-city road trip and received offers at every stop.

Warm Tidings: Emma Gardner Design has introduced throw blankets and pillows and is targeting the hospitality market, with Starwood and Steve Wynn Hotels as clients. Under consideration: product developments such as wall coverings and lighting, as well as licensing options.

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This article was originally published in the June 2006 print edition of Entrepreneur's StartUps with the headline: Design Time.

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