As a former awards show talent coordinator, Karen Wood, 45, understands the importance of celebrity endorsements. But getting unknown products into the hands of Hollywood's elite isn't always easy. So Wood, founder of Backstage Creations, a product placement company in Santa Monica, California, created The Retreat, a hip, luxurious backstage "gift room" at awards show rehearsals. At The Retreat, the rich and famous can sip champagne, relax, mingle--and check out a select array of free, hot products from both small and large businesses.
Wood's clients love the direct access to high-profile potential customers, and talent coordinators appreciate that The Retreat encourages stars to show up on time to special events, from the Screen Actors Guild Awards to the Teen Choice Awards. Says Wood, who projects sales of $12 million in 2006, "We always try to wow celebrities with [designers and products] they may not know of."