The Hot List

Miscellaneous Ideas

Specialty Apparel
Years on the list: 4 out of 20

Everyone wants to feel special. That's why women will shell out serious money for a fantastic pair of shoes, even when there's a nearly identical pair at the discount store down the road.

Women are increasingly looking to specialty retailers to satisfy their appetites for hip, hard-to-find clothing. Even men are jumping onboard, with stores like ROAD Apparel--which started in 2005 when brothers Raj and Akhil Shah, 52 and 50, debuted a flagship store in downtown Seattle--offering specialty apparel for 30- to 60-year-old men. Sales for 2006 have already grown 700 percent over last year.

Among women, growth areas include specialty athletic apparel, maternity wear, footwear, clothing for over-40s, and petite and plus sizes. Think high-end: Market research firm The NPD Group notes that loyal customers of upscale retailers buy more than 25 percent of their apparel at high-end stores and spend an average of $95 per shopping trip.

That's where brands like Trigelle come into play. Liza Boquiren, 30, co-founded the Brea, California, women's golf wear company with sister and sole designer Lulu Faddis, 34, along with friends Jocylyn Corpuz and Karen Lee Santos, both 29. "We want to be the golf line that people go to," says Boquiren, who debuted their apparel at a trade show in 2004 with just 17 pieces. "We want to be a household name." Now available in more than 250 golf resorts, pro shops and high-end retailers worldwide, Trigelle projects $1 million in sales for 2007--helped in part by the three professional women golfers they sponsor. --K.E.S.

To find out how to start this business, read the complete article here .

Plus-Size Products
Years on the list: 5 out of 20

The numbers don't lie. The average American woman is a size 12 to 16, and 30 percent of all U.S. adults are obese. Meanwhile, London-based researcher Mintel International Group Ltd. reports the plus-size clothing market reached nearly $32 billion in 2005. It's no wonder plus sizes are making waves.

In fact, within the plus-size market, niches are cropping up for the underserved--including plus-size clothing for petites and pregnant women. "Each of [these groups] has a real need for stylish clothes in their size," says Candace Corlett, principal at New York City retail consulting firm WSL Strategic Retail. "While department and chain specialty stores offer good selections of plus sizes, the selection in the niches of petite and maternity are slim pickings." The reason? There's just not enough traffic to justify devoting more than a few racks.

Natalie Weathers, assistant professor in the fashion industry management department at Philadelphia University, adds that over-40 women, including plus sizes, are craving more variety. This market segment "wants to wear age-appropriate clothing but have a hipper look," she says. Some entrepreneurs are responding with websites or boutique stores, offering outstanding service that makes customers want to go out of their way to visit.

You're not limited to these niches. The NPD Group also reports that one-third of overweight children wear adult or junior size clothing for lack of properly fitting children's clothes. Nor are you limited to clothing: extra-large products like baby seats, doorways, caskets, furniture and bath towels are also in demand. --K.E.S.

To find out how to start this business, read the complete article here .


Baby Boomer Career Counseling

Layoffs, health problems and other challenges are pushing baby boomers out of their jobs earlier than they might have intended, spurring many to hunt for new employment or change career paths altogether. And unlike their parents, many baby boomers see no reason to quit working just because they hit 65--hey, age is just a number! In fact, a study by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, found that most boomers plan to work past the typical retirement age.

Entrepreneurs who want to provide them with career counseling must under-stand their varying needs. "For the people who have lost their jobs through layoffs, this is a crisis," says Heldrich Center director Carl Van Horn. "For the ones who are voluntarily changing careers because they felt unfulfilled in their first 20 years, it's a journey."

"These days, people actually talk about retirement careers, not just retirement," says Laura Berman Fortgang, 43, author of Now What? 90 Days to a New Life Direction and founder of Now What? Coaching, a one-woman business that earned $459,000 in 2006. "Over the past five years, my clients have almost exclusively become people who want to figure out what to do with the rest of their lives." --K.O.

To find out how to start this business, read the complete article here .

Expanded Living Spaces

The slowdown in home sales has been accompanied by a surge in overall residential remodeling, which totaled an estimated $238 billion in 2006, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Many of these dollars are being used to enhance existing spaces rather than add more square footage. Garages are among the spaces getting extreme makeovers to be used for hobbies, parties, wine storage and even cooking.

Remodeling fever has also hit the American backyard. "Over the last couple of years, there has been greater emphasis on outdoor living space," says Kermit Baker, chief economist at the American Institute of Architects in Washington, DC. "Outdoor kitchens and cooking spaces are a recent phenomenon, along with greater investments in decks, porches and gazebos. Lot sizes have been getting smaller, but people are using them more intensively."

Manufacturers are capitalizing on this trend by developing all-weather products--lamps, leather-like fabric and even rugs--for these super yards. "Porches, patios and backyards are being viewed as literal 'rooms' of the home," says Pat Bowling of the American Home Furnishings Alliance in High Point, North Carolina. "They're being furnished with the same considerations for style, comfort and function as the indoor living areas." Whether you provide the remodeling services or create the products, this opportunity has room to grow. --K.O.

To find out how to start this business, read the complete article here .

Home Party Sales

It's a party at your home--or better yet, at someone else's. Customers socialize, and you make money. Need more convincing?

Home parties now account for roughly 29 percent of the nearly $30 billion in U.S. direct sales, and 13.6 million Americans bought or sold goods from home in 2004. Direct sellers are hawking everything from organic gardening supplies to wine. Some are even hosting virtual parties online. And the numbers are growing, according to Amy Robinson of the Direct Selling Association in Washington, DC. "The majority of companies coming into [the] DSA are party plan companies," she says. "In a lot of cases, they are smaller, newer companies started by entrepreneurs from their basements."

Andrew Shure is one of them. Nationwide, he has 1,300 consultants selling Shure Pets pet products, and he predicts he'll have 2,800 by the end of 2007. "The only requirement at Shure Pets is a passion for pets," says Shure, 43, who launched the Chicago-based business in 2003 and projects sales of $1 million for 2006. Another example is Newburyport, Massachusetts-based Anna William, which lets customers design their own handbags. Kristen Lee, 29, launched the million-dollar company in 2003 with Keek Bielby, 57; Rani Chase, 36; and Erin Hornyak, 33--and already has 125 consultants nationwide.

Be sure to thoroughly research any company you're considering, and make sure you love the products. As Robinson says, "It's no fun to sell something you're not interested in." --K.E.S.

To find out how to start this business, read the complete article here .

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This article was originally published in the December 2006 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: The Hot List.

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