From the May 2007 issue of Startups

It's a familiar question to almost everyone: If you could do absolutely anything for a living, what would you do? For Mary Kathryn Dappen, the answer had always been catering. But "it was just a dream," she says. "I really had no intention of ever starting a catering business." And she never did. But she found a different way to combine her love of cooking with her love of entertaining--by becoming a consultant for Two Sisters Gourmet.

Dappen, 39, was attracted to Two Sisters Gourmet in particular because of the unique way the business is run. At her in-home parties, instead of simply talking about the company's gourmet food products and passing around samples, she holds interactive cooking classes in which guests prepare various dishes using Two Sisters Gourmet ingredients. "People go to home parties so they can socialize," she points out, and getting together in the kitchen allows for just that. Home parties have the added benefit of showing the guests exactly how the Two Sisters Gourmet products can be used--and that anyone is capable of using them.

Though she knew she would enjoy it, Dappen did not have big plans for her Two Sisters Gourmet business. As a stay-at-home mom, she was simply looking for a way to make ends meet when she had fewer clients from her telecommunications consulting job, and she thought the parties would be a way to earn an extra $500 a month. She hadn't considered the other side of the business, though: sponsoring new consultants. A year after becoming the company's first consultant in upstate New York, Dappen now has 61 people in her downline, which has boosted her expectations for how much she can earn. Says Dappen, "I have every intention for this to be a six-figure income for me in a year."

Now that she sees her business's great potential, she's found creative ways to attract new customers and new consultants. She wears her Two Sisters Gourmet name tag wherever she goes so people will ask her what it is, and she has helped a variety of organizations with Two Sisters Gourmet fundraisers. After her team met its sales and recruitment goals last November, the corporate office sent celebrity chef Jon Ashton to host a cooking show in Dappen's hometown of Webster, New York. The event attracted attention from TV networks and the local newspaper.

Dappen's direct-selling business has greatly exceeded her original expectations and given her a chance to have a taste of her catering dream, all while allowing her to concentrate on what she feels is most important. "I'm able to work my business around my family, not my family around my business," she says. "That's what I enjoy most."