Company: Siany Bag Co.
Year Started: 1991
Start-Up Costs: $5,000
1997 Projections: $1.6 million
While traveling in Europe, Caren Schlom stumbled upon the discovery of a lifetime: Leather tote bags in Greece sold for one-fourth the cost of their American counterparts. She purchased two-and upon returning to the States was showered with compliments.
Convinced they could turn a profit, her boyfriend, David Leib, quit his mortgage banking job, maxed out his credit cards and targeted California college campuses with merchandise the two imported from Greece.
But that was six years ago. Today, the two are married, and Van Nuys, California-based Siany Bag Co. has expanded from a tiny apartment into a 2,000-square-foot office building. They've even expanded the line to include name-brand briefcases, handbags, belts and shoes. "Every day has been a learning experience," Schlom says.
Success, it seems, is in the bag: Last year, the entrepreneurs sold more than 18,000 leather accessories from their five retail locations in Southern California.
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