Company: Anthony Mark Hankins Inc.
Year Started: 1994
Start-Up Costs: $200,000
1997 Projections: $40 million
"I always wanted to be a fashion designer," says Anthony Mark Hankins. "Since kindergarten, it was all I could think about."
Since kindergarten? Believe it-this is no idle boast. In fact, Hankins was no more than 7 years old when he created a suit for his mother to wear to a wedding. Naturally enough, the once-precocious designer has since gone on to fashion some $40 million in sales from the women's sportswear his Dallas company sells in department stores such as Sears, JC Penney and Nordstrom as well as on the Home Shopping Network.
"We go after customers who like fashion but can't afford designer-priced merchandise," explains the entrepreneur, whose pieces incorporate striking colors and vibrant patterns. "It's clothing for people who aren't afraid to express themselves."
And Hankins belongs in that category himself. When he's not pouring his creative energies into his company-steered by minority partner and longtime mentor Bruce Ackerman-Hankins moonlights as a host on a TV lifestyles program. He also recently introduced a line of décor products that sells in Sears stores. With that kind of success knocking at his door, it seems as though Hankins learned a thing or two in kindergarten.