By Michelle Prather
Entrepreneurs: Marnie Lerner, 27; Cynde Cassel, 30; Diane Lerner, 50-something
Company: Star Treatment Inc.
Description: Gift-buying and personal-shopping service
Location: Los Angeles
Year started: 1996
In the stars: Destiny brought former entertainment writer Marnie Lerner and former personal shopper Cassel together in 1994 at a fashion show. When Cassel landed an ad job at the same L.A. publication that employed Marnie, the two were designated corporate gift coordinators for the 1995 holiday season.
Exit, stage left: Marnie and Cassel grabbed Marnie's mother, Diane, and began exploring the niche they knew would be a Hollywood hit. "Growing up in Los Angeles, you'd go over to friends' houses where $250 flower bouquets were delivered 'just because they're pretty,' " says Marnie. Sensing the "need" for an upscale gift-giving service, each partner invested $5,000. An additional $25,000 from a private investor solidified the launch.
May i leave a voice mail? The gals never thought Hollywood studios would constitute 80 percent of their $500,000-plus business--until the vice president of marketing at Universal Pictures finally responded to their cold calls. "She said 'OK, girls, we're doing Snow Falling On Cedars, and we need [gifts] for the actors.' " Ethan Hawke and Sam Shepherd were the first celebs Star Treatment shopped for; since then, they've gifted just about every huge star you can imagine.
Worldwide presents: They don't just buy Prada cell phone bags for Meg Ryan and Diane Keaton--they also serve people like you and me via http://www.Startreatment.com, their personal shopping Web site. With worldwide interest, expansion is likely. Don't forget your friends here at Business Start-Ups, ladies.