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Ave Maria Green

30ish, founder of P. Puff Industries in St. Paul, Minnesota

Description: Maker of rubberband jewelry

Start: 1998, for less than $10,000

Sales: Up 300 percent from 1999 to 2000 (with more than 12 million sold)

Cool Clients: Her superstar-studded clientele includes Giorgio Armani, Janet Jackson, Oscar de la Hoya and Vince Carter.

Hot Product: "I'm a big fan of the NBA, and I knew guys in the NBA wore rubberbands. Then I saw those WWJD [What Would Jesus Do?] bracelets and thought, 'Wouldn't it be funny to put something crazy on there, like 'What Would Scooby Do?' My mind just went, 'Combine the two.' It was a natural progression."

Slam Dunk: "About six months into the business I ran into [Minnesota Timberwolves'] Kevin Garnett in an airport. And he was the main guy I wanted to get to, because he wears rubberbands. I just went up to him and said, 'I make colored rubberbands that say anything you want them to say.' And he was like, 'I'll be your P. Puff guy.' Now we're the official rubberband of the NBA!"

Universal Appeal: "Kids love them; mothers wear them; cool people think they're cool. See if it works-that was my theory. It just picked up steam from there."

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This article was originally published in the June 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Ave Maria Green.

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