Given Sheila di Matteo's passion for the time of tea parties, parasols and lace gloves, it's no wonder she founded Parties Victorian. "I love everything about it," says di Matteo, whose company's specialty is tea parties where she sells Victorian-themed items. "I like their clothes. I like their houses. Everything that's in a Victorian house-it's so gorgeous and detailed."
Started as a part-time business in 1998, Fullerton, California-based Parties Victorian was a natural next step for di Matteo, whose friends and co-workers used to ask her to hunt down Victorian items for them. Instead of buying a few items for a few people, di Matteo decided to buy as much as she could and sell to family and friends at tea parties.
Word-of-mouth has helped the business grow, and earlier this year, di Matteo decided to offer her business as a business opportunity. Licensees order all their products (Victorian reproductions ranging from paper items to pillows) from di Matteo and earn a commission of 25 to 50 percent.
Though di Matteo realizes not everyone shares her passion for Victorian times, she's found that most of her party guests won't go home empty-handed. "Once they see it," she says, "they always end up falling in love with something."