Who: Jaime Matis of J.J. Creations Inc.
Where: Sherman Oaks, California
When: Started in 1997
Jaime "J.J." Matis has her eye on Olympic gold. No, she's not an athlete, but she loves sports. An avid Dodgers fan, she designed a backpack shaped like a baseball to wear when she went to games. After being asked again and again where she'd purchased her creation, Matis knew she was on to something.
With $25,000 of seed money from her father (and interest from the Dodgers merchandise director), Matis set out to create prototypes and get licensed by Major League Baseball. She started out with only one account last summer and now has five, including an account with basketball's Los Angeles Lakers. Her most successful marketing strategy is simple: Wear the patented bags to every home game. "They're so eye-catching, and it's a one-of-a-kind item people haven't seen before," says Matis, 32.
Matis plans to launch a line of minibags and backpacks next year and wants to target other pro teams as well as intercollegiate sports-and, maybe someday, the Olympics.
- J.J. Creations Inc.
(818) 416-9017, www.jjmatis.com
- Male Care Inc.
(706) 796-7278, firstname.lastname@example.org