From the August 2002 issue of Entrepreneur

What: Hot dog-shaped ice cream treats
Who: Peter and Tara Franklin of Cool Dogs Inc.
Where: Boston
When: Started in 1999

The idea for cool dogs-ice cream molded into the shape of a hot dog and encased in a bun-shaped cake-came to Peter Franklin as he prepared a hot dog for lunch one day. With his wife, Tara, 43, helping with the marketing, Peter set to work developing the idea.

After he patented his concept, Franklin attended the National Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions convention in fall 2000, where Cool Dogs were an immediate hit.

Soon, Franklin had landed accounts with Dick's Last Resort in Boston and grocery stores in the local area. In addition, they are now sold at Six Flags in New England and New York's Shea Stadium. Cool Dogs will also be appearing at Giants Stadium in New Jersey sometime in August. Sales are expected to reach $2.5 million this year.

"When I left [my high-tech job], everybody thought I was out of my mind. High-tech was booming and I had to sell my stocks to invest in this business," says Franklin, 51, a former marketing director. But, judging from his product's popularity, it seems Franklin has come out as top dog.

Doctor in the House

What: Interior design in a jiffy
Who: Ellen Edwards of Décor Doctors
Where: Wake Forest, North Carolina
When: Started in 1999

Interior decorating projects usually take weeks to complete, but Ellen Edwards' company gives clients' homes and offices facelifts in just one week. By integrating existing furniture and accessories with new pieces, dull rooms are revived in just days.

During the initial free consultation, photos are taken of every room in need of a makeover. Edwards and fellow designer Elizabeth Carrasco (her only employee) then spend Monday through Thursday shopping for their one exclusive client per week, using the pictures they've taken as a guide. Fridays are reserved for the makeover.

A former designer for furniture retailer Ethan Allen, Edwards, 55, and Carrasco take on projects dressed in medical scrubs (an idea Edwards took from her husband, who is in medical sales). A branding strategy, to be sure, but the uniforms also allow them to remain comfortable as they lift heavy furniture, place objects d'art and hang paintings.

"Our whole premise is 'Anything you don't like comes out that night,'" says Edwards, who does two Friday night walk-throughs of redecorated rooms with clients-one to show them the work, and the other to reveal price tags for each piece added to the existing décor.

Designing on a budget is no problem; Edwards has worked on projects with budgets ranging from $5,000 to $42,000. With sales estimated to reach $250,000 this year, it's become a very attractive business.

Lingo Lessons

What: Foreign language books for kids
Who: Vincenzo Palladino and Christabelle Peters of The Bilingual Baby Company
Where: Takoma Park, Maryland
When: Started in 1999

As first-generation immigrants, husband and wife Vincenzo Palladino, 37, and Christabelle Peters, 40 (who emigrated from Italy and the United Kingdom, respectively), found teaching their children their native tongues came naturally. But when it was time to provide their kids with books to develop language skills, they found out just how English-centric the U.S. book market is.

So Peters went to the Frankfurt International Book Fair, purchased some foreign-language children's titles on credit and started selling the books at book fairs and on their Web site (www.thebilingualbabyco.com).

Fans of their products include immigrant parents and academics who recognize the value of teaching children multiple languages. Even language-immersion schools have placed orders. "Customers are so enthusiastic, they volunteer to review books," says Peters, who also speaks French and German as well as some Italian and Spanish.

The line includes 250 titles in 10 languages, and year-end sales are expected to reach $40,000. Palladino and Peters would like to produce books on audiocassette and publish bicultural authors' books in the United States, but for now, they'll continue to hit book fairs and sell books online.