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Homespun Wisdom

A designer's down-home hospitality pays off.

When Lana Bilzerian left her position at an upscale Italian knitwear company to start her own line in fall 2001, she put together a winter collection of her knitwear in three months. Short on time and money, Bilzerian, 27, opted to forgo a showroom and instead invited buyers from seven stylish stores, including Barneys and Fred Segal, to view the collection in her home.

Buyers were led through the back entrance of a restaurant to reach Bilzerian's Greenwich Village apartment for individual appointments. "There were chairs hanging everywhere; it was where the waiters changed, and there was no doorbell, so I'd come down to get them," recalls Bilzerian. Once inside, buyers were greeted by a fireplace, tea, cookies and mellow music-as the designer modeled the collection.

Providing a cozy atmosphere for buyers paid off-all of them placed orders. Her highly exclusive line of knitwear is in 20 stores, and 2003 sales are projected to hit $1 million.

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This article was originally published in the April 2003 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Homespun Wisdom.

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