From the February 2004 issue of Startups

What: Bird diapers, leashes and costumes
Who: Mark and Lorraine Moore of Avian Fashions
Where: Stafford, Virginia
When: Started in 1997

They are colorful and practical-even essential-for bird owners around the world. Dubbed FlightSuits, these specially engineered diapers are soft and reusable, and come equipped with a "poop pouch," sparing bird lovers the perpetual task of cleaning up after their feathered friends. In return, pet birds are granted more freedom from the "gravity" of their cages, says Mark Moore.

In 1997, Moore, 45, and his wife, Lorraine, 44, decided to go full force with an idea Lorraine originally came up with as a solution to her own dilemma. "I absolutely love my birds, and I enjoy having them out of the cage," she says. "I wanted to spend more quality time with them, less time cleaning up after them." With help from a seamstress friend, her idea soon became a reality.

But to get the product off the ground, the Moores had to invest their life savings-approximately $6,000. And not everyone supported their decision. Some criticized the idea of putting diapers on an exotic bird. Family and friends questioned their sanity. "People thought we were flighty," says Mark. "They thought, Here's this Navy guy who is straight-arrow and doing this on the side-what's going on?"

Avian Fashions proved the naysayers wrong. Now in its eighth year, the company has surpassed $1 million in sales. Its line of bird accessories has expanded to bird leashes and costumes, which are sold in a variety of locations in the United States and Canada, as well as through Petco.com and Drs. Foster & Smith. FlightSuits have become so popular, they're available in 14 sizes to fit the needs of all kinds of pet birds, including doves, crows and even toucans. "We have a duck on staff," says Mark. "It's our final frontier: ducks, geese and chickens."