Description:Thread is a designer and manufacturer of fashionable and fun bridesmaids' dresses
Startup: $100,000 in June 1999
2004 projected sales: More than $2 million
Material girls: As a freelance stylist and former fashion editor for Vogue magazine, Beth Blake was the perfect person to design the bridesmaids' dresses for her sister's wedding. Commissioning help from Sophie Simmons, a fellow fashion expert, the two set to work on the bridal project. When their creation turned heads and caused a stir at the wedding, the two knew they had made a fashion statement. Banking on their idea, Blake and Simmons pooled about $100,000.
Custom fit: Within months, they created a line featuring bridesmaids' dresses in all lengths and colors, including black, orange, even hot pink. Sexy and fashionable, the dresses suit all occasions, even cocktail parties, and break with traditional bridesmaids' dresses because they can actually be worn again after weddings. "Usually, bridesmaids dread having to wear the dress," says Blake. "We make it so they're excited to wear it-they feel as exceptional as the bride."
Fashion cents: Though word-of-mouth would have been enough to keep the business strong at the seams, it was a $3,500 ad in Martha Stewart Living that added the flare. Only two days after the ad was printed, they got about 300 e-mails and the phone started ringing off the hook. "It got going before it really had any identity," Blake says. Currently, they have three stores-in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York-and the line is available through 20 wholesalers.