This story first appeared in the May 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Susan Handley had no design experience when she launched Beijo Bags LLC in 2002. Nor did she have a marketing plan--until her first customers inspired one. "I was in a no-win job, unfulfilled spiritually and financially," explains Handley, 34, on the impetus to launch her Santa Monica, California, handbag and accessories business. Armed with a small loan from her mother, Handley set off for China to establish manufacturing connections. On the trip, she fell in love with a unique fabric and says, "I knew this was it. I could make this work."

With or without a business plan, Handley knew her handbags would appeal to women. She sold her first 300 bags at a holiday fair, and her customers were so ecstatic, they clamored for ways to share the bags with friends. Thanks in part to these early fans, sales have hit $10 million and the bags are now primarily distributed at homebased parties by sales reps, many of whom are stay-at-home moms.