What: A unique keychain that makes finding keys in a purse easy
Who: Sandy Stein of Alexx Inc.
Where: Woodland Hills, California
When: Started in 2004
Startup Costs: $130,000
When people talk about following their dreams, most mean it figuratively--but Alexx Inc. founder Sandy Stein means it literally. A flight attendant for 34 years, Stein, 57, began to worry after 9/11 about the struggling airline industry and whether any other employer would hire her at her age. Frustrated, she prayed to her deceased father one night, asking for a solution. That very night, he came to her in a dream, telling her to follow his instructions: Take a bended piece of wire, put a design at one end, attach keys to it and hang it from the inside of your purse.
The next morning, Stein remembered the dream and did just what her father had said--and realized it was a profitable idea that would solve the annoying purse-digging problem most women faced.
"I took a look at it and thought, 'This has every element of success,'" she recalls. "I knew it would be an impulse buy. It's cute, it's functional and the price would be affordable."
Thanks to her husband, who worked in the souvenir industry, Stein landed a manufacturer easily and had a working prototype within two weeks. She got together a team of salespeople, including 50 of her flight attendant friends, and launched a business opportunity. Within the first year, it had 2,000 representatives and had sold 1 million pieces.
Finders Key Purse key ring designs ranging from crowns and hearts to martinis and sandals, and Alexx Inc. also sells cell phone chains and portable fans that are available onlineand at boutiques nationwide.
Stein earned sales of nearly $6 million last year. She hopes to have several new products in development and double the growth of her company in five years.
"As long as you have a really good idea and you've figured out how you can do it, don't let anybody say you can't," advises Stein. "Those are the people who can't."