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Research Your Industry

Before you launch, get to know your industry like the back of your hand.

This story appears in the October 2006 issue of Start Up.

When Vicky Dionne, 40, and Tina Leuthner, 39, wanted to create handbags, they knew jumping into an industry with no prior experience wasn't wise. Before becoming stay-at-home moms, Dionne ran a portfolio and Leuthner did pharmaceutical sales and . When the idea to design handbags came up, the pair decided to gain experience by selling others' handbags first.

Tina and Vicky's Picks started almost three years ago, after the partners did extensive research and attended accessory shows. Choosing to work with smaller designers, Leuthner and Dionne took small steps, first selling bags through home shows, which allowed them unfettered customer opinions. "It was kind of like being a bartender," says Dionne. "They would tell us what they wanted in a handbag and all the problems they had [with them]."

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