What: A purse charm that conveniently hangs handbags on tabletops and flat surfaces
Who: Kalika Yap of Luxe Link LLC
Where: Santa Monica, California
When: Started in 2005
Startup Costs: Six figures
While vacationing off Italy's Amalfi Coast in 2004, Kalika Yap did more than just take in the sights--she got the idea that would turn into her future business.
During dinner at a fancy but small restaurant, Yap had no place to put her purse and, wanting to avoid setting it on the floor, decided to place it on the table. Within minutes, however, a proprietor came over and presented her with a hook to hang her purse on.
"I'd never seen anything like this in the U.S., and I was shocked," Yap recalls. "I thought if there was a way to make it cuter, more compact and hang on the side of your purse like a charm, then girls would really like it."
Yap, 38, researched the market upon her return to California and discovered that the hook was already being sold in the U.S., but that most versions were retailing for at least $60 to $90 and came in unflattering designs and colors.
Armed with a team of designers, Yap started Luxe Link in 2005 and began marketing her collection of fashionable, functional purse hooks to stylish women looking to take care of their expensive handbags. The round charm--which can be set on any tabletop--has a chrome link wrapped around it; the link is pulled out and secured to the bag's handles, while the weight of the bag keeps the Luxe Link in place.
The line retails on luxelink.com for $35 to $79 and features collections such as Mod, a group of Jackie O-inspired designs in classic patterns and colors, and the Swarovski collection, which features real Swarovski crystals placed on backdrops ranging from blue and pink to flowers and hearts.With 2008 sales projected at more than $1 million, Yap's biggest challenge is keeping pace with the high demand she's facing. Yap is hoping to see the company bought out or matched up with a large handbag retailer within the next few years.