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How 5 Hobbyists Turned Passions into Million-Dollar Businesses

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This story appears in the June 2016 issue of Start Up.

During their annual road trip from northern Italy to Sicily, cousins Joseph and Giuseppe Ferlito developed a ritual: acquiring trinkets from the Mediterranean cities and villages they visited, which they gifted to fellow travelers they met along the way and friends and relatives back home. One novelty from their 2008 trip stood out: a bracelet featuring a simple turtle bead, which a girl they’d met in Sicily had given each of them.

Trrtlz
Fashion flash: Trrtlz bracelets.

Upon returning home -- Joseph to Lindenhurst, N.Y., and Giuseppe to his in Italy -- the cousins received countless compliments on their turtle bracelets. During their road trip the following year, they tracked down the turtle bracelet vendor and bought dozens more baubles as souvenirs for friends and family. More oohs and ahhs. After repeating this for a couple more years, the lightbulb went on: Perhaps they could monetize this bracelet-sharing concept. 

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