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This story appears in the December 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Lea Cavender's epiphany, one that would change her life forever, occurred in a ribbon store. Back when the founder of E-Z Bowz LLC was still an employee at Ribbon Outlet, she realized the biggest reason people didn't buy more ribbons was that they simply didn't know how to tie bows. So she recruited the assistance of her father to create E-Z BowMaker, a wooden device that made tying beautiful bows a snap.

Ribbon Outlet immediately placed an order for a whopping 10,000 E-Z BowMakers in 1993, and Cavender, 43, was off and running. She and her 48-year-old husband, Art, quickly built the business to sales of $1.5 million during its first year.

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