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At Ease, Private!

Private labeling offers an end to all the woes of dealing with retailers.

This story appears in the April 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Private labeling wasn't part of Michael Levin's initial game plan. The idea for his innovation, a clear plastic overlay for broken fingernails that adheres with a nail-friendly adhesive, first struck Levin back in 1989, when his then-girlfriend cracked a nail. At the time, she couldn't find a product to repair the nail-and she complained to Levin that cracked nails were a common problem among all women. Levin, sensing an opportunity, decided to hire a market research firm to evaluate the market. The results were staggering. Levin, now 42, reports that "60 percent of the women [surveyed] broke a nail once a month, and 35 percent broke a nail once a week."

Levin perfected his clear plastic overlay design in 1992, after searching for and experimenting with dozens of plastics and adhesives. But when Levin tried selling the product directly to retailers, he was in for quite a reality check. With the product retailing for just $3 to $4, Levin found that "drug store chains weren't willing to add a low-priced, low-volume item from a one-product vendor."

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