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Julz Chavez

40, creator and co-founder of San Francisco-based Get Real Girl

Description: Action/adventure line of ethnically diverse dolls

Start-Up: $250,000 in 2000

Sales: About $5 million projected for 2002

Toys for Tots: Growing up, Chavez didn't want to settle for what was being offered on the toy market, so she made toys for her brothers and sisters. "It was my own focus group," she says.

Barbie, Shmarbie: "When I was a young girl, I got a Barbie for my birthday," recalls Chavez. "I didn't like it and gave it back." After holding positions at several toy giants (including Mattel), she found no one wanted to provide an alternative to the shapely blonde. That all changed when she met Michael Cookson, former chairman of Wild Planet Toys, who became Get Real Girl's co-founder.

Modeled Citizens: Chavez modeled her dolls after the strong, confident characteristics of friends who have played sports all their lives, creating a multiracial line complete with a TV property. The company's board of advisors boasts 18 elite female athletes and businesswomen-chaired by soccer star Brandi Chastain.

Naysayers: Though pessimists spouted discouragement like, "Girls don't care about sports-only about glamour and hair" and "Girls only want Caucasian dolls," Chavez proved them wrong with strong sales for each doll.

Wise Men Say: When Chavez felt hopeless about the toy industry, her second cousin encouraged her to be patient. He knew exactly how powerful persistence can be-he was activist Cesar Chavez.

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