What: A twice-yearly camp
for stressed-out women
Who: Cindy Rota of Camp Getaway Inc.
Where: Oceanside, California
When: Started in 1996 by Myra Peck; purchased by Rota in 2000
If you're a mom, chances are you don't get much time to put your feet up and relax. "I felt there was a need for women to get away from the stress and strain from either motherhood or work," says Myra Peck, of her reasons for founding Camp Mom in 1996.
That's what Cindy Rota needed--a weekend away--back in 1998, when she first attended Camp Mom. She had so much fun, she bought the company when Peck decided to sell in 2000. For Rota, a 37-year-old stay-at-home mother of three boys, the decision to buy the camp was easy. "The enjoyment of sitting back and watching these women let their hair down and have girl-to-girl time is what made me go from being a spectator to the owner," she says.
Camp Mom, which expects year-end sales to reach $200,000, offers traditional camp activities, such as arts and crafts, scrapbooking, hiking and swimming. Campers can also opt to lounge poolside and be pampered with manicures, facials and massages.
Rota had moved the camp from its original location in Irvine, California, to a larger facility in Lake Arrowhead, California, that can accommodate 360 participants for two weekends per year. Camp Mom should soon be available nationwide, thanks to a licensing agreement that would allow other entrepreneurs to open and operate Camp Moms. The camp's popularity spreads mostly through word-of-mouth, with many customers returning year after year in search of a relaxing, hassle-free weekend.
15 Minutes of Fame
What: Trading cards
featuring everyday people
Who: Brian Mullen, Brant Herman and Todd Herman of PeopleCards
Where: San Francisco
When: Started in April 2000
Are you fed up with celebrities taking the limelight all the time? Brant Herman, founder of PeopleCards, sure was, so he came up with a line of quirky trading cards inspired by the recent trend in reality entertainment. "We have people around the country who, because they're on a PeopleCard, become more than just an unknown--they become a kind of a persona," says Herman, 26, who started the company with the help of his brother, Todd, 29, and their friend Brian Mullen, 31.
Just about anybody can apply online at www.peoplecards.net for the chance to be featured on a PeopleCard; clubs and musical bands can also be immortalized with PeopleCards. To date, the popular cards, which retail for $2.99 per pack in hardware, grocery, convenience and comic-book stores, have been well-received, with sales for 2002 projected at $350,000. What's next? The company is currently planning a human resources line of PeopleCards for companies wanting to give outstanding, hard-working employees some recognition.
The Big Chill
What: Frozen nutrition
Who: Collin Madden of Cold Fusion Foods Inc.
Where: Culver City, California
When: Started in 1999
If you've ever tasted a standard protein shake, you'll understand why the often sandy, tasteless concoction doesn't exactly inspire cravings for the stuff. For Collin Madden, an avid runner, the process of concocting his own protein shakes with ice to give them a better taste led to an epiphany: Why not take the nutritional value of a power bar or shake and make it frozen and delicious? Leaving his job as an investment banker, Madden invested his savings in launching Cold Fusion.
"Our biggest key is getting people to taste it. Some people look at the ingredients, [and] they're like 'Wow, this is too healthy-it can't taste good,' " says Madden, 30, who created the product with help from nutritionists and food technologists to ensure it actually tasted good. The bars, which contain all-natural fruit juices and whey protein, are also fortified with antioxidant vitamins, which aid in muscle recovery. Launched in 2000--in flavors such as Berry Blast, Key Lime and Chocolate--they've become popular at Whole Foods, Wild Oats and Trader Joe's stores, as well as many regional grocery stores throughout California, Illinois and Texas. Year-end sales are projected to hit $3 million.
Though Cold Fusion broke new ground as the first frozen nutritional product, Madden hopes the bars will become staples for fitness-conscious consumers, dieters and people interested in healthy snacking.