Bette LaPlante & Diane Cuvelier
Description: manufacturer of solid aluminum bakeware with a patented pebble pattern
Start-up: $1,000 in 1997
Sales:: 2003 projected sales of more than $5 million
Bake Sale: As den mother for her son's Cub Scout group in 1990, LaPlante was looking for a good fund-raiser. Her husband suggested making and selling cookie sheets, with help from his aluminum-die-cutting business. "I thought it was the silliest idea," says LaPlante."What boys want to sell cookie sheets?" But she changed her tune when each came back with fistfuls of cash, needing more sheets.
Back-Burner Biz: While their children and her husband's business took precedence, LaPlante continued to experiment with different textures and aluminum thicknesses, finding a combination that would yield perfectly baked cookies. With her sister in 1997, LaPlante began attending shows for organizations like Little League and the PTA, offering a fund-raising program that would split the profit.
Labor of Love: Doughmakers expanded the line in 2001 to include bakeware such as pizza and jellyroll pans, now sold in more than 2,000 stores, including Macy's. Making the sheets by hand, however, led to carpal tunnel syndrome for LaPlante and Cuvelier. The sisters now have machines to make the sheets, but baking is still hands-on for the family. Says LaPlante, "It's something we can all work on [while having] good conversations."