Description: Cosmetics manufacturer
Founder: Marissa Shipman, 31
Location: San Francisco
2004 sales: $2 million
Kitchen concoction: This TV-industry veteran didn't know anything about cosmetics when she decided to start creating her own line of lip balm in her kitchen. But after meeting a woman in the cosmetics industry who was completely passionate about her job, Shipman's spark was lit. She concocted lip-plumping glosses with names like Berry My Treasure and Pepper My Mint in 2000 and started pitching her product to stores in 2001.
Big names: It wasn't connections that got her foot in the door, notes Shipman: "When I started, I didn't know anybody in the cosmetics industry." It was good, old-fashioned pavement pounding that got her into major stores like Fred Segal, Henri Bendel and Sephora. Moreover, when stars like Cher purchased the product and TheBalm got a mention in InStyle magazine in 2001 and Cosmopolitan magazine this year, Shipman's place in the fashion and beauty lexicon was cemented.
Homegrown: "I love working from home," says Shipman, who is still homebased. But her home has had to change a few times as her business skyrocketed. "I started getting all these black-and-blue marks" from running into all the boxes in her one-bedroom apartment, she says. At press time, she'd outgrown three apartments and was looking for a new home base for herself and her nine employees.
A family affair: Shipman has even recruited her family to help run the company--though they're all the way across the country. Both her dad, in Greenwich, Connecticut, and her sister in Philadelphia work out of their homes to help build TheBalm brand. Says Shipman, "We're calling and e-mailing constantly."
A call to action: Loving her business as she does, Shipman is full of encouragement for other entrepreneurs. "People always have these great ideas, but they don't do [anything] with them," she says. "If you have something you think could work, do it on a small scale and see."