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Defining a Dream

An entrepreneur's knack for decision making and her drive to move forward blend into the sweet smell of success.

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This story appears in the December 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

As the busy founder and president of Latitudes International, a private-label designer and manufacturer of fragrance products such as candles, potpourri and room sprays, Jill Belasco may not be stopping to smell the roses every day. But she'll definitely do so now that she's been chosen as winner of the OPEN From American Express and Entrepreneur magazine's Woman of the Year Contest. While some would have found the twists and turns of her entrepreneurial ride too tumultuous to stomach, and her unexpected obstacles insurmountable, Belasco and her business have emerged successful.

Bankruptcy has been a running theme in Belasco's life, though the bankruptcies were never her own. She worked in the cosmetics and fragrance industry before a brief stint with an outside company that filed for chapter 11. While searching for her next job, she did a freelance fragrance project as a favor for a friend--and realized fragrance was her true calling. "From there, I didn't look back," says Belasco, 49. In 1994, Latitudes International was born.

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