Vital Stats: Laura Dahl, 31, of Wifebeader by Laura
Company: Hand-sewn and hand-beaded apparel
2006 Projected Sales: $1 million
The Topper: After earning a master's degree at New York City's Fashion Institute of Technology, Dahl worked for couture designers like Anne Bowen, who creates high-ticket beaded sensations with semiprecious stones. On a whim, Dahl bought some beads to adorn her "wife-beater"-a tank-top undershirt. After receiving scores of compliments and gauging the interest of friends who worked for Vogue and In Style, Dahl started Wifebeader with the shirt on her back in 2003.
Self-Made: Dahl created eight different designs with the help of a beader from Anne Bowen. "I'd be on my couch, in front of the TV with a needle and thread," recalls Dahl. After selling out several trunk shows during her research period, Dahl approached boutiques and took orders on every single visit. "They liked that it's all handmade," explains Dahl. "We use the finest stones and beads from all over the world."
"I Knew I'd Made it When... ": When Bloomingdale's picked up her first collection, Dahl wanted to "pop a bottle of champagne and say, 'We've done it--we've captured New York and the country!'" But she's hesitant to say that she's made it. "It's my personality to always want more and not be satisfied."
Special Screening: Dahl has expanded to 12 silhouettes, new fabrics and a customized Build Your Own Beader option. Wifebeaders are carried in 130 boutiques across the U.S., London, Puerto Rico and Paris; Fred Segal bought her fall 2005 collection; and Dahl is the Sundance Film Festival's exclusive gift-bag designer, for which she's launching a higher-end line, Laura Dahl.