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Bags to Riches

A handbag creator uses home parties to reach multimillion-dollar sales.

By Kimberly L. McCall

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Susan Handley had no design experience when she launched BeijoBags LLC in 2002. Nor did she have a marketing plan--until herfirst customers inspired one. "I was in a no-win job,unfulfilled spiritually and financially," explains Handley,34, on the impetus to launch her Santa Monica, California, handbagand accessories business. Armed with a small loan from her mother,Handley set off for China to establish manufacturing connections.On the trip, she fell in love with a unique fabric and says,"I knew this was it. I could make this work."

With or without a business plan, Handley knew her handbags wouldappeal to women. She sold her first 300 bags at a holiday fair, andher customers were so ecstatic, they clamored for ways to share thebags with friends. Thanks in part to these early fans, sales havehit $10 million and the bags are now primarily distributed athomebased parties by sales reps, many of whom are stay-at-homemoms.

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