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