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At Ease, Private!

Private labeling offers an end to all the woes of dealing with retailers.

By Don Debelak

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Private labeling wasn't part of Michael Levin's initialgame plan. The idea for his innovation, a clear plastic overlay forbroken fingernails that adheres with a nail-friendly adhesive,first struck Levin back in 1989, when his then-girlfriend cracked anail. At the time, she couldn't find a product to repair thenail-and she complained to Levin that cracked nails were a commonproblem among all women. Levin, sensing an opportunity, decided tohire a market research firm to evaluate the market. The resultswere staggering. Levin, now 42, reports that "60 percent ofthe women [surveyed] broke a nail once a month, and 35 percentbroke a nail once a week."

Levin perfected his clear plastic overlay design in 1992, aftersearching for and experimenting with dozens of plastics andadhesives. But when Levin tried selling the product directly toretailers, he was in for quite a reality check. With the productretailing for just $3 to $4, Levin found that "drug storechains weren't willing to add a low-priced, low-volume itemfrom a one-product vendor."

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