1. Cassandra Sanford, KellyMitchell, Inc.
In the male-dominated IT (Internet Technology) profession, woman-owned technology consulting firms are few and far between. Visionary mompreneur Cassandra Sanford, who says she has two families—her husband and kids, as well as her work family—started her technology consulting firm, KellyMitchell, in 1998 with partner Mark LoCigno. They began with an initial investment of $10,000 for computers and equipment and in 2007 had sales of $33.6 million.
2. Julie Dix and Danielle Ayotte, Taggies
Julie Dix and Danielle Ayotte were stay-at-home moms who met at a play date in 1999. Dix first hit on the idea of custom-made security blankets, which they later called "Taggies," when she noticed her son's fascination with the tag on his blanket and modified the blanket with a custom tag-like satin edging. Soon she was making blankets for friends. What started as a basement enterprise on a shoestring budget has now expanded worldwide with sales of more than $2 million in 2006.
3. Marsha Serlin, United Scrap Metal
Marsha Serlin started her business in 1978 with $200 and a rented truck. She was a young mom with two young children, soon to be divorced, and in need of some way to make a good living—even if it was the dirty business of scrap metal. She learned the business from a male neighbor in a single day and was soon knocking on doors looking for scrap metal to recycle and sell. Serlin achieved the honor of being the first woman named Small Business Subcontractor of the Year in 1996. United Scrap Metal's 2007 sales figures topped $173 million.
4. Heidi Flammang, Camp Bow Wow
Camp Bow Wow provides day camps and boarding services for dogs. The birth of the Boulder-based Camp Bow Wow was, in many ways, inspired by the death of Heidi Flammang's husband in a plane crash eight years earlier. Based on a business plan they had developed together, Flammang, mom to one daughter, started her first doggie daycare in 2000 and began franchising the business in 2003. Although Flammang's initial investment was fairly high compared to many businesses started by mompreneurs (she used $85,000 from combined savings and a legal settlement), the investment has more than paid for itself. Sales figures for 2007 were nearly $4 million.
5. Mary Kay Ash, Mary Kay, Inc.
Last but not least is Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay, Inc., who, like mompreneur Lillian Vernon, was a pioneer in direct sales for the home market—this time in cosmetics. Ash already had extensive experience in direct sales, but after years of being passed over for promotions in favor of her male colleagues, she decided to start her own business. So in 1969, with $5,000 in savings, Ash and her 20-year-old son started Beauty by Mary Kay. Using the Golden Rule as a guiding principle, Ash based her company on a balance of her faith, family, and career. In 2007, Mary Kay, Inc. earned $2.4 billion in wholesale sales.
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