'Foolish' Idea: Assorted spices, mixed together - using her knowledge of herbs - to make own recipes of spice mixes.
Start-up Capital: $30.
How Idea was Launched: Nancy Engel purchased $30 worth of assorted spices, mixed them together and labeled them, 'Italian Spice Mix'. She took them to a flea market. She sold every one and made $200. That led to selling at craft shows, then Nancy started her own herbal mail order company, Sunny Window. She employs several local mums.
Sales: Mainly through mail-order. Products added to the initial line of spice mixes are soaps, wreaths and scented gift items.
Earnings: $25,000 a year - and still growing fast.
Nancy Engel, 46, grew up in Dorchester, Mass., and wanted to go to college. But her parents couldn't afford it. So, Nancy ended up in a series of dead-end jobs, until with a friend, she decided to hitchhike abroad. She traveled to the Caribbean and even into South and Central America. In 1979, she had a daughter, Nicole.
Nancy returned to America with a suitcase, and a 2 month-old baby. Life was a really tough struggle, until Nancy decided to use her knowledge of herbs and her last $30 to start a business.
She bought $30 worth of assorted spices. Mixing them together, she labeled them Italian Spice Mix and took them to a flea market the next day. By the end of the day, she'd sold all her stock and pocketed $200.
Making up the products in her kitchen, Nancy spent the next 4 years, dreaming up new products and selling them at craft fairs. Then, she started her own company, 'Sunny Window', selling by mail-order through a catalogue. 4 years later, she bought a house in Southborough, Mass., and transferred the production line for Sunny Windows to the property's barn.
Nancy Engel's daughter Nicole is now 19 and studying at the New England College in Henniker. The small business 'Sunny Windows' pulls in $25,000 a year and is still growing - all from an initial $30 investment.