Name: Julie Sautter.
'Foolish' idea: A silicone pad made to wear outside the body, to give women cleavage without plastic surgery.
Start-up Capital: $100,000 borrowed money
How Idea was Launched: Set up shop in her garage. Julie asked a pal for technical advice on designing the product. Julie launched her product 'Curves' in 1994 and started up the company 'BodyLines'.
Sales: More than 250,000 women wear Curves, which are sold mainly through mail order and on TV. They are popular with actresses and TV designers.
Earnings: A TV station once sold $18,000 worth of Curves each minute. Within 2 years, the gross sales topped $12million. Expect $20million in sales for 3rd year in business.
After giving birth to her first child, Julie Sautter's life took an unexpected turn. Her desire to regain her lost bust line led Julie to give birth again, but this time to a business idea. Some of her friends had undergone plastic surgery to boost their bust, but Julie was concerned about the health risks and pain of silicone implants. But, it was silicone implants that gave her an idea. She reasoned if silicone inside a woman's breast plumped up her bust line, why couldn't a pad of silicone worn outside the body achieve the same result?
Determined to make the product for women, Julie borrowed $100,000 and set up shop in her garage, seeking technical advice from a friend, on how to design the product. The result was tear-resistant polyurethane pads that contain medical-grade silicone gel, which 'jiggle' like natural breasts and can be tucked inside any under wire bra or swimsuit. They called the product, Curves.
Launched in 1994, the timing was perfect. Controversy over the dangers of silicone implants was making headline news and many women were looking for a natural alternative to plastic surgery. Airing the product on TV and through mail order, within two years, gross sales topped $12million. Julie no longer works from her garage, instead she runs her company BodyLines from an office where her two children often visit her.
Her clients include top actresses and costume designers. 'Baywatch' costume designer Karen Braverman, says with Curves, you don't have to be voluptuous, you can just look that way.
Julie has some advice to give other budding entrepreneurs: