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November 2, 2007

5 Women To Learn From

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CLAIRE CHEW, 39

THEN: Director of creative services for a Fortune 500 company

THE MOMENT: About four years ago, I was seated on a plane next to a fashion exec. I surprised myself by saying, "I design jewelry for pets." In fact, I'd only doodled some things on a cocktail napkin. Six hours later, he invested $10K in my idea for charms for pets and their owners. I had the savings to take the leap and create Luxepets. It hasn't always been easy: As a first-generation American, I was raised to be a doctor or lawyer. My dad used to ask if I'd thought about going back to my corporate job. But before my mom died a few months ago, she said, without prompting, "It's like those guys at Yahoo!; it takes time to start a business. Hang in there."

NOW: Luxepets grew more than 300 percent in 2006; its products are in over 400 boutiques.

THE RULES: I set a vision every six months - whether it's about a certain number of orders or hiring an assistant - and keep it in view. It stops me from making decisions based on fear.

THE PAYOFF: Since my business brings me fulfillment, I don't have to take weekends away to decompress, and I don't have to buy those $300 boots because I had a bad day at work. Now the rewards are more than monetary.


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