A Passion for Fashion Helps Entrepreneur Win "Most Glamorous"

Fitting the bill to take the winning slot in the 2008 Most Glamorous category, hands down, was Deborah Mayer’s Shop Around Tours.

In 2008, we at StartupNation decided to add a new Top Ten category to the Home-Based 100 ranking: Most Glamorous.

We figured, all those people who are doing something glitzy, prestigious, fashion-oriented, star-studed, high-brow or a combination thereof should also “get a little love” for the businesses they’re running. After all, they’re proving that home-based business is not just about skipping the morning shower and wearing PJs to work.

Running your own show from home can be an incredible lifestyle enhancer outside the home, too. It can bring cache, intrigue and international travel to your life, among other things.

Fitting the bill to take the winning slot in this year’s Top Ten Most Glamorous category, hands down, was Deborah Mayer’s Shop Around Tours.

Her business organizes and hosts your trips to designer warehouses and factory outlets located throughout Italy, from the remote Tuscan countryside, to the bustling streets of Milan, to the charming lakefront, celebrity-soaked village of Como.

Glam Plus Bargain Pricing

The yearning for luxury fashions will always be strong, but even better, Mayer’s figured out a way to get the goods in the hands of the fashionistas at a discount while the shoppers themselves experience the land of fashion itself – Italy.

Yes, these are price-sensitive times even for high-end shoppers, so Mayer takes people to the source of the finest. Fashion fiends get the opportunity to indulge their desire for luxury fashion at discount prices while touring the mecca of exquisite design. Combine travel in Italy, luxe shopping, a goodly amount of fine wine and dining, and prego! – you’ve got a Most Glamorous category killer on your hands.
Shop Around Tours was created by Mayer, an avid shopper with champagne taste but a Budweiser budget, in 2001. She took the plunge and launched the cou-“tour” company with the belief that there were others like her who die for designer fashion but die from the prices.

The business has survived two of the worst travel periods in recent history. Their first tour departed less than two months after 9/11, and it is still flourishing in spite of the current economic downturn.  What propels the company through these times? Mayer attributes the stability of her business to sound business management and her focus on a very targeted niche market with wonderful growth potential. She argues, “Who really who wants to settle for a Canal Street knockoff?” Well, if you can changeup for a cheap ticket to Italy, a pre-made itinerary, the best fashions at bargain prices, no settling’s required.
Well done, Deborah! Your passion for fashion mixed with your pocketbook savvy makes you the Most Glamorous home-based business of 2008.

Common Themes for Most Glamorous

As other 2008 Most Glamorous winners indicate, glamorousness and fashion seem to correlate nicely. Take the baby clothing line created by Sophie Thimonnier of San Francisco-based Paul et Sophie, which takes the diaper demographic up a few notches to lushly stylish. Just imagine getting a fashion cue from a 3-month-old. Similarly, Julie Lowenbaum’s Cuff Luv, a Chicago suburb-based business adds zing to everyday outfits. Her cuffs slip under the sleeves of your ordinary blouses, converting them into double-takers.

Another theme of the Most Glamorous businesses this year centered around taking “business as usual” and adding some sizzle to it. For example, Destination Races, based in Sonoma, Calif., the heart of wine country. Distance foot races are nothing special. But running them through the vineyards of wine country? Come on.

Or how about, David Cosgrove Web Design, a not-so-run-of-the-mill web design business that caters to Hollywood celebs? We’re betting that Cosgrove has used this line before: “Yes, we must meet in person to discuss the site upgrades.”

And how about a simple wedding photography business. Ho-hum, right? Not so fast. The husband and wife team behind Inked Fingers has taken their Austin, Texas wedding photography business and turned it into an international service catering to fine-threaded clients who exchange nuptials only in the most exotic places around the world. Jamaica in January anyone?

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