Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Fashionable Fanny Packs

Kristy Sobel Story


What began as a solution to her chronic back and neck pain is now a line of purses for women who share Kristy Sobel's condition--or simply want a fashionable fanny pack. After three car accidents that resulted in extensive back and neck surgeries, the 35-year-old entrepreneur realized she couldn't do the traveling her then-job required. That's when "life took a very different direction," she says, and even the simplest tasks, like holding her favorite purse over her shoulder, became a burden.

To ease the weight on her shoulders, Sobel searched for a fanny pack that would accommodate her condition, but realized fashionable ones were nonexistent. So she created one. Before long, family, friends and even strangers were requesting this one-of-a-kind purse. She approached boutiques with her design after successful test runs at her friends' shops, but the door-to-door routine eventually took a toll on her body. Sobel continued her venture from home, found a rep to promote her bags at a trade show and used her and her husband and co-founder Eric's savings to launch LaNeige Purse. Her woven nylon bags appeal to a wide scope of women, from teens to those in their 80s. Sobel has since added larger bags to the collection and, in 2004, she introduced a leather line. With items priced between $54 and $200, LaNeige had sales of $210,000 in 2005.

"The most wonderful thing about LaNeige is being able to help people with chronic back pain," she says, pointing out that the product is also ideal for active women who need both hands free. Her bags are sold in over 60 gift shops and boutiques across the country, and on her website, www.laneigepurse.com.

Despite the physical struggles she faces daily, Sobel's entrepreneurial spirit is anything but broken. "It's a huge challenge for me to get up each morning, let alone run a company," she says. "But I take it one day at a time and create as I go along."

More on homebiz success:

Getting Rich in Your Underwear: How to Start and Run a Profitable Home-Based Business