Monday, February 19, 2007

Wacky Business Idea - Multiethnic Wedding Cake Figurines

Startup Costs: $100,000

An observer might say Ellie Genuardi and Rená Puebla act a lot like a married couple. Having known each other for years, they even finish each other’s sentences and bicker playfully. In 2004, this pair of longtime friends and business associates said “I do” to a marriage-related business: Puebla and Genuardi wed their entrepreneurial ideas to form Renellie International.

Renellie is a line of elegantly handcrafted, multiethnic wedding cake figurines. Made out of polyresin stone, the interchangeable brides and grooms are offered in Asian, black, Hispanic and white versions.

“There are so many interracial marriages,” says Gen-uardi. “We felt there was a definite need for this type of product.”

“When I got married the first time, I had two white people on my cake,” says Puebla. “No one had choices.” It was Puebla’s second marriage--to an Asian man--that inspired Renellie’s mix-and-match cake toppers. Puebla and her husband, Ron, are one of more than 2 million interracial couples in the U.S. That growing market, combined with a $72 billion-per-year wedding industry, provides an endless customer base for Renellie, which projects 2007 sales of $400,000.

Renellie also caters to same-sex couples. The company currently offers a bride with a tailored skirt and jacket, and it may introduce a bride with flowing pants. These versatile options could also be used for an anniversary cake, a second marriage or an older bride, Genuardi says.

Prior to Renellie’s unveiling in Janu-ary 2005, interracial and same-sex couples had pretty much resorted to putting either flowers or nothing at all on their cakes, Puebla says. “We want to go back to tradition, while representing those who are marrying.”

With an attractive alternative to plastic and a product in tune with modern-day values, Renellie lets couples have their cake and eat it, too.

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