By Ellen Parlapiano
Kate Julian, 40
Mom of three, ages 12, 6 and 4
Lives in Providence Village, Texas
Product: Tomboy Tools (tomboytools.com)
Started: February 2009
Works: 25 hours per week
Earns: $32,000 per year
Backstory: Do-it-yourselfer Kate just wanted to buy a Tomboy Tools pink hammer, after seeing one in a magazine and reading about how sales benefited breast cancer research. But the closest rep was 250 miles away. Her husband suggested she become a sales consultant, since she'd have an untapped market.
Kate launched with Tool School 101, teaching how to use Tomboy's specially-sized-for-women equipment to fix leaks and unclog drains on mock toilets and sinks. The recession worked to her advantage too. I'd say, "Why pay a plumber, when you can do it yourself?"
Then what? To cultivate repeat business, Kate does specialty workshops on topics like Caulking, Energy Efficiency, and Drywall Repair. She strives for four events a month, targeting high-exposure home shows when possible. ("But I won't spend more than $500 on a booth.") Each tool party is an "empowerment session," she says. "I've met women who've never even held a hammer, yet they leave feeling capable of doing basic repairs." Kate has learned a lot too. She recently installed a ceiling fan all on her own. "When I switched it on and it didn't wobble, I felt incredibly accomplished," she says.