(Wall Street Journal) — In mid-2009, Janie McQueen asked retailers in her native Beaufort, S.C., if they would carry a line of baby apparel hand-sewn by her mother. But even though she knew many of the shopkeepers by name, none would bite. So she turned to the Internet, listing the bonnets and bucket hats on Etsy.com, an online crafts market, as well as on a website she created for her business. Still, only a handful of buyers placed orders through either platform. Finally, a networking connection introduced Ms. McQueen to a sales representative specializing in children’s attire. The result, she says, was a contract that landed her mother’s craftwork in 48 clothing boutiques nationwide by the end of her first year in business, in exchange for a small percentage of the wholesale price of the items they sold. “It helps to have a rep,” says Ms. McQueen, because such a person gives an unknown entrepreneur “more credibility.” She counts her mother, Mary Patrick, as her business partner, and says their start-up, Susu & John, ended 2010 with $25,000 in gross sales. The company is now profitable, she adds.
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