Plenty of well-known people dabble in business. A smaller number are talented businesspeople, the real deal, and these are the best of them. Plus: Moby, Remixed One part pop star, one part tea magnate. The story of an unlikely but very determined entrepreneur.
ELO Somers Licensing (sells clothing, jewelry, skin-care products, diet food, and fitness equipment, primarily on the Home Shopping Network)
"When I started with Home Shopping, I said to my husband, 'Is this going to ruin my career?' He said, 'You don't really have a career."
Come and knock on her door -- the door to Suzanne Somers's company headquarters in Calabasas, Calif., that is -- and you won't find Trumpian pink marble or water fountains. "Our conference room has bars on the windows and furniture from Ikea. We have cheap industrial carpeting," says Somers, whose conglomerate is named ELO, for Extraordinarily Low Overhead. "We are conscious of not wasting a penny." Or time. "I was working 16 hours a day, six days a week. But it's not worth dying over business. They're not going to say at my funeral, 'And she worked harder than anyone," says Somers, who went from being a star on Three's Company to owning a dozen clothing, jewelry, food, and beauty lines. Not to mention, of course, ThighMaster (over 10 million sold). "I'd be on the phone with Taiwan, saying, 'What do you mean we can't get green zippers? It's a green suit!" she recalls. "I now realize that a good executive knows how to delegate. So I'm trusting my team to do their part, which allows me to write my books and create and sell product." Her recent book The Sexy Years sold a million copies in just the first three months, and she's sold $30 million of her signature Trilliant bracelet, the best-selling jewelry piece ever on HSN.
Now she's trying to sell her husband and business partner, Alan Hamel, on a new idea. "What I'd love is to have Somersize Cafes, where people can have sugarless ice cream and hamburgers wrapped in lettuce leaves with our special sugarless sauce," she says. "My husband rolls his eyes, but I've got to make that happen."