HUMAN RESOURCES

Things I Can't Live Without: Elise Donahue

Why the head of Airborne Health, one of the fastest-growing companies in America, just wants a little help getting dressed.
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CEO of Airborne Health

Elise Donahue knows a little something about selling over-the-counter remedies. In 1999, she co-founded Prestige Brands International (NYSE:PBH), a company that markets a hodgepodge of personal care products ranging from Chloraseptic lozenges to Murine ear drops. After selling the company in 2004, she was recruited as CEO of Airborne Health, a Bonita Springs, Florida, company that makes an herbal supplement that it says helps ward off illness. Airborne tablets had been recently hawked by a who's who of Hollywood B-listers and endorsed by Oprah Winfrey. That helped Airborne quickly mushroom into a $151 million-a-year business and land the No. 2 spot on this year's Inc. 500 list.

In her mission to transform Airborne into a global brand while maintaining its grass-roots buzz, Donahue has added new flavors and launched ad blitzes in germ-ridden areas such as New York City's Grand Central Station. A frequent traveler, she also talks up the brand wherever she goes. "When I pull it out at the airport," she says, "people say 'I've heard of that. Does it really work?' I always carry extra."

BlackBerry 7520, $450
"To feel at ease, I need to know what's going on at work every second. If I didn't have my BlackBerry, I'd be on pins and needles."

People magazine, $3.49
"Every weekend I like to lie on Barefoot Beach in Bonita Springs and read People magazine. That's how I unwind."

Tazo Awake tea, $1.50
"If a hit man needed to bump me off, it'd be easy to find me. By 7 every morning I'm at Starbucks getting a cup of Awake tea. I end up drinking about five cups a day."

Big salad, $12
"I truly do not know how to cook anything. I'm always getting takeout. My favorite dish is the big salad, just like Elaine on Seinfeld."

…and What I Covet

A personal stylist, up to $450 per hour
"I would love to have somebody be at my house to do my hair and get me dressed every morning. They'd pick out everything--and buy it for me--and get me looking stylish."

Last updated: Nov 1, 2006

RYAN UNDERWOOD

Ryan Underwood is a writer and editor living in Nashville, Tennessee.




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