At start-ups, things don't always go according to plan. Take Costume Craze, an online costume retailer based in Pleasant Grove, Utah. When CEO Kate Maloney launched the business with her brother, Matthew, and mother, Kathleen, it was a software company called StaticAdvantage. Switching gears has definitely paid off: Last year, Costume Craze had sales of $13.2 million, earning it a spot on the Inc. 5000 (No. 2,716) for the fifth year in a row.
My brother is a programmer. In 2001, he wrote software to help retailers rank higher in Google search results. To prove his software worked, he needed a product to sell online. He chose monk robes, which he thought would appeal to fraternities and fans of Star Wars.
I got involved in 2002, after I graduated from college. My brother and mom would meet with companies to sell them our software, while I handled orders for the robes. At first, I was getting one or two a week. Then, one day, around Halloween, we got 22 orders.
Now, we get 5,000 orders on a big day. We have a 60,000-square-foot warehouse and 30 employees. We hire about 170 temporary workers in October.
We learned that what's hot in Hollywood will be big at Halloween. This year, we expect Harry Potter and Captain America to be big. But Star Wars, Ghostbusters, and The Flintstones are always popular.
Before this company, I didn't realize how capable I was. When you have to get thousands of orders out, you learn to do things like drive a forklift. And that you can go a long time without sleep.
For more on the Inc. 500|5000, go to www.inc.com/inc5000.