3 small businesses take on the big boys

The secrets of success in business, from leopard-print ballet flats to freelance designing to the back office

Beverly Feldman vs. Stuart Weitzman
Beverly Feldman vs. Stuart Weitzman
The challenge: Grab market share when shoppers are holding back.

What they did: Known for snazzy leopard-print ballet flats that sell for about $200 at stores like Nordstrom and Lord & Taylor, women's shoe designer Beverly Feldman, 64, has steadily grown revenue, from $8 million in 2009 to a projected $9.5 million this year. Feldman, who founded her business in 1979, diversified into overseas markets early. So when the U.S. slowed during the recession, sales in Asia kicked in. To attract U.S. customers, Feldman, whose office is in Norwalk, Conn., makes three appearances a year on HSN. To keep spending down, she teams up with retail partners on cooperative advertising. Women stay loyal, she says, because she makes sure her shoes don't hurt: "When I design a pair of shoes, I make them in my size and wear them."

By Elaine Pofeldt, contributor @FortuneMagazine - Last updated February 06 2012: 1:42 PM ET
Join the Conversation
Meet the small biz loan matchmakers

The climate for small business lending over the past few years has been dark to say the least, opening a door to entrepreneurs who pair business owners with interested lenders.

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.