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Bonnie Marcus, 37, saved money while starting her Westport, CT, stationery company Bonnie Marcus Collection, in 2002 by creating samples of her work and sending them to magazine editors. The low-cost approach worked: She landed mentions in New York magazine and Modern Bride, helping her secure orders from stationery stores including Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue. Even as her business broke the $1 million mark in 2007, Marcus found other inexpensive ways to grow: She licensed her designs to Kodak for photo cards and produced holiday cards for Beverly Hills PR firm, gratis. The result? Model and actress Molly Sims placed her holiday card order with Marcus.

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