By Liza Porteus Viana
When Cathy Berse-Hurley started making her 4-year-old twin boys' handmade backpacks for school in 1996, other kids and parents took interest. She soon also began making lunch boxes, and selling her popular animal-themed wares at street and craft fairs, as well as big events like the New York International Gift Fair and New York Toy Fair. Her business took off and, in January 2002, she took the business wholesale, selling her bags in specialty retail stores, kids' stores, boutiques, museum stores, as well as large department stores like Macy's, Nieman Marcus, Saks and Nordstrom.
Berse-Hurley said that she then picked up international distributors from Europe and Japan at the large toy and gift shows.