Patricia R. Miller (1938-) & Barbara Bradley Baekgaard (1939-)

Company: Vera Bradley, Inc.
Started: 1982
Size: $460 million in 2012

Longtime friends Patricia R. Miller and Barbara Bradley Baekgaard got the idea for their company, Vera Bradley, while on vacation and were struck by the lack of feminine luggage available. Each woman contributed $250 in 1982 to start the business of quilted handbags, luggage and giftware, which rapidly grew a loyal following of customers. The Indiana-based company was named after Barbara’s mother, who had been an Elizabeth Arden model in her youth and worked at the company bearing her name until she died in 1990. The Vera Bradley company currently employs more than 2,000 people. The company’s success resulted not only from the co-founders’ sense of style and market demand for feminine travel gear and accessories, but also on their ability to finance, manufacture, and deliver an ever-evolving assortment of new designs and patterns.

“If you have an idea, run with it. Don’t think twice, just go with it like I did.” - Barbara Bradley Barkgaard, co-founder, Vera Bradley, Inc.