Kate Maloney

Kate Maloney was just trying to help her brother test his new product.

In 2001, Matthew Maloney started Matthew's Robes, a Web site that sold monks' robes. Really.

The business was a test site for Matthew Maloney's new Static Advantage search engine optimization technology. He brought in Kate Maloney to run the robe business while he tested his "real" product.

Kate Maloney felt she could tap into a huge online market for costumes. A name change, a massive expansion of product lines and half a decade later, Costume Craze is one of the world's largest online retailers.

But the online costume business has become highly competitive since Costume Craze entered the market. To stay ahead of the pack, Costume Craze is continually updating both its product mix and its business practices.

For example, Costume Craze has developed proprietary technology that uses internal and external data to determine what products, and how many of them, the company should order.

Costume Craze operates a network of related Web sites to optimize search-engine hits. The company has started manufacturing a new, exclusive costume line and plans to begin selling mascots this year. And the company ships worldwide.

However, some things have remained the same: Costume Craze continues to sell monks' robes.