2011 Utah Region EOY Finalist - Corbin Church, Miche Bag

Corbin Church

When a friend approached serial entrepreneur Corbin Church in 2007 with a new product, Church applied three criteria to evaluating the potential of the handbag with interchangeable exterior shells.

First, he asked himself, who will buy this product? The answer was good: mostly women between 18 and 55 years old, a demographic that happens to control and spend the vast majority of household income.

Second, was there continuity to the product? The answer, again, was a good one: with different purse exteriors to choose from, customers would continually be able to update their bag's look.

And third, was it unique? Since there wasn't another company offering purses with interchangeable exteriors, the answer to that was obvious. And thus was born Miche Bag.

Since Church was 13 years old, he has built and sold six different companies. More than any other aspect of business, he enjoys the "making something out of nothing" aspect of entrepreneurship.

In starting Miche, Church and his friend embarked on a research project by opening a kiosk in a shopping mall to get feedback on the product and figure out how best to sell it.

Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and the partners decided to begin franchising around the country — just in time for the worst recession in decades to hit America. Malls were devastated. Shoppers stayed home.

So Church changed Miche's approach, turning to direct sellers who would market the bags at home parties. He operated the company out of his basement, "hiring" his wife as an unpaid customer-service agent. When Miche hired its first designer, her "office" was Church's laundry room.

He chose not to move the company to larger digs until its financials were securely in the black and sales were in the millions of dollars per month. This conservative approach has placed Miche in a position to expand its offerings to interchangeable hobo-style bags, "mini" bags targeted at evenings out and teenagers and even products beyond purses.