JIMMY CHOO

1996 : Securing $250,000 seed money from her father-who becomes company chairman-Mellon taps Choo for a formal business partnership, Jimmy Choo Ltd. At first, the little business struggles, as the partners get in sync, so Sandra Choi is signed on as designer. The collection sells out at the Jimmy Choo boutique in London. It is a hit.

2001 : November: Equinox Luxury Holdings Ltd. invests $30 million in the company, buying out Choo, who resumes work in his original bespoke business. Equinox will spearhead a bold expansion plan, with a goal of opening 25 new stores within the next five years. Rumors surface that Choo was bullied out of the company that bears his name, but Mellon dismisses the talk. "Some people see him as the underdog. 鈥楽he came in and stole his name and did this and did that.' He was very happy. He went away with a lot of money, and he was very happy. I made him wealthy," she will later say. December: Equinox appoints Robert Bensoussan, a former LVMH executive, as C.E.O. of Jimmy Choo Ltd., and Tom Yeardye remains as chairman.

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