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21. Cool by Design

When Home Depot hit Manhattan for the first time last summer, it knew it needed some particularly cool stuff to appeal to the picky denizens of the Big Apple. The retailer called on John Christakos, whose Blu Dot is a cult furniture designer. For Christakos, the Home Depot deal was a chance to stretch his company, part of his strategy to be the go-to outfit for big chain retailers looking for some Target-like design fairy dust. (Target already sells Blu Dot.) Christakos had just two weeks to design, prototype, and deliver product samples, normally a 12-week process, and “the price points were pretty extreme,” he admits. But he came through, and sales so exceeded expectations (three times the rosiest projection) that he had to scramble to meet demand. Home Depot has yet to indicate if it will continue the relationship. But Christakos has his hands full anyway: His furniture will grace every babyGap outlet this year.

2005 FAST 50 WINNER

John Christakos, 40

President and designer
Blu Dot Design & Manufacturing Inc.
Minneapolis, Minnesota

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