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How a Too-Tight Dress Turned Into a Business

Wednesday, 7 Nov 2012 | 1:53 PM ET

Carrie Hammer, an advertising executive in New York City, constantly found herself in an uncomfortable situation. Shopping at a department store, she would find a dress she liked and try it on. Size 6 was too small – but size 8 was, well, too big.

Source: carriehammer.com

"I just felt really stifled by the lack of options that were available to me as a professional woman, and sending all my dresses to a tailor was starting to add up," Hammer said.

(Read more: Which Startup Stars Are Teaching the Next Generation?)

So she set out to find an efficient and cost-effective solution. Hammer quit her job in advertising and started her own custom and ready-to-wear line of business dresses called, appropriately, Carrie Hammer. Recently she's expanded her line of products to skirts, jackets, and blouses.

Hammer says her business has grown exponentially and she is seeing strong demand for her services — mostly from young female professionals desperate to find options that do not deplete the piggy bank.

Creating an effective e-commerce platform has been key to Hammer's success. Women spend 72 percent of the apparel and accessories dollars online, according to eMarketer. And by 2016 the online apparel and accessories sector will tally around $73 billion.

(Read more: A Tech Apprenticeship to Rival Peter Thiel's?)

Hammer is one of the many female entrepreneurs entering the startup world. According to Shaherose Charania, CEO of Women 2.0, "There's research been done over the last five to 10 years that measured the impact of having a woman on the board and/or founding team. The outcome was (that) these companies use one-third less committed capital. They return a 34 percent higher return-on-investment."

And according to Illuminate Ventures, women entrepreneurs are poised to lead the next wave of growth in global technology ventures.