Lending the Well-Heeled a Hand

Rather than try to break into the luxury-goods market, entrepreneurs are starting service boutiques that cater to the wealthy

Before founding Aston Pearl, a small consulting company whose services range from finding the perfect sculpture for a private art collection to choosing the right summer camp for children, Natasha Pearl served as senior vice-president and worldwide director of relationship marketing at Sotheby's (BID), the renowned auction house. In her dealings with the rich and the richer, Pearl found a large number of clients looking for objective advice about everything from modern art to the next family yacht. So she founded her five-employee firm (Pearl declined to provide revenue numbers) in 2001 to address their needs. "Coming out of Sotheby's, I was seeing a lot of sophisticated, wealthy art collectors who wanted objective expertise. The resources available tended to be salespeople or brokers, who are paid on a commission basis, rather than people who are advocates," she says.

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