More than three years after her dream, Norton, 38, has a $1 million-a-year business, and her one-of-a-kind Moo Roo bags, selling for up to $1,200 each in specialty boutiques, grace the arms of stars like Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Andie MacDowell, who carried a silk Moo Roo at her Nov. 10 wedding. Moo Roos, says Camryn Manheim, "make any outfit fabulous."
The daughter of Flagstaff, Ariz., math professor Larry Perko, 65, and school superintendent Kathy, 61, Norton was a production coordinator on the Charleston set of 1991's The Prince of Tides when she met and later wed restaurateur Joe Norton, 43. Although she quit her job after the births of daughters Micah, 6, and Reilly, 4—whose nicknames add up to Moo Roo—she says, "I hated asking Joe for money. The bags were a way to save money on gifts."
Instead, through a friend they found their way to Hollywood stylist Cary Fetman. "I adored them," says Fetman, who got Louis-Dreyfus to accessorize her 1998 Emmy-night pink Bob Mackie gown with a lime-green Moo Roo covered in orchids.
Now, says Norton—whose lupus has been in remission since 2000—some people collect her bags. "Moo Roos," she says, "are like Beanie Babies for the rich and chic."