In 2008, Vicky Tsai walked away from a startup job and set out to rediscover herself on a trip to Japan. In Kyoto, she had an unforgettable meeting with a geisha, and learned about the face creams and blotting papers that the traditional Japanese hostesses had used for centuries. But as she contemplated selling those products in the U.S., experts on both sides of the Pacific told her it would never work. Strapped for money and juggling multiple jobs, Vicky worked out of her parents' garage, pitching her new brand—Tatcha—on QVC and steadily growing it. Last year, Unilever acquired Tatcha for a reported $500 million, and Vicky remains confident the company will continue to thrive during the economic crisis.