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Teen turns $8 URL into $1 million Web site

A suburban Detroit teenager, who grew $8 into a $1 million Web business offering free designs to decorate MySpace pages, says she has no plans to sell.

“I’m stubborn, and I’m independent,” Ashley Qualls says from her pink office in the basement of her Southgate, Mich., home. “I like the feeling that it’s my company, and I want to have the say-so in everything,” she told The Detroit Free Press.

The 17-year-old entrepreneur, designer and self-professed geek is in New York this week pitching her Whateverlife.com site to ad-buying agencies. If her presentations go well, Whateverlife.com will sell ad space directly to advertisers, the newspaper says. The site ranks No. 825 out of 20.3 million Web sites, drawing 2.4 million visitors worldwide in the past 30 days, Internet ratings service Quantcast says. Oprah Winfrey’s Oprah.com, by contrast, ranks No. 997, Quantcast says.

Qualls borrowed $8 from her mother in December 2004 to buy the Whateverlife.com domain name, intending for the site to be her personal graphics portfolio, sharing her MySpace page designs with her friends. But others began noticing Qualls’ site, even though she never advertised it, the newspaper says. At the beginning of last year, Qualls received e-mails from people telling her teen-hip personality Carson Daly had mentioned the site on his radio show. (m&c.com)