Tracey McGhee, Ms. Jetsetterkatiesmith
Travel Bags and Accessories, Chicago, IL
Organizations: Allies for Community Business, NAWBO, Quad Communities Development Corporation, WBDC
Services Utilized: Attend Workshops and Events, Find Financing, Increase Sales
Tracey McGhee spent over 20 years in corporate America traveling to almost 30 countries. While traveling, her necklaces were constantly getting tangled in her luggage. Tracey tried to find a solution but didn’t find anything that met her needs.
“I just didn’t see any jewelry cases out there,” Tracey said. “And I thought ‘Why is this so difficult to find?’ It didn’t make sense to me.” In addition to jewelry, Tracey was looking for cases for makeup and toiletries. “I was looking for products that could not only help me stay organized, but products that I thought were stylish — that were more feminine-looking. I couldn’t find anything that solved all those problems.”
When Tracey started her business in 2019, she began attending 2-3 webinars a week on topics like marketing, branding, access to capital, and sales. She also sought out opportunities to network with other small business owners. “It does feel like you are on an island a lot,” Tracey said.
Tracey didn’t want to assume she knew everything and took advantage of as many resources as possible. In addition to attending workshops, she participated in one-on-one coaching sessions from Allies for Community Business (A4CB), Quad Communities Development Corporation, and Women’s Business Development Center. “Probably the biggest thing I found helpful was the coaches,” she said. “They are people that are experienced. Some had their own small businesses in the past and could share some of the things they went through to develop a successful business.”
Tracey also participated in accelerators, including: A4CB’s Neighborhood Entrepreneurship Lab and A4CB’s Sales Support Program. These accelerators helped her expand her business partnerships. Tracey now sells Ms. Jetsetter wristlet sets at Walgreens locations across Chicago.
On the role that ChiBizHub can play for entrepreneurs who are looking to start or expand their business Tracey says, “There are so many agencies out there, you don’t know who to tap into for what. I think that’s a great idea — to have a directory. And a list of what their key skills and offerings they have.”
Use the ChiBizHub directory to connect to business help.
We asked Tracey to walk us through the steps she took to develop her business idea. Visit our Develop Your Idea page to complete your own business checklist and follow along with the video.
Develop Your Idea – Ms. Jetsetter
1. Identify the Problem
What problem am I trying to solve?
Trying to keep jewelry from tangling while traveling with a jewelry case that is stylish, functional, feminine, and moderately-priced.
What is my product?
The first product was a travel jewelry case that helps necklaces stay straight and tangle-free. Later Tracey introduced “the travel trio,” which included three cases: one for makeup, one for toiletries, and one for jewelry.
How will I price it?
Tracey used what was already in the market as a guide for her pricing. For research, she went to stores and looked for similar products in the same category. She wrote down a brief description of the product and average price point in a notebook.
2. Define Your Ideal Customer
How would I describe my customer?
Tracey says of her ideal customer “I started with someone like me. In my age range with a similar background.” She defined her ideal customer as women ages 30-60 who want to “stay stylishly organized when they’re on the go.”
What are their interests?
Ms. Jetsetter products appeal to professional women who travel for business, on-the-go moms, and active women who want to have their products organized throughout the day. These women liked magazines such as Inc. and Home and Garden magazine.
3. Prepare to Sell Your Product
How will I market my new idea?
When starting Ms. Jetsetter, Tracey attended pop-up sales events both to sell her products and get the word out about her brand. She also did co-promotions of Ms. Jetsetter with other brands on social media (i.e. a give-away with sample hair-care products and the Ms. Jetsetter toiletry bag). Tracey did some testing with Facebook ads to see who would respond, but didn’t have much success with the ads leading to sales.
How will I make my first sale?
Tracey put a lot of work into growing a robust email list starting with friends, family, and sorority sisters from college. She also created a number of incentives for potential customers to leave their email address: giveaways on social media, a 20% off coupon for purchases on the website, and a free Ms. Jetsetter packing list. Tracey said that the biggest source of growth for the Ms. Jetsetter email list was when Tracey partnered with “40 Boxes,” an affiliate of Good Morning America’s “Deals and Steals.” By growing her email list, Tracey was able to grow her list of potential customers and engage them with periodic email updates and offers leading to the sales of her travel cases.