Coffee Break: Maggie Gerth, founder of Props Luggage, LLC

Name: Maggie Gerth

Title: CEO and Founder

Company: Props Luggage, LLC

Address: 3 Grant Square No. 158, Hinsdale

Phone: (630) 248-2136


Industry: Travel

Number of employees: 9

Age: 60

Family information: Married to Bob Gerth, 36 years. Mother to four daughters.

Hometown: Hinsdale

Q: Describe your company.

Props Luggage launched one year ago after four years of development. We have introduced to the travel industry one of the most innovative products since the introduction of wheels on a suitcase. Our carry-on case has its own built-in leg system which acts as a luggage rack in a hotel room or a workstation at the airport gate. A place to put your laptop or your meal.

I started this company with an idea and have launched the product you now see, hiring experts for each new phase of development to guide us.

Q: Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year?

We have recently hired a few additions to our marketing efforts and a wonderful tech addition to help with website management.

Q: What will your company's main challenges be in the next year?

As with any new product we face the challenge of introducing a new brand to the market. Consumers need time to accept new innovative ideas, but we have seen those who have purchased Props are now our biggest fans.

Q: What's the hottest trend in your industry?

Props Luggage is the hottest trend in our industry. There is nothing else like it on the market. The comment is made over and over, “I cannot believe that nobody thought of this sooner.”

Q: If you had one tip to give to a rookie executive, what would it be?

I would have a long list of tips. But if I had to give just one it would be to trust your own instincts. You will find that 10 different people will give you 10 different opinions on the right thing to do. Trust your own gut.

Q: Do you have a business mantra?

“If it were easy, everyone would do it.” I now understand this and remind myself often that it is not easy but well worth it.

Q: From a business outlook, whom do you look up to?

Sara Blakely, creator of Spanx. I saw her speak at a summit in San Francisco. She plunged into the development of Spanx knowing very little and always followed her instincts. I see a lot of similarities in how she began and have admired her ever since.

Q: What is one interesting fact about you or your company that most people may not know?

When I decided to move forward with the development of Props, I only shared it with my immediate family. From engineering to launch was close to four years, and only when we were ready to launch did I decide to share with friends and family. The uncertainty of the entire project, especially during COVID, was easier to not talk about. Would this come to fruition? If it did not happen, I did not have to explain to anyone. Happily, that was not the case and I was able to share when I had a product I was proud of.

Q: Was there a moment in your career that didn’t go as you had planned? What lesson did you learn from it?

Where do I begin? This has been a journey with many unexpected twists. I certainly did not expect to be developing a travel product during a time when the world shut down and travel came to a halt. The lesson I learned is persistence. Every story of new successful products is filled with hurdles, and one must push through. The extra time we gained because of COVID resulted in a better product.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

I am an avid paddle player. Winter has now become a favorite season because of this sport.

Q: What book is on your nightstand?

“The One Thing” by Gary Keller.

Q: What keeps you up at night?

As with any business, the financial worries. But I truly believe this is going to be a big success.

Q: If you were not doing this job, what do you think you would be doing?

That is hard to say because if you had asked me five years ago what I would be doing, I certainly would not be saying running a company. Life is exciting and one never knows.

Q: What was your first paying job?

My first paying job was as a waitress. But post college, I worked in the investment banking industry.

Q: If you could put your company name on a sports venue, which one would you choose?

I have always felt this would be a wonderful thing for a college athlete to have. Most college athletes are spending a lot of time traveling to games and possibly sitting in airports. Using Props to set up at the gate to finish that paper or eat your meal. And sharing their hotel room with multiple teammates and only one luggage rack. Perfect.

Q: Two people to follow on X (Twitter) and why.

Richard Branson. He is all about creating a product that interrupts the industry. Props does exactly that.

Sara Blakely. She always has words of encouragement for new entrepreneurs.

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