The best way to describe Chicago-area entrepreneur Tracy Joy would be as a modern day Renaissance woman. Juggling a family life with four demanding businesses can be tough, but Tracy pulls it off with a flair that is to be both commended and admired. Her four companies (Tracy Joy, Pink Heels Boudoir, Prop Insanity, and The Joy Bag Collection) all stemmed from an initial love of sewing and photography. Proving once again that if you do what you love, you’ll love what you do.
37w: So as we were emailing back and forth, I noticed that on your email it states “Yes…I’m a busy girl.” You obviously wear a lot of different hats, was that always the plan or was it just how things turned out?
TJ: I’ve always been “busy”… coming from a background of entrepreneurs (men) in my family, I thought it should be the girls’ turn…so my mom and I started up TJ Inc in 2006, for our camera bag line. From there, I picked up a DSLR camera (a life dreamer and photographer by hobby), and realized the great gift of photography that I had! From there… my photography lead me to my love of all things “photography prop”, anything I could use on a baby or toddler, even an adult, to fancy up and bring a little fun into my photography… which is where Prop Insanity came from. And my latest company, Pink Heels Boudoir, is my “baby”…shared with an amazing photography partner Jamie B.
In my life, things kind of come to me in a “stream”… my crafty sewing led to the bag line, which led to my photography, which led to my props… you get the point. I’m a full-on, go-getter, never holding back to say “I wish I had done that”, I want to be the old lady one day who says “I did it ALL!”.
37w: In January 2010, you launched a new bag line The Joy bag collection (which we love, btw). That had to take time away from your amazing photography, how are you able to split your focus?
TJ: My focus…that’s funny 🙂 I don’t focus on one thing, I don’t think I’m “engineered” to do that, lol…. which runs in my family. A little bit of OCD, mixed in with the skill of multitasking-add a touch of caffeine to that and there is my day! Lol! I’m also lucky to have my mom as a business partner. Without her sewing skills, customer service qualities, and my father’s helping hand with my kids…my business life wouldn’t be possible. Also, having all of my business’ surrounding the basic thought of “photography,” helps to keep it all in sync. It all blends nicely together, in one happy insanely busy world of “Me.”
37w: Family is a recurring theme in your blog posts, can you tell me a bit about the support you have received and how it has inspired your work?
TJ: My mother is “that” woman… you know her, the one who can do anything she puts her mind to? She can see something in the store, on TV, whereEVER and replicate it. T A L E N T (lol). Lucky for me, she bore that “talent” into me. I’ve always tinkered and been more creative than “book smart.” And then there is my father… we like to think of him “Grandpa Daycare.” My kids are very attached to him, as they see him on a pretty regular basic (at least 3 times per week!). My sister is a HARD WORKER, to the core. She’s always been busy busy busy, and about the #1 best’ola employee anyone could ask for. Every so often, she lends her time to us…in the form of her darling baby (my niece Georgia) to my camera lens! LOL!
However, my favorite people in the world who offer the most support… my husband and my kids. As you image, I spend a lot of time w/my companies… so the one battle I have is work vs. family time. Thankfully, they are all wonderfully patient with me, and supportive of me and my companies (‘cause they know what’s best for them if they want dinner on the table! lol). Little did my husband know, he married a creative junkie!
37w: Let’s talk Pink Heels Boudoir Portraiture. I know you feel that it is important to help women of all shapes and sizes express their beauty, but has this new venture also given you a newfound sense of empowerment?
TJ: It is AMAZING! Jamie and I created Pink Heels Boudoir in February this year, and it has exploded! We do this not for the job of it, but for the women that we photograph. Every, and I honestly mean EVERY, woman should experience this sort of photography. It’s liberating, empowering, and really leaves you feeling “awed” by yourself. It’s amazing how so many women, us regular every day women, forget how stunningly beautifully we are, and how easy it is to get back in tune with our bodies and our image. We like to stomp right on the conventional thought of beauty, and bring a new light to women and their thoughts on what beauty is.
37w: Prop Insanity seems like a great way to bring together different suppliers in order to make props easier for photographers to find. Did this site develop out of personal necessity, did you sense a need in the field, or a little of both?
TJ: It developed out of a simple LOVE for photography props. When the idea came to my mind, I contacted a fellow photographer friend of mine, Gina of Peahead Prints, who I also knew was obsessed with Photography props… and we let Prop Insanity blossom! It’s funny, when I go into a “home” store now.. I don’ think “Aww, that basket would be cute in my house”, instead I think “hmmm, can I fit a baby in that”, hahaha.
37w: As a highly motivated individual, balancing 4 businesses and a very dedicated family life, what advice would you have for people (especially mothers) who are stepping out of the box and trying their hand at more than one industry?
TJ: Don’t hold back… and enjoy the ride! If you can, dive in feet first (never head first! lol). When I get an idea, I run with it…. build up great customer relations… and join places like Facebook & Etsy to promote and sell your products and/or ideas. Marketing and promoting are VERY important… if you don’t sell your own product, no one else will.
When it comes to photography….take advantage of your surroundings…offer up your services to friends, family, and even strangers! One of my best clients, who has referred 10+ other clients to me, was someone I met at the park on a sunny day with my kids. So don’t be embarrassed, or hold back, people will enjoy you!
37w: So, what’s next for Tracy Joy?
TJ: Beats me! I never say never… but for now, I think I have enough going on, lol. I’d like to say I’ll win the lotto and buy a giant natural light studio in my town… or just jet off my tiny clientele to exotic places for photography sessions. A girl can dream…so who has a buck for the daily lotto for me?