Maggie Gerth Props Luggage
Maggie Gerth, founder of Props Luggage. (Credit: Courtesy of Props Luggage)

Maggie Gerth designed a new kind of suitcase – one with legs, allowing it to transform into a luggage rack, or if necessary, a small table or desk for busy travelers. Gerth started designing the prototype for what would become Props Luggage before the pandemic – and then, in March 2020, found herself designing a suitcase while global travel was coming to a complete  halt. The Hinsdale, Illinois-based entrepreneur decided to take advantage of the grand pause, though, using that time to perfect her product. In 2022, Gerth finally launched, and has since won several awards for her innovations. She now looks forward to getting her game-changing suitcases into as many jet-setting hands as possible. 

Editor’s Note: Props Luggage has been named to The Story Exchange’s 2024 list of 10 Brilliant Business Ideas.

How is your business different from others in your industry?

There is no other product like Props in the luggage industry. We are the first to launch a suitcase with a built-in leg system, which eliminates the need for a luggage rack in hotel rooms and creates an eating or work surface while waiting at an airport gate.

Tell us about your biggest success so far. 

When I received the award at the TGA Travel Goods Show for “2024 Best Luxury Travel Product.” To be acknowledged this way, after years of hard work, felt really good. 

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?

Realizing that introducing a new innovative product takes time. After years of development, I was so proud when we finally launched. I had no idea how difficult sales and marketing would be. The process is slow and steady – but now, I have come to terms with that.

Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?

I have had to make many business decisions based on our own personal financial situation. We have self-funded this project, which can be very difficult. Many things we’ve needed, we’ve had to do without, as they were not always within our budget.

What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs? 

When I began, I was very anxious, because of my lack of knowledge about the industry. I learned very quickly that you need to ask a lot of questions and surround yourself with people you trust. You must be confident in your team.

How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?

I step away and do something for myself, or spend some time with family or friends. It is very easy – too easy – to work all the time when it is your own project.

What is your go-to song to get motivated on tough days?

I have a playlist that I started at the beginning of this project. My girls tease me because I have not added all that many songs over the past five years. But, I plan to use this playlist for the big party I am going to throw when Props officially explodes. 

All of that said, Miley Cirus’ “Party in the USA” is always a good tune for me.

Who is your most important role model?

My husband of 37 years, Bob Gerth. He has guided me and emotionally supported me throughout this project. He has never wavered in his belief in it, or me. He is my biggest cheerleader. ◼

Instagram: @propsluggage
Facebook: @propsluggage

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