In Toronto we have all been faced a winter that just wouldn’t end. But now that spring is here, and we begin to pack up our winter clothes and boots, it’s hard not to notice how brutal Mother Nature and the salty sidewalks of the city have been on our go-to winter footwear.
Tracey Sloga says it’s not too late for your salt stained favourite boots, and suggests you try out her product so you can put those boots into storage for next year instead of retiring them for good. Tracey is the inventor of BootRescue, an all-natural range of wipes for any type of footwear, designed to help you get a lot more mileage out of your kicks. Tracey’s invention has been featured in magazines everywhere, and is available in boutiques, grocery stores, and online in over 50 different countries worldwide.
Tell me about some of the events that led you to leaving the world of advertising and becoming an inventor?
I was working in an office with lots of women and during one particularly bad winter with a lot of snow I noticed many people in my office were complaining about this ruining their boots. When I was talking to my boss about how I couldn’t believe that no one had taken the time to invent something so obvious, my boss suggested that I needed to be the person to do it.
What other entrepreneurs and inventors have inspired you?
I am always blown away by all the moms out there who see these gaps and find ways to fill them. Like those gorgeous teething necklaces that babies can suck on - amazing. These women all have so much on their plates and still manage to make it happen.
What is the most challenging thing about being an inventor and entrepreneur?
In the beginning the biggest hurdle was having to be a jack of all trades and learning things that aren’t really your forte. When you’re first starting out you’re the IT person, the shipping person, the bookkeeper, sales, and it’s a lot to take on. Thankfully today I have other people to help with these things.
Capsule Wardrobes and sustainable fashion is becoming a big trend? How does BootRescue fit into this evolution?
I recently read a survey showing on average Americans will throw out up to 81 pounds of clothing in a year. (One in three Canadians who don’t donate their clothing stated that it was easier to just throw things out). Thankfully people are becoming more concerned about their environmental footprint, and are willing to pay more for something to make sure it’s going to last. A part of sustainable living is taking care of your clothing to make sure it lasts. When people don’t treat their shoes and boots or take proper care of them they won’t last as long thanks to damage from salt, snow, rain, and dirt. Using a product like BootRescue can help you hold onto your boots and shoes longer.
Do you have any other tips for people to get more mileage out of their clothing and accessories?
Protective coats before wearing your shoes and boots are a great way to safeguard your footwear. Focus on buying quality items over quantity, and look for ones that work well together, and really take care of them. If your soles are starting to wear down get them repaired and replaced. Invest some money in visiting a tailor to alter a dress that feels out of date. Use accessories to change up an outfit to make things seem fresh and last longer.
How important was creating an environmental product to you? Why?
It was a very important factor to me. I try to avoid chemicals with everything I use in cleaning for my home and I wanted the same option for BootRescue, which at the time seemed pretty near impossible when it came to shoe care. I wanted to make sure that I took the time to create something that was well worth the effort. Today we have a safe product and people don’t even need to wash their hands after using our wipes.
Tell me about the research and testing it took to take Boot Wipes from idea to a reality?
I had an idea of what I wanted, but I needed the expertise of a chemist to help to bring it to life. There was a lot of experimenting and back and forth before we had something that worked. We also completed some online testing of the product with around 1000 people for their feedback before we put BootRescue into production.
If you could go back in time what entrepreneurial advice would you give yourself?
I had a year and a half where I was working both in advertising and launching BootRescue, all with long hours, and all while I had young kids at home. It was tricky knowing when to take the leap. There is a fine balance knowing when to quit your day job because it’s such a big risk. Today I believe that I was still working in my old job for longer than I should have been, to focus on the business.
I also wish I’d taken more time to network in the beginning and really picked people’s brains about the product. I think this would have helped me avoid a lot of mistakes and roadblocks along the way.
What advice do you have on managing stressful situations?
When running your own business there can be a lot of problems and it can be easy to let that stress get to you. I try to see the positive in all situations and keep in mind that some of the biggest ‘problems’ to arise have led to a better product or other important discoveries that have helped me professionally or personally.
How did your background in advertising help you when launching your product?
I was definitely in my comfort zone when working with aspects of the product launch including packaging, branding, photography, and public relations. I was also fortunate enough to know designers and many other talented people who were able to help me make it happen. It was a lot of fun to work with a clean slate and a brand new product.
Tell me about your decision to expand into other products for all-natural wipes for every type of footwear and handbags?
I was really happy to see how successful BootRescue was, and I noticed another gap when it came to products that cleaned sandals, hand bags, and even mesh running shoes. It seemed like a fitting progression, as did creating an all natural product to help protect peoples shoes before they use them. In fall 2018 we plan to launch our all natural protective shoe wax using a blend of coconut oil and bees wax.
What professional accomplishments are you most proud of?
It’s not really one thing – with the business I felt really proud when I saw BootRescue in a magazine or on a shelf in a store. Getting a mention in The Globe and Mail and on Vogue Magazine’s ‘most wanted’ items list was a huge accomplishment.
Personally I am proud of not just running a business, but taking the time for myself and my family. I have used the flexibility of working for myself to do things that are important to me, like travel, and learning to speak Italian. It can be easy to get very absorbed in working with your own business, and I’m proud of how I managed to balance all important aspects of my life.
What personal accomplishment are you most proud of?
I’m part of a group responsible for raising the funds and sponsoring a Syrian family to come to Canada. After working on this for a year and half they finally arrived last October. They’re lovely and settling in really well which is wonderful to see.
What's your favourite neighbourhood in Toronto? Why?
I’m bias because of where I live. I love the Junction. It’s such a fantastic neighbourhood I could just stay here all the time and never leave. There are so many new places around here to explore all of the time .