Life-saving swag creator up for prestigious award
A LIGHT-BULB moment at her kitchen table, finding courage to pitch her idea to experts on a national TV show and plenty of hard work led Tracey Beikoff to where she is today.
The Mareeba entrepreneur is the chief executive officer of the business she founded, Rescue Swag - a company selling nifty and life-saving safety products throughout Australia and internationally.
Her tenacious business achievements, and goal for a safer rural Australia, were rewarded with her being named a finalist in the RIDIC Queensland Rural Women's Awards.
Receiving the honour made her feel proud but she said the glory was shared with all rural women.
"Anything like this is a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness of not only entrepreneurs, but female entrepreneurs, who are out there doing the hard slog to make their ideas work," she said.
"The three finalists are being spotlighted for what we have been doing, but really it's just acknowledging there are women in our communities doing this every day."
While sitting at her kitchen table not so long ago, Tracey came up with the idea of making a first aid kit that would sit neatly against the back of her saddle, one that would not bounce around or be a bulky thing she would have to carry herself.
By 2015 she was on the popular TV show Shark Tank, pitching her idea to the big wigs of Australian innovation.
It was during the program she secured a deal with millionaire Steve Baxter to help kick her business into another gear.
While Tracey has a striking determination for her work, which now sells to markets in the USA and Canada, she has held onto her country charm and humour.
To her, it wouldn't matter how big her business grew, she would never want to leave far north Queensland.
"I have always been pretty stubborn about wanting to stay rural," she said.
"And particularly Mareeba because it's just a very special place for me.
"Everything I have done, right from the start, has been about staying here and working from here.
"We have great internet, so we have all the communication that we need. It costs a bit more to travel from up here, but I am too stubborn to shift, I love the lifestyle."
Going for a ride, and "hooking off into the bush" is the type of horse riding Tracey enjoys.
It was this love that originally sparked the idea for a more portable first aid kit. Her saddle now always has a Rescue Swag fitted to it.
The kit rolls up neatly and can double as a sling for arm injuries. It also has technology where a QR code can be scanned on a mobile to give comprehensive first aid instructions.
"When I came up with the idea I was just thinking it would be something for myself," she said.
"Then I started to talk to people, and they were saying 'hey, this is pretty interesting'."
The first prototype was made at the Lotus Glen Correctional Facility, where Tracey used to work.
"There was a tailor shop at the prison so I got the guys to knock me up a version," she said.
Luck would have it a few weeks after her first swag was made, an innovation forum was being held locally.
"People just went ballistic for it," she said.
"And they said the FNQ innovation awards were coming up and that I needed to apply. I won my category then all of a sudden I was like 'wow, there is some traction here'."
In 2015 Tracey was in front of the camera on Shark Tank.
The TV show has five panellists who listen, question and sometimes strike deals to fund Aussie business ventures. The sharks are also quick to slam or shut down ideas they feel are fruitless.
Enlisting the help of her mum Karen Braes and sister Michelle Arnett to act out a mock injury scene, the trio impressed the judges.
Tracey laughed when asked if fronting the sharks was terrifying.
"The way I would describe it, was that it was a moment of absolute preparation," she said. "I had seen Shark Tank from the States... I knew how it was like a shark tank, you get totally grilled in there.
"The process for me was about knowing every single detail of my business.
"By the time I got to the stage I was ready for it - it just felt like I was in the right place at the right time, and I was going to smash it.
"And it did all unfold that way, thank goodness."
When Tracey heads to Brisbane for the RIDIC awards she will be joined by fellow finalist and Mareeba local Jessica Fealy.
"Mareeba is totally a hot spot for rural talent," she said.
"Last year we had Kristin Watkins, who is from Walkamin, literally just 15 minutes down the road."
Visit www.rescueswag.com.au for more information.