Hinsdale Entrepreneur Launches Innovative Suitcase

HINSDALE, IL – A Hinsdale woman has created a suitcase that looks to make people’s travel experiences more convenient and organized.

Maggie Gerth works part time for a housing development firm and lives in Hinsdale with her husband. She started as an investment banker when she got out of college, before stopping to raise her four daughters.

Gerth is the founder and CEO of Props Luggage. The company has created a carry-on bag with a built-in leg system that props up the suitcase. The system can serve as a luggage rack. The case also has a flat top to place items like laptops or food, according to the company’s website.

Gerth said she got the idea for Props Luggage after years of traveling with her husband and daughters. She said her parents were avid travelers. She continued that tradition with her own family, taking three to four trips a year, a lot of times to Disney World.

“It was a little bit of a struggle with four kids,” Gerth said. “And we would be in these hotels and the kids’ things were everywhere. I was always, in my mind, trying to create organizational systems for luggage.”

She would try things like putting her kids’ outfits into Ziploc bags to try and organize them for example.

Then she started pursuing the idea of ​​Props.

Gerth, who had no experience in luggage designing, told Patch she began working on the suitcase five years ago, after attending a travel goods show in New Orleans with her husband. There she met a person she eventually hired as a consultant that introduced her to design engineers. They developed various prototypes with manufacturers that constantly had to be re-engineered. Gerth said she went through three design engineers.

After developing a leg system that she approved, Gerth worked with luggage designers on the case’s design. She then worked with a marketing firm to develop the branding and naming of the product.

Since launching the Props website in June, Gerth saud she’s now in the throes of marketing. She is promoting the product on social media and hiring influencers.

During the process, the pandemic hit, which caused travel to halt. At that time, she thought they were close to launching the product, but now admits they probably weren’t as close as they thought.

She said the pandemic could have been a time to stop the project since it was a difficult engineering feat. But her daughters motivated her to continue.

“They were really excited about what I was doing,” Gerth said. “And even if it failed, I just wanted to see it through.”

Now with travel exploding, she hopes they’re hitting the market at the right time.

The first set of suitcases will be delivered in September, Gerth said. She said many have expressed surprise that no one has come up with the concept before.

“The funny part about the luggage industry is we really have not seen any big changes since the wheel, and that is a long time ago,” Gerth said.

Design engineers are now working on a larger 26-inch suitcase, Gerth said. She also hopes to put out a Props duffel bag.

For now, though, Gerth is focused on getting the carry-on bags out there and getting people excited for them. Gerth also said she can’t wait to see her suitcases at airports.

“I think that will be one of the most rewarding moments.”

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