Tracey is the founder and managing director of Wales’ leading independent business network, ‘Introbiz’. Tracey is a very charming woman who obviously knows how to build relationships and create business, not only for herself, but for many people who believe in her aspirations. Tracey works with her husband Paul and they always fully support each other. They are together at meetings, parties, work and other activities and one of the key ingredients of their success is their love and respect for each other.
Tracey’s husband, Paul says: “I enjoy working with my wife, she’s my soulmate. We help and advise each other if needed and mutual respect is the key to our relationship. There is no rivalry as we both know each other’s strengths and weaknesses”.
You are the leader of a big business network in Wales – how did you build this?
I already had a good network of people from the time when was I working for a local business magazine. I was then fortunate enough to meet an entrepreneur who invested in me and gave me the funds to start the business. I was a working mum with two children at the time and I didn’t have the money to start a business. But as I already had a network of people that I had built relationships with in my job I then went on to sell membership to them. It was the power of my original network that helped me grow my own new business network.
Introbiz is very well known in Wales – do you have plans to expand into other parts of the UK and beyond?
Yes we do. We have already organised events in Spain and France. We are now looking to licence Introbiz across the UK and even globally as the concept can be replicated all over the world.
What was your big dream as a child – and has this dream now come true or is it yet to be fulfilled?
I initially wanted to be an air hostess to travel the world as travelling is one of my biggest passions. However I ended up going down the advertising and marketing route instead and working for a local newspaper. Later, when an interview came up for Air Europe I was enjoying my job so much by then that I declined the interview.
Women are great listeners, show compassion and empathy and are more likely to collaborate together and help and support each other
Your business is based on helping and supporting business women – what is your opinion about the women entrepreneurs of today?
I’m a great believer that women do a fantastic job in the business world and I feel that in the networking scenario women are more open to engage with other people which they see as opportunities. Women are great listeners, show compassion and empathy and are more likely to collaborate together and help and support each other, which is so important in today’s society. In the past women were often left in the background or at home but now there are far more opportunities open to women. There are some very powerful women that have made huge successes in their careers. Two of the women that I look up to and admire are Sharon Lechter, my business mentor, and Oprah Winfrey – both are powerful, inspirational and successful women. If I’m only one per cent as successful as them I will be very happy.
You work together with your husband – how do you manage mixing your private life with business and succeeding with both?
I love working with Paul most of the time. There are some occasions when we don’t agree with each other and may have a difference of opinion but we both very much respect each other. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and his strengths are my weaknesses and visa-versa. We are both very driven, hard-working and following the same road with the same vision and that is so important. We are always talking about the business and rarely ‘switch off’, but we both are passionate about what we do and so it’s natural for us to talk about the business, it’s a way of life. We always have fun together though and take time out at the weekends to socialise with friends and family, to go out to dinner or the cinema and take some wonderful holidays with, and sometimes without, our children. My motto has always been ‘work hard but play harder’.
Women do a fantastic job in the business world…
You are a mother of two – how is your relationship with your children and how do you balance time between work and family?
I have a very strong bond with, and am very close to, both of my children Carly and Daniel. I am also a step mum to my husband’s two children Daniel and Julia. I’m a great believer in empowering and mentoring youngsters and do that with my own children. I have managed to secure them jobs through my network and love to advise them in business. My daughter is at Sheffield University at the moment studying International Business. My son is currently working for ‘Spiros Catering’ which is one of my Introbiz members. One of my main motivators in my business is to be a great role model to them and to leave them a legacy that they can be proud of. One of the greatest pleasures in my life is spending quality time with my children. It’s all about creating memories with each other during holidays or other experiences. I’m always taking pictures to remember and preserve those memories.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced on this journey as a mother and trying to follow your career as well?
I first launched Introbiz in 2009 but by April 2010 it was the middle of the credit crunch which was a challenging time. I had health issues in April 2010 and was also going through a divorce and bringing up two children as a single mum. When my health issues kicked in, I was admitted into hospital and had no energy. When I came out of hospital I wanted to give up on my business as I was starting to wane and had very little motivation. I spoke to my contacts, family and friends about the situation and they all said, ‘don’t give up on the business’. They all knew I had worked too hard on the business to give up on it. I met Paul my husband in June 2010 and persuaded him to come into the business. I took me nearly two years to persuade him but I finally convinced him in April 2012 and we have never looked back.
What would be your tip for women who don’t want to give up their career because of their children, but at the same time keep a healthy relationship with them?
I believe you can have both a career and family time with your children. It is all about getting the balance right. I always told my children that I was working for them to have nice things. Working for your self is great, although it can be very challenging at times but the perks are that you can do the hours to suit yourself and your family. I always made sure I attended their school concerts and school discos and funnily enough I was the school DJ at my children s primary school and was also on the PTA. They loved to see me getting the children up dancing and singing.
What is your love story?
It was June 2010 and my friend and make-up artist Wenda James Rowe from the Style Team, asked if I was going to the Polo match. I told her I wasn’t sure and she said that I should go as it would be a great networking opportunity. I agreed and went along. I got talking to a girl that I knew and we were telling each other that we were going through divorces. I told her that I’d recently bought a domain name to set up a dating agency for business people, which she found very interesting.
In the middle of telling her this, she spotted a guy and asked me if I could introduce her to him as she said that he’d said hi to her in the local supermarket the week before and that happened to be Paul. She fancied him and thought the feeling may be mutual. I agreed to introduce her to him. She wondered how I would do this and I said “Leave it to me”. He was walking towards us and I called him over and said that I thought I knew him. He said “I don’t think we’ve met, what’s your name?” I told him that I was Tracey from Introbiz. He said “ Oh you know Wenda, don’t you?” I said, “yes that’s right” and he replied “You are doing a fashion show with Wenda for your network aren’t you?” I told him that I was, and he introduced himself as Paul from Moss Bros.
I hadn’t planned on meeting anyone as I was going through a divorce at the time and in fact told him that day I met him that I was all done with marriages, as this was the second divorce I was going through.
Now only that week Wenda had asked me to speak to Paul as he would do the men’s fashion wear for the show, but we hadn’t met until this day. What a small world we both said. I then went on to introduce him to this girl that wanted the introduction. He said hi to her and then turned to me to get to know me a bit better. Good job she wasn’t a client of mine, as Paul was interested in talking to me. We had a lovely evening together, laughed danced and got to know each other a bit better. I hadn’t planned on meeting anyone as I was going through a divorce at the time and in fact told him that day I met him that I was all done with marriages, as this was the second divorce I was going through.
We stayed up until 2am the following morning. Paul said that he could stay out all night with me, but I had to go home as the following morning I was attending a financial seminar at 9am and had to be up early. We started dating and two weeks after we met, Paul said to me, “ I’m going to change your mind.” I said, “What about?” he said “marrying me.” I was totally shocked and laughed and said “I doubt it”. He did change my mind though as time went on, I fell totally in love with him. On 23rd May 2013 we got married in Mexico on the beach and here we are today, working together and loving life together. I love him more every day.
How much have you changed since meeting each other?
Paul is a very giving and thoughtful person and although I was too, he made me think more of people rather than myself. He always says that there are two types of people in this world, givers and takers, and he says it’s always best to be a giving person rather than a taker. He is also very positive and the glass is always half full, never empty and he is always so upbeat. I used to be negative on occasions and now, I’m hardly ever negative. Paul has made me always think positively about everything, which is very refreshing. We’re so happy together, Paul has made me a more calm person and not so stressed and we always laugh, have fun and encourage and inspire each other.
I have become more entrepreneurial and have understood the concept and power of networking since I’ve met Tracey. I didn’t understand what networking was when we first met until Tracey persuaded me to go to a conference event in London, in May 2012. This is where we met Sharon Lechter, who is now our business mentor three years on. Sharon opened up my eyes to networking and what it meant. It was my light bulb moment. My goal is to inspire all businesses to start networking to benefit their business.
The secret of our special love
We love being with each other and we’re on the same journey. We have the same values and goals in life, we are both hard working, have vision and are determined to succeed. We both love people, our work and family time with our children. Mutual respect is a big thing for both of us and we both know our strengths and weaknesses. In our business, we love to share each others successes as both of our successes mirror each other as we work so closely together.
Who is Tracey Smolinski?
Since the company’s birth in 2008 Tracey has become a highly successful businesswoman and sought after speaker. She is known for her commitment and drive to provide valuable information to her clients and her extremely powerful and compelling message about building lasting and profitable relationships and trust. Tracey leaves her audience feeling completely energized and ready to take on the world! Tracey is currently being mentored by Sharon Lechter.
Photo: Christopher Davies
Make up: Wenda James-Rowe