Economic Development

Simply Scarves Owner Mentors Women Entrepreneurs

SALEM, Ohio — Vicki McGee strives to help women with the experience she obtained during her corporate career and now in independent retail. Whether it is with resume building, encouragement or advice on starting a business, McGee shares her skills to impact the lives of other women. 

McGee owns Simply Scarves and Such, which sells women’s clothing, scarves, jewelry, wreaths and accessories made by herself and her vendors. All products are sold at the company’s four locations in Salem, Austintown, Columbiana and Minerva. The business employs six plus McGee.

Her first foray into the business was making greeting cards and scarves in her hotel room while she traveled on business. “The ladies [where my husband worked] would buy them,” she says.

One day, while she was helping Rhonda Hardesty at Rhonda’s Dawggy Pawlor, Hardesty asked McGee about sharing space in the animal grooming business’ storefront in Salem.

“It was slow but took off. Then I started a Facebook group and things started taking off, and the rest is history,” McGee says.

Depending on the person’s situation, mentoring does not necessarily mean helping women start their own business, McGee says. It may mean helping a business woman or a crafter with her confidence, building her resume and letting her know she matters. 

“They don’t think it’s a big deal but it is,” she says. “It changes their mindset that they can believe, do and achieve.” 

Cindy Crockett met McGee at a craft show, where McGee enjoyed her display and asked her to sell her jewelry at all four Simply Scarves stores. She says McGee has provided ideas for her business and encouragement, and has helped her get out of her comfort zone. 

“I enjoy working with her. She gives you guidance, advice and has a very good business head, so I’m very happy that we met. We work very well together,” she says. 

Working with McGee has also led to the expansion of several product lines, including stainless steel wine stoppers, natural stones and handmade jewelry. 

“Vicki is putting them on her webpage, so we are starting something new about that. Her business is blooming and I want to be on her coattails,” she says. 

McGee believes in women and the vendors she has mentored enough to know they will succeed by working hard, sourcing their products better and helping out the community, which she encourages them to do. It takes time and people do not get rich quick. 

“If you think you’re going to come into a business and make millions your first month, [it’s] not realistic,” she says. “I manage from the heart, but there’s a reality to it. I tell everybody I work a hundred hours a week and if you’re not willing to put in the time that it takes and take care of that customer, it’s just a hobby.” 

None of the women McGee has mentored have brick-and-mortar stores because of the cost, but they are working on developing their products. People who have approached her for mentoring seem to be leaning toward a jewelry business and she also has had people approach her about being a vendor in her stores. 

“Sometimes I say no,” she says. “I’m always going to help them, but they might not be a fit for my stores. I treat them all the same, respect wise, but every person is different and every person [gets] motivated differently.” 

Something McGee says to any woman who wants to fulfill her business endeavour is to never give up, be positive when times are hard and to always believe in herself. If women have the right mindset and someone who cares is mentoring them, they will succeed. 

“More than 90% of failure happens when you don’t believe the sky’s the limit,” she says. “Whether you’re my age or 20. You have to keep plugging along even when it gets hard because if you stop, then it’s never going to happen.”

Judy Lesezers, a vendor who sells wreaths and who has worked with McGee for six months, says financially, it has been helpful to her and says McGee does many things with the community. Whenever there are local events occurring, Lesezers donates a wreath. 

There are many aspects Lesezers needs mentored in when it comes to her business, one of which is learning how to promote herself. Before she started working with McGee, many people were not aware of her business. As one of the vendors in Simply Scarves and Such, McGee helps with promoting Lesezers’ products.

“She’s taught me a lot about community giving and donations,” Lesezers says. “[She] stands behind me and gives me more confidence. She could be doing this all on her own and not worry about anyone else, but us into her stores. It’s to help [us] on [our] feet and able to get more business oriented.” 

Lesezers’ wreaths and centerpieces are sold in all four of McGee’s stores and they will also sell on the Simply Scarves website when it launches this summer.  

“So far this year we are up double digits and I’m happy with that,” McGee says. “Most retailers usually show 5% to 8%. We’re up considerably more than that. I’m pleased with the growth.”

McGee’s website, SimplyScarvesAndSuch.com, is something that she always wanted to have. While not tech savvy herself, she reached out to other business to see what website builders they use.

“It had to be user friendly and we’re still adding to it. I think we have over 100 items. It’s been a work in progress,” she says. 

McGee’s main goal, apart from mentoring women, is to have shoppers leave her store without breaking the bank or be able to provide for any children they may have. 

Through discipline, hard work, experience and integrity, McGee continues to impact women around her and she makes it a goal to achieve every day. 

“I vowed to make a difference and do everything I could to help others. Whether you’re 20 or 100, you can have it all with the right mindset, positive attitude and inspiration from others,” she says.

Pictured: Even if she doesn’t stock their products, Simply Scarves and Such owner Vicki McGee offers women advice.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.