By Graziella DiNuzzo
Sherrill Mosee’s mother was a young teenage mom with a desire to go to college. “She was accepted to the University of Penn but my grandmother said she couldn’t go. She said she couldn’t afford to keep the baby and go to school,” explains Mosee. The reality of her mother’s lost life opportunity would become the catalyst for Sherrill’s life journey.
When Sherrill was laid off from her engineering job at Lockheed Martin, she decided it was time to follow her desire to help women succeed by finding solutions to life obstacles.
In 1998, Sherrill formed Family Care Solutions, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting higher education among low-income women with children. More specifically, Sherrill’s organization awarded over $3 million in childcare scholarships to help women stay in school while earning a college degree. “We supported over 500 student parents and had a ninety percent graduation rate,” boasts Sherrill. “Today, these moms are accountants, teachers, business owners and more. I get invited to their children’s weddings and graduations.”
“Unfortunately, when the economy crashed in 2008, I lost a lot of government funding and had to close my doors to the nonprofit,” explains Sherrill. “However, I was committed to supporting those students who were already in the program until they all graduated. It was during my time working with the moms that I noticed them struggling with their book bag and diaper bag. I was also doing the same thing, commuting to work while carrying my purse, laptop, lunch bag, and shoes in a plastic grocery bag.”
Photo credit: Tracy Glover
Plato is credited for the famous proverb, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” No doubt, MinkeeBlue’s birth in 2014 filled a great need.
“I originally started designing diaper bags because of my work with student moms and I wanted the name Pinky Blue but the domain was taken. I liked the sound of Pinky Blue so I literally went through the alphabet and landed on M for MinkeeBlue,” laughs Sherrill.
MinkeeBlue bags are designed to fit everything a woman will need to get through her busy life - from morning through night, and all in style.
Visit the MinkeeBlue website and you will see several videos of Sherrill demonstrating how easily everything fits into one stylish tote or backpack. You name it and it all fits neatly and accessibly - laptop, small purse, shoes, lunch bag, and a jacket, with seemingly room to spare. See Video.
“My engineering degree provided the training to guide my critical and analytical thinking. It also helped me to design the structural folding shelf in the middle of the bag to withstand the weight of objects without collapsing. I’ve been issued two patents for the functionality,” says Sherrill.
\MinkeeBlue was nurtured at the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator giving Sherrill access to Wharton business experts and fashion business luminaries.
Elissa Bloom is the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator at Macy’s. “Every year we select designers who are interested in taking their product to the next level by offering a year-long designers-in-residence program. We connect designers with education, resources and business strategies to grow their brands. Sherrill had a very unique product – we are always looking for designers that have a unique value proposition.”
Over the course of a year, the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator helped facilitate the connections Sherrill needed to move to the next level. “We connected her to The Workshop at Macy’s in NYC, which teaches women and Minority Owned Businesses how to sell to retail,” explains Bloom. “Sherrill was also given office space at String Theory Charter School.”
“It’s so great working out of String Theory,” says Sherrill. I get to work with High School students, teaching them about entrepreneurship and sharing my experience as a business owner in exchange for the office space. The students apply for social media internship opportunities with MinkeeBlue. It’s a great opportunity to work with students again.”
Sherrill took advantage of every opportunity to grow, including entering the reality TV show, America’s Big Deal.
“I got an email about a new show created by Joy Mangano, the founder of the Miracle Mop. The show highlighted small business owners who had an opportunity to make a two-minute pitch. There were four contestants and whoever sold the most products during the show advanced to the next level. I won!” exclaims Sherrill.
Sherrill’s winnings amounted to a $100,000 purchase order from Macy’s. “I was on the premier show in October 2021 and won the first pitch competition. Things just lined up,” says Sherrill.
MinkeeBlue is now available for purchase in ten Macy’s stores and online. Sherrill was on hand at Macy’s Herald Square on December 2, 2022 to greet her new customers and answer questions.
MinkeeBlue has been featured on the Today Show, the Katie Couric Show and QVC. “She has the drive and perseverance to succeed in the fashion industry,” adds Bloom.
In August 2022, Sherrill received an email and a survey inviting her to participate in the World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia’s signature event, “Bringing the World 2 PA.” Every year, the WTCGP arranges meetings with export ready Southeastern PA companies and Authorized Trade Representatives who work and live in various markets around the globe.
“Sherrill was great at following-up. I received her survey and she requested to meet with several representatives,” says Dale Foote, WTCGP Trade Specialist. “On September 12th, Sherrill spent the day in several meetings, and we now have work orders in process with Canada, Mexico, Australia, the UK, Czech Republic and India.”
“I first learned about the services offered by the WTCGP while attending a workshop offered by Small Business Development Center at Temple University,” says Sherrill. “While I sell direct to consumers online and have customers from all around the world, I am looking forward to securing a distributor in a global market.”
Sherrill admits that her road to entrepreneurial success hasn’t always been easy, “but nothing beats a failure but a try," her mother would always say.