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Springing Back from Bankruptcy

Many view bankruptcy as the end of the road – money runs out in business, or personal debt is impossible to manage, for example. The only way out for some is bankruptcy. But bankruptcy may actually help struggling businesses recover, and can even push business owners to increase their efforts and make their businesses not just survive, but thrive, and even exceed financial expectations. In the recession of 2008, many individuals and businesses were negatively affected (e.g., mass layoffs and going out of business), and they are still feeling the effects today. But there are a strong few who found opportunity in disaster and have been working tirelessly to learn from their mistakes and build better, more prosperous business models. This month, we’re examining one such business owner, Tracy Matthews of Tracy Matthews Design (TMD), a jewelry business started in 1997 with the goal of producing custom pieces for both men and women. TMD went out of business in 2009, but that didn’t stop Tracy from pushing on and trying her hand again at the fashion industry. Let’s take a look at her methods and how she became a recurring success:

The Start of Something Great… but then

Tracy started her business TMD in 1997 and it was performing exceedingly well. The year 2007 marked a huge milestone, celebrating 10 years in business. In October of that year, her jewelry line had shipped $150,000 in inventory! However, the following October, in 2008, she shipped just $10,000 as a result of the stock market crash. In response to such a poor performance, Tracy was forced to lay off her 7-person staff and, even worse, she had taken on massive debt, a whopping $350,000. Come December 2009, Tracy Matthews Design had gone out of business.

Tracy’s Personal Account

Along with the bankruptcy notices she’d been receiving in the mail, a number of Tracy’s clients were also contributing to her financial struggles. One business which had purchased $33,000 in jewelry from TMD filed for bankruptcy the day after placing the order and had no means of paying for the jewelry. Another similar situation occurred, that time amounting $20,000. Notices like these kept showing up at her doorstep, according to Tracy. On her end, she had invested a good chunk of her own money in the business and her personal accounts were dwindling, going into the negative. Credit card companies made no hesitation in contacting her daily trying to collect on her debt. Regardless of the clear signs concerning her business, customers, and the economy overall, she reports that she ignored these signs. When she finally realized what was happening, the stress got to her and her health suffered: she lost a lot of weight, was experiencing hair loss, and even developed a thyroid condition. Ouch! Anxiety and lack of sleep soon caught up with her. In 2011, she ended up filing for bankruptcy, and didn’t know where to go from there… Tracy feared she might end up homeless.

Turning it all around

But Tracy was a resourceful woman. She had been teaching yoga every so often since 2007 and made the effort to increase her availability. 18 months later, Tracy was back in the ring, so-to-speak. She decided to launch another fine jewelry business, which is still a huge success, turning more profit in one month than TMD had in a whole year! She was smart. She hired a consultant, looked back on her mistakes, and took an in-depth marketing course to promote her business. She was taking home more money than ever before. Her financial consultant coached her on how to keep money in business and keep it coming. Now, Tracy is nearly obsessing over the numbers, keeping a watchful eye. In her new business, Tracy also managed to establish a multitude of revenue streams, something she hadn’t even considered with TMD. Tracy had finally made it. After learning lessons from financial tragedy, Tracy’s business is not only surviving, it is thriving, flourishing even. She’s even lent advice to business owners in similar industries by co-founding Flourish & Thrive Academy. Tracy’s advice is not to be afraid to ask for help and to see the big picture. “A bigger business doesn’t necessarily mean high profit,” is something that Tracy has learned.


Tracy Matthews has done the seemingly impossible: bouncing back from bankruptcy and coming out on top after hard work and with the right financial advice. It’s clear to her that bankruptcy is not the end of the road, but rather a pathway to new beginnings.

Are you considering filing for bankruptcy? If so, just know that it should be used as a last resort, after all other avenues have been exhausted. Contact the Law Office of Barry R. Levine today by phone at 978-922-8440, or visit our website at