Patricia Neleski – NavyRackPacks
Patricia Neleski is a small business owner, military spouse, and graduate of V-WISE New York City 2014. Her company, NavyRackPacks, designs and manufactures blackout, flame-retardant, rack storage curtains for Navy ships and subs, Coast Guard cutters and Military Sealift Command Vessels.
How It Happened: Neleski’s business started ten years ago in her garage when she sewed a better curtain for her husband because “the light streamed in like cheesecloth” through his Navy-issued shade!
Within weeks of that first fateful foray, the idea took off and Neleski was displaying her product at Navy Exchanges, through a scholarship foundation, at USO events, and online. Swamped with orders, writing freelance for the local newspaper, attending classes, raising a family, and caring for her sailor all at the same time, Neleski built her business step by step over 10 years.
Now, NavyRackPacks is a tidy bricks and mortar operation in St. Marys, Georgia. Since 2006, Neleski has been a registered government contractor and her curtains are sold directly to Navy ships, subs, Coast Guard cutters, Military Sealift Command and NOAA ships as well as to individuals. Her website has garnered top Google rankings for many years. The packs are made entirely in the U.S., and the company’s employees are hired through the Spouse Employment Assistance Program at the Navy’s Fleet and Family Service Center at Kings Bay, Georgia.
Pat and her husband Ed, a retired submarine Chief Petty Officer, who now helps veterans find jobs through the GPS/TAP program, have been married for 19 years and raised four daughters.
Business ownership is a Neleski family tradition. Neleski’s father is an Army veteran who went on to be a veteran entrepreneur in partnership with her mother after retirement. According to Neleski, being part of the military community as a service member or spouse helps individuals learn what is needed to be successful business owners:
“The one characteristic this group shares is that to be successful, all of us have to learn to think on our feet– we have to be problem solvers in the face of adversity, and we have to take risks. These are all the skills that make great entrepreneurs.”
Patricia Neleski is a business woman, military spouse, and leading lady of V-WISE! Check her out at navyrackpacks.com.
Photo: Courtesy Nancy Staley, Fancy Nancy Photography