After Barbara Rackes’ business beginnings in the women’s apparel industry, she built several technology companies before launching TheRackesGroup. Her e-business ventures follow twenty successful years in traditional brick and mortar retail during which Rackes built a $10 million company doing business in three southeastern cities and employing more than 100 people. Prior to her years as a traditional and online pioneer, Rackes served as a press secretary to a US Congressman in Washington while attending law school.
Rackes was honored by the US Small Business Administration as the Small Business Person of the Year for both the State of South Carolina and the 10-state southeastern region after first being named Small Businessperson of the Year by the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce In 1994, the National Retail Federation honored Rackes as National Independent Retailer of the Year. Rackes has received numerous other awards including the US Chamber of Commerce Blue Chip Award for Business Excellence. In 2011, the Palmetto Center for Women honored her with the TWIN Award for Entrepreneurship.
A serial entrepreneur, Rackes helped found the Southeastern Institute for Women in Politics, a non-profit organization formed to encourage and train women to run for office. In 2011, she chaired Columbia Steve Benjamin’s mayoral transition team, later spinning out One Columbia for Arts and Historic, a non-profit, independent organization charged with marketing all Columbia arts and historic preservation efforts. She managed the Famously Hot New Year’s celebration in the South Carolina capital for four years before transitioning serve as its treasurer.
In 2016, Rackes joined with other leading women to found a non-profit corporation called the South Carolina Women’s Leadership Network dba, SC Women in Leadership (SC WIL). Its mission is to encourage women to step up and lead corporations, boards, and governments. In 2019 SC WIL has taken on additional missions of collaborating with other organizations to ensure fair voting, filling the pipeline with diverse candidates, and reducing polarization as women are so capable of doing.
In 2019, Rackes was selected as one of 25 “Women of Influence” by the Columbia Regional Business Report.
An active contributor to her community, Rackes has chaired or served on many local, state and national boards including the Small Business Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, the University of South Carolina Educational and Research Foundation Boards and the advisory board to the College of Liberal Arts, the of Claflin College Business Board, the Palmetto Health Foundation Board of Directors, the Central Carolina Community Foundation Board, One Columbia for Arts and Historic Preservation, Famously Hot New Year, and the Governor’s Commission for Management, Accountability, and Performance (MAP).
She and her husband, Michael Mann, are the parents of five grown children and live in Columbia, South Carolina.