Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in bags and accessories but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Anna Welsh, founder, and CEO of Littlebags by Anna, located in Wynnewood, PA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
The mission behind every littlebag is to "nurture the planet & the next generation." My journey toward zero-waste begins in the design studio. I make bags to last, using only the most sustainable materials - reclaimed fabric that was headed for a landfill. I am proud that each littlebag is third-party certified to contain up to 96% recycled content. Not only do we all have to nurture the planet, but we have to nurture the next generation. I have a love for education.
So when I learned that in many marginalized urban and rural communities in the United States, there is just one age-appropriate quality book in every 300 homes — I was astounded. Two-thirds of all third graders cannot read at grade level. A benchmark researchers say it can be a make-or-break in determining if a child will succeed in school or even make it to 12th-grade graduation. After learning this, I knew I had to take action. I donate 15% of the proceeds of each bag to buy new books for these children.
Littlebag customers are both sustainably and socially conscious consumers that also love fashion accessories and style. Littlebags has shown that sustainable fashion can be both affordable and stylish!
Tell us about yourself
Littlebags by Anna was born out of a clutch bag, a compliment, and a class. I had been taking needle arts and sewing classes since I was six. When I was 12 years old, my sewing teacher gave me a clutch bag pattern and funky fabric. My mom carried the bags and received compliments from boutique owners—with many saying 'you could sell those here.' I was flattered but thought they were just being nice because I was young. It wasn't until a month later, when I started an entrepreneurship program for middle and high school kids – that I realized I could turn my passion for sewing into a business. This was the beginning of my interest and drove me to become an entrepreneur. It is exciting that Littlebags by Anna will be celebrating five years this spring!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
- At the height of the pandemic, Littlebags by Anna was able to donate $6000 to support children in need. $5,000 was used to fully stock the traveling mobile library with new books that reflect the diversity of all children (through my partnership with Tree House Books). The bookmobile was able to bring the books to children who were not able to attend school due to the pandemic. Another $1000 was used to purchase meals for these children since they relied on school for meals (breakfast/lunch) - but the schools were closed.
- I am proud to support other women business owners and artisans, so I created a "collaboration market" as part of Littlebags by Anna to bring talented female artists to the forefront. Our collaboration market broadens a customer's impact by supporting women-owned small businesses and artisans across the USA. Our special collections combine littlebags with genuine leather tassels made from upcycled airline seat covers created by a non-profit in Florida, hand-woven cotton wristlets from an artisan in Hawaii, hand-dyed and torn cotton tassels from a textile designer in Pennsylvania, and eco-friendly fiber tassels from an artisan in New York.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Learning how to delegate because as the business has grown, I realized that I couldn't handle everything myself.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
To become the most effective, productive, and fulfilled business owner - I have learned and grown a lot by:
- Automate - Find a system that will help save time and money while boosting productivity.
- Delegate - Build a team of experts that are skilled at tasks that you are not good at/don't enjoy doing.
- Eliminate - Determine if a task is essential to the business. If it's not, then eliminate it.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
If one 12-year-old with an idea can show that sustainability is stylish and profitable – all while impacting the lives of children and the health of the planet — then this demonstrates that we can all be changemakers. And at the end of the day, it's heartwarming to know that I'm a women-owned business with a strong sustainable and social impact mission. A woman who consciously measures her environmental and social responsibility. There's something very powerful in all of that.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own subscription business? Check out subkit.com and learn how you can turn "one day" into day one.