We had the good fortune of connecting with Anna Welsh and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Anna, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
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 drive to becoming an entrepreneur. In 2017, six months later after the program ended — at the age of 13 and being in 6th grade — I opened an online store and was accepted into my first juried artisan event.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
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. To date, I have rescued 3250+ pounds of fabric from entering a landfill by turning them into littlebags.

Not only do we all have to nurture the planet, but we have to nurture the next generation. From the very beginning — when writing my business plan — incorporating a social impact component was extremely important to me.

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 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. To date I have impacted the lives of more than 14,000 children.

As the business grew, I realized that I couldn’t handle all aspects of the business myself. I also had to prioritize my schoolwork since I am still in high school. I learned from a mentor that I should focus on my strengths, tasks of importance and what brings me joy and the most reward at the end of the day. This helped guide my strategy in building a team and determining what needed to be automated, delegated or eliminated.

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.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m a big foodie. I laugh that if I didn’t create bags, I would open a bakery. Let’s definitely start at ICI Macarons & Café for the most amazing pastries. I love all things vintage and reclaimed so stopping by the Resource Exchange—a creative resource center, and Urban Exchange for vintage threads is a must. Then I’d head over to the Soup Kitchen Café for a build your own breakfast sandwich with a cup of soup. To surround yourself in nature while in the city, head over to Walter Pine, the most charming, curated plants and treasures store in Queen Village. For an afternoon pick me up, head to Gryphon Coffee in the Kensington neighborhood. Finally, in the warmer weather, take a walk or hang in a hammock along Spruce Street Harbor Park. On the weekends in the summer, there are food trucks, music and local artisans. This place is dear to my heart because this is where I had my very first artisan show.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Juggling going to school and running a business can be overwhelming. However, my mom is by my side and has proven to be essential in keeping operations running smoothly.

Website: https://www.littlebagsbyanna.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/littlebagsbyanna/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/littlebagsbyanna/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/littlebagsbyanna/

Other: https://www.pinterest.com/littlebagsbyanna

Image Credits
Versano Photography

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.