We had the good fortune of connecting with Kelsey Searles and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kelsey, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
My thought process on starting MiliMili centered around a couple key things:
- As a child of two parents who both owned their own businesses, I have always wanted to (and assumed I’d) be an entrepreneur at some point in my life. I was just waiting for the right business concept to come along.
- After having my 1st child (Remy) I was desperate for a passion project – something that could use my creative side and my background in Interior Design, but also fuse that with my entrepreneurship degree and Type A personality (i.e. love for order and process.)
MiliMili has definitely been that saving grace – that passion project that keeps me happy and challenged.
And it all started with a gift. After receiving an amazingly thoughtful, useful and cool looking sleep sack from my friend Rose – I wondered why there aren’t more nursery goods on the market that were that fun and colorful. And why are nursery goods all so… babyish? (I’m the one that gets to design the nursery, why can’t it by MY taste and not some predetermined style?) I instantly felt like there was a business idea here and there was a problem that I felt needed to be solved. So I recruited Rose to start the biz.
So next process step: research, talking to everyone we knew, and starting the sampling process. We wanted to limit as much as risk as possible as we were self funding this venture!
It took us about 10 months to get that first collection out – and we are incredibly proud of what we created. My hope is that we can continue to grow the business with the help of some outside funding, and one day fill the nursery space (and maybe even the rest of your home!) with color and print that makes you smile.
What should our readers know about your business?
We LOVE color. We are adamant that our products be SUPER soft. Our sleep sacks use a really awesome custom zipper that opens from both top and bottom (parents love it.) And we are really dedicated to creating zero-waste (we take back ALL the excess material from our sleep sack and crib sheet productions, and use it to make handmade small goods like eye masks, scrunchies, and baby beanies. Anything too small to be turned into a product – is used as pillow filler or braided into rugs.)
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Pre-Covid there were a few must-dos on my list for visitors (many of which can be adapted to make Covid friendly – like picking up your food/beer to-go, or dining outside):
- A hike up to Griffith Observatory to play with the Tesla Coil and Foucault’s pendulum
- A visit to Grand Central Market for food + a quick pop in at the Bradburry building across the street (I LOVE old architecture.)
- The bar at the 4 Seasons Beverly Hills – pre-kids it was our go to spot to grab a drink, enjoy live music, and celebrity spot.
- Brunch with Mimosas near the beach, followed by a beach day
- The Magic Castle (if you can find a way to get in!)
- Franklin Canyon park (especially if you have kids) – it’s a cute little park that is a fun spot to picnic and see swans/turtles/koi fish.
- A trip to Macleod Ale in Van Nuys (this is also a great spot for kids+dogs – where you can play games, grab a beer + pizza and hang.)
- Driving through Hancock Park to look at beautiful old homes.
- Taking photos at the Chandler Bike Path murals (we have used the mural off Cartright for a bunch of MiliMili shoots!)
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Oh my goodness – we were built on the advice and support of our friends and family. Even if it was as simple as a social media shout out talking about our business – it all helped! Some early friends who have been amazing supporters and cheerleaders include Vinitha for her awesome insight into the baby goods market; Seana for all the PR / Marketing help; Steph for being out biggest fan and best customer; our families and closest friends for their purchases, social shares, and cheerleading; the USC Entrepreneurship network for introducing us to the right people to find our production manager and local factories; and HeyMama for all the amazing connections, mentors and business support. (I could continue on, I’d love to write a shoutout to all our customers because we truly are so thankful for each and every one.)
Credit for the photo of Kelsey + Rose + Remy against colorful wall goes to Jamie Brown Photography