With Mother’s Day just around the corner and e-commerce more popular than ever, this was the perfect opportunity to chat to Leisa Papa, founder of popular online marketplace Little Kids Business and mum of two kids.
1. What was the inspiration behind the launch of your business and when was it launched?
The story of Little Kids Business began when I published a children’s book called ‘Daniel and the Dummy Fairy’ and chose to package it with an opening fairy door in order to increase sales.
This worked so well that I chose to invite another brand and then another. Little Kids Business launched officially in March 2018 as an online marketplace which is now proud to host 200 kids stores with over 1,650 gifts, cross-selling together.
2. What challenges did you face trying to get your business up and running?
Without an IT degree, there has certainly been allot to learn along the way.
Keen to make our site as wonderful for the brand as it is for the customer, Little Kids Business was rebuilt in September 2019 to incorporate many new features including, individual logins for each store holder, the ability for stores to view their visitor numbers, coupon management from their store dashboard, the ability for customers to follow the brands they love and receive email updates when new stock arrives, increased brand value with product reviews, improved personal reporting and an easy to use holiday mode to name a few.
With many more features available to add to our marketplace, I am keen to keep improving out site for both the customer and the brand.
3. How do you balance work and family with kids?
It’s crazy in our house prior 7.30am, however, when the school bus stops in our driveway to collect Daniel age 10 and Sophie age 7, I love that I can quickly head to the office for an early start.
It can be a challenge to juggle work and kids, however, with so many of our brands run by mums in business, I am working with a very understanding clientele.
I think the key to happiness is being present with whomever you are with. Although doing school pickup often means that I work in the evening, I am happy to be the crazed mum who is just scraping into the pickup zone on time. When the kids jump into the car, I put work aside and become the caring mum whom they share the memories of their day with, happy that I have this honour.
4. What would be your top tips for other mums who are looking to start a business?
Be realistic about what is ahead of you and ask for help when you need it. If your full-time job before involved doing everything for the kids and hubby and you now feel like you are drowning, ask for help. You just might be surprised how many people have your back.
I recall for the first year I was struggling to manage my time and my house was the first to suffer, so a friend said to me ‘Leisa, no one is going to be standing there with a medal at the end of your days because you always cleaned your own floors’ and she was right. I quickly got a cleaner and to this day, I still happy dance in the door and inhale the cleanliness with delight when she has visited.
5. Why do you think so many mums are successful in business?
I believe that being a mum forces you to multitask like no other job in the world. As a result, we develop a natural ability to hone in on problems to be solved and the gusto to jump in and try and solve them.
I live by the saying that if I never ask, the answer is always no, so I tend to ask lots of questions and often look for solutions.
6. What does the ideal Mother’s Day look like for you?
This year Mother’s day will start with thoughts of my beautiful mum who lives five hours away. Those thoughts will quickly be squashed by Daniel and Sophie eager to give me my gifts and Chris will make me breakfast. I love to eat breakfast on our veranda as we have lovely views of trees and our sheep.
The day will probably be pretty quiet and may involve some work on my laptop, however, as I am not a fan of cooking, I’ll use Mother’s Day as my excuse to get out of making dinner and order my favourite Thai.
7. Best advice your mother gave you?
As my mum is spending her first Mother’s Day undergoing chemo this year, she has been full of good advice of late. The one piece of advice that stands out right now is to stop and smell the flowers, as no matter where you are, there is always a flower in bloom.
8. What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far?
You don’t know what you don’t know. No matter how much you prepare, there is always something surprising around the corner and a wonderful lesson to learn whether it be about marketing, e-commerce or my relationships.
9. How has Covid-19 affected your business?
As Covid-19 has caused many businesses to sharpen their e-commerce offering, this means more online competition for us. For this reason I was concerned, however, we are eternally grateful for the increase in visitors and sales.
10. What does the future look like for little kids business?
As an online marketplace focused on gifts for kids 0-14 years, I like to think that we were once in nappies and we have since mastered crawling, walking and running. Another growth spurt is just around the corner and we can’t wait.
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