ANNA WELSH // Our Youngest Founder
Her company “little bags. BIG IMPACT” is making waves. But this teenager is just getting started. Read on to learn more about this amazing young woman.
What inspired you to create your business?
For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to create something. I first started creating note cards and cupcake toppers. What started out as a few turned into hundreds. I sold them to my parents and relatives. But I had bigger visions. I wanted an online store and real customers. This was the beginning of my interest and drive in becoming an entrepreneur. 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. Several hours later, I made three clutch bags. My mom carried the bags and received many compliments from boutique owners. I was flattered, but it wasn’t until a month later when I started an entrepreneurship program for students that I realized I could turn my sewing and creative passion into a business.
Did you have any challenges while creating and launching? If so, what did you do to overcome them?
In the beginning it was challenging to realize that I couldn’t do everything myself, especially as the business grew. I learned from a mentor to really think about and determine what I’m good at. Do those things for the business and then build a team of experts who can support me in what I’m not good at. This has probably been the most valuable lesson not only for the growth of littlebags.bigimpact, but also for my own personal growth.
What have you learned through this entire process?
When I was younger, I thought I wanted to become a classroom teacher. However, my entrepreneurial journey has shown me that I can be a teacher in many ways — as a mentor to other aspiring young entrepreneurs, to children in underserved communities, and to the sustainable community to find solutions for textile waste.
Who or what motivated you along the process?
littlebags.bigimpact has a sustainable and social impact mission. I was determined to reuse interior design textile samples and pieces to create littlebags, including discarded upholstery samples used for furniture, window treatments, and home décor. To date, I have rescued more than 2200 pounds of fabric from entering a landfill.
Not only do we all have to nurture the planet, but we have to nurture the next generation. My social impact mission encourages me to do even more for underserved children. I have a love for education so when I learned that in Philadelphia, there is just one age-appropriate quality book in every 300 homes — I was astounded. Two-thirds of all Philadelphia 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 to help these children. I was determined to see a change in my own community, so I partnered with Tree House Books — a literacy center and giving library. I am proud to say that in two years, littlebags.bigimpact has touched the lives of more than 5000 children — giving them new books to become readers, writers, and thinkers. I plan to expand my social impact reach to other communities across the nation because just one book can change a child’s life.
What advice would you give to a young FEM that is looking at launching a business?
The women’s business community has been so welcoming to me as a young entrepreneur. I have received invaluable insight into business ownership from a diverse group of women. These women have provided instrumental guidance to help me. For other young FEMs interested in launching a business: follow your passion and strive to incorporate an impact component. I find that through supporting a cause that you are passionate about, you can make a substantial impact on our earth and in our community. Also, connect with other young entrepreneurs to learn about their experiences. It has truly been fascinating to learn how many young people are out there with creative business ideas, ready to put them into action to inspire the next generation.