Not sure what to do after high school in Bundaberg, Little Kids Business founder Leisa Papa decided to keep her options open with a Bachelor of Arts at CQUniversity.
Now with a diverse career in business, marketing, sales and even children’s book publishing, the determined Brisbane mum has realised she can do anything she sets her mind to.
Leisa founded Little Kids Business in 2017, and was recently named one of Australia’s Top 50 Small Business Leaders by Small Business Magazine.
The fast-growing online marketplace specialises in products for kids, and Leisa says her inspiration for Little Kids Business came from writing a children’s book, Daniel and the Dummy Fairy.
“At CQUni I’d majored in tourism, communications and sociology – and while my career took me into tourism primarily, I’d always really loved writing and communicating,” she explained.
She wrote and self-published the book while on maternity leave with her second child, and started selling it through an online marketplace.
“I built a bit of experience as a vendor, but I had the idea I might get more interest on a kids marketplace – and when I looked there wasn’t one!” she said.
Little Kids Business is now home to 200 stores across big brands and small sellers, and Leisa said developing communications skills at CQUni has been vital to the growth.
“I was really grateful that I had the public relations experience from uni, it’s really given me the courage to write press releases and editorials and really promote the business,” she said.
“I’m always juggling a lot of hats as the founder and lead curator at Little Kids Business, but I still make sure I set aside one day a week to do public relations and marketing.”
Leisa faced a panel of six judges to be selected among the Top 50 Small Business Leaders, and said it was an exciting honour.
“The judges recognised a lot of the hard work we’d done to promote the business through niche marketing, and also the unique loyalty program we created with child care centres,” she said.
Her team of four includes three other mums, which Leisa says gives the business a wealth of practical knowledge and personal service.
Leisa’s advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs is to network hard, and that “you’ll never know if you never ask”.
“I didn’t see myself as an entrepreneur originally, but the truth is if you’ve got a strong feeling in your gut, you should give it a go – you don’t want to have that regret for the rest of your life,” she said.