When Anna Welsh isn’t hitting the books at school, she’s making bags—including eye-catching, fashionable clutches and mini-clutches—and selling them to buy books for kids who need them most.
Her social enterprise, Little Bags, Big Impact, launched in early 2017 and has thus far donated more than 1,250 books and helped 5,000-plus children acquire literacy skills while also rescuing 2,000 pounds of fabric from landfills, according to the company’s website.
And did we mention that Anna is only 14 years old?
A resident of Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, who has been sewing since the age of 6, she started her business when she was 12 after attending a summer hand-craft camp. “I had completed all of the assigned projects, so my sewing teacher gave me a scrap of fabric and a piece of paper,” she recalls on her website. “By the end of the day, I had designed and sewn three clutch bags. This is what I call ‘the start of it all.’”
And what a start it was. After making several clutches for her mom, she began getting requests for the bags from total strangers who saw and admired them. Before long, she was selected for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy and began developing her business plan. When she presented it to a “Shark Tank”-style panel of investors, they named her the overall winner and gave her nearly double the amount of money she asked for, according to Main Line Today.
Anna donates 15 percent of each sale to Philadelphia’s Tree House Books, which distributes books to disadvantaged children in the area. Emphasizing sustainability in her business practices, she uses recycled textiles and fabrics that would otherwise be thrown out to design patterns that are both elegant and a little funky, with distinctive textures that lend multisensory appeal.
“The whole process of developing my business has been overwhelming but fascinating,” she writes on her website. “I learn something new every day—how to establish a business bank account or “Can a 12-year-old really own a business?’ At the heart of it all, I always knew that, even though I’m little, I have visions of my business growing big. I am so fortunate to have a supportive team of people around me to help me turn my dream into a reality.”