Kemi

Kemi, Founder of  Little Likes Kids

Kemi, Founder of Little Likes Kids

What was going on in your career when you sought out Parachute?

I was spinning my wheels as a professional fundraiser searching for an opportunity that would really use my talents. A friend of mine mentioned the idea of coaching and referred me to Parachute Coaching. it sounded promising, and I liked the idea of objective support, so I decided to invest in myself and go for it. The very first benefit of coaching was being able to talk to another focused, driven professional who took my career questions seriously. The fact that the Parachute practice is no joke and that I connected so quickly with Lauren confirmed for me that engaging in the coaching process with Parachute was going to be an excellent investment for me.

What was your goal when you started the coaching process?

I felt sure that development and fundraising wasn’t where I wanted to put my energy long-term but I didn’t have a clear vision of where and how to apply my talents and interests. I pursued coaching to help me figure out what I really wanted, what I might be good at, and how to put that together into action.

What big step have you recently taken in your career journey?

Through the coaching process, I realized that what I really wanted to do was start a business of my own. I had been playing around with the idea of starting a toy company, but I had not really allowed myself to say it out loud, and I definitely didn’t feel I had the confidence to put myself out there. But once I understood what I truly value, and recognized the skills that I bring to the table, I felt excited and able to give it a shot! So by the time I had completed my initial Parachute subscription, I had decided on a concept, a company name, and I was talking to artists about turning my ideas and images into actual toys! Most importantly, I had decided that it was worth it to give this a shot, no matter what came of it. I launched Little Likes Kids, a modern toy company bringing to a mass market, beautifully-illustrated and lovingly designed toys inspired by—and truly reflective of—the lives of today’s kids. We’re now in major stores in the DC metro area including Politics & Prose, Sullivan’s, and Child’s Play, and we’re finalizing the details on a contract with a nationwide retailer now. It’s all so exciting and fulfilling.

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Knowing that there is often a snowball effect to decision-making, meaning one decision often opens up opportunities to make more decisions, what came next for you after you decided to start your own business?

Great question! I was actually just thinking about this. My next key decision was committing to focusing on my business full-time as opposed to trying to make it a side hustle until I have enough revenue to make it full-time. I think about that every day — how, for me, it was so critical to feel all-in, and to have a singular focus. It allowed me to revel in all the details big and small and really put all of my energy into making this company a success!

What risk are you glad you took?

Going all in. No question about it. It was scary, for sure. But I haven’t looked back, and it has made all the difference in terms of mindset and time management to know that I have one clear focus.

What is a recent moment in your career that made you really proud?

Convincing my mother to help me with my retail accounts! She’s retired and I called on her because sometimes you really have to take stock of all your assets and family is definitely a big one! I only had a vague understanding of her 30+ year career in manufacturing sales/logistics. She traveled with me to my first trade show and as it turns out she is of the same generation as most of the retailers I met at the show. They all hit it off great! It made me proud that I have a mother who I not only want to work with but who has exactly the expertise I needed at that moment.

What was your biggest take-away from your coaching experience?

I had a lot of important take-aways, but one that really stands out is getting to a place where I felt — and continue to feel — very capable of trusting myself to make good, sound decisions. I still sometimes ask other people for their opinions or thoughts, but I feel confident in executing my own decisions and that’s a huge gift.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to start a business like you did?

Start from a place that is personal and find the passion within that. Then once you’ve identified the passion, make sure you have the skills and discipline to match the passion, because passion alone is not enough. You have to be able to deal with the operational aspects to get from idea to execution. With the combination of passion and skills you can trust that if you keep pushing, breakthroughs and success will come!

Lauren Laitin