Female Founder Feature: Leisa Papa – Little Kids Business

Mother of 2 Leisa has always had a passion for business. By using her past experience as a Business Advisor for brands including P&O, Princess, Cunard Cruiselines and Alphapharm Pharmaceuticals, Leisa has created Australia’s own, Mums run Kids Marketplace. 


Specialising in gifts for Baby’s, Little Kids and School Kids alike, Little Kids Business has gained recognition from the Ausmumpreneur network and Inside Retail Magazine who named her one of Australia’s Top 50 Small Business Leaders in 2020 for her work providing Kids Businesses an avenue to scale online. 

As a devoted Mum, Leisa struggled to find a book that could visually showcase what happens when the dummy Fairy comes to visit toddlers, so she wrote and published one. It was this moment that set in play a series of events, that has led to Little Kids Business. 


With experience working with buying groups in the Pharmaceutical Industry, Leisa knew that working with like minded business would help her children’s book to be found. Julie from Opening Fairy Doors agreed that this was mutually beneficial and joined Leisa. This relationship encouraged Leisa to approach another and another. Little Kids Business is now proud to showcase gifts from 300 of Australia’s leading kids brands including Bobbleart, Jellystone Designs, Nail Snail and more. 


As a doubled sided Marketplace, it didn’t take long for Leisa to realise that she had double the work cut out for her. Attracting brands without a database and fake product pictures proved challenging as did attracting customers with so few brands onboard.


This is where Leisa’s previous sales rep experience kicked in and she began to phone brands and create a relationship. Validating their concerns and talking them through their objections until, one by one they came onboard knowing that it cost them nothing to list on Leisa’s Marketplace and, they could leave at any time with no strings attached. 


We recently interviewed Leisa.


What would you say are the top three traits needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

1. Courage to take a leap of faith and be ok with being a little out of your depth. 

2. Kindness is essential to build strong relationships and collaborate with other businesses.

3. Sensible enough to acknowledge there may be a better way. 


What has been the biggest mistake you’ve made in business?

I’ve been very trusting of agencies to assist with SEO, however three years in, I can clearly see that if I had educated myself and bought this in-house, it would have been a smarter move.


Be SEO savvy and educate yourself thoroughly from day 1 as a website is dead in the water without it. 


What do you believe was the best decision you made in business?

To overhaul our website branding colours after a year. I was updating the customer view of the site and this gave me an opportunity to change my mind. I am so in love with the revised look and feel of the site. What was I thinking?


How do you personally measure success?

The number of brands selling through us and happy Customers 


Outsource the skill or learn the skill?

I tried to outsource and now I am a fan of learning the skill. We have also recently bought Google Ads in-house. 


What keeps you going in difficult times?

I still pinch myself that my husband is so incredibly supportive. He is my rock no matter what. He also owns his own business and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. 


How do you make the most of your day? Any tips?

I always start by updating my list of things to do and I do the most important thing on my list before looking at my emails. I also dedicate Thursdays to be my proactive day where I focus on marketing. 


Do you have any tips for work life balance?

My goal for starting my own business was so that I could have some flexibility with my family. 


Camping is wonderful family time. Most holidays you will find Chris, Daniel, Sophie and I away with friends in our caravan by the campfire or overlooking sunset over the water. I love that camping is not a technology holiday. It’s about kayaking, riding bikes, bushwalking and exploring. It’s about creating memories with our kids. 


Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?

I really admire people who can pivot. Tina and her husband from Lah-Lah big band had to cancel their Australian tour due to COVID and used that time to create a wonderful course for video content creators. What a wonderful example of making the best of a situation with your skill set. 

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