I am delighted to introduce Perfect 10 SF readers to founder and lead designer Leslie of Newlie Diaper Bags! I discovered Newlie's Instagram account and liked that she is a mom making diaper bags for moms. We were able to connect and I asked if I could interview her for the Perfect Professional series. She politely agreed and I am excited to share her answers. I love the advice and insight Leslie gives, all with such humility!
My goal with the Perfect Professional series is to give readers the opportunity to meet the great women behind incredible businesses and hopefully gain some inspiration, advice, and knowledge. I was checking out Leslie's bio on the Newlie site and was pleasantly surprised to hear that she has a background in improv comedy and wrote a sketch for Saturday Night Live- she is hilarious. Check out the rap video she co-wrote and starred in about being a mom here! I was laughing so hard! Isn't it funny that she did not even mention this to me when we were talking? She is just too humble!
Tell me about yourself!
I'm originally from Marin County in Northern California but I've been living in Los Angeles after coming here to go to UCLA. I'm married and have a beautiful girl named Lily who considers herself my business partner (even though she's only 7). I started my first of many businesses at her age making crafts out of paper and selling them door to door in my neighborhood so I guess I've always had an entrepreneurial spirit.
How did you get started in this industry?
Getting into this business was a pure fluke. I'm a terrible sewer, however I sewed up a bag and wore it around. Strangers would stop me to ask where I bought it, so they would end up giving me their address and $25 to make them one. Gradually this small bag turned into a multi million dollar business that I started with a friend named Timi. Our business was called Timi & Leslie. Timi left fairly quickly to pursue other things but I kept going for 14 more years. Then I decided it was time to move on and try new things so I parted ways with timi & leslie to start my new company, Newlie. I've learned so much over the years and it's been wonderful being able to apply my knowledge and experience to Newlie. I'm so excited to be doing new things!
What is your favorite part about being an entrepreneur?
I love the challenge of being an entrepreneur - I love having a vision and making it come to life. It's amazing to create products that make other moms happy. I also love being my own boss even though that means working all the time. At least I can make my work hours flexible so I have time to be with my family.
How do you define success?
Well in a lot of ways. I mean it's successful just to put yourself out there and start a company no matter how much money it makes. So many people fail their first time around, but the fact that they tried is amazing. Every time I make a mistake or something doesn't go my way, I learn from it which is so empowering. I also define success by all the wonderful emails I get from customers who love my bags telling me all the reasons why. That just makes me so happy.
What is one skill you think every woman should have?
Being able to tap into their instincts and creativity and not doubt themselves.
Often times promoting oneself can be challenging or awkward, what has your experience been and have you gotten over it?
It's super awkward to self promote but as an entrepreneur it goes along with the territory. I'm a lot more used to it now but it was a muscle I had to build. I try to do it in a genuine, positive way. I don't act arrogant or pushy - that's a big turn off to me.
Thank you to Leslie for allowing me to interview her and share her wonderful company Newlie!