high five grant

Announcing Summer 2018 #HighFiveGrant Winner: Leesie & Pip

Bust out the confetti! For the one-year anniversary of The Mama Ladder® today, we're celebrating with a BIG announcement. We're pleased to share the voting tally is in for our inaugural HIGH FIVE Grant for Moms™ business competition.

Drumroll, please ... congratulations to Ellyse Harris, grant winner of $5,000 to grow her business, Leesie and Pip. Leesie and Pip creates whimsical heirloom dolls that are handmade from quality materials produced in the United States. For every doll purchased a book is donated to a child in need.

Read on for details on how Leesie and Pip was selected, what Ellyse has learned in business, and where she plans to lead her company (and share her darling dolls!) with this grant.

How Leesie and Pip was selected

For our Summer 2018 grant, hundreds of applications came in from mama business owners in 37 states in the U.S. and countries around the globe: Canada, England, France, Jamaica, Korea, Nigeria, and Spain. See the beautiful WHY behind their businesses with the #HIGHFIVEGrant hashtag.

A Judging Panel of experienced entrepreneurs chose eight finalists for their originality, clarity, market potential, and future vision. See more about the eight mom-founded companies who were selected by the Judging Panel here.

The Leesie and Pip journey so far

"Starting my company Leesie and Pip has been an amazing ride! I have created a brand that reflects my love for play, childhood, and children's literature. I feel a deep sense of purpose and accomplishment in my commitment to donate a book to a child in need for every doll that is sold. My dolls truly have blessed hundreds of lives! Through social media I have connected and collaborated with many talented shops, influencers, and customers, who have all helped me to grow a following of almost 10,000 on Instagram. Through hours of hard work and dedication I have taught myself how to use Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to simplify my process of creating and designing dolls. I am so happy when I see the many pictures and messages from customers telling me about how much they love their Leesie and Pip dolls." 

What Ellyse has learned in business

"I have learned so much since starting this business! The biggest thing I have learned is to be patient with myself. It isn't easy creating this little doll business while balancing being a mom. Time is definitely my biggest constraint and I haven't been able to grow as fast as I'd like because I haven't been in a position to invest in manufacturing. But I look at my business and I feel proud, I have worked so hard to create a product and brand that I love and others love too! I know that if I keep at it, I'll be able to scale the business while still keeping time set aside to be a great mom."

Where Leesie and Pip is headed

"I am currently unable meet the demand for my dolls by hand. In the future I would love to get my dolls manufactured or hire a team of seamstresses to create the dolls so that I can meet demand. This will also enable me to focus on growing the brand through design development, marketing and building relationships with additional distribution channels. I will use the grant to produce them at larger quantities and a lower price point. This will enable me to sell through boutiques and other distribution channels to grow the brand. My ideal is to have them still be handmade in the United States." 

More about the HIGH FIVE Grant

HIGH FIVE Grant™ for Moms is a semi-annual $5,000 business grant empowering mom entrepreneurs to make massive impact. This grant provides economic empowerment for promising mom entrepreneurs to build their business. The Summer 2018 grant is hosted by The Mama Ladder® and sponsored by Belly Bandit, and coaches Katie Richardson and Lady T. See more about the next opportunity to apply for our grant in winter 2019 at highfivegrant.com.