little bags.BIG IMPACT – December 2018

littlebags.BIGIMPACT is a social and environmental impact business. Anna is passionate about education and is on a mission to provide quality books to Philadelphia children in underserved communities. To fulfill this mission, Anna donates 15% of the proceeds to Tree House Books, a giving library and literacy center in North Philadelphia. In the first 10 months of business, Anna has impacted the lives of more than 1500 children in Philadelphia with a monetary donation of $1500 in addition to over 1000 quality new and gently used books.

In Philadelphia, there is just one age-appropriate book in every 300 homes. 67% of the children currently entering third grade are not reading on grade-level, making them 87% more likely to drop out of high school. Tree House Books, with the partnership and commitment of community members like Anna Welsh, is working to change these grim statistics to ensure that Philadelphia is a city of readers, writers, and thinkers.

Anna is also passionate about making a difference in the environment. Through shopping at The Resource Exchange, she has locally rescued thousands of pounds of fabric from entering landfills — giving them life as littlebags.

Anna Welsh is a true changemaker who sees the problem of childhood literacy in Philadelphia’s underserved communities and who sees the repeated pattern of fabric scraps from design houses, decorators and workrooms ending up in landfills. Anna has found a way to solve these problems by organizing her business and network to take action. As Bill Drayton, founder of Ashoka and inventor of the term ‘social entrepreneur,’ says, “The central challenge of our time is to make everyone a changemaker. To do that you start young.”

Anna is in 8th grade at Welsh Valley Middle School in Narberth, PA. She developed a love of handcrafts when she was six after attending camp at the Handwork Studio in Narberth. She moved onto the sewing machine when she was ten.

People always wonder what inspired her first clutch bag. In August 2016, Anna attended the Handwork Studio Summer Camp in Rosemont, PA. She had completed all of the assigned projects — so her sewing teacher gave her a scrap of fabric and a piece of paper. By the end of the day, she had designed and sewn three clutch bags. The next month, Anna traveled to Birmingham, MI, to visit a friend for a girl’s weekend. As she walked around quaint towns, her mom was carrying a clutch that she had made at camp. One boutique employee stopped her mom and asked, “Where did you get that bag?” The employee was intrigued by the unique fabric and design. She was astounded to learn that Anna had made it. A few more stores later, another boutique employee wondered where her mom got her clutch.

Anna Welsh has risen to the central challenge of our time by identifying social and environmental problems in her community and by doing something about it to positively impact Philadelphia.

Anna was a 2018 finalist for Entrepreneur of the Year by Rad Girls. She was also recognized by Philadelphia Media Network as a Stellar StartUp in 2017. Anna is the 2017 recipient of the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award by the Philadelphia Center for Advancing Entrepreneurs (PCAE) and the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Philadelphia Chapter. She was recognized by Main Line Today magazine as a “Leader on the Rise” at their 2017 “Women on the Move” event and is scheduled to be profiled in the magazine’s upcoming April 2018 issue.

As a 2017 participant in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA)—an entrepreneurship program for middle and high school students—Anna is the youngest recipient from the YEA Philadelphia chapter to win the “Shark Tank” investor competition and her company received the largest investment in the chapter’s history. Anna went on to complete at the YEA national competition in Rochester, NY. She has also received the 2017 Champions of Literacy Partner of the Year Award from Tree House Books. NBC10’s Tracy Davidson produced a Facebook Live interview of Anna. Anna has been also been featured in the Uncommon Individual Foundation’s Onwards and Upwards video series to inspire future innovators and entrepreneurs in the Philadelphia area.