MiliMili Founder, Kelsey Searles’s, on Disrupting the Nursery Goods Industry and having a Growth Mindset

Copy of Website Header Template (7)

Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business:

It all started with a gift. Well, it all started with a one-year-old’s birthday in 2018. And for that birthday, a crafty, jane-of-all-trades friend (meet: Rose) couldn’t find a gift bold enough to match the bright style of the baby and her mama (that’s me, Kelsey, a former Interior Designer who loves big prints). At a loss, Rose dusted off her sewing machine and decided to make a custom wearable blanket in a pink and teal flamingo print for Kelsey’s tot. Funny timing of it was—I had been looking for wearable baby blankets and baby goods that were, well, less sucky. I was tired of sweet, precious, and overly gendered prints. I was tired of junky zippers and fabric that felt like it was chemically treated. I was looking for the perfect safe, breathable, quality wearable blankets and sheets that didn’t make my child a sopping bucket of sweat during hot LA summer nights. The gift was awesome— and from it the concept for MiliMili was born: bold and colorful nursery goods for the modern and vibrant family.

What excites you about being an Entreprenista League member?

I adore connecting with other woman owned businesses and seeing where our strategic and creative minds can help one another.

What made you take the leap to start your own business?

I studied entrepreneurship at USC for my undergrad, and was raised by two entrepreneurs – so it was actually more surprising to me that it took a full decade post college for me to find the right inspiration and business concept to get me to make the jump from employee to business owner! But having a baby really changed my perspective on a lot of things and was the perfect catalyst to start my entrepreneurial journey.

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

Interior Design + I.T. Sales & Recruiting (odd mix, yes.)

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

Yep! It’s in my blood.

Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?

We had two launches, really. A soft launch to friends and family, where we wanted to create a product, see how it sold, iterate on it and improve. Then the real launch of our first full collection to the public in summer of 2019. The first was a learning experience that helped improve the second. The first we had assumed more word of mouth would have just naturally happened and we’d get some referral sales as a result, despite our focus on just launching to friends and family (that didn’t really happen.) But it helped us in our real launch in 2019 – where we gave all those friends and family, who now had 6 months experience with our product, custom discount codes for them to share to their networks and really mobilized them to do some marketing for us. We also did a lot of PR outreach to major mom publications during this time and sent out product for them to test. The combo of both made the real launch really move the needle.

What is the biggest challenge you have encountered along the way and what did you learn from it?

The biggest challenge overall has been financing. We have self-funded this venture so far, and so many of the companies we are competing against have big ad spend. Our growth has largely been via word of mouth and press. So while we grow – we’re not where we want to be or where we know we could be given our superior product and style. What we’ve learned from 3 years of dealing with this? To really grow the way we want we have to get some larger institutional or seed financing. We are working on that now – we started by applying to every grant on the face of the planet that fit our profile. Now we’re looking at banks to see what they can offer us.

What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?

The collection we are launching this Friday with the non profit Pronoun by Jesse Tyler Ferguson!

Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?

Ha. Yes I believe in it – but have I achieved it? No. Though I tell myself that I get to be so much more involved in my kids lives as an entrepreneur – because even if I work more, I do get more say on when and how that work happens. In terms of advice? Find your tribe and surround yourself with friends who support your journey and this phase of your life – you’re busy, you don’t have time to reply to every text in a timely manner, and you’ll probably forget some stuff. But if you have the right circle around you, they’ll be there to help out when you need it (childcare, social media shout outs, an ear to complain to when you feel overwhelmed). I’m lucky to have amazing friends who have been there for me for decades, and new friends who are also entrepreneurs who just get the journey we’re on – and we all seek to help each other in any way we can.

What’s a piece of advice you can share that you wish you’d known when you first started your Entreprenista journey?

This is something I knew before this journey, but that always is useful to remind yourself as you grow busier and busier: you get out of it what you put into it.

What have you achieved recently that you’d like to celebrate with our community?

We designed a custom collection in collaboration with Pronoun by Jesse Tyler Ferguson that launched 5/27/22. All profits from the sale of this collection go Pronoun and their efforts to advocate for equity, equality, and liberation for all. We’ve been working on this collection for over a year and it means the absolute world to us and we are so excited to finally tell the world about it (not to mention the huge boon it was to our business that a celebrity reached out to US to take on creating this incredibly meaningful collection of DO-GOODS.)

What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?

We aim to expand our product line to fill your nursery, and someday the rest of your home, with big bold colors and prints. Think of us as the modern antidote to the overly precious and gendered Pottery Barn Baby/Kids.

Learn more about the Entreprenista League and join today!

Share it!

Posted in

Leave a Comment

Marketing Guru Danni White on Her Agency, Podcast, and Book

Hi, Danni! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: My name is Danni White. I am the CEO and Founder of DW Creative Consulting Agency in Frisco, TX. We focus on helping small to midsize businesses gain visibility in the right markets. I also host a podcast, #Hashtags and Habits, that merges…

Former FBI Special Agent Cassandra Elliot Joseph Shares About Innovative Bedding Company

Hi, Cassandra! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: I’m Cassandra, a retired Federal Law Enforcement Officer turned entrepreneur. As VP of Community Relations of Better Fit Bedding™, this innovation is here to revolutionize the bed-making process with our patented Fitted Flat Sheets, Fitted Comforters, and Fitted Blankets. Designed with innovative corner…

Shaping the Future of Media Production with Lena Jenkins-Smith

“As a leader, I knew that it was important for me to know the job. I have to know what it takes financially, physically, mentally to do any job. I would never want to tell somebody to do a job and be responsible for managing them in that position if I didn’t know what the…

Self-Care as a Leadership Strategy with BetterHelp’s Haesue Jo

“You’re pushing yourself beyond what you feel is comfortable, which means you’re gonna have chapters of discomfort or feeling like, ‘I’m not really sure if I’m there yet. And sometimes that’s true. Sometimes you’re not there yet. It’s good to tune into that because then you know where you should be focusing to improve.” In…

Tara Magalski on Founding a Spirit-Led Community for Holistic Health

Hi, Tara! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: My name is Tara Magalski, and I am a wellness maven and the founder of Divine Lifestyles, and the DL Collective: a membership-style spirit-led community and online holistic health + healing resource center, an online sanctuary to experience a deeper state of alignment…

Tysheda Williams on Her Journey to Founding a Luxury Experience Company

Hi, Tysheda! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: Hi, I’m Tysheda Williams. With an unwavering passion for curating enchanting experiences, I’ve spent years cultivating memories that transcend borders. From exploring the historic wonders of Europe to immersing myself in the vibrant cultures of Asia, the opulence of Dubai, and countless more…

Mayra Gomez-Sanchez on Her BIPOC Copywriting and Marketing Company

Hi, Mayra! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: Hello everyone, I’m Mayra (my-rah) Founder and CEO of Cultural Visionaries – a copywriting and marketing strategy and a Latina-run company. I write for BIPOC business owners—and anyone who shares my values and vision—wanting to create a meaningful impact on other people’s lives.…

Making a Marketing Impact with Lindsey Breitwieser

“We don’t have to do a million things, we just have to do the right things. We often feel like ‘I don’t have a big budget to spend on ads and that’s why I’m not successful.’ We’re chasing all of these different marketing tactics… In truth, we don’t actually need to be doing that much.”…

Kwandaa Roberts Shares Her Success Story Making Modern Dollhouses

Hi, Kwandaa! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: I’m Kwandaa Roberts, an OB/GYN and interior designer who sells high-style, modern dollhouses called Tiny House Calls. What excites you about being an Entreprenista League member? I have found networking with other women entrepreneurs to be one of the most important tools in…

Personalizing Maternal Wellness through One Tribe with Emilie Fritz Veloso

“Keep the momentum going. And that’s continuous meetings, continuous networking. And then set dates really set a, ‘We are looking to raise this by this time,’ so that you give yourself a deadline, and you give the investors a deadline, and you can hold yourself to it.” In this episode of Entreprenista, we sat down…

Caitlin Murphy on Her Freight Firm and Passion for Philanthropy

Hi, Caitlin! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: Hi, my name is Caitlin Murphy and I am the Founder and CEO of Global Gateway Logistics, a global freight forwarding firm. My firm optimizes and simplifies the global shipping process. What excites you about being an Entreprenista League member? It can be…

Tabitha DeSeranno on Discovering Her Passion and Launching a Branding Company

Hi, Tabitha! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: Hi, I’m Tabitha, the creative force behind Vivid Pixel Studio, where I blend strategy, design, and storytelling to craft impactful online presences for passionate service providers. I specialize in creating bespoke websites, impactful brands, and tailored marketing strategies to help service-based businesses not…

Transforming Your Mindset Through Hypnosis & NLP with Billé Frazier

“You know, it hurts. Nobody likes rejection and somebody didn’t like you—whether it be in a relationship or in a job. But you have to figure out how to get up and dust yourself off and make it work. And that’s a large part of what I try to impart to my clients, too, when…

Dr. Christina Jerger Shares About Her Femininity Coaching Business

Hi, Christina! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: I’m Dr. Christina and the CEO and Founder of femsaloud based in Los Angeles, CA. I offer luxurious femininity coaching for female entrepreneurs, executives, and celebrities. With LA’s #1 VIP femininity makeover I make elite women irresistibly feminine and thriving in life. Whether…

Creating a Meal-Kit Revolution with Ooshma Garg

“[You’re] spending money and growing not at a sustainable pace, but at this hyper-accelerated pace in order to rapidly take up market share and drown out competitors. When you keep raising money to do that, you keep giving more and more people big chunks of your business. The only way it works is if you…