My 5-Year-Old Entrepreneur

I never expected that at age 5, my daughter, Leli would be invited to be a keynote speaker and Young Entrepreneur Honoree at a scholarship luncheon in New York City.

It all started when my parents bought Leli the sewing machine that was on the top of her Christmas list, complete with “fabik” (fabric), her second request, and thread. Just two days after unwrapping it, she made nine pillows with button faces, fancy stitches, and mixed fabrics. Soon after, Leli’s Magical Stitches was born. (She came up with the name herself.)

To tell you the truth, I didn’t want her to have that sewing machine. Small hands, big needle – not the best combination; especially considering the fact that she still hadn’t even learned to tie her shoes. As we watched the instructional DVD together, I was quietly brainstorming strategies to deal with the frustration that I knew the sewing machine would inevitably cause; but after just one watch, Leli sat at that machine and sewed her first pillow.

After a week on the machine, Leli came up with pillow purses – two pillows stitched together on three sides with straps at the opening. Though I always insist on placing the buttons under the needle for safety, Leli doesn’t need my help with any part of the process.

I put pictures of Leli’s pillows on my personal Facebook and Instagram pages, and friends and family asked to buy them. People were sharing her pictures with everyone they knew, and since Christmas, Leli has received 100 pillow orders from friends, family, and a handful of people we’ve never met.

One of my family members shared Leli’s pictures with a member of an organization called The Old Field Planters, Inc., which provides scholarships to students with limited resources who are in pursuit of a college degree. They extended an invitation for Leli to be a Young Entrepreneur Honoree and keynote speaker at their annual scholarship award luncheon this weekend. She’s even been asked to sell her pillows at the event.

I couldn’t resist taking her to the garment district to rack up on fabric after receiving the exciting news. We also picked up three piggie banks, which we labeled “Save,” “Spend,” and “Share.” We plan to divide the money that she earns between the three – the savings for college, the spending for new materials and any treat that she might want, and once the sharing bank fills up, we will donate it to Prevent Child Abuse New York.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that my daughter has identified a passion at such a young age. I remember myself in elementary school telling my fourth grade teacher that I was going to be a journalist when I grew up. My picture in my middle school yearbook is captioned “Amanda Nesbot – wants to be a successful journalist,” and here I am today, a product of the same parents who bought Leli her first sewing machine, writing about her on

It scares me to think that if my parents hadn’t taken a chance and gotten Leli that sewing machine,I may have been the first person to make her doubt her own abilities by refusing to let her try at all. Leli, like all children, is free of the burdens adults carry around as mental roadblocks that inhibit them from dreaming big and pursing those goals. She taught me that my role as her mom is simply to shower her with support, and then sit back and watch her inspire the world.

Add a Comment
Back To GoodyBlog
  1. [...] business which also specializes in pillow-purses (a plush purse made out of two pillows). Her mother describes it as an experience where she has to “simply shower her with support, and then sit back and watch [...]

  2. by little moguls. | Elizabeth MathisElizabeth Mathis

    On September 19, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    [...] to explore, you may be surprised at the outcome.  Check out Leli’s story in Parents magazine here and Moziah’s story on the Daily News [...]

  3. by Kids Can Sew | SewMona

    On September 20, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    [...] that as a kid and it hurt!!  However, my two older kids really want to sew.  And after reading this, I really want them too.  No more excuses – we just moved so I’ve been telling them we [...]

  4. by Don’t Discipline the Artist | amandanesbot

    On November 3, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    [...] Just one year later, our daughter Leeana (aka Leli) received a sewing machine for Christmas, and now she really makes her own clothes. You can read more about that in this blog post that I wrote for [...]