Retailer Highlight: Three Littles

Please introduce yourself.
My name is Elizabeth Mahon.

What made you decide to be an entrepreneur?
I was a nanny for 10 years, and it was always frustrating to me that I couldn’t find toys that were sustainably made.

How did you come up with the idea for your business?
I think it’s cool that we are the only store like it in DC and that our products are carried in all 50 of the United States. I was born in Washington, DC, and before the pandemic I lived in so many other places. I found my way back here.

When did you start your company?
I started my business in October 2019.

What makes your products unique?
We carry many products that you can’t find anywhere else in the United States, while others are found in very few US stores. Everything in the shop is made by someone who was paid a fair living wage. That was very important to me; I never liked going into children’s stores where a lot of the products not only are really bad for the environment but were made by people whose lives are marginalized.

What is your company’s mission?
To provide sustainable goods to families. Most of our packages are carbon-neutral. We try to leave the Earth better than we found it.

Please describe your company’s successes. Was there a pivotal moment?
At first, we started out selling just necessities. When the pandemic happened, I realized there was such a need for toys for fun or for learning. Many parents had never been at home with their kids, even when the kids were really small. They had some sort of household help or family who could pitch in. Now, with the pandemic, these parents woke up to a different world, one in which they were not only continuing to work from home but also had kids at home who needed educating.

Why this location?
The Union Market district is a cool and creative place, with lots of diversity.

How does your business help your neighborhood and community?
We have products for anyone and everyone in our community. We are a diverse community, and the store promotes diversity and inclusion.

Where are you originally from?
I was born in Washington, D.C.

Can you name a fun fact or unique thing about your business?
Many of our products are made by DC residents, some by women and/or people of color.

How would you define your business in three words?
Exciting, creative, and inclusive.

What is your favorite holiday?
The December holidays: Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa. It is wonderful to see people in the holiday spirit, excited to buy things for others and to anticipate how their gifts will be received. That just feels really uplifting.

What would you recommend people buy from your store?
I want everyone who comes into the store to be able to afford something. It was really important to me, when the shop opened, that things were not astronomically expensive. Key things we recommend are any kind of blocks for 1-year-olds or puzzles for 3-year-olds.

What is the best thing a customer has ever said to you?
A mother told me how much our shop meant to her. She knew us as a place where she could walk in and immediately find books or toys for her kids that would make them feel seen. Sadly, it’s so infrequent for shops to carry even one book on the shelf that children of color can identify with.