Approximately 21.5% of the Canadian population in 2019 is estimated to be immigrants. And when immigrants move to Canada, they bring a rich culture, tradition, and diversity, making Canada a wonderful place. While many families struggle to keep pace with their roots and culture, CEO and Founder Amit Louis of Lee Laa Lou Inc. created a new and exciting way of staying connected using stickers for language learning and tradition sharing. Currently focusing on Hebrew learning for kids and Jewish traditions, Louis explains how he chanced upon the idea and his plans of expanding further!
What is Lee Laa Lou?
Lee Laa Lou was created for the love of learning. We bring to life languages, cultures, and traditions through fun and educational content and products. We took the age-old classroom sticker concept and turned it into something modern and unique, making learning languages and cultures more accessible to little ones. In the future, we will be introducing more languages and cultures.
During COVID we launched with our first collection of eco-friendly educational stickers. We presently cater to schools, non-profit community organizations looking to engage their community, and parents and anyone looking for fun educational activities to do with children at home.
Why did you pick this niche?
You can say this niche picked me! When I was looking at a set of stickers a former colleague brought from Israel, the idea struck me. It turns out that educational stickers, specifically language-focused, are very hard to come by. Even more so, finding ones that are modern, fun and engaging for kids to understand and use in their day-to-day language learning activities. Later, when my daughter was born, it had become something I wanted to create to keep her abreast of our culture and traditions. I tried to bridge both languages (English and Hebrew) and do it in a fun and engaging way.
Through extensive research and conversations with teachers, parents, and kids, it turned out that this niche is an underserved market that was desperate for innovative, high-quality, and engaging products. It set me off on a 2-year journey that involved multiple illustrators, designers, and many feedback sessions with teachers and friends with young kids to develop Lee Laa Lou’s concept. Each sticker was carefully curated and designed to make language and culture more accessible to everyone, even if their native language isn’t Hebrew. I wanted to have a way to display Hebrew, English, and a transliteration of the Hebrew word all unified in a unique, fun, and interactive way.
Did academics play a role in your business area selection?
My passion lies in education. I wanted to become a university professor and even completed two years in a formal Ph.D. program before realizing that academia wasn’t the right place for me at that time. In 2014, I found a full-time job as a market researcher specializing in branding and storytelling.
However, things did not work out as I planned. I got let go and found myself unemployed, driving for Uber, and tutoring elementary school kids in Hebrew. In 2016, I changed my mind to work in the non-profit and community service area. However, shortly after COVID hit, I lost my job once again. With the support of my wife, I took it as an opportunity to bring my idea to life and set forth on my entrepreneurial journey.
How difficult/easy is it to source and help clients in their creative needs at this present time?
Schools, community organizations, and parents are always looking for creative activities and interactive ways to engage kids, especially during COVID and continuous lockdowns. It’s been the right timing for us. We’re listening to what our customers want and need, and we’re able to provide them with creative, fun, and educational solutions. After all, Lee Laa Lou was created for the love of learning!
What is the biggest challenge you’re facing with COVID dominating?
Although COVID did provide us with the opportunity to launch our business, there are several challenges for us during this time. Firstly, due to non-essential service closures, many small retailers are closed, which poses a challenge for us in getting our products into more stores. Secondly, lead time in shipping has increased considerably. With lead time in production taking over three months, it became difficult for us to estimate how and when we should replenish our inventory and introduce new designs, languages, and other cultures to our collections.
What are the changes that you’ve adapted in this COVID era?
Now that physical gatherings are restricted and children are spending more time at home, educational activity kits gain popularity. We began to work with different community organizations looking to engage and connect with their members in a meaningful way. We work with each community to create custom kits that are mailed directly to its members. We are currently developing kits to offer customers on our website too.
What help do you think you need to benefit your business?
We would love to hear from more communities that would like to work with us to develop our future collections. Our goal is to expand and introduce other languages and cultures, and Toronto is the best city to do this. Toronto has a beautiful mosaic of cultures and languages, and we would love to bring more of them to life using our stickers and educational kits. We offer free worldwide shipping on all our products, making this even more accessible to communities around the world.
What survival mantra would you share with other small business owners around you?
In simple words, I would say- To get to ‘Yes,’ you must go through numerous ‘No’s.’ If you are truly determined, and believe in yourself, don’t give up because you’ll get that ‘yes.’ It takes courage to look in the mirror and ask tough questions. There’s a saying in Hebrew: “I learned from all my teachers” | “מִכָּל מְלַמְּדַי הִשְׂכַּלְתִּי” | “Mee.kol Meh.lam.dye He’s.Kal.tee” It means you recognize the fact that you can be taught by anyone and learn from any situation. Each person and experience teaches us something and contributes to our journey of becoming better human beings.
I lost two jobs in 6 months in 2016 and my last one shortly after COVID hit in 2020. I took them as welcome signs from the universe to start my entrepreneurial dream. It forced me to look inside, take a risk, and follow a passion that was always deep inside me. Everything I experienced (good and not so good) and the people I met along this journey taught me something and brought me to this moment in my life. I’m thankful to all of them.
Parents are the most influential educators in the lives of their children. Amit Louis proved this with his innovative business to create better learning for kids raised abroad off from their cultural roots. Amit’s Lee Laa Lou Inc is a family-run business where his two kids (6-month-old son and 2.5-year-old daughter) and his wife are part of his core team. Apart from direct selling to retailers and online orders from interested educators and parents, Lee Laa Lou also offers excellent fundraising opportunities to the communities it caters to.
Author: Debarati Mukherjee, for The Onside Media, Toronto, Canada. If you have any stories or comments, kindly email: – [email protected]