A business started by three Los Gatos residents when they were barely teens has reached the big leagues.
Twin sisters Madeline and Gabrielle Pollock, 20, and their childhood best friend Kate Lally, 19, founded kit & sis — formerly AG Sisters — in 2013. The company puts on events and sells craft kits centered on young girls’ relationships with their favorite dolls.
“Our mission is to empower young girls to express their creativity through crafting and hands-on learning,” Gabrielle said. “We feel like it’s kind of a lost art, especially in an age of growing technology. This takes them away from the screen and engages them in building something they can be proud of.”
What began as a localized effort to encourage young girls in the Los Gatos community to develop problem-solving skills and self-confidence has grown into a bona fide business, one of just seven selected as part of the Cal Poly Entrepreneurship Accelerator Program.
The 12-week program is at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where Madeline and Gabrielle are entering their third year. Kate attends Stonehill College in Massachusetts. Throughout the program, business leaders from various industries provide feedback to participants on their ventures and help them develop long-term business plans.
The founders have used their time in the accelerator to expand and rebrand their business. They launched this first iteration of their business under the name AG Sisters. With help from their mentors, they changed the name to kit & sis, which plays on the girls’ nicknames for each other.
The young women said the accelerator program has helped them solidify the business into something they hope to turn into full-time careers after graduating. They said it’s been a great opportunity to ask their customer base what’s working and what could be different with their business model.
“We have just been given so much mentorship and leadership, and our business has grown in ways we couldn’t have imagined,” Madeline said.
The program allowed the founders access to office space, professors, lawyers and mentors to help them navigate setting up their business processes. Their spot in the program also came with a $10,000 grant to use for their business.
Madeline is the chief executive officer of kit & sis, Gabrielle the chief financial officer and Kate the chief marketing officer. But when the business started, they were just three girls who were obsessed with their dolls.
They used to take them along on road trips, and Gabrielle recalls pushing her doll in a stroller around San Francisco. Madeline remembers taking pictures with their dolls at Disneyland.
Encouraged by their mother, they developed a love for crafting accessories — doll-size food, bedding and clothes. As they got older and began babysitting, the parents were always intrigued by their well-constructed crafts, asking them for tips on how to re-create them.
In 2014, they launched their first summer camp in Saratoga with 10 campers. Soon, they were hosting birthday parties, summer camps, craft days and holiday-themed events.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, they shifted their events online, sending campers boxes with all of the materials they needed to complete their crafts.
This allowed them to expand their reach to girls beyond Saratoga and Los Gatos, where their customer base had been for so long. With online events and their newly launched subscription boxes, the company has a national reach.
They are also working with the Westin St. Francis and the Olympic Club of San Francisco to plan events later this year.
They’re continuing to hold online events as well, with size restrictions to maintain the intimacy and hands-on feel. Their mail-order craft boxes will come with video tutorials to help young girls who aren’t yet proficient readers.
For more information and to purchase craft kits, visit https://www.kitandsis.com.