TTU Accelerator company Little Luminary captures "growth" market
New mom Richelle Westfall's daughter Light helped spark the idea for her latest startup. That business brainchild, Little Luminary, is currently part of the Texas Tech Accelerator program. Like the toddler Westfall and her husband Mark are raising, her startup has already reached several significant milestones, with plenty more growth potential ahead.
The concept for Little Luminary was born out of Westfall's experience of starting a family while running a graphic design startup. The Texas Tech University alumnus was working as an independent contractor when she realized that she could combine her passions for design and parenthood through entrepreneurship.
Westfall explains, "The trend is to take pictures of your baby every month during their first year. I was horrible at that. The time goes by so fast! Suddenly the baby is one, and you look back and wish you had done more to document their growth. I thought it would have been great to have something delivered to me as a reminder. That could have made capturing those brief, precious milestones a little easier."
With encouragement from a friend who is an Innovation Hub mentor, Westfall decided the idea would be the basis for her second startup. "I didn't know the first thing about how to start a company with a product," she says. "My graphic design business was all service-based. So he suggested I apply for the TTU Accelerator program at the Hub." Little Luminary was accepted and began the 10-month program in June. "Pitch deck? Business plan? Talking to investors? Wait, you can have investors? That was all new to me," she says. Further continuing with the family theme, Westfall's husband agreed to serve as her new company's COO.
Little Luminary produces organic cotton onesies with screen-printed monthly age designs by Westfall, which are delivered to customers each month. The company offers other products and delivery options, too, as a result of lessons Westfall's learned through the TTU Accelerator program and the customer discovery focus of the NSF I-Corps program at the Hub. Little Luminary partners with other brands to offer gift sets that include all-natural lotions, creams, sprays, and bath products for each trimester of pregnancy.
A month after celebrating her daughter's second birthday in September, Westfall launched sales of Little Luminary's products. Its gift box sets sold out before Black Friday. The company had more than $16,000 (gross) in sales from November and more than $26,000 (gross) in sales from December.
Westfall's learned her most valuable lessons from missteps and failures during the early stages of her startup. "Every experience leads to another idea," she says. She credits the programs at the Hub with helping her make better business decisions. "I think we made six pivots in the first six months," she says. Her startup team's mentors at the Hub have been instrumental throughout that process. "Not every idea I have is great," she says. "My friends and family are supportive, but the mentors provide real-world perspectives and practical advice from their own experiences." She adds, "It helps a lot to know that whatever this startup's journey involves, I'm not going through it alone."
Entrepreneurship runs in Westfall's family. Her grandparents were self-employed and farmed in New Mexico. Her mother runs the steel detail company she founded about 20 years ago. "She's our biggest fan," Westfall says. "When I told her I was going to start this company, she said, 'Okay! You can do this!' I don't think most people would really understand that. It means so much."
Westfall says her daughter is the inspiration for her entrepreneurial hustle. "A luminary is a person of significance in the world. It's also a shining light. We all want to bring out the best in what we have. As mothers, how do we help guide our children along their path? I want to show my daughter that through hard work and dedication, she can make an impact and do anything she has an idea of doing."