Growing up is distinctly less graceful than media portrays. The pressure to be perfect—whatever that might mean—is a weight we bear along life’s journey. And when it comes to empowered, confident and honorable lady role models in our media we’re left with mixed messages. We don’t deny they’re out there—Hey, Queen B, we love you!—but for some peculiar reason those spilling out of limos seem to be front-page prevalent. For all the parents (and friends of parents) with daughters meet Nicole Gleeson, founder of Little Mizz Kit. Joining the growing monthly subscription box biz (à la BarkboxBirchbox and Sock Panda), Little Mizz Kit delivers a monthly pack of activities for parents and their daughters—offering a bonding experience while developing confident and inspired little ladies. Each box is filled with activities for girls in each category: arts and crafts, fitness, how-to, life lesson and nutrition. Expect healthy DIY fruit popsicles, how to get curly hair, yoga poses and etiquette like table settings. Continued…

It’s an unusually grey morning in Southern California when I meet Nicole at a café, but her radiance is literally lighting the place up—with her beautiful baby bump, glistening hair and welcoming smile. As we settle into a corner Nicole shares that her entrepreneurial spirit has been percolating since high school—“My mom had a lot of friends with young daughters and I thought, ‘How can I get all of my mom’s friends to write me checks?’ So, I started a summer camp for girls; we’d do dance lessons, hair-do’s, it was great.” After high school Camp Nicole kept pulling at her heartstrings. “I knew I wanted to do something positive with girls.” Of course, responsibilities come first and like so many of us who have a passion project, Nicole’s took a back seat while her job as a national sales executive drove on. It wasn’t until she got married and through the encouragement of her husband that she started taking Camp Nicole serious. “I got engaged, planned a wedding and threw myself into my deck of ideas; my garage is like a Little Mizz sweatshop! Oh, and I got pregnant.” she enthuses of her whirlwind year.

As many of us learn growing up you can never prepare for the unexpected. 15-weeks into Nicole’s pregnancy she got a call from the hospital. Doctor’s identified a rare case that would require surgery on the newborn, mother and babe to stay in ICU one-month after birth and offering a 90-percent success rate. “I’m glad it happened to us because we’re strong and blessed with an amazing support system,” Nicole explains as she cradles her belly. And as fate would have it, Little Mizz assumed a life force. “This business was my saving grace—it keeps me busy and mentally healthy. It gave Little Mizz a soul; I don’t want my daughter to grow up with insecurities,” Nicole muses. She explains her entirely uncertain and potentially life-altering future with the calm wisdom of an all-knowing grandmother. And in response to her inspiringly positive outlook, with wide eyes she says, “You know if you were in my shoes you’d do the same thing.” Ironically, I notice that we’re both wearing Louboutins, building her case that a pair of red-soled heels could empower women in the ‘same shoes’ to dream big about changing the world. I can’t help but think of Beyoncé leading this lady pack. Did we mention that a portion of proceeds at Little Mizz Kit go to March of Dimes to support the development of healthy babies?

As our conversation moves to quality of life, working as a new mom (“It’s empowering for a woman to receive a check with your name on it.”), and maintaining a healthy work-life balance, Nicole leans in and says, “You know, I just learned I’m a ‘mompreneur,’ have you even heard of that?!” she giggles. Her husband, an ex-Navy Seal-turned marketing CEO, who also contributes to Forbes and Inc., discovered the term describing a growing trend of stay at home mom entrepreneurs and thought it’d be a good opportunity to write about Little Mizz. “I told him he could write about it as long as he compares me to someone good,” she says. “Like Beyoncé?” I suggest. “Exactly!”

*Nicole gave birth to a healthy Little Mizz Parker Rose Gleeson Feb. 22, 2014.

Parker Rose Gleeson