This month, we’re featuring EO member Leeatt Rothschild, the founder and CEO of Packed with Purpose, which offers memorable personal and corporate gifts that give back. She loves being close to nature and encourages all to dream out loud. Hear from Leeatt on what inspired her to start Packed with Purpose and where she hopes to go in the future, both professionally and personally.
EO Member: Leeatt Rothschild
Company: Packed with Purpose
Years in Business: 4
How long have you been a member of EO Chicago and why did you join the organization?
I have been a member of EO since February 2020. I joined to have a set of peers to grow with and learn from as I continue my entrepreneurial journey and grow Packed with Purpose. I wanted to have a set of people who are also entrepreneurs to help me consider and ask the questions that will make sure I’m growing my business in the best way possible.
What was your first job?
My first job was babysitting from elementary school through high school. I was a nonstop babysitter—I was actually able to fund international trips through babysitting. Probably explains why I have four kids now! I’ve always loved them.
Can you describe your entrepreneurial journey? Where did you start and where do you hope to go in the future?
My entrepreneurial journey with respect to Packed with Purpose started when I was working in a space of corporate social responsibility and advisory work. Our office was littered with the ubiquitous corporate gift baskets—wicker baskets filled with goodies. I realized there was an opportunity to embed social good into the typical corporate or business gift. At the same time, my workplace exposed me to these amazing social enterprises across the country that were making unique products that also, by virtue of being created, made a social impact. So for my daughter’s first birthday party, I put together a low-fidelity prototype gift box consisting of unique products from social enterprises and shared the story of their impact. Through that, I got some initial feedback on the initiative and then decided to officially launch Packed with Purpose.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Two things: one internal and one external. The internal one is working with a group of exceptional colleagues who are really passionate about what we do and who are committed to the vision of Packed with Purpose and excited to be a part of this entrepreneurial adventure. The second thing is the social impact that we create by working with organizations that do good.
What daily challenges do you face at work?
Right now, we’re in growth mode and it’s basically figuring out what types of systems and processes and logistical upgrades we can make to ensure we’re being operationally efficient as an inventory-heavy company.
What is the best career advice you ever received?
“Dream out loud.” So, whatever the idea is, whether it’s the initial idea to launch your company or enhancements for your current venture, just say it out loud. That will help your idea take form and eventually launch.
What are your goals for the future of your business?
To grow seamlessly so that my employees continue to love coming to work and live the values that we create.
What’s the coolest thing you’re working on right now?
Upgrading our technical ability to create custom client proposals on the fly.
Who or what inspires you?
Small business owners across America inspire me: the local bike shop owner, the regional ice cream parlor, and the other local businesses I frequent. Everything they do is very inspiring.
If you could go back in time five years and share advice with your past self, what advice would you share?
It is normal not to know everything. And the best thing to do is identify your personal weakness and find people who can step in because that’s their personal strength.
What is the greatest challenge you have overcome?
The greatest challenge—I’m overcoming that every single day. I feel like that’s the definition of entrepreneurship: believing in yourself, figuring out how to do things, and continuing to move forward. Meaning, I don’t feel like I’ve hit an endpoint. There are always inherent challenges or opportunities for growth in my current state.
How do you find work-life balance?
I feel that work and life are not separate, they are intermingled every second of the day. I’ll be interviewing candidates for a position while nursing my five-month-old baby at the same time. So work/life is totally intermixed, and it’s just a matter of putting one above the other at any given moment throughout the day, and then alternating that throughout the day, the week, and the year.
What brought you to Chicago?
I’m originally from the Northern Chicago suburbs. I came back to the city eight years ago after having left Chicago for a handful of years.
When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
I honestly don’t think I knew what I wanted to be. I do not remember any one thing that I was fixated on, which is not the answer you want, but it’s an honest one. There really wasn’t a profession I was eager to pursue. I think I was always just interested in doing things that interested me, which is why my background may seem nontraditional or meandering to some. But it always made sense to me.
What are your favorite things to do outside of work?
I like to ride my bike and I love being in nature, whatever that may look like, whether it’s going to the Montrose Bird Sanctuary or hanging out in the Indiana Dunes.
What’s one thing still left on your bucket list?
Living abroad with my family.
Where would you like to live the most?
We’re trying to figure out how to make living in Israel work, and then spend time in Argentina and Italy.
What are you currently reading?
With four kids, I usually only have time to read bite-sized magazine articles. So instead I’m currently consuming podcasts.
That was going to be the next question! If you could recommend one podcast, what would it be?
Radiolab with Jad Abumrab, Lulu Miller, and Latif Nasser.
What’s your favorite restaurant in Chicago?
That’s a tough one. I’ll say that my favorite café is Loba in Roscoe Village. It was started by an awesome Mexican-American entrepreneur. She’s got some killer pastries!
What is your favorite part about working in the Chicagoland area?
People in the Midwest and Chicago are nice. So even if you disagree or you’re working through something complex or challenging, everyone’s got a good attitude and is amicable while working it out.
What is your top Chicago activity?
Before the pandemic, my top activity would be going to the Art Institute. During COVID, we bought a place in Michigan City, about an hour away from Chicago. Part of what’s so amazing about Chicago is that you can be in nature after a 50-minute drive. So you can choose to be very urban but live close to nature at the same time.
Where’s your favorite place in the world to visit?
That’s an impossible question. But I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay 20 years ago, which is crazy to say. I feel like it’s distant and far—literally and figuratively—but Paraguay is dear to my heart. So I’m hoping to make it back there soon and take my kids.
Thank you Leeatt Rothschild for sharing her story for our June member spotlight. The Entrepreneurs’ Organization is a global business network of more than 14,000 entrepreneurs in 198 chapters and 61 countries. EO is the catalyst that enables entrepreneurs to learn and grow from each other, leading to greater business success and an enriched personal life.
If you’re interested in becoming an EO Chicago member, check our membership requirements and submit an application to join today.