These three friends and founders know what a magical time of year this is.
Madeline Pollock, Gabrielle Pollock and Kate Lally may be young, but they’re already seasoned business owners, having founded their event and subscription craft company, kit & sis, in 2013 — before they were even in high school. The friends — twins Madeline and Gabrielle are now 20; Kate is a year younger — grew up in Los Gatos, making memories with their dolls in tow. Among their cherished holiday traditions was an annual pilgrimage to San Francisco to marvel at the gingerbread houses at the Fairmont, feast at the Big 4 and stroll past Grace Cathedral.
Today, they are full-time college students. Madeline and Gabrielle are both third-year business administration majors concentrating in entrepreneurship at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. At Stonehill College in Massachusetts, Kate is a second-year marketing major and soon-to-be-declared graphic design minor (an area she already handles for kit & sis). Over the years, they have run Dollie and Me summer camps, birthday parties and other events. With the pandemic, they started mailing craft kits directly to kids to use with their own dolls. Their seasonal subscriptions now reach 200 in eight states — and these entrepreneurs intend to make that 25 states by next summer.
This month, they are recapturing that December in the City spirit with special holiday events for children that encourage creativity. The trio is hoping they can be part of the next generation’s yuletide memories of San Francisco.
What are your favorite childhood memories of spending the holidays in the City?
Kate: My entire family are native San Franciscans. I can remember spending Easter with my grandparents and cousins at the Olympic Club for holidays and special events for as long as I can remember. My favorite memory of San Francisco would have to be going out to dinner at Kokkari Estiatorio with our moms and going back to my grandparents’ apartment in Nob Hill after a long day of holiday shopping.
Madeline: The three of us girls pushing our dollies in strollers down Chestnut Street. [Gabrielle and I] must have been 6 years old and we each had a matching triple-seater pink stroller. Seated inside were all of our dollies bundled up. Our moms had let the three of us girls “shop” down one block by ourselves. As we were pushing our strollers and giggling, I so fondly remember an older woman stopping us and coining us “The Housewives of San Francisco.” At the moment, we had no clue what that meant!
Gabrielle: One of my favorite memories in the City includes attending the annual Crown & Crumpet holiday tea in Ghirardelli Square. The three of us would dress ourselves and our dollies in our party dresses. We would bring all of our dollie tea accessories and set them up next to us as we sipped tea with our moms.2
And these childhood experiences inspired you to create kit & sis?
Gabrielle: From running around Union Square to tea at The Rotunda, the City was a magical escape for our imaginations to soar. Our tradition inspired us to bring the joy of the holidays and dollies to other girls through kit & sis.
“At a young age, crafting taught us that we have the ability to create something with our own hands — I feel the same pride, excitement and curiosity as an entrepreneur as I did as a young crafter.” — Madeline Pollock
How have you continued to grow and run the business while in college?
Madeline: In May we were selected to be a part of the Cal Poly Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship’s Summer Accelerator program. As a part of the program, we were granted $10,000 in seed funding and coached through a 13-week intensive program to develop kit & sis. We worked with industry leaders, lawyers and Cal Poly alumni to grow and build a strong foundation. At the end of the program, we pitched kit & sis to a board of investors. It truly was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We currently are focused on developing and growing our subscription-box line and partnering with hotels to share the creative experience.4
What are you each interested in pursuing one day now that you’ve launched your first company?
Kate: Obviously, I can see myself working on kit & sis forever. But if I were to pursue something else, I could definitely see myself working as a graphic designer for the marketing department of a large company like Pinterest.
Madeline: Kit & sis is truly my passion, and there is nothing I love more than working with my best friend and twin sister to inspire and empower young girls through creativity. My dream and goal is to be able to pursue kit & sis full-time. At a young age, crafting taught us that we have the ability to create something with our own hands — I feel the same pride, excitement and curiosity as an entrepreneur as I did as a young crafter.
Gabrielle: Launching a company has taught me the power of following your passion in life. Kit & sis allows me to give the joy I experienced in my childhood to other girls. I hope to continue to grow kit & sis alongside my cofounders.5
Where can kids craft this month?
Kate: This holiday season, kids and their moms are invited to join kit & sis for an in-person crafting event at the Westin St. Francis on December 18 and 19 for a magical holiday Dollie + Me Holiday Tea full of dolls, crafting and festive fun. You can also join us for a virtual crafting event at the Olympic Club on December 21. Each event will include magical holiday-themed dollie crafts, goodies and kit & sis swag.