Girls Crushing It
There have been many groups for young girls to join throughout the years that foster a sense of community while also teaching valuable lessons or skills. When I was growing up, I was a Brownie and then a Girl Scout. Some of my friends were Bluebirds or part of the local 4-H Club. All of these nonprofits were valuable to each participant in some fashion, aiding a young woman’s growth emotionally and allowing them to learn and experience things they may not have had a chance to otherwise. Giving girls a springboard with which to launch a career, that is something truly remarkable! Imagine if everyone had the benefit of being able to experiment and learn critical lessons on how to start their own business, before having the responsibilities of paying bills and supporting themselves. That is exactly the opportunity Roxanne Christophe is providing her daughters with, and now many other girls will have the same advantage.
Roxanne is Mom to Sophie and Christophe Davis, two young entrepreneurs who launched their own business spontaneously, simply out of the love of creating. In 2018, they sold their origami creations at their school and suddenly were bringing home pockets full of cash. Roxanne asked the elementary school girls, “Where are you getting this money from?” She was shocked that her daughters had taken such bold initiative to sell their products throughout their school. Then the girls begged and pleaded for Roxanne to bring them to the local farmers’ market so they could peddle their creations to the Lamorinda community in which they lived. Roxanne’s daughters, with four additional friends in tow, popped up a table along the sidewalk during the farmers’ market one weekend and made a few hundred dollars! In unison, the girls decided to donate the proceeds to the World Wildlife Fund. And with that one weekend, a spark was lit that would quickly catch flame.
“She was shocked that her daughters had taken such bold initiative to sell their products throughout their school..”
Roxanne realized that setting up the pop-up shop and selling their crafts was a wonderful learning experience for these six girls and decided to put up a social media posting in her area, inviting other girls between the ages of 6 and 18 to join in the endeavor. The response was overwhelming, they gained 60 more girls wanting to participate in future pop-up events. Their first Girls Makers Market exhibited everything from bath and body products, to one-of-a-kind jewelry and art to homemade ice cream and baked goods. More than 400 people attended the inaugural event and the girls participating crushed it, hence the name for the nonprofit Girls Crushing It.
An infusion of excited mothers began participating once their daughters were involved, allowing for the development of a curriculum. One important component of that curriculum is giving back. Roxanne says, “Financial planning is an important part of entrepreneurial development. We ask the girls to consider, what do you want to save? What do you want to invest back into your business? What do you want to treat yourself to? And what do you want to give back to the community or to the world? Some of the organizations the girls give back to are: Heifer International which provides solutions to third world countries, bringing them clean drinking water, No Child Hungry, Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital, and Rocket Dog Rescue. Beyond monetarily giving back, the girls know that as they gain knowledge from mentors, one day they will be called upon to be mentors themselves.”
The list of mentors stepping up to support this cause is impressive to say the least. Wells Fargo, Sephora, and Angela Caglia Skincare are sponsors, and the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center is helping to develop their mentorship program further. Speakers who have had a hand in shaping the future of the girls involved include Tina Sharkey, Founder of Brandless; Lily Kanter, Co-founder of Serena & Lily and Boon Supply; Robyn Goldman, Founder of Smitten Ice Cream; and author Diana Kapp.
Roxanne explains that the alignments came fairly organically, “I would share our story and our mission and be introduced to someone who could advance our effort forward. I think that inside of the Bay Area there is a lot of willingness to back an organization such as ours that supports girls thriving. Studies prove that girls between the ages of 8 and 14 experience a 30% drop in confidence. This can affect their trajectory and hurt their future aspirations.
“These girls are breaking ground on a new path forward for women in business; it’s no wonder that Nasdaq has their backs.”
We are allowing them the unique experience of conquering the fear that comes with launching a business and coming out the other side with a wealth of knowledge. Now, when met with challenges, they will be able to see opportunity and figure out how to meet a certain need or service. This is a pivotal age to learn such a thing, doing so later is much more risky. Right now, they are surrounded by a cushion of support and have access to a vast amount of advice and guidance.”
One example Roxanne shared of a young entrepreneur who met challenges presented prior to a pop-up shop. Roxanne said, “The young lady invested all of her funds into the ingredients to make bath bombs. When she broke her product out of the mold, the bath bomb crumbled into pieces, it wouldn’t hold a form. She had to salvage her product and found a place that sold dissolving envelopes! I’d never heard of such a thing. She persevered, found a solution, developed dissolving bath sachets instead, and her table is now one of the most popular at our events.”
The guidance they receive can be crucial to their success, and prior to a pop-up shop, there are a series of workshops to get the girls ready such as Business 101, Getting into a Brick-and-Mortar Store, Branding (Photography and Marketing), and How to Open an Online Store. During the pandemic, the organization partnered with Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center on a series of workshops including Give Your Business a Social Distancing Makeover, where participants utilized Stanford D. School’s design thinking framework to adapt their business models in response to the pandemic.
With COVID-19 restrictions in place, the girls had to pivot with the rest of the world. After setting up their own Etsy shop, the Girls Crushing It website hosted a virtual pop up with overviews of each of the girl’s products and links that directed buyers for purchasing. “Over 2,000 shoppers came to the website and shopped! It has been a dark time and we weren’t sure if anyone would be interested, but after that experience, the girls all shared that they were 100% more comfortable operating their own business. That’s what this is all about,” says Roxanne.
Their initial footprints were laid in the Lamorinda area, but their next venture is leading them here, to the East Contra Costa area. “Our intention is to roll this program out into many different areas, but we want to initially be within a radius where we can support new participants face-to-face. This will be a unique structure, but all chapters will stay within the curriculum that we currently work with. We are hoping to hire a mom whose daughter is involved, to be an administrator. This will be a paid opportunity, providing some financial freedom for the mother as she lends support to her daughter.” The new Girls Crushing It chapter will be comprised of about 30 girls. Those girls will be embarking on an exciting trail, leading them into new territory. Entrepreneur is a remarkable title for anyone under the age of 18 to hold! These girls are breaking ground on a new path forward for women in business; it’s no wonder that Nasdaq has their backs. One day soon, they may be ringing a bell on Wall Street.