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Girls Crushing It: Shaping Today's Schoolgirls Into Tomorrow's CEOs

The Orinda organization helps young entrepreneurs build leadership skills through workshops and pop-up makers markets.


Dozens of “girlpreneurs” ranging in age from 3 to 12 participated in Girls Crushing It’s May pop-up market.

Photos by Shelly Swanegan Hamalian

It all began with an overabundance of origami.

Roxanne Christophe’s daughters—8-year-old Sophie and 10-year-old Christophe Davis—have a passion for folding sheets of paper into novel shapes, such as hair clips and jewelry boxes. “I thought, What are we going to do with all this?” Christophe says.

The elder daughter suggested they sell it at the farmers market. So one Sunday, they set up a table. More than $300 in sales later, a business was born. Christophe, a former publicist and entrepreneur, posted a note on Facebook to see if other kids were interested in selling handmade goods.

Fast forward to last May when 50 schoolgirls set up a maker’s market at the Orinda Wilder Quarry House, selling bedazzled pet accessories, rainbow loom bags, greeting cards, hand-harvested beeswax balm, baked goods, and of course, slime. More than 400 shoppers turned out.

“It feels really good having people come up to you and be like, ‘This is amazing. Did you make this?’ ” says Viviana Sanchez, 9, who peddled her hand-sketched wildlife portraits at the event.

Roxanne Christophe with her kids, Christophe and Sophie Davis.

Today, Christophe’s family venture has grown into a full-fledged nonprofit that supports young girls’ entrepreneurship efforts. In addition to securing space for the “girlpreneurs” to sell their wares, the organization—called Girls Crushing It—provides business and leadership training. Participants learn everything from how to test their products via focus groups to the art of pitching.

“We want our girls to be in a position where they control their own destinies,” Christophe says. “We want them to be fearless and take risks, so they can develop the confidence to persevere.”

In October, Girls Crushing It set up shop at the WorldWideWomen Foundation’s Girls’ Festival in Santa Clara. And this month, the nonprofit is holding a winter pop-up shop in Lafayette.

The experience is already shaping the girlpreneurs’ mind-sets. “Wherever I turn, I’ll think, I could turn this into that and turn that into this,” says Sanchez, who plans to sell ornaments crafted out of bark and stocking stuffers made from stones scrawled with inspirational messages, such as “You rock,” at the holiday pop-up.

Adds Narayani Chandra, 7, who makes fairy lanterns out of mason jars and string lights: “It’s a really good feeling when you can say, ‘Yeah, this is my business.’”

Girls Crushing It’s Winter Pop-Up takes place December 9, from 2 to 5 p.m., at the Lafayette Community Center. girlscrushingit.org.


Shop Local

Pick up holiday gifts at these other East Bay maker’s markets.

What: Maker’s Row at Fourth Street
When: Fridays, 12–5 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.
Where: On the paseo between Fourth and Fifth streets

Pleasant Hill and Concord
What: Super Holiday Boutique
When: December 1, 10 a.m.–2 p.m.; December 2, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.
Where: Pleasant Hill Community Center (Saturday); Centre Concord (Sunday)

What: Make-Do
When: December 2, 1–5 p.m.
Where: VSCO headquarters, 1500 Broadway

What: Gifty 2018
When: December 15, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; December 16, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.
Where: The Crucible, 1260 7th Street

Walnut Creek
What: Maker’s Market Holiday Craft Fair
When: December 8, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Where: Broadway Plaza (in front of True Food Kitchen and Starbucks)


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