By Sarah Corbin
I am Girl Scout Leader of a 4th grade Junior troop. I really love it. The girls inspire me when we meet. They have tons of great energy. Many of them have a passion about owning their own business one day. (YAY!) Those dreams of business ownership have been percolating on their own for a while. Though, I'll admit I was pretty excited when they voted as a group to earn The Business Owner badge this year, with no extra hinting on my part.
As a business owner, it's been fun to talk with them about the ups and downs of business ownership. It's great to be able to get them thinking already about what it means and what it takes to own a business.
We wanted the girls to meet some other women in the community who own their own businesses and enjoy talking about it.
A few weeks ago we took off after school and visited Park Avenue Hair Studio and The Artisans And Crafters Oak Park Women's Exchange to learn some of the ins and outs and ups and downs of owning your own small business. The girls had tons of questions. The girls got lots of answers.
Much thanks to Kathy, owner of Park Avenue Hair Studio for taking a break in her busy day to tell the girls a little bit more about how her life long passion became a business. (Linda too) The girls were able to ask Kathy questions about her build-out, and renovations, when she started and why. We found out that more than just a few of our girls get their hair cut at Park Avenue and had extended friends and family connections to this super friendly salon. We all left feeling as though we had extended our Oak Park family quite a bit.
At The Oak Park Women's Exchange - the Artisan's and Crafters Unique Boutique you could really see the girls trying to make plans to sell every craft they have ever made. And thanks so much to Lillian Vale who had a craft gift for every girl with us! That was pretty amazing. The turkeys were such a huge hit.
It was great to learn about this true co-op business that has been in Oak Park for 30 years. Women (and men) who sell their wares at the store, share in the sales clerking, the renting and the running of this business equally. With our resurgence of support for coop grocery stores, cooperative workplaces and locally made and sold goods, it seems an easy business to make a special trip for. (just saying)
A little tip from me to all the girl scouts parents out there - our girls most favorite part of the "shop" was viewing the American Girl fitting dolls clothes and recognizing the Girl Scout Uniform!
Personally, as the shopping blogger I couldn't get over the hip and trendy adorable aprons in store, or the owl placemats I feature here with the designer (our tour guide) I might have to do a post just with the photos of the merchandise I fell in love with. Or maybe I'll head back in the next few days to update with their fresh merchandise for the holidays.
I think my biggest "take-away" on the trip was the overwhelming support from these women business leaders and owners to help inspire our troop to keep their business owning dreams going. It's not an easy thing to commit to 15 girls coming into your business. These women were and are great examples of entrepreneurship for our community. And this leader, for one, is glad that her troop was able to meet them, get to know them, and feel just that more connected to leaders in Oak Park.
The Artisans and Crafters Unique Boutique is located at 839 S. Oak Park Avenue and is open 6 days a week.