Teen girls earn their way to nation's capitol

In the midst of a still floundering economy, there are small business success stories in Petaluma. One of the smallest, and most successful, is Girls with a Dream, a home-operated company created by four enterprising Kenilworth Junior High School girls.

The "dream" is to raise enough money for all four to go on the school's annual field trip to Washington, D.C.

The girls — Alison Mason, Desiree Champagne-Terrell, Ella Ban and Ella Fainaru-Wada — initially thought along traditional lines like bake and cookie sales, but the concept quickly grew into what is a thriving multi-product business. Along the way, the girls, all 13 years old, have had to deal with business basics — everything from concept to design, to production, to delivery and other important steps like marketing, pricing, and, of course, taxes.

The products offered by Girls with a Dream vary greatly. They are chosen at regular meetings of the board of directors (the entire team), with choices based on what the businesswomen can make simply, what they can sell and what materials are available.

Current offerings in their holiday catalogue are striped and frosted votive holders, lavender sachets, chocolate chip cookies and doggy love treats.

Their most popular offerings are hand-designed bags and totes made from retired San Francisco bay sails and used hang glider sails. The unique tote bags come in a wide variety of colors.

Champagne-Terrell said the most difficult part of the business is the actual production. "Finding time to get together to make things is difficult," she explained.

Fainaru-Wada said each of the partners contributed. "We have the work divvied up," she said. "For example, Ella (Ban) makes the cookies. She makes the best cookies."

Everyone has contributed to the product ideas.

Mason's father saw the sachets online and gave his daughter the idea they were something the girls could create.

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