Five girls from the JeffVanderLou neighborhood of north St. Louis are headed back to school this year with a jump-start on thinking critically.
They’ve spent the past few weeks developing a business plan for a lemonade stand and selling the drink outside St. Louis Metro Market’s JeffVanderLou stop.
Metro Market is a mobile farmers market that earlier this year began selling low-priced, healthy food in parts of St. Louis that don’t have grocery stores. It makes a stop in Jeff VanderLou every Saturday morning.
“Especially in the JeffVanderLou neighborhood we always have people come up and ask for water, so (our market operator) Lorraine came up with the idea that we should sell lemonade,” said Serena Bugett-Teague, who is in charge of Metro Market’s community outreach. “And of course Jeremy Goss, one of our founders, had the idea (of) why don’t we get young girls from the neighborhood to sell the lemonade.”
“We felt like this would be an opportunity for young girls to learn entrepreneurship. It would give them some self-confidence to move forward. It would teach them the basic skills of running a business, and these would be skills and lessons they could take with them going forward in life,” Bugett-Teague said.
A nearby community center run by Urban Strategies put Metro Market in touch with five girls ranging in age from 7 to 15 to start the lemonade project. From there Metro Market and volunteer partners helped the girls design a logo, make signs and calculate the cost of ingredients in order to come up with a price.
Then the girls practiced customer service and communication skills by selling the lemonade at Metro Market’s JeffVanderLou stop.
Saturday was the last day for lemonade sales this summer so that the girls can focus on school. Of the two girls running the shop Saturday, one had already started school and the other heads back on Wednesday.
Armani Williams, 15, said this was the first time she’s had practice giving change. She goes to St. Louis Public School’s Clyde C. Miller Career Academy and wants to be a doctor.
“I’ve been selling a lot,” said Janaya Heard, 9. She goes to Carondelet Leadership Academy, a charter school, and said that her mom has taught her that it’s better to be a leader than a follower because “leaders get to do more stuff.”
Bugett-Teague said the lemonade project may let neighborhood boys participate next year, but Metro Market wanted to start out focused on girls.
“I think in the society that we live in today, girls are not pushed to be in leadership roles, so we felt like the lemonade stand would definitely give them that self-confidence to step out into the forefront,” Bugett-Teague said.
A savings account is being opened for each girl who participated in the project, seeded with $200 donated by St. Louis Credit Union and Maxine Clarke, the founder of Build-A-Bear.
Armani said she plans to save the money. Janaya said she’ll give it to her mom.
“I would save it but I’ll give it to my mom so she can pay the bills.”
Follow Camille Phillips on Twitter: @cmpcamille.