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Girls on the Move: Young Female Entrepreneurs Looking to Make Their Mark

Generation Z, aka Zoomers, are rapidly dethroning Millennials as the “entrepreneurial generation.” According to a Gallup poll, 40 percent of students grades 5-12 want to run their own business. And 24 percent of those have already started!

Not only on track to be better educated than previous generations, Gen Z is also rapidly proving that they’ve got what it takes to convert their hobbies into businesses.

Leah Joy Barcus – Joy Doll Hospital

When 13-year-old Leah Joy Barcus encounters something broken, she sees hope. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Joy Doll Hospital, a 501c3 charity that restores damaged American Girl dolls to present to children in residential homes and child-advocacy organizations.

“From brokenness to joy, Joy Doll Hospital believes children can find hope in the idea that a doll, once broken and discarded, has been restored,” says Leah, who felt compelled to make a difference when she realized orphanages still exist. “Inside these places are many hurting children who need a message of hope and joy.”

Leah began her journey at age 12, when her self-taught doll doctoring skills led to her first paid job, and later an invitation to join the international Doll Doctor’s Association. She repairs and restores the dolls entirely herself, while managing the many aspects of Joy Doll Hospital. To support her mission, she performs repair services to the public and welcomes sponsors to aid in her efforts. 

To encourage entrepreneurs, Leah says, “Identifying a need or service is special and may take time. If you feel strongly about your idea and its usefulness to others—give it a try. If it is as you feel, you will find support.  It’s a beautiful journey so embrace it!”

Leah Joy Barcus’ Words to Live By: “And the God of all grace…will restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” 1 Peter 5:10

Hera Sims – RedPandaArt

If anyone embodies an entrepreneurial spirit, it is the 12-year-old, homeschooled founder of RedPandaArt, Hera Sims. Like many entrepreneurs, Sims’ vision started from something she was passion about – art. 

“I felt excited when I thought about printing my art onto sticker paper or cardstock,” she says. “I also wanted to do something to help animals.” Sims is donating proceeds from her sales to the ASPCA.

Sims is learning what it takes to run a small business, the “niches and kinks,” as she calls it. “It has taken months to figure out all the details,” including advertising, with which her best friend Loreli has helped.

One of the biggest challenges she faces is trying to find platforms where youths can sell their products. Most of the more-recognizable e-commerce websites are geared for ages 18 and up. Sims hopes to work around this obstacle and inspire other young people to forge their own paths in business. 

But for anyone who thinks it’s going to be easy, Sims has some first-hand wisdom to share: “To start a successful business, you must have a quality product that people actually want to buy.”

Hera Sims’ Words to Live By: “There’s a million things I haven’t done, but you just wait.” – From the musical, Hamilton 
Rhiannon Ellis
Rhiannon Ellis is a freelance writer and author, a fitness instructor, and owner of Impact Fitness. She resides with her two children in her native Williamsburg and on their mini-farm in Charles City.

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