Selling Girl Scout Cookies Helped Her Business Thrive
Photo Credit: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels
Since 1917, Girl Scouts across the U.S. have sold delicious cookies as a way to raise money for their troop activities. In 2022, Girl Scouts is adding a new cookie to their collection: Adventurefuls, a brownie-inspired cookie with caramel-flavored crème and a hint of sea salt. This new cookie was inspired by the real-life adventures Girl Scouts experience as they take on the world through their projects, service, and skill-building.
Selling cookies is a unique part of the Girl Scout experience. Not only does it help girls fundraise for their troop activities, but it teaches them valuable business skills they can apply throughout their lives. Girl Scout alum Emily Wazlak learned so much during her cookie-selling days that it helped her eventually become the founder and CEO of her own business, Shine Registry.
Similar to the style of a wedding registry or a crowdfunding platform, Shine Registry allows female founders to list items needed for their startups. Supporters can then sign on to the registry and buy the items for the founder. “You can ask for a gravy boat when you get married,” Wazlak tells CircleAround. “With Shine Registry, you can ask for office supplies and network connections when you start a business.”
Wazlak thought of the idea when one of her friends was getting married while another was starting a business at the same time. “There were so many obvious ways of celebrating our friend who was getting married. We had no idea how to celebrate and support our other friend’s entrepreneurial journey,” she explains.
Wazlak credits her experiences selling Girl Scouts cookies as part of the reason she’s so business-savvy today. Here are four business skills she learned as a Girl Scout and what she thinks future generations of Girl Scouts can take away from the organization.
“Selling cookies was an early experience with pitching, something I do very often now when fundraising and finding partners,” Wazlak tells CircleAround. It’s one of the first experiences many young girls have in terms of persuading others to invest in their goal.
“I went to events with my parents and was encouraged to approach groups to ask people to buy. I remember doing this with my parents at a church event where adults were seated at tables. I would go from table to table for captive audiences of potential customers.”
Building Strong Support Networks
“The ways our friends and family show support send a strong message,” Wazlak states. Without these familiar networks, many girls struggle to reach their troop goals. This support can come from school, clubs, mentors, or something else. Such resources can help Girl Scouts develop their business-networking skills.
Support networks are also central to Wazlak’s Shine Registry. “We see ourselves at the intersection of substantive support received through crowdfunding and the celebration and joy of registry traditions,” she tells CircleAround. “We can either send the message that your community will be selective about when to celebrate you, or we can reimagine our traditions to make way for more celebration between friends, more joy in our communities, and more support for the people we care about.”
Asking for Assistance
Wazlak could only reach her cookie-selling goals by reaching out to her network for help. “You rarely get what you don’t ask for so you might as well ask,” she states. “This includes everything from seeking support to finding new customers.”
Asking for assistance is central to Shine Registry, as it relies on crowdfunding. “One of our users hosted a business shower and leveraged her Shine Registry profile to raise more than $12,000 in 48 hours,” Wazlak says. This may not have happened if she hadn’t asked for support directly.
Learning That Girls Can Be Leaders in Their Communities
“Every day, my team and I are working towards closing gender gaps in access to resources for new business owners,” Wazlak explains. She was encouraged to build her own business from the leadership experiences she had as a Girl Scout, and now her product provides a way for other female entrepreneurs to expand their own horizons. She hopes Girl Scouts today have the same, if not more, support she had so they can become leaders in their own communities someday.
The Bottom Line
Wazlak is just one of many who have leveraged their skills as a Girl Scout to make it in the business world. The next time you see a troop of Girl Scouts selling cookies outside of a grocery store or get a call from a friend’s daughter asking for your support, think “outside the cookie box.” Remember that your contribution is helping to fund female leaders of the future.