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Future Entrepreneurs

Alana Blumenstein - Originally published in the Detroit Jewish News

BBYOs Building Entrepreneurship program educates high school girls about how to start a business. The program not only brings inspiration, but also provides us with the confidence and beginning knowledge to build a bright future.

About 25 girls are accepted into this eight-month program each year through an application process. Katie Fried, regional BBYO director, runs the program.

Our group recently spent the weekend in Detroit. Throughout our time, we visited businesses, spoke with established entrepreneurs, learned about the city and spent quality time with each other. We stayed at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel and visited landmarks such as the Guardian Building, Campus Martius Park and the Detroit Historical Museum, as well as women owned businesses including Drought, Bon Bon Bon and Painting with a Twist.

We also went to hotspots like Detroit Water Ice Factory and Astoria Bakery in Greektown. Needless to say, our weekend was completely packed with fun and interesting educational experiences.

Coming into this program, I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. What I didn't know was where to begin. These few days have taught me to feel empowered about my future and myself.

One of the priorities of our weekend was bonding. To meet such an incredible group of girls was a great opportunity in itself. Being able to spend time with them over ice skating at Campus Martius and Shabbat services with Rabbi Jen Lader from Temple Israel was so much fun. We even shared a meaningful Havdalah at the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue and felt like a family.

Our time was very educational, and I learned so much. We had the chance to meet Ashley Goldberg, owner of Born Yoga, and Terri Stearn, founder of Detroit Fine Art Appraisals, who told us about their experiences as female entrepreneurs. We were given great advice and shown how we are capable of following in their footsteps.

Another stop was to the Detroit Experience Factory Tour of Women in Business. I especially enjoyed this tour because we got to explore Detroit, and it taught each of us about the city and some of the current businesses in it. During our tour, we visited Bon Bon Bon, a Frenchstyle chocolate shop, and Drought, an organic juice store. Just walking around the city and seeing the potential Detroit has to offer inspired us to be a part of its future.

Later, we were given time to think of business plans of our own with the help of Rachel Grey Ellis, BBYO senior regional director. It was really interesting hearing all the ideas the group had to offer. During this time, we learned how to break down our original ideas and turn them into successful business plans.

There is so much I could say about our time together. The weekend changed my entire perspective of Detroit and of my future. Our stops throughout the trip taught us the basics of entrepreneurship and about the bright future we can build in Detroit. There was so much life in the city. I can’t wait to see this city continue to grow. We are excited to do our part in this amazing city and to build our own bright futures.

Alana Blumenstein, 15, of West Bloomfield is a sophomore at Detroit Country Day School. Building Entrepreneurship is supported by a grant from the Jewish Women's Foundation of Metropolitan Detroit. For details, contact Katie Fried at (248) 4325685 or kfried@bbyo.org.

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