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Next Leaders

Read this story in Detroit Jewish News

Over the last weekend in February, 15 Jewish teen girls were treated to a weekend of fun, learning, new friends and exciting surprises.

As part of BBYO s Building Entrepreneurship program, generously support by a grant from the Jewish Women's Foundation, the first Building Entrepreneurship Immersive Weekend in Detroit provided local teens the chance to grow personally and professionally while experiencing the opportunities available in the city. I was honored to be a part of this initiative and had a meaningful weekend.

We stayed at the Westin Book Cadillac in Downtown Detroit to get a taste of the city and learn more about starting a business from two knowledgeable female entrepreneurs with successful businesses rooted in Metro Detroit.

Rachel Schostak, owner of Styleshack, an online business that creates a way for small boutiques to sell their products on the Internet, told us how Styleshack levels the playing field by giving small boutiques an online presence. She communicates with clients through a fashion blog. She showed us there is currently a huge market for technology-based businesses, which was much larger than I expected.

Our second speaker was Amy Friedman Lingeman, who owns the thriving local dance studio, Studio A Center for the Performing Arts. Amy taught us how much work goes into owning a business and, more importantly, how supportive our local Jewish community can be and how that benefits a new business.

When Amy opened her studio, her friends helped to spread the word through the Jewish community, getting clients in the door. Thanks to her strong network of Jewish community members, she continues to achieve her dream of making kids happy through dance.

I learned much more from both of these women, who shared their expertise and dedicated their time to educating and empowering the next generation of female leaders. The Building Entrepreneurship Immersive Weekend in Detroit was so meaningful for me because these speakers not only taught me about entrepreneurship, but also about life, the media, community support and how powerful we all can be. If you believe in yourself and your business, product or dreams, no one can stop you.

I will apply the lessons I learned from Rachel and Amy. Both have inspired me to believe I can do anything and that I can achieve my goals and my dreams. I also know now I can count on the support of my fellow Jews.

This experience helped me create ideas for starting my own business, which I will continue to develop throughout the year during the Building Entrepreneurship program. There are so many more sessions to look forward to with more local women, including Florine Mark, CEO and president of Weight Watchers Group, and Stacy Goldberg, CEO and founder of Savorfull.

Along with everything we learned, we created unforgettable memories in the city. We went ice skating together at Campus Martius, rode around town in a pink Hummer limousine, bowled at the historic Garden Bowl in the Majestic Theater and even enjoyed delicious desserts in Greektown. We bonded as a group through icebreakers and teen-led activities, and shared a beautiful Shabbat experience with services at the hotel.

Building Entrepreneurship is a truly remarkable program I am so glad to be part of. I would like to acknowledge the supporters of this program, the Jewish Women's Foundation and BBYO, for making this incredible experience available to Jewish teen girls. Maybe one day, I will be sharing my business success with the next generation of young women participating in this program.

Samantha Berger is a ninth-grader at Cranbrook Schools and a member of Emunah BBC #156.

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