Nolan Middle School sisters might be dressed for success.
Who can turn a party favor into a million-dollar idea?
Liz and Gabby Sgro, students at Nolan Middle School, hope they can.
The girls, ages 14 and 12, have started their own T-shirt business, “You Glow Girl” T-shirts.
It started through their involvement in the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce’s Youth Entrepreneur Academy program — a program for middle and high school students that teaches them how to start and develop a business — last year. The girls didn’t have any objections when their parents, Sue and Bill, encouraged them to participate.
“It was their passion that made them stand out,” said Barbara Hines, leadership coordinator for the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce. “They knew what they wanted to do and they were going for it and they still are. Every day they were there they were so engrossed and so concerned about learning everything they could. They are well on their way.”
Liz and Gabby Sgro earned a $1,200 startup fund during “Shark Tank”-style presentations to an investor panel in October 2015.
With part of the money, they quickly ordered their first large batch of T-shirts. They hope to sell 1,000 shirts by January.
They had their website, youglowgirltshirts.com, running in July, and have used the start of the school year to boost sales, promoting their garb with friends and teachers at Nolan Middle School. They already have lined up some publicity events, including the Atomic Holiday Bazaar in December, at the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium.
“I like doing the booths,” Liz Sgro said, adding the girls had a booth at Kids Rock Manasota in Lakewood Ranch in June. “It’s fun seeing people’s reactions, and I feel like we’re giving back.”
Liz and Gabby Sgro hope to expand their product offerings over the coming school year with bracelets, other branded accessories and a new “You Glow Bro” line. They’ll continue to do market research, using friends and family as resources, as they create new products.
“You are selling to other people, so you need to think of the customer,” Liz Sgro said. “You have to involve other people. It’s the same process. We already have the experience.”
While in the Youth Entrepreneur Academy program, the girls used their peers to test their designs, having them sort through a book of images until they settled on a crown as their emblem. Their market research showed neon orange T-shirts wouldn’t sell because they were too “Halloweeny,” for example.
“I learned to do anything successfully, you need constructive criticism,” Gabby Sgro said. “You need someone to help you think it through.”
Although the girls hope to make money off the venture, their primary focus is inspiring 7- to 18-year-old girls to be proud and confident, while raising money for charity. A portion of the proceeds benefits Girls Inc.
Their mother, Sue Sgro, has taped a a square piece of paper to a kitchen cabinet. It contains 72 boxes — the number of shirts they need to sell to make a $100 donation — and each time the girls sell a shirt, the family fills in a box. When all are filled, the girls make a contribution to Girls Inc. They made their first donation in July.
For the girls, it’s a badge of pride.
“It’s not just a business we’re making,” Liz Sgro said.
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