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She spent much of her communications career in the male-dominated world of politics, and every day she went home to her two young sons and husband.
So when Melissa Fink decided to pursue her dream of being a business owner, owning a shop with all things feminine and utterly girlish called Girly Girlz was destiny.
“I am a very girly girl. I’ve got a husband and two boys, so I think this allows me to embrace a side that hasn’t been nurtured,” said Fink, who bought the Scottsdale girls gift store and party resource and venue in 2016.
Since taking over Girly Girlz, which opened in 2003, Fink has used her experience in communications and marketing to increase its visibility. Selling out weekends for birthday parties is par for the course. This wasn’t the case before, Fink said. The venue has the capacity to host a total of 12 each weekend.
Fink added an online-shopping option that offers fun items like tutus, pedi-party kits, blingy bracelets and tiara combs. Girls can create a wish list that works like a gift registry. Guests can have their gifts wrapped for free and ready at the party.
“I had all of these ideas how to reach moms,” Fink said.
‘It’s OK to be a girly girl’
The 2,200-square-foot space is partly dedicated to retail, where customers browse and select from just about any party accoutrement a girl from age 2 to 12 would crave. There’s also a section for onesies and newborn gifts. The other side is composed of rooms that host celebrations from birthday parties for dozens of guests to intimate tea parties between a grandmother and her granddaughter. Girly Girlz also hosts afternoon dates like a glam session for besties to get their hair and nails done, day-spa style. It’s also equipped to entertain with such party themes as princess, mermaid and dance club.
A 30-minute Sweet Treats Tea session includes a three-course dessert, tea and the option to don boas and jewelry for $12.95 per person. Weeklong summer camps give girls a fun theme each day such as makeovers, snacks and craft projects, all led by high-school or college girls. This costs $179 a week or $149 a week for a group of six booked together.
“A lot of girls, you can truly see it when they come in … their eyes get wide and they look from ceiling to floor. I love that,” Fink said. “They say kids are so into technology and they’re growing up faster than they should. But this is fantasy land and they know it’s OK to be a girly girl.”
Abbie Schindler has been a Girly Girlz regular for the past four years, since her daughter was 2. When her daughter turned 3, Schindler took her in to get her hair, makeup and nails done. Girly Girlz hosted her daughter’s fifth birthday party — a hula-themed fete where she and 20 friends dressed up in tropical attire, did arts and crafts, danced and got makeovers.
“With glitter … of course,” said Schindler, who lives in Scottsdale. “Afterward, they did a fashion show and paraded around the store.”
In addition to hosting and taking care of the food and beverages, Girly Girlz handled the invitations and goodie bags.
“I’m a working mom, so any help I can get, I really appreciate. They made it easy for us from start to finish,” Schindler said.
She also shops for her daughter’s friends. She walks in and tells the staff whether the little girl likes animals or charm bracelets and they point her to the right place. They take care of the wrapping, too.
“Even during busy times, they are willing to drop everything to help you,” she said. “Melissa is doing such an amazing job. It think it’s so impressive that she has two boys yet she can fully serve all these girls and know what their interests are.”
A woman business owner as role model
Born in St. Louis, Fink moved to the Valley when she was in the first grade. Her family settled in Scottsdale, not far from where Girly Girlz is. She began her career in Washington, D.C., doing political communications and continued in communications when she returned to Arizona.
She always wanted to run her own business, but she also liked the security of a steady job. Then, Fink took stock of two life-jarring events.
In 2004, Fink’s younger sister, a student at the University of Arizona, was killed by a drunken driver.
“It was a shock. A woman who was healthy and on the verge of graduating from college was gone in an instant,” Fink recalled.
Five years later, days after Fink, then 31, delivered her oldest son, she developed an autoimmune disease in her brain that had gone undiagnosed. This led to a stroke. She had to learn to walk and use her left arm again.
Fink was working in communications for a large national hotel chain when she decided to pursue her dream of going out on her own.
When she found out the previous owner of Girly Girlz wanted to sell, she felt it was kismet. Being a mom of boys, now ages 7 and 3, she had never been in the store but knew of it from other moms.
“I realized you only get one life. I wanted to do something I could be more creative with. This venture was a big calculated risk, and I was going to do everything I could to make it pay off,” said Fink, who is hands-on with the operations of the store and someone customers are most likely to see when they walk in on any given day.
Fink partners with Birthday Presence, a local non-profit that coordinates birthday parties for foster children who have never had one.
Fink may have created a fantasy world. But to the young girls who enter it, she wants to send the message that being a woman business owner is a reality within their reach if they want it.
“I like girls seeing a woman business owner running this. I also wanted my sons to see a woman running a business and doing it successfully. That’s important to me as well,” Fink said.
Where: 15425 N. Scottsdale Road, Suite 240, Scottsdale.
Interesting statistic: Women own 9.9 million businesses in the U.S., according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners.
Details: 480-998-4832, girly-girlz.com.
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