Today we’d like to introduce you to Tanya Ward Goodman.
Tanya, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Over three years ago, I was sitting at lunch with my friend, Wesley Stahler. We were talking about our daughters (then 9) and the challenges of growing up.
“I wish we could give them a book of instructions,” Wesley said.
“We should write that book,” I replied.
I’m a writer and Wesley is a child therapist specializing in pediatric anxiety, so we decided to combine our skills and pilot a weekly support group for girls ages 9 to 12.
We started thinking about what kind of advice might have served us as girls and about what we had learned throughout our lives. We came to the conclusion that the more we understood ourselves, the more we were able to know what we needed to thrive. Dolly Parton put this succinctly when she said, “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” This became our mantra.
We started Girl Group with just a handful of girls – mostly the daughters of our friends. Before that first meeting, we worked for weeks to map out six themed workshops. We wanted each night to include an action piece and a mindful activity as well as writing, art, and conversation, a structure we eventually shorthanded to “think, talk, write, do, be.” At the end of this first series, nearly all the girls signed up for a second series and by the end of that series, we’d doubled in size. Over the last three years, we’ve explored dozens of themes, including “flexibility,” “friendship,” “stress-management,” and “empathy training.” In an effort to create an inter-age community, we’ve invited middle school and high school as mentors to the younger participants and have created a tiered program structure so that all the girls might grow into mentors for the younger set. We currently offer two ongoing Friday groups serving girls ages 7-15, numerous stand-alone workshops (including Boy Group and parent-child workshops) and we provide gender neutral school classroom curriculum and teacher training, in addition to a summer camp.
In the Spring of 2017, we’ll move into a gorgeous dedicated space and begin a regular schedule of weekly groups, workshops, and parent education classes. It’s been a purposeful slow build on our part so that we could see what works and what doesn’t work.
Has it been a smooth road?
Starting a small business is never a smooth road. Our struggle often involves the complicated juggling of family and career. Because we want to raise our children and work independently (I’m a freelance writer and Wesley has a private therapy practice) the hours we spend on Girl Group are often eked out of our personal time. We are not immune to the irony of structuring session plans around self-care while not actually practicing what we preach. As we’ve grown, we’ve become more adept at time management, but also more forgiving with ourselves and each other for missed deadlines and dropped balls.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
The mission of Girl Group Enterprises is to create a gathering space where adolescents can ponder questions, share knowledge and work together to navigate our changing world. We are committed to creating a strength driven, community building experience through talk, action, and mentorship. We hear from parents that they are seeing a real change in their children as a result of their participation in Girl Group. There is a general excitement about the all-age community we are building. The girls are very excited to spend time with each other and we’ve seen a very real camaraderie and caring circle develop over the sessions. There are many girls who’ve been with us since the inception of Girl Group and they’ve taken more of a leadership role over time. We try to lean into each girl’s strengths while also encouraging them to try new things. We hear from parents and teachers that our girls are becoming more confident and more certain about what they need to relax or release stress.
We are constantly encouraging our participants to find out what works for them as an individual. Once you start to think about your personal motivations and emotions, it is a logical progression to think of the motivations and emotions of others. The world keeps opening. I write to figure things out, so I always talk about keeping a notebook, but I encourage the girls to use the notebook the way THEY find most useful. Throughout our development of the group, Wesley and I have both been adamant that there are no rules, only suggestions. You can use a hammer to place a nail in the wall, but you can also use the hard sole of a shoe. Find your tool, use it the way that makes the most sense to you.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Los Angeles is a terrific place for Girl Group Enterprises. The city is so incredibly diverse that everywhere you turn, you find a wonderful example of the many ways in which life can be lived with purpose.
- Ongoing Six-Week Session ages 7-9 starting at $175
- Ongoing Six-Week Session ages 10-15 starting at $200
- Weekend Workshops $50-150
- Tailored Workshops for Individual Groups, Home Schooling, Scout Groups, Birthday Parties start at $200
- School Programs available (pricing on request)
- Website: http://www.girlgroup.us
- Phone: (323) 426-5886
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @girlgroupnews
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GirlGroupEnterprises