Melissa Fink isn’t afraid to admit she’s a girly-girl, but don’t for a moment think that means she lacks strong business skills and an entrepreneurial spirit.

After years of working in corporate America in marketing and communications, Fink, tired of the 9-5 routine, bought Girly Girlz in Scottsdale from its original owner.

In less than a year, she has expanded product lines, services and revamped the website to accommodate retail sales and scheduling, while still focusing on the core business of providing themed parties for little girls and pre-tweens, plus special mother-daughter activities. Fink already is looking ahead to franchising Girly Girlz.

“I always wanted to be more creative, I always wanted to have my own business,” Fink said. “I’ve always been a worker and I wanted to build something that provided more instant gratification, not just seeing numbers in a corporate annual report.”

Girly Girlz’s all-inclusive parties undertake every aspect of the events – from invitations, to decorations, to activities and food – so busy mothers don’t have to. Little girls have their choice of various princess-themed parties, while the pre-tweens can have rock star or glamour parties. All the parties take place at Girly Girlz.

The establishment also offers tea parties, etiquette classes and glamour sessions where girls can get their hair, makeup and nails done. Girly Girlz’s retail component offers jewelry, craft kits, clothing, tea sets, sleepover items and more.

Fink is also reaching out to the community. She is working with Girl Scout troops to host merit badge sessions and plans to launch a pilot after-school program in some area schools. She is also in early talks with the Valley of the Sun Jewish Community Center about possibly partnering with them on future projects.

Fink’s choice of business is a bit ironic given that she is the mother of two boys, ages 7 and 3.

“As someone who was always into fashion and clothes, I now get the best of both worlds,” she said. “I get my girly fix at the store and then I get to come home to my boys who are very different from girls. I’ve always had a strong work ethic and it’s very important to me that my boys are seeing that a woman can own her own business and do what I’m doing.”

While Girly Girlz benefits from 13 years of name recognition, Fink still works seven days a week to improve the business. She’s also getting the word out to former customers who may now have daughters of their own to rediscover Girly Girlz.

With her business and raising a family filling her plate, Fink still finds time to be involved with the parent teacher organization at her older son’s school and to raise money for Mothers Against Drunk Driving – the result of a family tragedy that has shaped Fink’s view on life.

“I’m not a risk taker by nature, but I have really gone through tragic things in my life,” she said. “I lost my sister when I was 26 and she was 21 in her senior year at the University of Arizona. She was killed in a drunk driving accident. That really shaped my life, along with having my first son. Within days of giving birth I developed a disease in my brain and had a stroke. I couldn’t walk and I had to go to rehabilitation to learn to walk again while I had a newborn.

“There’s that cliché of life’s too short and not being a risk taker by nature, I have taken calculated risks in my life that have paid off for me. The worst thing I could feel is regret.”

Janet Perez is a freelance writer in Phoenix.

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