Every Friday afternoon, I stand on tiptoe to make sure I haven't missed any of the mail in my post office box. After a long week, this is what makes it all worthwhile.

Those colorful envelopes are orders for Sticker Sisters--my project to empower girls around the world through stickers, shoelaces, magnets, and other products. I started Sticker Sisters at the end of eighth grade after the worst year of my life. Middle school can be a breeding ground for cliques and back-stabbing as kids try to build their "adult" identity.

After completing those horrible years, I decided I wanted to do something to help girls feel better about themselves. I had found that reading zines during middle school helped me find others to whom I could relate. A zine is a handmade booklet that can be as personal as a diary or as objective as a report on a current issue. There is a sense of underground community among the people who make and read zines. As I read zines by girls similar to me, I became part of this community and eventually I wanted to give something back to this group of people who had given me so much.

Ariel Filling Orders

While thinking about starting a zine, I came across a group of girls who were making and distributing stickers that showed strong female characters from children's books. I ordered some of these stickers, but they never arrived. One day, when I was feeling frustrated about not receiving my stickers, I realized that there were probably a lot of other girls out there who wanted stickers and shared my disappointment. I decided I would make my own stickers with similar messages, but unlike the other girls I would actually deliver the goods.

I designed four stickers that had slogans like "Girls can do anything" and "Punk rock isn't just for your boyfriend." I sent a flyer announcing them to about thirty girls I knew who wrote zines. After the first mailing, people worried that I would be disappointed if I didn't get any response. Little did they know that girls around the country were sending copies of the flyer to their friends and placing orders. Now, more than ten years later, Sticker Sisters is still going strong.

Not to say it's all been easy. Having 2,000 catalogs returned because I hadn't followed a little-known postal rule about ratio of length to width wasn't glamorous. But overall, it's been an incredible experience. Sticker Sisters has given me the chance to meet other girls, attend conferences, and speak out on important issues. From Sticker Sisters, I've learned how satisfying it is to react to a problem with a creative activity and how exciting it is to see what will turn up in my mailbox next.

--Ariel