By Veronica Sandate Craker
More than a hundred high school girls swarmed the Byron Gjerde Center at Columbia Basin College with one thing on their minds.
But the girls weren’t there to shop. Instead they were designing, building and marketing shoes for their generation. The project is part of the annual GLAM, or Girls learning About Manufacturing, event.
“This year we had to make a shoe that was green or environmentally-friendly — made from all natural products,” said Freja Elrod, a Hanford High School junior.
The Tri-City Development Council presents the GLAM event in conjunction with the Smartmap Expo. Girls from nine area high schools attend the event and are split into groups, each with female mentors, like Chris Rivas, who was experiencing her first GLAM event.
“It’s been really thrilling to apply what we know in our own industry,” said Chris Rivas, Elrod’s mentor, who was at the event. Rivas works as the district manager for Cascade Natural Gas.
“I’ve really enjoyed not only leading these ladies, but also watching them in action,” Rivas said. “They all come from different areas, not one particular school. So it’s good to see their interaction and how they are applying their team skills to this project.”
Rivas’ group had to design a sandal using the materials they were given.
“We decided to make a fashionable sandal, because it’s simple and easy and we didn’t have to use that much material,” Elrod said.
The group used corkboard for the platform of the shoes and green fabric and beads as the t-strap and heel cover of the sandal.
Elrod said the hardest part about the project was getting started.
“Everyone has all these ideas and some of them don’t want to talk, so you have to throw out ideas and then you get their opinion,” she said. “After that, it just comes naturally to people and they get their own ideas and you kind of figure it out. It just moves really fast.”
Another group had the duty of putting together a vegan ballerina shoe.
“We had to use products that weren’t from animals. We had wool, but we couldn’t use it because it was still from animals,” said Ashley May, a freshman at Delta High School
Her group had to stick with plant and man-made materials like linoleum, corkboard and cotton.
Once their prototypes were finished the girls had to come up with a marketing plan to promote and sell their designs.
“We’ll actually be able to model out the project in terms of manufacturing and presenting all the details,” Rivas said.
Not all the girls who attend GLAM will leave wanting to pursue a career in manufacturing — just like not all of them signed up because of it. But at least some will walk away knowing that careers once dominated by men are now viable career options for them.
Elrod said she could see herself in a job similar to manufacturing.
“More in the designing of what they manufacture,” she said. “I’ve been in the designing process before and I thought this was actually pretty easy for me to figure out.”
For more information on GLAM visit smartmapexpo.org/glam.