Siena Levin is on a mission to claim another Girl Scout badge, and recently, she got a little help from the drag queens and gay bar patrons of West Hollywood, a prominently LGBTQ neighborhood in Los Angeles.
The precocious 7-year-old, who is a Daisy (the beginner level of the Girl Scouts, for those 5 to 7 years old), has been a proud member of her Glendale, Calif.-based troop for two years. Ahead of this year's Girl Scout cookie season, from January to April, Siena tells Yahoo Life that she was looking for a location with "high traffic, low competition" to sell as many cookies as she could to raise money for her troop.
She certainly found it. Over the course of two Sundays in early February, Siena — along with her mom Jen, her 4-year-old sister Riley and her aunt Julie — sold out of all their inventory, twice. That's thanks to the support of the local queer community, who Siena says are also "really good tippers."
"It was so fun," she says. "We were just walking and, like, they'd stop, When they see one person buying, they'd all crowd in. One of the guys who bought cookies, he was really funny because he said, 'You're gonna make me fat!'"
Together, the group walked up and down West Hollywood's Santa Monica Blvd., the center of queer life in the neighborhood, with indoor/outdoor bars with drag performances and go-go boys greeting patrons.
"We weren't sure how people were going to respond at first," Jen tells Yahoo Life, but as it turned out, local patrons were so thrilled to see Siena that many of them leaned over patio railings hoping to grab their share of cookies. "Some of the guys at the bar, they were trying to help us with sales. They were yelling out for us, telling people to walk by. They were like, 'You wanna buy some cookies? They take Venmo!'"
"The girls were so confident," Jen adds, "They just started yelling on the street, 'Cookies! Girl Scout cookies!' to anyone who would walk by. And the great thing about it was, like, everyone's sitting outside of these bars [at curbside tables], so they're ready. We didn't have to plant ourselves down in front of a business or restaurant."
The idea to go to West Hollywood in the first place, she notes, was kismet.
"I picked up 120 boxes of [cookies] and I said, 'OK, we're gonna just go sell this door-to-door however we need to do it,'" Jenn recalls. "We had just picked them up and were going to visit my sister, who lives in West Hollywood, and we thought to ourselves, why not sell Girl Scout cookies?"
After having a "nightmarish" experience selling cookies door-to-door last year, Jen had been encouraging Siena to come up with an out-of-the-box plan this time around.
And WeHo, as it’s nicknamed locally, wound up being the best idea. Siena sold out of all her cookies that first day, which meant her mom had to then pick up a whole other shipment. When they returned the following Sunday, Siena was better equipped, thanks to a wagon she had borrowed from a friend. Unsurprisingly, they sold out again.
"The first time we didn't have the wagon yet. We just had a bunch of bags and I had to hold them out so they can see the options," she says of the 13 various Girl Scout cookie flavors, from classic favorite Thin Mints to the newest addition, Raspberry Rally. Wheeling around her selection, she adds, was much better, as customers could see the full selection.
Siena, who dreams of being a math teacher because "I love math so much," earned nearly $180 in tips alone in West Hollywood. Still, "we have to give it to the Girls Scouts," she says of the bonus profit. "It all goes back to the troop."
As a mother, Jen says she was grateful for the experience because it taught her girls "entrepreneurialism," a skill she hopes they will continue to hone, while also instilling a lesson about kindness and inclusivity. She hopes other parents will view it as an example of compassion, love and community — especially now, as hundreds of anti-LGBTQ bills flood state courts across the nation, including in Tennessee, which enacted a strict ban on kids attending drag shows.
"I want to teach my kids to be accepting and loving towards people, all kinds of different people," says Jen, who works as a hypnotherapist. "Kids really absorb the energy our parents put out there. The belief that our parents project out there, spoken or unspoken, our kids are absorbing all that. So, as a parent, I really want to be conscious about what I'm doing, by exposing her to and teaching her about love and acceptance and kindness and good entrepreneurial skills."
"I have to say," she adds, "I was dreading Girl Scout season, but [the people] have made it so much fun. Sunday funday and selling cookies is something we can really look forward to doing now."
Siena agrees: "Everyone was so friendly and kind and generous," she says. "They loved their cookies."
Wellness, parenting, body image and more: Get to know the who behind the hoo with Yahoo Life's newsletter. Sign up here.