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Vibrant cartoon characters are emblazoned on the products created by Patrice and Alex Hopkins in their Stafford County kitchen, a mother–daughter business started last year called Confident Girls.

They sell a collection of bath and body items—lotions, lip balm, body wash and bath bombs—marketed to promote a positive self-image for girls of all ages.

“We want girls to realize that it’s okay to be unique, to accept yourself for who you are,” said Patrice Hopkins, the mom in the partnership. “We want to help girls recognize their own best qualities and feel at peace with themselves.”

Several girl characters were designed for the business by graphic designer Daveia Odoi—Alex, a soccer player and supportive friend; scholar Jadira, with an awareness of community needs; Shima, who loves books and reading; Aja, a talented cook and crafter; and Andraya, a free-spirited fashionista.

“I like the characters, they help me think to myself, ‘She’s being confident, so I can be confident too,’ ” said Alex Hopkins, who is 11. “I used to be more shy, but working with my mom has helped me not be so shy.”

Patrice said each of the characters and their personalities are based on those of her daughters and nieces. “We hope when a girl picks up one of our products and sees the character, they’ll recognize some of their own characteristics,” she said.

The brand’s tag line is “Confident Girls look like me.” Patrice speaks on the topic occasionally at area schools.

She said that the business recently arranged a character partnership with two-time Olympian from Jamaica Shevon Nieto. Odoi has designed a new “Confident Girl” that will be on the website soon, and Nieto will represent the business when speaking at schools in California.

“As I was growing up, I always felt self-conscious about how tall I was,” Patrice said. “The world says you have to be a certain shape and size. That message gets ingrained at the earliest ages. With our products, we want girls to get a different message, that they are beautiful as they are, inside and out.”

In addition to promoting confidence, Confident Girls also donates a portion of their sales to initiatives that spread a message of positivity and courage to girls from all walks of life.

“Right now 5 percent of our sales go to a nonprofit in Fairfax: Girls Inspired and Ready to Lead, or GIRL,” Patrice said. The organization hosts free workshops to help girls compete in high school, plan for a career, teach essential skills to become strong leaders, and develop effective communication skills, among other things. “We’re working on getting that percentage up to 10,” she said.

The idea for the business resulted from a family member with eczema and efforts to find a lotion that would help.

“Nothing was working, so I started to study ingredients and experiment with different mixtures that I made myself,” Patrice said. After finding some success, she branched into other products and the family began to sell some of them at local craft fairs and farmers markets.

“Working on it all with my daughters Amari and Alex, gave me an epiphany for Confident Girls,” she said.

With Amari, her older daughter, now living away from home attending college, Patrice and Alex work together to mix the lotions and soaps and shape the bath bombs, which are made with ingredients like vitamin E, coconut oil, and cocoa butter.

Alex chooses the scents, selects a direction for seasonal products and promotion, and appoints accessories to accompany them.

“She will come to me and ask about different products she wants to make,” Patrice said. “She’ll say something like, ‘I want to make something to get rid of these bumps on my forehead,’ and we’ll formulate a recipe.”

“My friends really like the bath bombs,” Alex said. “When someone asks about why I smell good at school I tell them about my business.”

The pair has presented their products at recent craft and beauty shows. In fact, they plan to have a booth at the upcoming Southern Women’s Show in Raleigh, N.C. April 13–15.

At the Bodacious Bazaar in Virginia Beach last fall, Patrice left Alex in charge of their booth while she networked and shopped with other business leaders.

“It was hard, I had to answer all their questions,” Alex said.

“I knew she could handle it,” Patrice said. “If I’d been there, she would just defer to me. This helped her step up and take charge.”

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