This past week, we loaded up our Girls Garage work truck with tools, wood, and gear, and headed down to the TEDWomen conference in Palm Springs, California, where we led a Discovery Session called “Girl Power and Power Tools!” TEDWomen is a three-day conference about the power of women and girls to be creators and change-makers, and with over 1000 women in attendance this year, we were thrilled to contribute a hands-on activity and discussion about building as power to the conference’s 2019 theme: Bold + Brilliant.

Our Founder and Executive Director, Emily Pilloton, and Lead Instructor, Allison Oropallo, set up shop on the conference grounds with 16 drills and drivers, a chop saw, 72 cedar boards, speed squares, tape measures, clamps, and more. Twenty women signed up to participate in the two-hour workshop, most of whom had zero experience using tools! Just as we teach our girls to use tools safely and collaboratively, we helped participants familiarize themselves with the tools and follow a set of plans to build 4 standing planter boxes for local organizations and schools.

In groups of four, participants decoded the language of the drawn plans, worked together to physically install hardware and cut wood, and bring their planter boxes to life. There were a lot of selfies and laughter along the way. We shared with participants how we think about building at Girls Garage: as a way to experience a sense of amplified power as girls and women, and also a way to make real, tangible impact in our communities and in the world. One participant reflected afterward, “Today was so amazing, I don’t even know how to articulate it. It was fun, therapeutic, educational, and skills were acquired! Thank you, Girls Garage, for teaching us about teamwork and the importance of accuracy whilst giving back! What a day!!”

We are so inspired to have brought our special sauce to the TEDWomen community and hope that the confidence that comes with that first-ever chop saw cut stays with our new friends for a long time. And, we’d love to continue to take our show on the road! If you’re interested in hosting a Girls Garage workshop at your conference, event, or company headquarters, please contact us at