Credit: Photo by Dana Gerber

When two 6-year-old girls set up a table to sell homemade bracelets in their Bethesda neighborhood, they decided to give the proceeds to the Black Lives Matter movement and Children’s National Hospital.

Ella Gustafsson-Matos and Emily Marczak, rising first-graders at Westbrook Elementary School, ran their sales stand on Malden Street on Wednesday and Thursday.

They sold more than 30 bracelets and raised about $200. The suggested donation was $1.50 per bracelet.

They made the bracelets over the course of two weeks, with the help of Emily’s babysitter, Dea Stefanovich, using a loom Emily got for her birthday in March.

“We started making bracelets, cause Emily had this awesome bracelet set that was brand new, and we thought it was really fun,” Ella said. “So after something like three days, we had a lot of bracelets, and we wanted to make something out of it instead of just keeping them. So we decided, if we can keep making bracelets as a team, we can maybe make a bracelet shop.”

Donating to the hospital was Emily’s idea, while Black Lives Matter was Ella’s.

Emily said she wants to be a doctor when she grows up.

“I really wanted to take care of people,” she said. 

Emily’s father, Jason Marczak, said she is passionate about the idea of helping sick people.

Her favorite TV show is “Doc McStuffins,” a cartoon about a young girl who cares for stuffed animals.

“She walks around the house with her stethoscope and otoscope and frequently does checkups on my wife and I,” he said. “[She] has been very concerned about coronavirus and the impact on kids.”

Ella, who is half-Dominican, said her mom has been telling her about the Black Lives Matter movement, and she wanted to find a way to help the cause outside of protesting.

“My mom has been telling me all about everybody who’s protesting, and I really wanted to do a part in it,” she said.

“They’re good causes,” Ella said. “It just feels so good.”

The girls met in their kindergarten class. They’ve become closer over the last few months since their families decided to do a “quarantine pod,” in which families socialize with each other but no one else, according to Emily’s mom, Lindsay Marczak.

“Now we’re BFFs,” Emily said with a giggle — meaning Best Friends Forever.

Both girls said this is their first time running a business.

“Before this, when I was like 6 years old — because I’m 6-and-a-half now — I was always wanting to make a lemonade stand to make some money, and even thinking about donating it somewhere, maybe,” Ella said. “But I don’t really remember, because I’m 6-and-a-half now.”

Lindsay Marczak said the fundraiser was the girls’ idea.

“I think both of them are socially minded, and it’s not surprising to me that they would come up with an idea, but I think all the parents were blown away by their excitement and eagerness to do something for the community,” she said. “They just wanted to give back. And so this was their way of doing it.”

Sara Gustafsson, Ella’s mom, said they found out about the idea after picking Ella up from playing with Emily in the Marczaks’ backyard. The girls, she said, were the driving force behind the idea and seeing it through.

“They did a lot of work with the bracelets, and I think it was a great idea that they did it,” Gustafsson said. “It goes to very good causes, and I’m very proud of the girls.”

Lindsay Marczak said they might begin taking mail orders to continue selling bracelets.

She added that in light of a nationwide push to make society actively anti-racist, she is proud that the girls understand the importance of equality and giving back at a young age, and having fun while doing it.

“It’s been pretty hard for 6-year-olds to navigate all of the issues for coronavirus and just not being with their friends,” she said. “This is just a way for us to see the kids are doing alright.”