Kind Crusader: Maya, 13-Year-Old Eco Designer
Wow! This young lady is so cool! AND BEAUTIFUL! I LOVE YOUR HAIR! I invited her to share her story with you all… – AS
A lot of people ask me, why eco-friendly? Why is you’re business eco-friendly? My parents taught me at an early age about recycling, organic gardening, being environmentally aware, and being a good steward by respecting the planet and taking care of it’s animals. I heard about how the dyes in clothing or the process of even making the items was harmful to the people, animals, and the planet. So I started doing my OWN research and I found out believe it or not there is a wide variety of health problems for people chemically sensitive to the dyes. Besides posing a health hazard, it also generates a great amount of toxic waste. For example, the grinding of materials or the dumping of dry, powdered materials; these actions can pollute the air, making it toxic to anyone or anything that inhales it. I thought: How can helping the environment tie into my business? I immediately knew it had to be eco-friendly. I use natural fruit and vegetable dyes and herbal teas to dye scarves and T-shirts. I use materials like organic burlap, 100% organic cotton, hemp, tencel, art silk (not really silk, but a blend of rayon and cotton), and fleece, as well as recycled and vintage materials in creating my clothing and accessories. When I first started, I used vintage scrap wool but I don’t anymore. Now I use fleece in place of wool and make sure I don’t use any materials that aren’t biodegradable and harmful to the environment and animals.
It was really awesome to be featured in Forbes as an entrepreneur and have one of my eco-designs featured in Redbook. Last spring I was honored at SCLC/W.O.M.E.N 33RD Annual Drum Major for Justice Awards as a youth entrepreneur. Past recipients of the Drum Major for Justice Award include Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, and Oprah Winfrey.
( Me and Professor Muhammad Yunus. Professor Yunus is the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner and is known as the “Father of Microcredit” and “Banker to the Poor”)
I keep my business as green as possible, all down to the little things. My business cards are made from 100% recycled, 60% Post-Consumer Waste, and processed chlorine-free paper.
I did a TEDx Talk last year and I explained how I feel that I am part of the new wave of entrepreneurs that not only seek to have a successful business but also a sustainable future. I feel that I can meet the needs of my customers without compromising the ability of the future generations to live in a greener tomorrow. I believe that everyone should do their part in coming up with new and innovative ways to make positive changes effecting our environment and it’s creatures efficiently, and sufficiently.
I’m a member of the IS Foundation’s kids division. I write articles/add content/videos to their website. I’m also a contributing writer for Livethrive.org.
Things that inspires my designs are God, nature, and lots of different types of art. Being an animator and artist also helps because I also get to incorporate my animated characters on my organic cotton T-shirts. Sometimes I get my best ideas for one of my eco-fashion designs by just doodling!
I’ve always had a green and organic lifestyle. I got my dog Blackberry when I was 6 years old. I started her off early when she was a puppy giving her healthy food. She’s 7 years old now, and her favorite meal is brown rice and broccoli and her favorite snacks are slices of apple!
I even started an organic garden 4 years ago with my parents and it’s still growing strong! We get all sorts of tasty fruits and vegetables like kale, watermelons, strawberries, oregano, squash, purple carrots (yes purple!), and cherry tomatoes.
(Me when I first started my organic garden!)
I love lots of the awesome recipes on The kind Life and me and my family and friends have had a great time trying them out! I love getting the emails and newsletters and I always learn and discover so many new and interesting things about green living.
Do you know any young Kind Crusaders?
Ask them to share their stories here and they might end up on our home page!
About Maya: I am Maya Shea Penn, a 13-year-old eco-designer, environmental activist, entrepreneur, philanthropist, artist, animator (I make animated short films), illustrator, and writer. I am the CEO of Maya’s Ideas, a company I started in 2008 when I was just 8 years old. I create eco-friendly accessories and clothing and 10-20% of my profits go to local and global charities and environmental organizations.