13-Year-Old CEO Makes Her Fashion, Technology & Animation Dreams A Reality

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  • Maya Penn is not your average 13-year-old; she’s a fashion designer, cartoonist and the CEO of her own company.

    She launched Maya’s Ideas at tender age of 8 and now she’s taking over our world one animation and eco-friendly scarf at a time. On her self-built website, she describes herself as an “entrepreneur, philanthropist, designer, artist, animator (I make animated short films), illustrator, and writer.”

    “I’m also really into technology,” she writes. “When I was about four years old my dad showed me how to take apart a computer and put it back together again, and that really started my love for technology. I’ve built my first website myself, and I’m learning JavaScript and HTML 5 so I’m really hands on in all aspects of my business. I create handmade artisan crafted one-of-a-kind eco-friendly accessories and clothing.” All of her products are environmentally friendly and she donates 10-20% of her profits to her favorite charities, including the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

    Maya says her love for animation started around age 3 or so. “I started making little flip books and I always wondered how they make cartoons. To this day, right after I watch a movie on DVD, the first thing I do is go to the behind-the-scenes [feature]. I was always really excited to know how they made this all happen,” she tells TED Blog. “I’m going to be releasing “Malicious Dishes” later this year. It’s an [animated] series about little viruses in the computer. One time I had a virus on my computer and I thought, “What if they had their own little world inside the computer? What if they had their own restaurant?” I thought I could make my own little cartoon out of it.”

    And if that’s not enough, the young starlet also runs a non-profit called Maya’s Ideas 4 the Planet.

    “I’m also working on a project with my non-profit about creating eco-friendly and reusable sanitary pads for girls in third world countries. A lot of them can’t go to school because they don’t have any pads to wear,” she explains.

    As for other kids looking to follow in her footsteps, Maya says “ you always, always, always have to start with a passion.”

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