Maya Penn may be young, but she certainly should not be underestimated. At 16 years old, she is already a philanthropist, environmental activist, entrepreneur, eco-designer, inspirational speaker, artist, animator, coder, illustrator, and Simon & Schuster author. At 8 years old she began her own business: an eco-friendly clothing and accessories line called “Maya’s Ideas”. In addition to using eco-safe dyes and reusing textiles, the company donates up to 20% of their profits to local and global charities and environmental organizations.
In an interview with Channel Guide Magazine in February, Penn confessed that she has always felt like she possesses an artistic spirit. She began designing just with fabric found around her house; now, her eco-friendly clothes and accessories are sold internationally. The clothes are hand made using organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, vintage silks, and vintage wools.
Penn has also given three TEDTalks, the first of which detailing her story, her animations, and her designs. She is the youngest female to do two back-to-back official TEDTalks. In addition to her creativity, she is also very tech savvy: she coded her company’s first website when she was ten! In 2012 she was honored at the SCLC Women’s 33rd Annual Drum Major for Justice Awards in the Youth Category, and she’s served on The Pollination Project’s Youth Grantmaking Advisory Board. She’s also written two children’s books: Lucy and Sammy Save the Environment and Wild Rhymes – both of which she illustrated.
To learn more about this phenomenal young woman, check out her website!
Photo Credit: Marla Aufmuth