Maya Penn’s creativity and aspiration know no bounds. At the age of just 8, she made an extraordinary entry into the world of entrepreneurship. And since then, she has not looked back.
In fact, describing her as an entrepreneur is a limitation of her potential and what she has been doing over the years. She is also a climate change activist and a creative. She sketches cartoons for TV.
Her credibility has reached a pedestal where she now rubs shoulders with the likes of media mogul Oprah Winfrey and former first lady Michelle Obama. She has also interfaced with Fortune 500 companies. She came into the limelight following the establishment of Maya’s Ideas, an eco-friendly clothing line, at age 8. She announced at the time that a portion of the sales proceeds goes to environmental charities.
She followed it up with another venture called Maya’s Ideas 4 the Planet to address climate change issues and STEM initiatives.
“I always had a lot of various passions growing up as a kid, nature and the environment, art and design, animation,” she told PEOPLE. “And so, I kind of utilized all of those different areas throughout my journey. All of those same themes of just giving back and creativity are really what tie everything together.”
Maya, from Atlanta, Georgia, said she got her drive from her parents, who urged her to pursue her heart’s desires without limitations. According to her, at the age of four, she was introduced to technology by her father. He showed her how to take apart a computer and put it back together again. She went on to teach herself HTML and later coded her first website. This valuable skill she picked from her father has helped shape her life.
In 2016, Maya was featured as the youngest honoree in Oprah’s Super Soul 100, a list of influencers and change-makers. She was among other leaders like Ava DuVernay, Common, Deepak Chopra, DeVon Franklin, Amandla Stenberg and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
In addition, the 22-year-old has been featured in TED talks as a speaker. She has appeared on the prestigious platform on three occasions. She is the youngest woman to do two back-to-back official TED talks. She used the platform to highlight her entrepreneurial journey, activism and her stake in the creative sector.
“I love taking people on a journey and helping people empathize and understand more about the world and about various communities and how we can all make a difference in some way,” she said.
She often advises young people who want to start their own business to do a lot of research about their field of interest.
“Also, write down your ideas as often as you have them. It’s important for you to think about your ideas and how you can grow them into something new,” the young entrepreneur and philanthropist said.