Entrepreneur + activist: GoDaddy Q&A with Maya Penn

Making the next world

Today we’re talking with Maya Penn, a vogue entrepreneur and environmental activist. Her company, Maya’s Ideas, is concentrating on sustainability with a view to battle the damaging have an effect on of quick vogue on the setting.

Maya is a keynote speaker, sustainability promoting and advertising and marketing information, three-time TED speaker, artist, world activist, animator, filmmaker, social entrepreneur, coder and creator. She has furthermore acquired a commendation from President Barack Obama for superb achievement in environmental stewardship. Maya was awarded the 2016 Coretta Scott King A.N.G.E.L. Award, alongside with honored on the SCLC Drum Major for Justice Awards (honorees embody Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, John Lewis and additional). 

She was hand-picked by Oprah Winfrey as her youngest Supersoul 100 entrepreneur, change-maker and thought chief. 

She has been thought of one among many youngest leaders in sustainability and environmental justice for 12 years, beginning on the age of merely eight years earlier.

This interview has been gently edited for dimension and readability.

GoDaddy: Tell us a bit about your self and your enterprise.

Maya Penn: My decide is Maya Penn. I’m a 20-year-old entrepreneur and environmental activist. I’m the founder and CEO of my company generally known as Maya’s Ideas that I began in 2008 after I was actually eight years earlier. It is a sustainable vogue line, and I make all of my units from recycled, conventional and pure offers.

GoDaddy: What’s the road between entrepreneurship and activism for you? Are they quite a few points? Are they related?

Maya Penn: For me personally, entrepreneurship and activism really sort of play off of one another in a novel means. I’ve definitely not felt like I’ve to go effectively with a optimistic mildew as an activist or as an entrepreneur. And I’ve used each of these sides as strengths to push all the gadgets that I’m doing ahead, in a method.

I’ve at all times had a limiteless deal with sustainability, for social justice, and that’s at all times been on the core, giving as soon as extra.

I’ve at all times donated 10% or additional of my income to native and world charities and environmental organizations. And eco-friendliness has at all times been on the core of Maya’s Ideas.

Because I’m furthermore an activist, I definitely not have compromised on that particular intention that I had. And that’s why I began my enterprise.

GoDaddy: What suggestion or concepts would you would possibly want for others who perhaps should flip a ardour, an activist ardour into entrepreneurship, or vice versa?

Maya Penn: When it entails enterprise, it’s really essential to be clear in your why. And activism is an environment friendly method to embrace that why. Maybe it’s environmental components. Maybe it’s a lack of differ and inclusion inside optimistic industries.

Whatever that why is for you as an activist, it’d presumably merely translate into entrepreneurship, the way it’s finest to profit from your enterprise to produce as soon as extra to your group, to produce as soon as extra to the charities and organizations or native grassroots, nonprofits that you simply simply merely’re captivated with.

All of this stuff really make melding these two worlds collectively pretty hundreds simpler. And merely really staying true to your self, staying true to what it’s that you simply simply merely’re captivated with, it doesn’t matter what. And not being afraid to carve out your non-public distinctive path as an entrepreneur.

Image: mayasideas.com

GoDaddy: What suggestion would you would possibly want for managing any stress that there is extra more likely to be between your targets as an activist and your targets as an entrepreneur?

Maya Penn: I actually really feel that the recommendation that I’d give spherical managing that stress which can come up, is to not try each side as competing components. Really work out how each your group and your mission can income from one another. How it is best to profit from your enterprise to further elevate the work that you simply simply merely’re doing to create additional attain spherical no matter your mission is? And the way it’s finest to profit from these belongings you might need as an entrepreneur to further your work, as an activist, after which vice versa?

What are you able to analysis from being an activist, being really educated regarding the components that you simply simply merely’re tackling? This is definitely virtually a hidden vitality which you would possibly revenue from.

Loads of firms now are attempting to interrupt into social good work into agency social accountability. And quite a few it’s inauthentic, or there’s an unlimited studying curve for these firms, nonetheless since you’re coming from an trustworthy and actual place, an extra educated and passionate place, it’s pretty hundreds simpler for that to be a element inside your enterprise.

GoDaddy: Do you would possibly want any examples of how by which your activism has fed your entrepreneurship?

Maya Penn: Being anybody who’s contained in the sustainable vogue house, the sort enterprise has taken a limiteless toll on the setting, on the planet. Because of that, sustainability has at all times been on the core of my enterprise from the very starting.

As anybody who’s really well-versed in sustainability inside enterprise, it’s not all about making additional merchandise or having a further of stock.

Maybe it’s the attain that my model has, what number of utterly completely completely different distributors in every single place on this planet that my model has entry to. It’s additional than merely making additional stuff due to that’s contributing to the issue.

I’ve at all times scaled in a implies that’s additional distinctive, and that’s really set my enterprise aside. I’ve at all times really been targeted on smaller collections and additional limited-run collections.

I work with the offers which could possibly be already accessible available on the market, as an alternative of contributing to the waste that surrounds quick vogue.


Doing this has actually set my model apart from quite a few completely completely different producers in some strategies, even from quite a few sustainable vogue producers who, regardless that they’re utilizing sustainable offers, nonetheless might have a further of stock.

GoDaddy: How has the problem of activism in your enterprise relate to your identification as a Black girl?

Maya Penn: There is unquestionably a limiteless connection with social good entrepreneurship in connection with being contained in the Black group.

Mission-driven entrepreneurship is definitely pretty frequent all by the Black group as a consequence of what number of components the Black group goes through.


That can embody socioeconomic components, environmental components, differ inclusion inside optimistic industries, you identify it. Having that want to offer as soon as extra, to assist make a distinction to assist better the group has really been on the core of quite a few Black-owned corporations and that’s very clear to see.

Black women are literally the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs, regardless of solely receiving lower than one % of most funding. So having a platform and having that presence as a Black girl entrepreneur, it’s not merely beginning a enterprise. It furthermore helps to open the door to talk to these components and one of the best ways essential it’s for there to be additional funding accessible to those teams of entrepreneurs.

We need to assist help our group. We need to assist assemble generational wealth. We should have the pliability to assist assemble a legacy and provides as soon as extra, one issue to cross all one of the best ways all the best way right down to future generations, to assemble one issue which can make an have an effect on in that suggests that future generations can income from as efficiently.

GoDaddy: Do you’re feeling that the act of entrepreneurship is activism for some?

Maya Penn

Maya Penn: I do. Just your presence inside optimistic industries, inside optimistic boardrooms, might help open the door for subsequently many alternative Black, Brown and Indigenous entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs furthermore want their shot at being funded, at getting their model publicity and all the gadgets else that appears to be out of attain for plenty of entrepreneurs of coloration.

What really makes being an activist and an entrepreneur additional extraordinarily environment friendly inside enterprise is the fact that many producers are actually having to deal with components like sustainability and choice inclusion.

Oftentimes, their responses may presumably be very compelled. They may presumably be tone-deaf or they convey from an uneducated place due to these are points they’ve merely definitely not checked out prior till a portion of their shopper base began bringing them to their consideration.

When you’re coming from an actual place, when sustainability, inclusion and choice are the core and the spine of your enterprise, that’s lastly going to assist your enterprise succeed additional in these altering currents and tides of the enterprise world. You’re coming from an actual place and the patron base will see that as efficiently.

Activism provides value to your expertise as an entrepreneur due to it provides to your “why.” Every enterprise in existence might want to have a “why.” A enterprise might want to have a necessity that it’s trying to deal with.

You truly actually really feel additional fulfilled being in your on-line enterprise as an activist. It’s simpler to work by the use of quite a few enterprise challenges due to it’s not merely all regarding the cash or the success. It’s furthermore regarding the optimistic have an effect on that your enterprise has on the world.

So having that driving concern is principally good for you as a enterprise proprietor, in your staff, for everybody all by.

Related: Cities with additional differ have additional on-line micro-businesses

GoDaddy: Why do you’re feeling that it may be a difficulty for some small enterprise house owners to combine entrepreneurship and activism? How can they overcome that downside?

Maya Penn: I actually really feel it’s a difficulty on account of emphasis that we positioned on capitalism being the end-all, be-all to the success of a enterprise. We want to really reinvent quite a few the relationships that we’ve obtained with enterprise.

It’s so essential to blaze a path, to be unafraid to attempt one issue utterly completely completely different, to go in opposition to the established order.


However, I can completely perceive why folks have a hard time mixing the 2 worlds collectively. Loads of things that have an effect on our world are straight rooted inside capitalism.

But there’s a method to shift that mindset and to revenue from the platform that you’ve as an entrepreneur. To create additional fairness and additional equality, to spend money on the initiatives which can assist make an have an effect on on our planet, to make a optimistic have an effect on on communities, to carry consciousness to essential causes, is to make the most of this vitality for good.

My suggestion is to at all times take heed to your intestine, take heed to your instinct. Make picks and picks that you simply simply merely personally truly actually really feel completely satisfied with and that you simply simply merely truly actually really feel cosy with, considerably being a acutely aware entrepreneur.

There may presumably be this concern of not making the right picks due to your coronary coronary coronary heart is so in it, and that’s absolutely high-quality.

In the enterprise world, there’s an unlimited emphasis contained in the enterprise world about sort of taking your coronary coronary coronary heart out of your enterprise and taking your coronary coronary coronary heart out of your work. But if you’re doing one issue that’s mission-driven, you could must have your coronary coronary coronary heart in it as hundreds as doable.

Feel free to go in and make the alternate choices that you simply simply merely personally truly actually really feel makes mainly most likely probably the most sense to your mission, to the have an effect on that you simply simply merely should depart on the world with your enterprise, earlier merely making a product or making a revenue.

GoDaddy: Do you would possibly want any suggestion for varied Black entrepreneurs?

Maya Penn: My particular message to completely completely different Black entrepreneurs is to essentially be actual.

You don’t should diminish your customized or diminish your identification with a view to understand success inside an enterprise. I actually really feel that’s one issue that quite a few Black entrepreneurs face, is feeling that they need to dim quite a few their delicate and diminish quite a few their customized with a view to understand a optimistic house.

But I actually really feel now larger than ever, it’s essential to be actual.


You is usually a spot mannequin to others simply by pursuing your entrepreneurial mission, by pursuing your entrepreneurial targets, and by at all times giving as soon as extra.

It’s one situation to be an event of success, nonetheless for me, my private definition of success is with the ability to understand as soon as extra and assist others pay money for their targets.

Being in a position to understand as soon as extra to your group and provides as soon as extra in important methods. And so that’s what I’d say is massive essential. Of course, it’s essential to understand your success and to be that event, nonetheless you furthermore should be an event contained in the work that you simply simply merely do and one of the best ways you profit from your time and your income to make a distinction as efficiently.

Thank you for talking with us and sharing your experiences, Maya. You can observe Maya on Instagram and go to her website here.