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Maya Penn: I've been drawing ever since I could hold a crayon, and I've been making animated flip books since I was three years old. At that age, I also learned about what an animator was. There was a program on TV about jobs most kids don't know about. When I understood that an animator makes the cartoons I saw on TV, I immediately said, "That's what I want to be." I don't know if I said it mentally or out loud, but that was a greatly defining moment in my life.
Animation and art has always been my first love. It was my love for technology that sparked the idea for "Malicious Dishes." There was a virus on my computer, and I was trying to get rid of it, and all of a sudden, I just thought, what if viruses have their own little world inside the computer? Maybe a restaurant where they meet up and do virusy things? And thus, "Malicious Dishes" was born.
I'm also working on an animated series called "The Pollinators." It's about bees and other pollinators in our environment and why they're so important. If plants aren't pollinated by the pollinators, then all creatures, including ourselves, that depend on these plants, would starve. So I decided to take these cool creatures and make a superhero team. (Applause) (Foot stomp) (Music) (Roar) Pollinator: Deforestsaurus! I should have known! I need to call on the rest of the Pollinators!
All of my animations start with ideas, but what are ideas? Ideas can spark a movement. Ideas are opportunities and innovation. Ideas truly are what make the world go round. If it wasn't for ideas, we wouldn't be where we are now with technology, medicine, art, culture, and how we even live our lives. At eight years old, I took my ideas and started my own business called Maya's Ideas, and my nonprofit, Maya's Ideas for the Planet. (Laughter) And I make eco-friendly clothing and accessories. I'm 13 now, and although I started my business in 2008, my artistic journey started way before then. I was greatly influenced by art, and I wanted to incorporate it in everything I did, even my business. I would find different fabrics around the house, and say, "This could be a scarf or a hat"; and I had all these ideas for designs. I noticed when I wore my creations, people would stop me and say, "Wow, that's really cute. Where can I get one?" And I thought, I can start my own business.
Now, I didn't have any business plans at only eight years old. I only knew I wanted to make pretty creations that were safe for the environment, and I wanted to give back. My mom taught me how to sew, and on my back porch, I would sit and make little headbands out of ribbon, and I would write down the names and the price of each item. I started making more items like hats, scarves and bags. Soon, my items began selling all over the world, and I had customers in Denmark, Italy, Australia, Canada and more.
Now, I had a lot to learn about my business, like branding and marketing, staying engaged with my customers, and seeing what sold the most and the least. Soon, my business really started to take off. Then one day, Forbes magazine contacted me when I was 10 years old. (Laughter) They wanted to feature me and my company in their article.
Now, a lot of people ask me, why is your business eco-friendly? I've had a passion for protecting the environment and its creatures since I was little. My parents taught me at an early age about giving back and being a good steward to the environment. I heard about how the dyes in some clothing or the process of even making the items was harmful to the people and the planet, so I started doing my own research, and I discovered that even after dyeing has being completed, there is a waste issue that gives a negative impact on the environment. For example, the grinding of materials, or the dumping of dried powder materials. These actions can pollute the air, making it toxic to anyone or anything that inhales it. So when I started my business, I knew two things: All of my items had to be eco-friendly, and 10 to 20 percent of the profits I made went to local and global charities and environmental organizations. (Applause) I feel I'm part of the new wave of entrepreneurs that not only seeks 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 future generations to live in a greener tomorrow.
We live in a big, diverse and beautiful world, and that makes me even more passionate to save it. But it's never enough to just get it through your heads about the things that are happening in our world. It takes to get it through your hearts, because when you get it through your heart, that is when movements are sparked. That is when opportunities and innovation are created, and that is why ideas come to life.
Thank you, and peace and blessings.
Pat Mitchell: So, you heard Maya talk about the amazing parents who are behind this incredible woman. Where are they? Please, Mr. and Mrs. Penn. Would you just -- Ah! (Applause)