Entrepreneur + activist: GoDaddy Q&A with Maya Penn

Making a better world

Instantly we’re speaking with Maya Penn, a development entrepreneur and environmental activist. Her agency, Maya’s Ideas, is focused on sustainability in an effort to combat the damaging affect of fast development on the environment.

Maya is a keynote speaker, sustainability information, three-time TED speaker, artist, worldwide activist, animator, filmmaker, social entrepreneur, coder and author. She has moreover acquired a commendation from President Barack Obama for wonderful achievement in environmental stewardship. Maya was awarded the 2016 Coretta Scott King A.N.G.E.L. Award, along with honored on the SCLC Drum Principal for Justice Awards (honorees embrace Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, John Lewis and further). 

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

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youngest leaders in sustainability and environmental justice for 12 years, starting on the age of merely eight years outdated.

This interview has been gently edited for measurement and readability.

GoDaddy: Inform us a bit about your self and your on-line enterprise.

Maya Penn: My title is Maya Penn. I am a 20-year-old entrepreneur and environmental activist. I’m the founder and CEO of my agency known as Maya’s Ideas that I started in 2008 as soon as I used to be actually eight years outdated. It is a sustainable development line, and I make all of my devices from recycled, basic and pure provides.

GoDaddy: What’s the highway between entrepreneurship and activism for you? Are they varied issues? Are they associated?

Maya Penn: For me personally, entrepreneurship and activism really kind of play off of each other in a novel method. I’ve under no circumstances felt like I’ve to go well with a positive mould as an activist or as an entrepreneur. And I’ve used every of those sides as strengths to push the whole thing that I’m doing forward, in a method.

I’ve always had an infinite deal with sustainability, for social justice, and that’s always been on the core, giving once more.

I’ve always donated 10% or further of my earnings to native and worldwide charities and environmental organizations. And eco-friendliness has always been on the core of Maya’s Ideas.

Because of I’m moreover an activist, I under no circumstances have compromised on that genuine goal that I had. And that’s why I started my enterprise.

GoDaddy: What suggestion or recommendations would you might need for others who maybe must flip a passion, an activist passion into entrepreneurship, or vice versa?

Maya Penn: When it comes to enterprise, it’s really essential to be clear in your why. And activism is an efficient approach to embrace that why. Presumably it is environmental factors. Presumably it is a lack of vary and inclusion inside positive industries.

Regardless of that why is for you as an activist, it might presumably merely translate into entrepreneurship, how you must use your on-line enterprise to supply once more to your neighborhood, to supply once more to the charities and organizations or native grassroots, nonprofits that you just’re passionate about.

All of these things really make melding these two worlds collectively hundreds less complicated. And easily really staying true to your self, staying true to what it is that you just’re passionate about, it does not matter what. And by no means being afraid to carve out your particular person distinctive path as an entrepreneur.

Image: mayasideas.com

GoDaddy: What suggestion would you might need for managing any stress that there could possibly be between your targets as an activist and your targets as an entrepreneur?

Maya Penn: I imagine that the advice that I’d give spherical managing that stress which will come up, is to not check out both aspect as competing elements. Really work out how every your group and your mission can revenue from each other. How you must use your on-line enterprise to extra elevate the work that you just’re doing to create further attain spherical irrespective of your mission is? And the way in which you must use these sources you would possibly want as an entrepreneur to extra your work, as an activist, after which vice versa?

What can you be taught from being an activist, being really educated in regards to the factors that you just’re tackling? That’s actually just about a hidden power that you’d be capable of take advantage of.

A great deal of corporations now attempt to interrupt into social good work into firm social accountability. And many it is inauthentic, or there’s an infinite learning curve for these corporations, nonetheless because you’re coming from an honest and real place, a further educated and passionate place, it’s hundreds less complicated for that to be a component inside your on-line enterprise.

GoDaddy: Do you might need any examples of the way by which your activism has fed your entrepreneurship?

Maya Penn: Being someone who’s inside the sustainable development home, the type commerce has taken an infinite toll on the environment, on the planet. As a result of that, sustainability has always been on the core of my enterprise from the very beginning.

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

Presumably it’s the attain that my mannequin has, what variety of utterly completely different distributors all around the world that my mannequin has entry to. It’s further than merely making further stuff because of that’s contributing to the difficulty.

I’ve always scaled in a method that’s further distinctive, and that’s really set my enterprise apart. I’ve always really been centered on smaller collections and further limited-run collections.

I work with the provides which is likely to be already in the marketplace, instead of contributing to the waste that surrounds fast development.


Doing this has actually set my mannequin except for numerous completely different producers in some methods, even from numerous sustainable development producers who, regardless that they’re using sustainable provides, nonetheless would possibly want an additional of inventory.

GoDaddy: How has the problem of activism in your on-line enterprise relate to your identification as a Black woman?

Maya Penn: There could also be undoubtedly an infinite connection with social good entrepreneurship in connection with being inside the Black neighborhood.

Mission-driven entrepreneurship is certainly fairly frequent contained in the Black neighborhood as a consequence of what variety of factors the Black neighborhood goes by.


Which will embrace socioeconomic factors, environmental factors, vary inclusion inside positive industries, you title it. Having that need to present once more, to help make a distinction to help larger the neighborhood has really been on the core of numerous Black-owned firms and that’s very clear to see.

Black women are actually the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs, no matter solely receiving decrease than one p.c of most funding. So having a platform and having that presence as a Black woman entrepreneur, it’s not merely starting a enterprise. It moreover helps to open the door to speak to those factors and the way in which obligatory it is for there to be further funding accessible to these groups of entrepreneurs.

We have to help help our neighborhood. We have to help assemble generational wealth. We wish to have the power to help assemble a legacy and supplies once more, one factor to go all the way in which right down to future generations, to assemble one factor that may make an affect in that method that future generations can revenue from as correctly.

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

Maya Penn

Maya Penn: I do. Merely your presence inside positive industries, inside positive boardrooms, could assist open the door for thus many alternative Black, Brown and Indigenous entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs moreover need their shot at being funded, at getting their mannequin publicity and the whole thing else that seems to be out of attain for lots of entrepreneurs of color.

What really makes being an activist and an entrepreneur further extremely efficient inside enterprise is the reality that many producers are literally having to deal with factors like sustainability and selection inclusion.

Oftentimes, their responses is likely to be very compelled. They’re usually tone-deaf or they impart from an uneducated place because of these are topics they’ve merely under no circumstances checked out prior until a portion of their shopper base started bringing them to their consideration.

When you’re coming from an real place, when sustainability, inclusion and selection are the core and the backbone of your on-line enterprise, that is lastly going to help your on-line enterprise succeed further in these altering currents and tides of the enterprise world. You’re coming from an real place and the patron base will see that as correctly.

Activism supplies price to your experience as an entrepreneur because of it supplies to your “why.” Every enterprise in existence will need to have a “why.” A enterprise will need to have a necessity that it’s making an attempt to deal with.

You are feeling further fulfilled being in your commerce as an activist. It’s less complicated to work by numerous enterprise challenges because of it’s not merely all in regards to the money or the success. It’s moreover in regards to the constructive affect that your on-line enterprise has on the world.

So having that driving situation is de facto good for you as a enterprise proprietor, to your workers, for everyone all through.

Related: Cities with further vary have further on-line micro-businesses

GoDaddy: Why do you are feeling that it might be an issue for some small enterprise householders to mix entrepreneurship and activism? How can they overcome that downside?

Maya Penn: I imagine it’s an issue because of the emphasis that we positioned on capitalism being the end-all, be-all to the success of a enterprise. We now have to truly reinvent numerous the relationships that now we now have with enterprise.

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


Nonetheless, I can completely understand why people have a tricky time mixing the two worlds collectively. A great deal of factors that affect our world are instantly rooted inside capitalism.

Nevertheless there’s a way to shift that mindset and to take advantage of the platform that you’ve got as an entrepreneur. To create further equity and further equality, to place cash into the initiatives that may help make an affect on our planet, to make a constructive affect on communities, to ship consciousness to obligatory causes, is to utilize this power for good.

My suggestion is to always take heed to your gut, take heed to your intuition. Make selections and picks that you just personally actually really feel happy with and that you just actually really feel cosy with, notably being a conscious entrepreneur.

There is likely to be this concern of not making the perfect selections because of your coronary coronary heart is so in it, and that is utterly good.

Inside the enterprise world, there’s an infinite emphasis inside the enterprise world about kind of taking your coronary coronary heart out of your on-line enterprise and taking your coronary coronary heart out of your work. Nevertheless for those who’re doing one factor that’s mission-driven, you may need to have your coronary coronary heart in it as so much as doable.

Be joyful to go in and make the options that you just personally actually really feel makes basically probably the most sense to your mission, to the affect that you just must depart on the world with your on-line enterprise, previous merely making a product or making a income.

GoDaddy: Do you might need any suggestion for various Black entrepreneurs?

Maya Penn: My explicit message to completely different Black entrepreneurs is to basically be real.

You don’t should diminish your custom or diminish your identification in an effort to realize success inside an commerce. I imagine that’s one factor that numerous Black entrepreneurs face, is feeling that they need to dim numerous their mild and diminish numerous their custom in an effort to realize a positive home.

Nevertheless I imagine now better than ever, it’s essential to be real.


You usually is a place model to others just by pursuing your entrepreneurial mission, by pursuing your entrepreneurial targets, and by always giving once more.

It’s one issue to be an occasion of success, nonetheless for me, my non-public definition of success is with the power to realize once more and help others receive their targets.

Being able to realize once more to your neighborhood and supplies once more in important strategies. And so that is what I’d say is large important. In actual fact, it’s obligatory to realize your success and to be that occasion, nonetheless you moreover should be an occasion inside the work that you just do and the way in which you use your time and your earnings to make a distinction as correctly.

Thanks for speaking with us and sharing your experiences, Maya. You presumably can comply with Maya on Instagram and go to her website here.


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