The online space may be considered uniformly dangerous for young girls, but one in particular seems to be doing quite well for herself on the Internet. Maya Penn is a designer and a homeschooled tween from Atlanta, Georgia. And when she’s not designing accessories or learning animation, she is selling her wares on her Etsy boutique.
Her online store entitled “Maya’s Ideas” has been up and running since 2008 when Maya was only eight years old. In her online profile, she describes herself as Christian who loves purple and a “total geek” with regard to computers and technology. She lists her favorite artists as Vincent Van Gogh, Odilon Redon, and Roy Lichtenstein.
She touts her “one of a kind, handmade, eco-friendly clothing and accessories” which include headbands, purses, scarves, and more. Her entrepreneurial efforts even landed her on the Forbes list of “Sixteen Grade School Entrepreneurs.” And when not crafting her merchandise, Maya is actively blogging about her business experiences. She also makes a point to donate 10% of her profits to charities, which she lists as the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Hosea Feed the Hungry, The Ian Somerhalder Foundation and “other global relief organizations.”
Maya told Fox News:
“I like making people happy through my items. But some people might not have the money to purchase my items, so I like to help other people and make them happy through donating.”
It’s enterprising, articulate young ladies like Maya that should be a strong component of the discussion surrounding Internet safety for kids. While the tendency may often be to shelter girls from social networking sites and online communities, young girls like Maya and Tavi Gevinson demonstrate that with proper guidance and education, kids can take their creativity and innovation to new heights — and even cultivate some entrepreneurial skills. And considering that even LEGO is now encouraging girls to just focus on their tan rather than say craft a business, we have to hope they’ll be getting that incentive from somewhere.