What do 1940′s girls do today? — ask 13 year old designer Asya Gonzalez to find out!
It has been a while, but now that World4Children is officially registered as a non-profit society with a goal to engage and empower kids, we’d like to restart the idea of regular interviews with inspiring kids and today we’d like to introduce you to Asya Gonzalez.
Asya is a 13 year old designer, who in 2010 launched her own fashion line, inspired by a doodle in her mom’s childhood journal. Armed with her passion for drawing and design and with her mom’s help, Asya successfully launched her own business — Stinky Feet Gurlz, producing and selling apparel and accessory items styled with one of 14 girl characters, inspired by 1940′s era.
Despite being busy with her business as well as school — she is a dedicated student who receives honors from her school — Asya feels socially responsible and recently decided to dedicate part of her time to help prevent Child Sex Trafficking and Slavery! With her foundation — She Is Worth It! — she is trying to help bring awareness and action to put an end to one of the worst possible crimes against children!
We interviewed Asya recently to get her story about how it feels to follow your passion at such young age, despite society’s expectations that kids should follow only one path into adulthood — the road that leads from school to college and finally a job:
Your story started with a doodle in your mom’s childhood journal. Can you tell us a bit more about it? What or who inspired you to try and make a business out of it?
My mom loves 1940’s music, swing, jazz…etc. it was her grandpa’s music. She used to always draw the same little girl over and over with curls, lashes and big red lips. It was just a doodle and she didn’t know how to make it better. I saw it and liked it and started to play with the different designs, hair, and faces. My mom liked it so much, she encouraged me to move forward with it. So both my parents have been behind me in making a business out of it.
Why Stinky Feet? What do the characters represent?
When my mom was little she and her sisters and cousin would go to their grandmas house and they’d play hard all day and when they came in to watch TV, they’d take their shoes off and lay down to watch TV. Their grandma would come in and plug her nose going, “PU! You girls have stinky feet!” and make them go wash their feet. So they lovingly became the original Stinky Feet Gurlz!
The Characters, and there are 14 girls, represent the 1940’s era. All the girls will have pin curls in their hair. The 1940s woman was very strong like Rosie the Riveter.
Your mom is to your side since your adventure started. Do you get help from other adults or even kids too? Who helped you the most and how?
Well, my mom has been the major supporter of my business but only because my dad works so much but he is also a big help to me. He encourages me and gives me a lot of business advice. My little brother, Jake likes to help me come up with funny quotes.
With school and your business, you must be very busy already. What motivated you to add one more priority in your life and join the cause to stop child trafficking?
Yes, I am busy with school, my business and sports but I really believe that you are never too busy to help save a life or make a difference. Sex trafficking is the most disgusting form of human slavery. I want to be apart of taking this industry down.
Given how busy you’re, is there at all time to play with your friends or simply play with games? What is your favorite game?
Yes I am busy but we make time for friends and family. I play a lot of games and video games with my little brothers and my friends and I like to go to the mall and the movies. My favorite game is Monopoly and I love to play it with my family.
What is your favorite book or movie? Do you also have a favorite character from it? What do you like the most about them?
I have too many favorite books but I’ll tell you my favorite series: “The Uglies trilogy”. My favorite character is Tally Youngblood because she wasn’t afraid to stand up to the leaders and make a difference.
How do your friends or other kids at school react to what you do? Do they find it inspiring? Do you get any less encouraging responses?
The kids at school think it’s super cool that I’m doing this. They always encourage me to keep going with it. Sometimes they want me to give them free stuff it’s funny. There have been a few kids at school who say, “yah right, you don’t have your own business or t-shirt company so I hand them my business card or sticker with my website on it and tell them to go see for themselves.”
Putting an end to child trafficking is your way of trying to change the world. Would you also like to make a change in your local community? How can you contribute to make that happen?
The first thing that needs to happen in my community and every community is awareness. There are so many people who go, “Huh? I didn’t know that was happening.” It’s just that they aren’t aware of the problem or don’t want to see that there is a major problem going on right here in America. Right here in California. Maybe even right here on your own street.
What is your response to kids who think it is too difficult to pursue their dream when they’re very young?
If you set your mind to what you want to do AND you have support, my response is to say that anything is possible.
What is your message to adults that may be interested in working with kids like you, but for some reason or another haven’t done so yet?
My message is that there is a lot to learn from kids. We have a lot of great ideas and desires too and we can inspire ideas and all you have to do is listen. I say pay attention to your kids and listen to them because you’d be surprised at what they are thinking and what they can do
As always, we’re interested in getting the parents’ perspective, so we interviewed Asya’s mom, Tamie, who has been at her daughter’s side since the very beginning in her journey with Stinky Feet Gurlz and now She Is Worth It!
Can you tell us your part in Asya’s story as a young entrepreneur and supporter of the fight against children trafficking?
Absolutely. Asya has a very special gift of art and imagination. Her drawings and designs blow me away. I could never bottle her talent and shelve it, I’ve always felt that it was my job to help her grow. Julian, my husband, and I really believe in being in business for yourself, if you are able to, and to live your dreams whether it’s writing, drawing, performing, or industrial, if it’s your passion, pursue it. Asya has the talent and the personality to make a difference and we want to be right there to guide, support, protect and help develop her passions. We won’t hold her back unless it’s not healthy. She Is Worth It! was both our passions. As a child I lost a friend to kidnapping and to this day, I don’t know what happened to her. She was about 14 when she disappeared. It wasn’t until I grew older that I learned of Child Sex Trafficking and I’ve often wondered if that was the fate of my friend. Asya and I both strongly want to be apart in taking this industry down and we’ll work hard together to do that.
As you’re working with Asya to support her dream, did you hit some walls that made you frustrated? Can you share a quick story?
Well, money is always a wall if you don’t have enough of it. Julian and I cashed in our 401k’s to help Asya launch her business because honestly, look at this economy, the 401k’s were tanking and we wanted to see our hard earned money go somewhere instead of the toilet. The frustration is that we’re going to pay a hefty tax penalty for that but what can you do? I’d do the same for any one of my kids (we have three but the two are younger). One major, MAJOR frustration is that we have, thankfully rarely, received unwanted advances from twisted individuals associating the name of this company with something perverted. As Asya’s parents, I want everyone to know that we are the gatekeepers. She never sees any of that. Ever. All emails, comments and requests are seen by us first and anything inappropriate is dealt with and disposed of as fast as it comes. But for the most part, this endeavor has been really pleasant and exciting.
Any positive stories from people embracing the idea of a 13 year old running her own business?
I’ve always been very involved with my kids and their education, sports, passions, etc and all I can say is this endeavor has brought Asya and I even closer and I feel that other people can see that. Our pastor was very impressed with the idea of Asya and me running a business together. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all Asya but I’m here to help her with the hard things, like building and running a website, purchasing shirts and getting business licenses. Other members of our church just love the idea as well and they come up to us all the time to ask questions. I really feel that it promotes unity within the family. We really need more of that in this world.
You hope the world in 2025 offers your daughter to….?
Asya will be 28 years old in 2025. Kinda knocks the wind out of me to think about that but my hope is that the world continues to offer her a world of creativity. She can do anything with her amazing brain and talents. I also hope that in 14 years we have seen a dent in the Trafficking industry. I know this is a hard nut to crack but awareness and ACTION is key!