Asya Gonzalez is a young rock star entrepreneur. At only 16 years old, she has already successfully launched a socially responsible company and a charity to support awareness and preventative action towards child sex slavery. Even at a young age, Asya is making a significant impact on the world around her and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon!
I had the opportunity to connect with Asya, and here is an interview that explores her passions, motivations and entrepreneurial insights.
Name: Asya Gonzalez
Business Name: Stinky Feet Gurlz
Date Founded: November 2011
Starting Capital: $1,100 from her mom cashing in her 401K
Business Description: 1940’s inspired apparel and accessories, including t-shirts, hats, and NEW scented candles
Katie Sowa: How did you come up with the idea for Stinky Feet Gurlz?
Asya Gonzalez: A lot of it was wanting to come up with a fashion line because I want to be a fashion designer later in my career. It came from doodles that I wanted to put onto t-shirts, which is how it got started.
Katie: Once you came up with the idea, how long did it take for you to launch your business?
Asya: About 2-6 months. Because of immediate connections that we kept making, it just happened.
Katie: You also have a charity, She Is Worth It!, which brings action and awareness to child sex trafficking. How did you get started with this?
Asya: There were 2 major things. First, my mom and I were watching a video about missing kids, and my mom saw a picture of her friend that they think somehow she was taken when she was younger. And second, was the movie Taken. Watching this was scary and gave me a bigger picture view of how things are.
Katie: Portion of your company’s profits goes to your charity. What does it mean to you to be socially responsible?
Asya: When you are successful, it is great to help your community. As I become successful, I want to be able to share it with other people and do what I can to bring awareness to child sex trafficking.
Katie: How do you juggle business and school and having a social lift?
Asya: My parents help me a lot with my business. With school I have a flexible schedule and it is easy to balance homework, sports and friends. My friends are also very supportive and cheer me on a lot. They’re always excited for all of my good news.
Katie: What is the biggest obstacle you’ve faced as a young entrepreneur?
Asya: Being young, I think the biggest obstacle is not having enough experience in the bigger world and I want to have that experience to go farther.
Katie: Have you experienced any failures? If so, how did you deal with the failure and learn from it?
Asya: Mainly making money mistakes because I don’t have much experience, whether it’s finding better or cheaper products after the fact. It has been a big, and expensive, learning experience!
Katie: What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far?
Asya: I think my biggest accomplishment would be getting more awareness for child sex trafficking. We got a donation from US Bank to support our cause. Being able to speak in front of a lot of people at the Independent Youth Symposium, I got to talk to about 500 kids about it. I was invited to speak in California at Concordia University, and it was a group that I was able to talk to and get them to have hope and motivation to do what they want later on in life.
Katie: What is the biggest advantage of being a young entrepreneur?
Asya: Being able to stand out because there are not many of us. When people see something doing something great like this, their attention immediately goes to that. When meeting new people they’ll be surprised and go tell other people.
Tamie Gonzalez (Asya’s Mother): One thing I’ve loved seeing is Asya inspiring other girls and giving them hope. They see that they can do something with their lives. This world is big enough for everyone’s ideas.
Katie: What motivates you?
Asya: Really being able to make a difference and changing someone else’s life and showing them that they can be successful no matter where they came from. Also, it’s being able to have my own business and not having to work behind a desk and being able to support myself and not relying on someone else to support me later on in life. As my dad says, you to have to be able to build your own ladder. I want to have my own business to support me.
Katie: What advice would you give to other aspiring philanthropists?
Asya: Do more research on the actual problem and do whatever you need to do to help because the smallest thing can make a difference. Ask an adult, teacher, parent or mentor for help.
Katie: Who is your entrepreneurial role model?
Asya: It would probably have to be Danica Patrick. She came from just doing little go kart racing as a kid to now doing huge Indy races, being a model, and having big sponsors like GoDaddy. And especially accomplishing this as a woman. She inspired me to be my own person and to want to race. I want to start soon!
Katie: Do you have words of advice or other young entrepreneurs?
Asya: If you can dream it you can do it! Always have motivation, and instead of changing to be who someone thinks you should be, be you. Be who you are.
On behalf of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO), it was a pleasure to have had the chance to connect with Asya through CEO’s new partnership with Independent Youth. Asya is a young speaker for Independent Youth’s Teen Entrepreneurship Symposium.