by Sang Kromah
Millennials cop a lot of flak in terms of pretty much everything. We can’t seem to catch a break. We’re bashed about our work habits because many of us refuse to be miserable at dead end jobs, so we tend to be more innovative than older generations. We start our own companies in unconventional ways. Some take on jobs singularly as a way to support passions like traveling or whatever else. Say what you may about millennials, but one thing’s for certain is that millennials are conscious shoppers.
We tend to look into companies before investing our money. And when a company shows us who they are, we tend to believe them and take our money and our influence elsewhere. Take the #DeleteUber boycott for instance. The protest began when Uber refused to show solidarity during a taxi driver strike in protest of the Trump administration’s travel ban of nationals of seven majority-Muslim countries. The straw that broke the camel’s back was Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s role on an economic advisory council to President Trump. Millennials responded by deleting the app and replacing it with Lyft.
As smarter consumers, millennials are taking their money where it is appreciated and to companies that take their needs and concerns into consideration in terms of the products and services they offer and in terms of representation where advertising is concerned. Many girls and women have taken this approach of consciousness into account by creating products or starting initiatives that target underserved and often overlooked audiences and markets.
This is a list of female innovators and entrepreneurs that are doing the “Millennial Thing” by making their own rules, creating their own jobs while tapping into markets that are often overlooked.
1.) Satta Wahab, CEO of Naz Naturals– Satta Wahab tapped into a market that is on the rise, natural hair and girl power. This Liberian girl has made a name for herself by creating organic natural shea-based hair care products that unleash the beauty and confidence in everyone. Satta is a true believer in embracing the natural beauty of textured hair and foregoing western standards of beauty. Naz Naturals has become paramount in Liberia’s natural hair movement, solidifying its spot as Liberia’s top provider of natural hair products by launching an annual Curl Fest, marketing the event as the “ultimate natural hair experience you’ve been looking for, showcasing natural beauty and natural products. Even though Naz Naturals is based in Liberia, you can still order in the United States and Europe.
2.) Prerna Gupta, CEO of Hooked– I’m a huge fan of Hooked, an app that markets itself as a company redefining fiction for the SnapChat generation and therefore a fan of its creator, Prerna Gupta. So basically you get to read stories through text. Hooked also serves as a way to collect data on what books are resonating with teens. Prerna is no stranger to working on innovative apps she previously served as Chief Product Officer at Smule, where she built music apps, like AutoRap, that have helped over 150M people experience the joy of music creation.
3.) Haile Thomas, Founder of Healthy Active Positive Purposeful Youth (HAPPY)– Haile Thomas is a 16-year-old vegan chef, who saw a need for healthy options in underserved/at-risk communities, so she did something about it. She started HAPPY in her native Tucson Arizona in 2012, after successfully reversing her father’s Type 2 diabetes diagnosis through healthy eating and other lifestyle changes. Now, in its fifth year, HAPPY now calls New York home and Haile has served on various health and chef advisory boards and has been featured on various programs from Dr. Oz to The Rachel Ray Show.
4.) Isabella Dymalovski, Founder of Luv Ur Skin– If you’ve watched Shark Tank’s Australian version, you may remember Isabella, who at 14, was the show’s youngest entrepreneur. The Melbourne, Australia-native began working on the vision for a natural skincare line for girls when she was eight-years-old. Luv Ur Skin products are affordable, natural, and effective, inspired by Isabella’s inability to find skincare products that were suitable for her age or safe enough to use on her skin. Luv Ur Skin products are now sold at drugstores in Australia and online on Priceline (not the travel company).
5.) Mystikal Scalzi and Allie Ngo, Founders of Mystik Alley Teas– Made Possible is a component of The Possible Project (TPP) that is a professionally managed, allowing and helping students who are enrolled in TPP’s entrepreneurship program to create custom design and fabrication projects for external clients. It is where Mystikal Scalzi and Allie Ngo, two high school students from Cambridge, MA met and bonded over their love of tea and cats to create Mystik Alley Teas, a company that makes all-natural, organic, and delicious teas.
6.) Maya Penn, Creator of Maya’s Ideas– Not many people can be classified as a renaissance woman at 17, but Maya Penn can and with good reason. From being an eco-designer, animated filmmaker, philanthropist, and illustrator to publishing her first novel, You Got This!, Maya’s done it all. This Snellville, GA-native started her first business at eight-years-old and did her first Ted Talk at 14. She thinks a great deal about our responsibility to the Earth and her personal responsibility to her customers, which is why she makes eco-friendly designs, which she sells on her website that she built (yes, she is a coder as well).
7.) Noa Mintz, Founder of Nannies By Noa– When it comes to childcare, most working parents are in search of experienced and qualified individuals with an arm’s length of references, but being on the receiving end of their services Noa Mintz wanted more. As a New Yorker, Noa and her siblings wanted a city-savvy caretaker, who was fun and creative, but after asking around, that’s what all kids wanted. After taking this into consideration and helping her family acquire suitable babysitters, Noa launched Nannies By Noa at the age of 12. Nannies by Noa is now a full-service childcare agency that serves families in New York City and The Hamptons. Things have gotten so busy for the now 17-year old, Noa, she had to hire a CEO.
8.) Alexandra Chang, Creator of The Zeitgeist– Alexander Chang is no stranger to blogging. She started at age 14, eventually starting a lifestyle blog with gal pal, Ella Frey called Alex and Ella, but her most notable achievement to date is The Zeitgeist, a website that features all things fashion-related, with girls in mind. The site also features Alexandra’s own clothing line named after the site. Growing up in LA has influenced Alexandra’s style immensely as there’s as it’s theme is a fun and carefree approach to girl power. The clothing line is made up of Tees, sweatshirts, headbands with socially conscious text included like, “Adopt Don’t Shop” or “Say It Like You Mean It”. Alexandra is dedicated to helping others, partnering with organizations to design shirts, donating portions to charities like the United Nations’ Girl Up initiative.
9.) Zuriel Oduwole, Filmmaker– Zuriel Oduwole is often described as “the world’s youngest filmmaker”. At the age of 12, she already had four films under her belt addressing issues on the education of African girls. Born in California to parents of Nigerian and Mauritian descent, Zuriel has a great interest in African issues. Now, at the age of 14, she has interviewed countless heads of state, world leaders, and has been featured on more lists than many who are three times her age. Her career began when she was nine and decided to enter a school film documentary competition with a film about Ghana’s revolution. After this content, she knew this was what she wanted to do and began to teach herself how to film, edit, write as well as techniques. In her 2014 release, “A Promising Africa” she interviewed 14 heads of state, including the President of Tanzania, Liberia, Kenya, South Sudan, Nigeria and Cape Verde, as well as others, has catapulted her into the international arena.
10.) Andini (Ann) Makosinski, Founder of Makotronics Enterprises– This 19-year old British Columbia-native is an inventor and entrepreneur, who invented the Hollow Flashlight, which runs off the heat from human hands as opposed to batteries. If you haven’t heard of the Hollow Flashlight, maybe you’ve heard of the eDrink, another one of Ann’s inventions. The eDrink is a mug that converts the heat from your drink into an electric current that charges your phone. She’s done five TEDx Talks, she’s a Google Science Fair Winner, and I expect to see great things from Ann.
Interested in #The10Spot or want to write for Project GirlSpire? Contact Sang at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tina at email@example.com.