Teenage girls can excel at the drama queen label. But Prescott Valley teen Asya (pronounced like the continent Asia) Gonzalez is passionate to prevent the real-life drama countless girls go through as victims of the worldwide child sex trafficking industry.
Already nationally known as an entrepreneur and philanthropist, Asya hopes to get her hometown on board.
Gonzalez, 15, started her online T-shirt company, Stinky Feet Gurlz, when she was just 13, planning ahead to buy a car. The desire to help others inspired her to create She Is Worth It!, a non-profit dedicated to ending child sex trafficking.
"This (cause) is very important to me," Gonzalez said. "I wanted to get as much exposure as possible, so when I decided to donate a portion of every sale, our motto became, 'Buy a shirt, save a child.'"
Through T-shirt sales featuring a 1940s-inspired, simple line drawing of one of her Gurlz, Gonzalez so far has raised about $2,000 for She Is Worth It!
"I am passionate about educating people, especially young girls and women, because the predators are out there," she said. "We're also working to raise money to buy backlogged rape kits."
She explained that rape victims often wait months or even years for evidence to be processed because of the high cost - about $1,000 per kit. Nearly a half million kits sit in police evidence storage and crime labs in the U.S.
"Authorities say they don't have the funds to pay for it," she said. "These kits can bring victims justice by identifying an unknown rapist, or exonerating an innocent suspect."
Her efforts have garnered her nationally televised interviews and speaking engagements. Among others, she's done interviews with CNN Live, GBTV, Kidpreneurs and Time Magazine for Kids. CNN Money named her one of its top 8 kid entrepreneurs, and US Bank recently awarded her $1,000 for her charity through the Consumer Bankers Association Banking on Youth competition. (See video at: http://bankingonyouth.org/category/us-bank-winner/)
Her mother, Tamie, said the various media outlets have sought out Asya to promote kids as entrepreneurs and philanthropists.
Independent Youth.org asked her to join its Entrepreneur Council, and is sending her to speak at a trio of Symposium Series engagements. On July 15, Asya spoke at the Teen Entrepreneur Academy at Concordia University in Irvine, Calif. In September, it's off to St. Louis, Mo., and in October, she heads for Charlotte, N.C.
But she also wants to visit local schools, and even colleges, to warn children about the dangers of human predators.
"Who they are, where they lurk, what they say to lure kids, and who's at risk, so the kids won't be fooled if they find themselves in that situation," Tamie said.
A Bradshaw Mountain High School sophomore and honor student, Asya plans to incorporate concert band, volleyball, soccer and softball into her hectic schedule. Her friends are on board.
"A lot of friends are telling me how cool this is. One of my friends wants to be my secretary," Asya said. "Some of them want to get going on their own business."
"Too often we see kids negatively influenced. I hope this is a positive," her mother said. "When Asya talks to other kids, they have hope; I see the gleam in their eyes."
Tamie said she and husband, Julian, believe
She said so far her experiences with her business and charities have been "very positive."
"People are really amazed that I'm younger," she added.
Asya's parents, Tamie and Julian, are entrepreneurs themselves, but her mother said they encourage their children in business endeavors. That includes Nolan, a sixth-grader, and Jacob, in eighth grade.
"The best job for our future is what we create for ourselves. As parents, we believe we need to give our kids as much help as possible," Tamie said. "Time management, money management, positive thinking - so when they transition out of childhood, they have a good background, with hands-on experience. They're interning at home."
She added that there's nothing like hometown hospitality.
"When your hometown is behind you, that's what we're really aching for," Tamie said.
Asya started drawing her Stinky Feet Gurlz - so named because of a comment her grandmother made to her and her cousins after a hard day's play - as a 12-year-old, but has been designing clothes, shoes and handbags since she was a second-grader. The uncomplicated yet sophisticated Gurlz designs feature pin curls, long eyelashes and red lips.
Asya aspires to become a fashion designer. She will remain a dedicated humanitarian.
For people to donate to She Is Worth It! the Gonzalezes have set up an online site through Indiegogo, touted as the leading global funding platform for crowdfunding.
To donate visit: www.indiegogo.com/sheisworthit.
Asya's websites are: www.stinkyfeetgurlz.com, and www.sheisworthit.org. Twitter: @stinkyfeetgurlz.
Posted: Thursday, July 26, 2012
Article comment by:
HAPPY 2 B HERE
What an amazing girl. I too would love to hear more about her.
Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Article comment by:
What an amazing kid!!! I'd love to hear more about her as she moves forward!