My name is Zoë Damacela and I'm a 20-year-old entrepreneur and college student at Northwestern University. At 14-years-old, I started Zoë Damacela Apparel with one sewing machine in my bedroom. Today, it's an international ready to wear and couture house.

I've been featured in the news, had a reality show on MTV, was on the cover of Seventeen Magazine and have worked with President Obama, President Clinton and other leaders on projects. Mayor Joseph Riley of Charlston, SC, even declared September 15 to be Zoë Damacela Day in Charleston.

My story

Growing up, my family was very poor. My mom was single and struggled to make ends meet. So one day when I asked her for a new scooter she said we simply couldn't afford it. Rather than taking no for an answer, I decided that I would earn the money myself. Of course being eight, I couldn't get a job. But what I did have was the power to create a job for myself. I made greeting cards, post cards, invitations, and other paper crafts and sold them outside of our apartment. In just a few hours I had made the $60 I needed to buy my scooter, but more importantly I learned a valuable lesson about the value of financial independence.

From there, I continued to sell anything and everything. I sold more greeting cards but also added key chains, hair accessories, jewelry, pancakes, cupcakes, and a variety of other handmade products. Suddenly, I had money to spend for the first time in my life. I felt empowered and much more confident in myself and my future. I focused on learning as many new skills as possible: sewing, painting, beading, sketching, pattern making, light finance and accounting, marketing and anything else that would help me make and sell things.

When I entered my freshman year of high school, I started making dresses. I knew right away that I had found my talent. I started by selling to friends and family, but before long I was getting so many orders I could barely keep up. I took a course through the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship and focused on expansion. I made a website, set up a DBA, then a corporation, and tried to balance being a business owner and a high school student.

Entrepreneurship is my passion. It has changed my life, and my hope is that this blog will empower other young entrepreneurs.

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