My Style: Maya Penn, owner of Maya’s Ideas

She doesn’t have her driver’s license, but she’s already an animator, coder, and published author
Maya Penn

Photograph by Ben Rollins

When she was just eight years old, Penn began designing bright floral headbands using hand-dyed, organic materials. Now 17, the Canton entrepreneur has expanded her brand, Maya’s Ideas, from an ecofriendly clothing line to a creative nonprofit focused on humanitarian and environmental issues. She may not even have her driver’s license yet, but she’s already an animator, coder, published author (her inspirational book You Got This! came out last year), and TED speaker.

Favorite subject
Art history. My favorite artists are French painter Odilon Redon or van Gogh; his work always looks like it’s moving. I often paint flowers on scarves in my shop.

Vintage inspiration
I love the 1920s through 1960s. There’s so much craftsmanship in the dresses and coats. Every piece has a backstory and character. And it’s ecofriendly to repurpose something old.

Favorite look
A bright-green 1960s floral dress that I got at an online vintage shop, Cherry Crush Retro. I wore it when I met Oprah for SuperSoul 100.

Style icon
Iris Apfel. She’s always so out-there with what she wears. I want to be like her when I grow up.

Ecofriendly brand
Edun. I have some really cool pants in a splatter print.

Teen cause
I was a youth ambassador for the Ian Somerhalder Foundation, which focuses on environmental and animal rights and humanitarian issues. I’ve written posts and made videos to teach teens to be good stewards of the environment.

First concert
I saw U2 when I was 11 in Nashville. My parents are both musicians, and I use their music in my animations.

Beauty picks
I use brands that don’t contain parabens and are made with natural ingredients. I like IT Cosmetics and 100% Pure.

TV obsession
Stranger Things was really awesome. I loved the writing, the acting, and how they avoided CGI to capture the look of the 1980s.

Next up
I’m passionate about pollinators, like bees and hummingbirds. They’re disappearing, but they’re crucial to our ecosystems. I have an animation series coming out this summer called The Pollinators. The bees are a superhero team fighting bad guys that are harming the environment.

Maya’s Ideas

Maya Penn Scarf

Photograph by Ben Rollins

Penn crafted this scarf ($185) from vintage silks, adding handpainted gold flowers. Find her handmade and vintage goods at

This article originally appeared in our April 2017 issue.