August 14, 2017

Teen entrepreneur gets down to business, with help from USC neighborhood programs

Ximena Salas won her class competition easily. (USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)

A few months ago, Ximena Salas grabbed a corduroy jacket from her closet and stitched a phrase on it. “International Women’s Day is everyday,” it read. She worked late into the night to have it ready to wear to school the next day.

“It felt cool to wear something I felt vocal about without having to say anything,” said Salas, a rising junior at Foshay Learning Center in South Los Angeles.

“At first there was a lot of joking and teasing from the boys at school, but then it did open a conversation between the girls,” she said. The boys were saying “women’s rights are a joke.” The girls thought adults might write off those comments as teasing, but by letting it go, they were enabling it.

“That’s when I realized I could use it for my community,” she said.

And now that idea is a company called Mis Raíces — “my roots” in Spanish. Salas embellishes upcycled clothes with different issues and symbols important to Latinos and Latinas to increase awareness about issues such as education, women’s rights, rock en español and the environment. Eventually she wants it to be a social enterprise, hiring older women in the community to make the clothes. Read more here.

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