After such an overwhelming response to her last visit, we decided to bring her back down to share her inspiring story with even more students!
Growing up wasn’t easy for Zoe. Her father left when her mother was pregnant with her and was never part of her life. Her mother worked really hard to support them, but sometimes that wasn’t enough. Zoe and her mom spent a lot of time bouncing between friends and families couches and homeless shelters in Chicago, IL. High School was especially brutal for Zoe. In addition to her challenges at home, she had scoliosis and a lazy eye which required she wear a torso brace and an eye patch. She was also teased for the clothes she wore – since she wasn’t able to afford anything that didn’t come from a thrift store. It was then that she decided she would make her own clothes. She signed up for a sewing class offered at her school. She started making her own clothes and started getting compliments at school. Compliments led to custom orders from her classmates. She signed up for a entrepreneurship course through NFTE (YEScarolina’s program partner) and her hobby became a business. By the end of high school – the entire school was wearing a dress or a bowtie made my Zoe Damacela Appearal to prom, including those students who had ridiculed her.
Zoe competed in NFTE’s business plan competition and has won the cover of Seventeen Magazine’s pretty amazing girls issue. She was the first person who wasn’t a celebrity to be featured on the cover. She still runs her business and her mom is now her manager and gets business advice from her mentor, Tyra Banks regularly. She is a triple major at Northwestern University and will spend the fall studying abroad in Italy.
Zoe’s story is one every student can relate to. Everyone had been teased or teased someone else and everyone has gone through tough times. Her story is one of overcoming adversity and following your dreams. It’s about holding your head up high, never giving up and setting and reaching goals.
YEScarolina is bringing Zoe back down to touch the lives of even more students in Charleston. She will be here March 19th – 23rd and will do a full tour of Charleston schools giving motivational talks. If you are interesting in having Zoe at your school – please contact YEScarolina at 843-556-1909 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org