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Painting Her Future Like a Savage

It all started in 2017 at Van Horn High School in Independence, Missouri, when Lizbeth Gonzalez decided to take a leap of faith and enroll herself into the Youth Entrepreneurs (YE) course everyone was talking about. This wasn’t just another class; it was a gateway that would paint her future.

Later that spring, Gonzalez and her educator, Elizabeth McGruder, traveled from small-town Independence to the regional YE business pitch competition. The artist showcased her business, which highlighted her passion for all things art, and left with grant money to utilize as she saw fit.

“A lot of kids will do a business plan just for the grade,” McGruder said. “She truly wanted to do her business plan. It was something she wanted to use immediately.”

But it didn’t stop there for Gonzalez. After graduating high school and taking steps towards her career goals, Gonzalez kept in touch with her YE stakeholder relationship manager. In the summer of 2019, Gonzalez channeled her inner leadership skills and was chosen as YE Summit Insider. The Insider group served as mentors for 300+ high school students participating in a week-long professional development opportunity.

“[As an Insider,] my favorite part was being able to be someone that the students could come to for guidance and advice,“ Gonzalez said. “That left me feeling a new sense of strength, and I gained life-long friends.”

After her time as an Insider, Gonzalez continued her studies at Metropolitan Community College and found little time to focus on her freelance artist business. However, everything soon changed when she was asked to attend the Forbes Under 30 Summit in Detroit, Michigan, during the last week of October. The conference included young leaders, founders and creators from across the nation. With this in mind, Gonzalez knew she needed to leave her mark.

“One of the many values YE has instilled in me is to be opportunity-obsessed,” Gonzalez said. “Three hours before my flight, I decided to seize an opportunity and design some shoes for one of the performers at the conference, 21 Savage.”

After a full day of professional development and networking, it was time for a little celebration, and the opportunity Gonzalez had been waiting for. As the celebration performance took place, Gonzalez found herself seeking out a DJ who could then pass her shoes to 21 Savage. Fifteen minutes after spotting the DJ and handing the shoes off, she was being escorted backstage.

“I couldn’t even talk,” Gonzalez said. “I was just so startled and excited.”

After meeting and posing for a photo with 21 Savage, the two exchanged contact information and promised to keep in touch for future work. The excitement didn’t stop there though. Before Gonzalez even stepped onto her home soil, her phone was buzzing – it was 21 Savage.

“Since I had taken the opportunity to create the shoes for 21 Savage, he called me to do cover art for his new single,” Gonzalez said.

Rushing home, she grabbed her computer and began sketching the album cover that would take her brand to the next level. On October 31, the artist released his new song, Immortal. Accompanying the single was graphic design created by the YE artist herself.

“This is just a small fraction of the values and ambition that YE has instilled and me,” Gonzalez said. “I will always be grateful for everything YE has done for me, and the people that they have put in my path.”

So, what’s next for the young Picasso? We’ll watch as she continues to paint it out one brush stroke at a time.