Ariana Pineda, a high school senior at Harvard Westlake school, is paving the way for the next generation of female leaders in STEM as the founder of Font Femme Magazine and EntrepreuHER2020, the world’s largest all-female makeathon. Pineda has always been passionate about getting her community involved in solving issues through sharing opportunities, particularly those in STEM. Her publication, Font Femme, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit & digital magazine run by female students to empower female students. The magazine is focused on empowering women worldwide through a platform to learn about female entrepreneurs in the STEM industry, share their own projects and works, and to connect, inspire, and support like-minded peers.
Pineda started Font Femme magazine at the start of the pandemic to not only share opportunities in STEM, entrepreneurship, and youth-led initiatives with women who are interested in STEM but to also foster a sense of community during a time of isolation. “This is why I wanted to create this digital magazine — a space where all womxn can share their experience, involvement, and VOICE regarding the STEM world,” she said. “It gives girls an opportunity to really explore their interests in the STEM field while also serving as a platform for girls to meet people around the world and share their stories.”
Recently, Font Femme Magazine held EntrepreneuHER2020, its annual all-girl STEM makeathon, in partnership with GirlTechBoss and BitByBit NYC. EntrepreneuHER2020, the brainchild of Pineda, is a virtual all-female event in which girls all around the world create their own STEM initiatives to solve problems in their communities. The two-day event culminates in a pitch competition. This year’s theme was, appropriately, COVID-19, and participants from middle schoolers to college students were called on to build their own products that addressed an issue pertaining to the pandemic. “While students are quarantining at home because of COVID, they can use this free time to create real-world impact solutions to community issues,” Pineda said. “Font Femme can help them manifest their ideas.”
EntrepreneuHER2020, Pineda’s first large-scale organized event, had a record-breaking 1040+ registrants and 417 participants, making it the largest all-female makeathon to date. The 2-day virtual makeathon featured notable keynote speakers including Coolhaus founder Natasha Case, WOMAZE Founder Hannah Wiser, Generation She founder Avni Barman, and Trill Project Founder Georgia Messinger among many others. In addition, participants received mentorship from female entrepreneurs at Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, Cornell, and USC who guided them through their project-development process. We’ve asked Pineda to share her story.
Q: Here at Trill we like to keep it True and Real, so give us the scoop, Ariana. Who are you?
I am a high school senior who’s especially passionate about the intersection of STEM and entrepreneurship. I really enjoy engaging with my community in these passions by creating platforms such as EntrepreneuHER and Font Femme where girls can use their interest in STEM to really make a tangible difference. Outside of school and work, I love to make polymer clay charms which I currently sell on charmingcreations.org, make resin pendants, read, and learn new skills in general! I’ve always loved creating things, and getting into that creative space through crafting enables me to really manifest my ideas into a tangible product. I am also a fierce advocate of equity and bridging social divides by utilizing my skills and interests to make a difference, even if it may be a small one, excited to contribute to the future!
Q: What is your favorite part about your organization?
I’ve got to say it’s the friendships I’ve made through partnering with and collaborating with so many different girls from so many different backgrounds. It was super cool to get to partner with people from the opposite coast on EntrepreneuHER2020, have speakers from all over the country, and talk with girls around the globe. Through Font Femme and EntrepreneuHER, I’ve made friends with girls from Morocco to Finland to the Philippines! Reading the DM’s and emails people have sent to us about how much of an impact the event has had on them was especially rewarding. An especially memorable one was when I received an Instagram DM saying EntrepreneuHER2020 was by far the only event that really motivated her to take the initiative to make change in her own community. This particular girl wanted to solve the issue of decreased productivity and motivation in high schoolers as a result of an increase in free time.
Q: What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome?
Learning to combat my fear of taking initiative. Learning to combat a mindset where I thought I wasn’t experienced enough to start initiatives like this. Learning to overcome the fact that I thought I wasn’t smart enough, experienced, or old enough to create something substantial. I was always a very shy person up until recently. I was so scared of talking to people that I (not even exaggerating) would literally tremble at the podium whenever making a speech. The main point here was that a few years ago, I was insecure and scared of judgment, too scared to start my own clubs, too scared to run for student government. I valued others’ perceptions of me more than I valued my potential for growth, which prevented me from reaching that potential. Forcing myself into situations where I had to learn how to talk and interact with people face to face really helped me. I wouldn’t use my phone and would go out of my way to start conversations and make friends at events where no one really knew each other. Learning how to talk to people comfortably helped me learn how to work with people effectively and ultimately learn how to lead people.
Q: What advice do you have for other student entrepreneurs?
Surround yourself with people you look up to — high achieving people or people you aspire to be like. Having an optimistic mindset is key. I see a lot of people my age who start their own podcasts, apps, companies, as high school students which helped me really understand that age really isn’t a limitation — your commitment to your vision and how you want to change the world is.
Q: Where can we find out more about Ariana? How can we support you and your work?
Instagram: @font.femme @ariana.ep
Learn More: https://fontfemme.com