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The Suburbanite
  • Jackson teen changes world one sole at a time

  • Thirteen-year-old Sofia Life has found a way to combine her love of art and charity. The Jackson Middle School eighth-grader recently started a business called Live Life for Shoes, where she designs and sells her own hand-made footwear out of the “shoe room” in her home.

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  • Thirteen-year-old Sofia Life has found a way to combine her love of art and charity. The Jackson Middle School eighth-grader recently started a business called Live Life for Shoes, where she designs and sells her own hand-made footwear out of the “shoe room” in her home.
    As the founder of the nonprofit organization with the slogan “Cool shoes, great cause,” Sofia’s love for shoe-making came about after she wanted a pair of tie-dyed shoes that went for about $100 online.
    She and her mother Laura decided to make their own.
    “After that, my church director said, ‘hey, you need to start a business with this,’ and we started selling them for around $20,” Sofia said. “Ever since then we’ve been coming up with new designs.”
    About $10 from sale of each pair goes to a charity of Sofia’s choice. The only stipulation, she said, is that it must be a kids-related organization. Since she began making shoes in April, she’s already donated over $1,400 to charity.
    Each month, she and her family choose a new organization to support with the sale of shoes she designs. So far, they’ve donated money to Andrew’s Angels, a nonprofit in Nebraska founded by Sofia’s grandfather; Eli House Mission and Shelbi’s Sweets & Treats. For the next two months, they plan to give to the Thirst Project, an organization that helps get kids in Africa clean water.
    Laura Life said that Sofia pays close attention to trends, but some of her most popular styles include hand-dyed color fade, tie-dye, rainbow, watermelon and galaxy inspired shoes. To date, Sofia estimates that she has made around 125 pairs of shoes.
    “I am very proud of her. It’s amazing how far it’s come,” Laura said. “When she first started it, I kind of had a feeling it could go places. She spends so much of her free time making shoes and it’s really neat. She’s always been interested in donating and charity.”
    Sofia has donated her hair to Locks of Love and once raised money to buy an American Girl Doll for a young girl who was less fortunate.
    “We’re excited that she’s found something that has gone so well and that she loves to do,” Laura said.
    The operation, overall, has been a family one.
    While Sofia designs and creates the shoes, her mother acts as the “office manager,” doing everything from making order forms to washing and drying the completed shoes. Her father, Scott, created the website and e-mail address for the business and helps her hand-paint some designs. Tommy, Sofia’s younger brother, is known as the business’ official “company-keeper,” staying by Sofia’s side while she spends hours making shoes. Even her grandfather has helped sponsor her business, with a $500 donation that helped cover some overhead costs.
    Page 2 of 2 - Sofia’s website, www.livelifeforshoes.com, features a “Feet in the Street” tracking system that shows how many shoes have been sent out into the community and how much money has been raised. She also has a place designated for a monthly shoe feature, where she focuses on a single design.
    Laura said that in addition to providing money to those in need, Sofia’s also learning time management skills, entrepreneurial essentials and how to hone in on her craft. She plans to expand the business to craft shows in the future.
    “There’s a few good parts of it,” Sofia said. “I like doing it, I like art stuff and I like donating to charity, so it all kind of goes together.”
    Sofia’s gets her generosity honestly. Laura, a stay-at-home mom, is a chairperson for Lil’ Lamb’s Closet, a clothing sale that benefits various missions in the Akron-Canton area. Her father, also, has always had a heart for charity.
    “Ever since I was little,” Sofia said, “my dad would always stop at any kids’ lemonade stand, no matter how much the price, no matter who the kids were.”
     

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