Books and Big Dreams: Inside the Mind of a 19-Year-Old Founder

Simone Hufana, founder of Colour Herstory. Surrounding Simone are a series of spot illustrations that reflect her business, her inspirations and her goals.

In Season 2 of our Homework series, we explore the lives of ordinary teens with not-so-ordinary hobbies. Between part-time jobs and school work, these young founders are also running successful businesses—many before they can even drive a car. 

Simone Hufana admits she’s pretty bad at time management. But give her a break—she’s only 19. She’s currently taking the semester off college to dive full-time into her business, Color Herstory. Simone created her brand out of a desire to see more representation of women of color in the world. Her coloring books introduce young girls to the amazing women that inspired her to love herself.

With a little help from friends and mentors—and from winning Shopify’s 2017 BEASTMODE-A-Business competition—Simone is taking her successful business to the next level. One day, she hopes to take it global (mostly for the travel perks). But lately, she’s just trying to juggle teen bossdom with a part-time job and an internship.

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About Me

Illustration of a young man holding a mini version of himself in his hand, as a metaphor for introducing himself.

Name: Simone Hufana

Age: 19

My business: Color Herstory

Where I live: East Bay, California

My typical week:

I’m taking this semester off just to go full throttle on my business. My average week is working on my business. It’s a lot of computer time. It’s a lot of hands on, too. I literally make the t-shirts. I cut out the vinyl, I peel the vinyl, I put it on the shirt, I press it, I fold it. With the coloring books, I press them and staple them all together.

One half of my week is physical work, and then the other half is computer work, graphic design, talking to people, being a vendor at events. And then I have my little side job doing event planning for weddings on the weekends. And I have my internship in between.

A book I’m reading is:

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. I was given this book on my birthday. It’s kind of a philosophical book. It's insane.

A TV show I’m watching is:

Stranger Things. I’m finally finishing Season 4. It's really good. I do love just sitting down and binge watching. I'm kind of a night owl. Like, if I’m up, I’m up.

A woman juggling cubes with one hand as a metaphor for getting started in your career.

Why I started Color Herstory:

Color Herstory is a coloring book that’s based on influential women of color. I originally started it because, growing up, I was very insecure about my features. I didn’t see any representation in the media. I wanted to look like Hannah Montana. I wanted blond hair so, so badly. But it took a toll on my mental health.

It wasn’t until I educated myself about these amazing women that I really started my journey of self-love. I was like, “Oh my gosh, these women are so, so incredible. I can literally do the same things that they’re doing.” It just gave me that much more motivation. I had two younger sisters, so I felt kind of responsible. Like, if our education system isn’t doing it, if the media is not doing it, then why not me? 

The best part of running my own business is:

Making my own hours. Also, when it comes to Color Herstory, I like things a certain way—I get to be the one to produce the merch my way. I also love talking to people and making connections. 

💡 Essential reading: Start your own business before you graduate and get inspired by 12+ business ideas for teens and kids

The hardest part is:

That you have to hold yourself accountable. I’m only 19 years old, so I don’t have the best time management. I’m not superstar organizer or anything. It’s easy to just slip up and be like, “Oh, shoot, I totally forgot I had that goal. Ah, whatever. I’ll see about it next week.”

About my team:

It’s just me, kind of, but my dad helps me a ton. He’s a graphic designer so he knows a lot of people that print and where to get good book materials. Stuff like that. One of my friends is helping me do a lot of the manual labor because we made a compromise this summer. I was like, “Hey, I bought your festival ticket. In exchange, you don’t have to pay me money, but you have to help me out.” My friends are willing to help me, so I guess I have a little team going on right now. I have a really strong support system.

My mentors are important because:

They don’t treat me like just some 19-year-old girl who doesn’t know what she’s talking about. They really believe in me and my vision. It’s really empowering. I love having mentors. Even if they’re not around all the time, you know they’re down for you.

I’m interning for one of my mentors right now. Her business is on a bigger scale, and it’s really cool to see behind the scenes. She’s opened her books up to me. I don’t even really know anything about finance—I’m pretty much freaking out right now. I mean, I know some, but it’s the internship that makes it that much easier to do what I do right now.

A young man looking at objects that reflect his dreams, through binoculars. The objects are made out of clouds.

What motivates me:

I remember one time, I was a vendor at this random event and this dad came up to me with his two younger daughters. They’re around, like, probably five and nine. The dad bought two coloring books. He came up to me later and was like, “My older daughter has been going through a lot of problems with her image and feeling very insecure. I feel like this will really help her. So honestly, thank you from the bottom of my heart for the work that you’re doing.” I wasn't ready for that. I went home and cried from happiness, like, “Oh my God, I’m doing it. I’m doing what I was supposed to do."

Someone who inspires me is:

Gloria E. Anzaldúa. She was a Chicanx author. I got a hand-me-down book from one of my mentors, and I read it and was like, “My mind is blown right now. Somebody feels exactly how I feel.”

She was Mestiza, so she lived on the border of Texas and she struggled with her identity being both indigenous Mexican and white. I’m mixed myself. My mom is Mexican and Puerto Rican, and my dad is Filipino. Oh my gosh, her book really spoke to me. And after that I was like, “Who else do I need to learn about?” That really sparked my interest in wanting to learn more about all these different women.

My goal for the future is:

To go back to school and at least get my AA, if not my bachelor’s. I think I want to do ethnic studies because I’m really, really, really interested in that. And that will make me want to go to class. 

I definitely want to do entrepreneurship as a full-time thing. I don’t know if it’s going to be specifically Color Herstory. Maybe it will transform into some kind of organization, because I really want to work one-on-one with kids. I’m going to make that happen somehow. I just really want to be able to travel the world and connect with people, connect with girls, connect with women. But I’m just kind of following this path right now. This is my beginning.

Illustrations by Joel Holland