When you hear MeKendra Sloan’s list of personal interests, she seems like your typical 17-year-old girl. She enjoys spending time with her family, friends and fur babies – two boxers named Laila and Apollo {after the real and fake professional boxers!}; watching sports, The Good Doctor or Young Sheldon, or spending time browsing through social media.

But, this high school senior is exceptional for more than a few reasons.

MeKendra is a high-achieving student who is a member of the National Technical Honor Society, and already studies medical assisting at Tulsa Tech.

She also has Achondroplasia Dwarfism, a genetic disorder that resulted in shortened limbs and a short stature from birth.

But that hasn’t stopped her from dreaming big.

“After I graduate, I want to attend Tulsa Community College and get my certification as a Respiratory Therapist, so I can become a Neonatal Respiratory Therapist and work in the NICU and help premature babies,” says MeKendra. “My sister gave birth to my nephew 10 weeks early. He was only 2 lbs., 2 oz. After seeing my sister go through that, that’s when I realized I really wanted to help premature babies.”

With her eyes on the future, MeKendra realized she had some obstacles to overcome before reaching her goals.

Overcoming Obstacles

“Achondroplasia is the most common type of dwarfism. I’m the only person in my family with dwarfism – both of my parents and two older sisters, MeKenzie and MeKayla, are average height,” explains MeKendra. “I was a 1 in 25,000 births chance, and my parents hit the lottery!”

She admits: she stands out when she’s with her family. Because of that, she’s noticed the reactions her whole life.

“I’m very proud of who I am, but it doesn’t come without some serious struggles,” says MeKendra. “People often stare or point at me. Some even laugh at me and take pictures. I’ve been bullied because of the way I look, which has affected my confidence and trust in people. I have developed social anxiety that’s really hard to get past.”

To overcome her social anxiety and gain more confidence to step out of her comfort zone, MeKendra and her mom, Origami Owl Designer Carole Way, started thinking about their options.

“I first heard about Origami Owl from my oldest sister’s high school Ag(riculture) teacher in 2013. She was a Designer and always wearing her jewelry,” recalls MeKendra. “My mom found the company she was with and requested a Take Out Menu. We all marked what we wanted and ordered a couple of Lockets for us to share.”

After the direct sales company MeKendra’s mom was a part of closed its doors in October 2016, they started thinking about other direct sales companies they had purchased from in the past.

Before beginning their O2 journey in August 2017, MeKendra told her mom it was important for her to find “the one,” – a company she could join once she turned 18.

“I’ve always wanted to be a business owner, especially now that I work in a retail store for someone else,” says MeKendra. “I have more of a drive to work for myself. I want to bring people together, have meetings and encourage each other.”

She continues, “we didn’t know anything about the Owlette Program. We started looking online and that’s when I noticed Origami Owl had a program for kids. We fell in love all over again and jumped on board!”

Not only was MeKendra looking for “the one,” she was also looking for a company that was owned by a person who was humble and kind.

“A leader will rub off their qualities onto their Mentors. Origami Owl’s mission statement is everything I strive to be every day and believe everyone should be,” says MeKendra. “I fell in love with (Origami Owl Co-Founders) Bella and Chrissy right away. I knew they loved their Owlettes and Designers.”

Stepping Out of Her Comfort Zone

Over the past five months, MeKendra has stepped out of her comfort zone and found it easier to talk to people.

“I used to be afraid of what people would think and how they would react,” recalls MeKendra. “Now, if people say ‘No’ to me, I say ‘that’s okay.’ At least I planted the seed.”

Beyond the ability to move forward after “no,” MeKendra has discovered something else she’s always wanted.

“The Owlette Program has changed my life,” shares MeKendra. “I’ve gained more confidence, stepped out of my bubble and become more sociable to meet unfamiliar faces and make more friendships. Through hosting Jewelry Bars® and other events, Origami Owl has made it so easy for me to talk to people I don’t know. It continues to get easier and easier after each Jewelry Bar.”

MeKendra says she loves telling Bella’s story and letting others know about Origami Owl as a company and sharing her passion for the jewelry.

“I always end up telling people, ‘We have a Charm for that!’” says MeKendra.

Future Goals

After talking to other young girls and boys at Jewelry Bars and other events, MeKendra is realizing most 11-to-17-year-olds don’t know about the Owlette Program.

“I know there are so many kids who have dreams of being entrepreneurs. They need to know there is something out there that will give them those skills now and that it’s totally do-able,” shares MeKendra. “I’m working on a plan with my mom to branch out to people we don’t know. I’m so happy to have been chosen for (the company’s Owlette leadership group) the Owlette Council! It’s really made me take a closer look at what an Owlette is and just how important they are!”

MeKendra plans on using the income from her Origami Owl business to help pay for her college expenses, and the upcoming 2018 Destination Disney Incentive Trip, which she plans to earn for free.