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'Dance Moms' Star Mackenzie Ziegler Talks Business, Success and The Spotlight

People

The prominence and importance of young female entrepreneurs are one of SWAAY's themes this week given the significance of this year's International Women's Day. Maddie and Mackenzie Ziegler are perfect examples of young innovation in girls that we could all only hope to exemplify.


Having first appeared as a duo on the hit TV show Dance Moms, the pair quickly rose to fame and were touted for multiple TV and film projects. The older of the two - Maddie famously starred in Sia's music video for her song 'Elastic Heart' in what was perhaps one of 2015's most singular performances, which she went on to perform live on some of the world's biggest and most widely viewed stages.

Following in her sister's footsteps, Mackenzie has begun to pursue entrepreneurial exploits and the first of those is her breakout T-shirt collection Tee4too. Beginning the line with her close friend Gabi Medvene-Cirigliano, the two have explored their creative talents and the brand has been highly successful since its launch - especially given that proceeds from the brand are shelled out to the girls' favorite charity, the ASPCA.

Maddie is set to take Hollywood by storm this year - starring in Ballerina and The Book of Henry - both set for release in 2017. While Mackenzie has enjoyed stays on top of Itunes and Billboard charts, and has recently starred in Nickelodeon's Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn on top of a nomination for a Teens Choice Award.

This pair is no ordinary duo and Mackenzie talks to SWAAY about branching out from her initial stardom gained from Dance Moms.

How has your appearance on Dance Moms changed your life?

My life has changed a lot! People recognize me just about everywhere I go. It was strange at first but I am used to it now. I have great fans and I love that they support me in everything I do.

Why did you decide to create the clothes line?

My friend Gabi and I love T-shirts and we would do 'DIY' designs at home. We were always asking our moms for supplies. People would comment on our shirts and it sparked the idea that we should start our own line. Now we create T-shirts and have so much fun doing it. We don't let our moms get involved at all. When they come up with any idea, we tell them that this is our company and we can handle it.

Why did you choose ASPCA to receive donations from your brand?

We are big animal lovers! We love all animals. Gabi even has horses! It was just a natural fit. We want to help animals that are in need.

What is your creative process - how do you come up with your designs or videos?

Gabi and I text or FaceTime each other ideas. We think about what's going on in our lives and on social media with kids our age. We also listen to fan ideas that they submit on social media.

You're a YouTube sensation - who was your inspiration for starting your own channel?

I have always loved any type of camera, lights or tech things and I also have always wanted my own TV show. YouTube is kind of like having your own show! I love coming up with video ideas and sharing them with my fans. Once I started making videos, I was hooked!

What are your upcoming business plans? Who helps you with your business?

Next we are doing cute baseball caps and more awesome T-shirts. We are having a new shoot next week! Gabi's mom and my mom do all the financial stuff but that's it. We do the rest. We even email and send messages to all our customers ourselves.

How do you deal with the spotlight?

I'm just a happy-go-lucky kid. I try to stay positive. Kids tell me they look up to me (even though I'm short! Ha ha) so I try to be a good role model.

What's the outlet you most enjoy doing at the moment - Instagram, YouTube, clothes designing?

That's a hard one. I love them all for different reasons! IG because it's quick and easy, YouTube because it's fun coming up with video ideas and clothing because I love to dress cute!!

What app do you use the most?

I am probably on Music.ly the most. I love making Music.ly vids!

Maddie and Mackenzie are a testament to their generation that is growing up in a turbulent and uncertain time for women. In the aftermath of the election, much care was taken to inform girls of their age that although Hillary Clinton lost, it was not a loss for women. There would be female presidents and leaders in the future and there's no doubt that these two will be representative of an entire generation of female leaders, unburdened by failures or setbacks - the women of the future.

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Self

How To Treat Yourself Like A Queen

Sometimes the person you have to stand up to is you! There I was, rewatching the Miss Universe 2019 competition. Which I do for inspiration from time to time. (No, seriously!) There is something about seeing women on stage, in full-on glam mode, and speaking with confident assuredness that really lights my fire!


I have seen this Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa win this crown so many times before, but something about this particular viewing, her delivery or her words, touched something inside me a little differently. At that moment, I truly believed, with complete conviction, that she lives what she speaks.

The announcement was made, the audience cheered, and the crown was awarded. The light was dazzling,, she looked stunning, almost blessed. The judges made the right call with 2019's queen.

Reflecting On Myself

Suddenly, the YouTube video ended. And I was left looking at a black screen. In the darkness of that screen, I saw my reflection and I began assessing what I saw, asking myself, "What have I been doing with my life?" It may seem like an overly dramatic question, but at that moment, I had to ask myself seriously… What have you done? The fact that I couldn't come up with a solid, confident answer gave my inner-cynic license to quickly spiral into self-criticism.

This went on for quite some time, until I got up. I stood up and walked to my mirror to have some serious one-on-one "Queen Talk." I needed to get out of that self-critical mindset, and I know that physical movement is something that help disrupt a way of thinking. I needed to remind myself of who I really was. The negative feelings I was experiencing at that moment were not reality.

Here are a few reminders for whenever you need some Queen Talk!

1.) Comparison is truly the thief of joy.

This saying feels like a cliché. That is, until it's applicable to you. At that moment, this "cliché, becomes self-evident. Comparing myself to someone on a stage with years of experience in an area I know nothing about is not only unfair but straight-up mean. A part of my comparison comes from me wondering, "Would I have the ability, if put in that position, to perform at such a level?" The answer is totally and without question, yes. I excel in the field I work in now, and I know that if I put that same energy towards something else, with practice, I could do just as well. No joy can come from comparing yourself to someone in a completely different field!

2.) Never forget the blessings that have been bestowed upon you.

Every single day, I am blessed to have the opportunity to wake up with all ten fingers and toes and choose to create the kind of life I want to live. There is so much power in that alone, but sometimes it's easy to take it for granted. Let us not forget those who are unable to make that same decision every day of their lives.

3.) Appreciate how far you have come!

I've been very intentional for some time to be kinder and gentler to myself. I need to realize that I am human. Being human means that I will not know everything, and I will continue to make mistakes.But I must let go of the need to always be right. I feel empowered when I can see the growth that I've made, regardless of the mistakes that may come in the future. I don't react to every little thing that bothers me, because I have learned boundaries when it comes to dealing with others and myself. I truly value my time and my energy, and, for that, I am proud.

4.) You Can Be Who You Want To Be

If you can see it in your mind, you can achieve it in reality. I saw myself when I looked at the women on stage, when she smiled, the way she talked, her elegant walk. For a moment, in my self-criticism spiral, I forgot that we are all connected. Debasish Mridha has said "I may not know you, but I don't see any difference between you and me. I see myself in you; we are one." I will not sit in the mentality of lack, there is more than enough opportunity and good fortune to go around for everyone. Her win was not a loss for me, but it can be a nudge from the universe for me to go ahead and dream big!

This Queen Talk was not easy. There may have been some tissues and tears involved but giving myself an honest yet compassionate talk is sometimes what I need to bring myself out of some bad head space. In these moments of doubt, you truly need to be your own best friend.When times get rough, criticism won't always come from outside sources. How you speak about yourself internally is crucial to how you see and feel about yourself. As Beyoncé once sang, "I've got Me, Myself, and I." We must put forth every effort to be there for ourselves. I look forward to more Queen Talks when some negative emotions arise. I am grateful for the person I am today, but I am excited to see the women I become.