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Newport Beach

Volume 6, Issue 76  | September 21, 2021

Aspiring Newport Beach teen fashion designer puts her commitment to sustainability into action

Newport Beach resident Rylen Schmid, an Orange Lutheran High School senior, answered the question of what she would do this summer by creating and implementing a community service project called STYLED (Sustainably Teaching the Youth a Lifestyle of Ethical Design).

Ever since the age of five, Schmid has loved to sew and create garments. But it wasn’t until the age of 10 that she truly saw the corruption, waste and pollution that was in the fast fashion industry. It became her mission to further educate pre-teens about shopping in a more sustainable way.

To put the plan into action, Schmid partnered with Rosary Academy student Ayah Mohammed. They applied and were accepted into the 2021 Fellowship cohort of the Orange County-based nonprofit Dragon Kim Foundation – – whose mission is to inspire our youth to impact their communities while discovering and pursuing their passions.

Now in its fifth year, the fellowship program provides innovative teens like Schmid with the mentorship, training and a grant up to $5,000 to bring their project to life.

Aspiring Newport Rylen Schmid

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Young entrepreneur Rylen Schmid champions ethical design

Schmid and Mohammed reached out to Orange County chapters of the Girl Scouts and Girls, Inc. to teach them how to upcycle blue jeans. “We’ve gone out to find different projects and have run an upcycling program, where we teach about the dangers of fast fashion,” Schmid said. “It’s been so amazing. We are part of a movement that promotes sustainability and self-expression. Our program utilized social media as well as seminars to truly educate the youth about the harmful effects of fast fashion.”

Recently the duo teamed up with four other fellows who had implemented their own fashion and sustainability-related projects to be a part of the “Youth in Fashion” fashion show and fundraiser held at shopping destination South Coast Plaza. They worked with donated Hammitt designer handbags, adding painted details that transformed them into one-of-a-kind pieces. A percentage of Hammitt sales was donated to the foundation and several of the handbags were sold with proceeds also going to the foundation.

Dragon Kim Foundation Executive Director and Co-Founder Grace Tsai Kim said of the fashion show and the fellows, “We’re so happy to partner with Hammitt to give these young designers a platform to share their designs and to tell the world about the importance of upcycling as a way to help protect our environment.”

The 2021 fellowship culminates in the annual Dragon Challenge competition, when the top three fellowship teams will present their projects in the style of the Shark Tank television show on September 23 at the Margaret A. Webb Theatre in Santa Ana. Sponsorship opportunities are still available with all proceeds benefiting the Dragon Kim Foundation’s programs. For more information, visit

The fellowship was founded in honor of the late Dragon Kim, a talented young musician, athlete and scholar who wanted to help others, and has become a seedbed for the next generation of creative thinkers and entrepreneurs who want to make a difference in their communities.

The Dragon Kim Foundation was established in 2015 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization by Grace and Daniel Kim to honor the memory of their late son Dragon Kim, who had been attending the Orange County School of the Arts.

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