Close sidebar

Zoe’s Story

How NFTE equipped a young designer with the business skills to succeed as an entrepreneur and intrapreneur.

  • Despite being homeless, NFTE showed Zoe that she could do anything that she set her mind to.
  • She launched, Zoe Damacela Apparel and received much publicity and success, including a feature on the cover of Seventeen Magazine.
  • Zoe attended Northwestern University and continued to run her business throughout her college.
  • She is now a Senior Design Manager at Macy’s.

Zoe’s life has been far from easy. At one point, she and her family were homeless. However, NFTE has shown Zoe that she can do anything that she sets her mind to, and that where you were born does not need to determine where you stay.

Zoe discovered NFTE while in high school in 2008. Her business plan was formulated around her interests and talent, as she launched, Zoe Damacela Apparel. She qualified for NFTE’s National competition, where she finished second overall. This gave Zoe a great deal of exposure for herself and for her business. She was subsequently featured on both local and national news channels. She was also invited to White House by President Obama, after which publicity began surrounding her and her business spiked to even greater levels. She was featured on the cover of Seventeen Magazine and sales of her apparel and accessories boomed as a result.

After high school, Zoe attended Northwestern University, where she continued to run her business throughout her college years. Upon graduating, and keen to embark upon a new challenge, Zoe wanted to see what it would be like to apply her entrepreneurial grounding to be an intrapreneur within a larger organization. She undertook several internship positions, including one at Macy’s. It was there that she found a perfect place for her combination of creativity and intrapreneur capabilities to flourish. She rose quickly through the ranks and is now a Senior Design Manager.

“Being able to explain the creative idea in a way that those more comfortable with finance can relate has been extremely valuable to me and to my success within a larger organization.” —Zoe Damacela

Zoe credits NFTE with building her strong foundation and her life skills, teaching her “how to take a really big idea and break it into manageable and practicable pieces.” She believes that NFTE helped her identify opportunities and, most of all, to speak confidently in public, in a way that resonates with her target audience: “I used to be terrified of public speaking. I wouldn’t even raise my hand. Then after several business competition rounds, it became a breeze.”

Today, as she looks back at her journey to her dream job, she attributes much of her success to that ability to speak publicly within a large corporation: “Being able to explain the creative idea in a way that those more comfortable with finance can relate has been extremely valuable to me and to my success within a larger organization.”

Explore More Stories

Kelsey’s Story

Kelsey’s Story

Kelsey’s innovative business creating hair accessories for women of color led her to win the 2018 National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge.

read more
Andres’ Story

Andres’ Story

Andres’ passion and drive, plus the startup skills he learned through NFTE, led to a now-thriving sports coaching business.

read more

NFTE drives student success in many ways


Here are just a few of the businesses that NFTE students have gone on to build

Keegan Bond Harmon

Laura Martinelli

Ehfar Films

Dylan Martin

Mill Brook Honey, LLC

Mathew Galvez

Lotta Worldwide

Carlos Feitosa

Shine Soaps

Arti Shala

Amp Premium Chargers