Walden University’s 2014 Scholar of Change winner Jazmin Chi ’12, a BS in Business Administration graduate, isn’t the average 26-year-old single mom. A veritable citizen of the world, the Mexico native—who currently lives in China—has a passport that boasts stamps to countries including France, the Netherlands, and Russia. As the founder and CEO of the international company LevGrow, Chi produces educational products for children up to age 10. “Our model is caring with love, learning by fun,” she said. The business produces a line of children’s clothes by Mexican designers, as well as books, DVDs, music and educational materials.
Chi grew up in a Mexican beach town named Tampico. The daughter of medical missionaries, she remembers traveling all over Mexico with her parents, helping those in need. “In my last year of college, I was given the opportunity to participate in a volunteer program in France, and I jumped at the chance,” Chi said. But although she felt she’d received a good education in Mexico, she found that she was unable to compete academically with the French students.
She’d always had an interest in education, but somehow hadn’t yet connected the dots. As she grew older, she realized loved to write and travel, and she wanted a career that wouldn’t take her away from her daughter. Her friend suggested that she write books for children, and that’s when the lightbulb went off. When Chi returned to Mexico, she decided to write children’s books, beginning with Lina Learns the Times, a three-book series to teach children the months of the year, days of the week and times in a day. With this, LevGrow was born.
Chi enrolled in Walden’s BS in Business Administration program to learn how to operate her own enterprise. “In my program, I was writing a business plan to develop a spa, but I changed the plan to write children’s books at the last minute.” And her professor was more than supportive. After earning her bachelor’s degree, she went on to earn a master’s in education with a focus in cultural diversity from Far Eastern Federal University in Russia.
A firm believer in a multicultural education, she noticed while in France that the children there often spoke two languages in the home and wondered why it was not like that in Mexico. “I realized that there was a lack of effective educational materials.” With her daughter as her primary inspiration, Chi developed a language program that produces benefits on a daily basis. “My daughter is 6 years old and fluent in Spanish, English, Russian and Chinese,” she said.
Chi currently lives in China with her daughter, where they’ve been since last August, to learn the local language and culture with the ultimate goal of opening a school there. She set her sights on China because of its reputation for education. “If I want to offer great educational products, I have to be in the best place for education.”
Today, Chi has teams in Mexico and Russia. In addition to educational products, LevGrow publishes a magazine for parents and educators in English and Chinese. The company organizes a summer camp for children in Mexico, and recently opened a factory there to manufacture the clothes they offer.
For those looking to follow the entrepreneurial path, Chi has three pieces of advice. “Believe in yourself, build a team and, most importantly, wait for no one,” she advises. “If you want something, you have everything you need inside you.”