At ten-years-old, I’m sure many of us were still trying to figure out how money and businesses even worked. Meanwhile, Alessandra Kitinas was working towards becoming Australia’s youngest CEO, launching ‘Freedom Scrub’ at 15 years old.
Alessandra, who goes by Ali, has a background in performing arts, acting in commercials since she was five. Once she hit ten years old, however, she realised she didn’t want to fall into the “trap” of struggling to make it into the acting world.
“My mom was an entrepreneur at the time and I was helping her out with some things and just learning about it,” Ali said to The Greek Herald.
“I thought it would be a really great way to learn how to financially support myself if I were to start my own business. And yeah, it just kind of evolved from there.”
Alessandra started her first business, a social media marketing agency, at age 11. From there, she gained essential business experience as she worked beside her mother.
At age 15, she launched ‘Freedom Scrub’, a social enterprise that ethically recycles coffee grounds and uses them in a sugar body scrub. Ali worked closely with The Hope Foundation, which is dedicated to promoting the protection of street and slum children and the most underprivileged in India.
Freedom Scrub now raises funds and awareness for Freedom Hub, an organisation which provides rehabilitation to women rescued from human trafficking in Australia. An organisation close to Ali’s heart, her company recycles the coffee grounds that Freedom Hub use in their café to create the body scrubs.
“When I learned that it was happening in my home country and in a place that’s meant to be developed and have so many opportunities for young women and girls, it definitely raised something in me and it was something that I really wanted to make a difference with,” Ali said.
Doing all this while still in school, Ali finally graduated in 2019. She said entering the world without a “security blanket” was a scary moment, but one that made her realise the large path that lay ahead of her.
“I do still have my whole life ahead of me and you learn the biggest lessons from the mistakes you make in life.”
“My first year out of high school was also a pandemic, and so it was very different from what I had imagined my first year out of school would be.
“It did really open my eyes to the different ways we communicate as people, the different ways we interact and what other opportunities are out there that I haven’t necessarily thought of before.”
Ali is recognised as a best-selling author for her chapter in Better Business, Better Life, Better World: The Movement. The young Greek Australian was also in an editorial that was published in an international magazine last year, helping open her eyes to the world of fashion.
“It is actually something that I’m studying now and something that I’d like to perhaps work on in the future.”
Ali said the most gratifying part of her career path so far is having the opportunity to meet and be mentored by English business magnate Richard Branson. She was invited to Necker Island in the British Virgin Isles, along with 33 other global entrepreneurs and business leaders, to speak about her business.
“It was really funny because the first day, we went sailing and I happened to be on the sailboat with Richard. And he said, ‘Why are you here with your mom?’ And I replied, ‘no, actually my mom’s here with me.’”
“He actually left school when he was 15 and I was 15 when I met him. So we kind of bonded over that and doing really crazy things at a young age.
“It was really cool to talk to someone who had accomplished so much and know that my idealism, I guess, doesn’t go to waste and that it can pay off one day.”
Ali’s connection with her Greek heritage remains more important than ever. Ali’s papou, who came from Lemnos to Australia, played a critical role in her life growing up, living with her until his unfortunate passing when she was 11-years-old, not long before she started her first business.
“I’m very close with my family and I always want to make them proud and do something that they can be proud of.”
“But also, I want to make him proud and I want to know that wherever he is, he can see what I’m doing and be proud of me.”