Brownsville native Daniella Lopez Valdez wants to inspire women to change the community while following their dreams. As founder of Style House Media and marketing director with the Blue Turtle Project, Lopez Valdez wants the community to be more conscious about the environment and accepting of innovative ideas that would eventually end plastic pollution.

“It’s something that I’m really passionate about and want to make the community aware and educate them about this problem,” she said.

“We are trying to solve the problem, because we can pick up plastic from the ocean all day long but in the end we need to stop it from going in. Because we live directly on the border and on the gulf, what we don’t realize is that 80 percent of the litter on our shorelines is plastic and we have a lot of wind here and the wind affects it and then it goes into the river and then into the gulf, so we can stop it right here because we are at a strategic location.”

The Blue Turtle Project’s goal is not only to remove the plastic from the ocean, but to also create sustainable habits and establish micro economies to help prevent the plastic from entering the ocean. The project sells $20 bracelets that are made of recycled water bottles that are hand made by local artisans. Each bracelet purchased removes 2.2 lbs of ocean plastic and contributes to education and prevention.

“I was approached by local outdoor enthusiasts who were thinking about this idea and they needed help marketing it … When they called me it was actually very funny because the day before I was telling my husband how I really wanted to do more for the community and for the environment and so it was kind of a really great sign that they called me the next day,” she said.

“Ever since then it has been really amazing to work with this group of people and be able to learn even more about the community.”

Lopez Valdez worked four years at JC Penney Corporate in Dallas before moving back to Brownsville. There, she learned how she wanted to create a company that would help empower women to succeed in their careers. She said while working in the corporate setting she learned so much from amazing people but she noticed that it was not as easy for woman to succeed.

“How they seemed to manage their life, moving up on the corporate field but also being flexible and having kids and being the matriarch, I saw a lot of sad things happening because they had to choose between one or the other and that was a big reason why I wanted to start my company,” she said. “I wanted women to feel empowered and that they could do it.”