After being bullied in school for her skin color, 11-year-old Kheris Rogers started a clothing line to promote self-love.
Among other accomplishments, she landed a feature in Teen Vogue’s “21 under 21” edition, which recognizes woman making a significant change in the industry.
Kheris Rogers is a young CEO and designer that has earned attention nationwide with her fashion line “Flexing on my Complexion.”
Rogers, 11, was bullied in first grade because of her dark skin color. Her classmates would tease her incessantly about being left “too long in the oven” and even called her a “dead roach.”
“I just didn’t feel I was that pretty. I thought I was really ugly,” she told CBS last year. “I felt like they were bullying me because of my skin color because I was darker.”
The girl recounted how in one class, the teacher asked them to create self-portraits and handed her a black crayon, while the other African American girls in the class were given brown.
That particular incident made Kheris’ mom move her to a more diverse school, but things didn’t change. She kept being bullied by people of color too, which made her feel isolated and insecure.
“One day she was taking a bath, and that's when she expressed to me that she wanted to stay in the bathtub longer in hopes that her skin would get lighter," said Taylor Pollard, Kheri’s big sister.
Watching her little sister going through such a terrible experience, Taylor decided to encourage her by posting a pair of pictures of the girl on Twitter, captioning it:
“My sister is only 10 but already royalty", and adding the hashtag “#FlexinInHerComplexion,” a catchphrase that their grandmother said to let them know they’re beautiful.
The post went viral after a few days, and Kheris received thousands of compliments from people all over the world for her beauty.
“There is an issue of colorism in any race, and I think it’s important to instill confidence. She’s a chocolate girl dressed nicely [and] had her natural hair showing I just wanted to put it out there she was flexing her complexion,” said Pollard.
With the spotlight on Kheris and the famous tagline being used by people of color on social media, Taylor realized they had the perfect opportunity to create something useful that would not only encourage people to embrace their skin color but also help raise funds for her sister’s education.
They put the “Flexin’ on my Complexion” slogan on t-shirts, and soon, they were getting over 100 orders per day.
In the past year, they have received over 10,000 requests in total, an impressive number for such a young entrepreneur.
Kheris not only is the CEO of the small business, but she’s also the main model for the brand and is constantly reminding people of the message behind the clothes, as she told Mashable:
“I wanted to create this clothing line to inspire other people to be confident and comfortable in their skin. The reason why the font on our Classic shirts is so bold is because we wanted the shirts to be just as bold as the message.”
After her posts went viral, celebrities such as Oscar winner Lupita N’yongo, singer Alicia Keys, Whoopi Goldberg and Emmy Ad winner Lena Waithe had worn the t-shirts. Even rapper Snoop Dogg posted about Rogers on social media.
And that was just the beginning of the 11-year-old’s popularity in the industry.
Last September, Kheris became the youngest designer ever to feature her clothing line at the Harlem Front Row fashion show during the New York Fashion Week.
She walked down the runaway sporting her designs from the upcoming Fall/Winter collection of her brand.
Rogers’ bright personality and enthusiasm had her featured on TV shows such as “American Next Top Model,” “Steve Harvey TV,” and several other news outlets nationwide.
She’s also expanded her career as a model, landing a contract with Nike and, subsequently, being chosen by LeBron James as one of the 16 women that inspired his first shoe for women in collaboration with the sports brand.
All that and more made Kheris the perfect candidate to join 20 more girls for Teen Vogue’s November issue “21 under 21.”
The “21 under 21” issue “spotlights extraordinary young women, girls, and femmes making waves in their industries or passions of choice,” as stated by the magazine.
Kheri’s message for other young people is simple, yet powerful:
“It doesn't matter what other people think about you. It's what you think about yourself. You should always believe in yourself. If someone tells you "you’re too young" to do what you want to do, I would say not to listen to them. Basically, just go for it because no one can say you can't do this. It's what you want to do. No one can stop you from doing your dream.”
The stunning girl stated through her Instagram how honored she feels of being chosen by the famous magazine, and added:
“I WILL continue to set a great example and inspire others with my platform.”
Rogers was also featured on a full page spread on Essence magazine, an ad sponsored by ATT and the “Dreaming in Black” campaign.
It is focused on encouraging black people to dream big, embrace their culture, and put themselves into action to live out their wildest dreams.
Kheris stands alongside celebrities like Queen Latifah and Gabrielle Union in promoting the campaign.
The stars were in charge of introducing the campaign’s mission a few months ago at the Essence Festival, where they talked about the “black renaissance” and the importance of giving people of color a second chance.
“Dreaming in black to me is allowing other people to dream in black,” said Union. “When our dreams are coming true, you got to enable the next man’s, the next woman’s dreams. Is not enough for us to make it, we want all of us to make it.”
Like Union and Latifah, Kheris also wants to promote a social change in the world, and considering she’s only 11, is clear she has a bright future ahead.