16-Year-Old Fashion Designer Kheris Rogers Wants To Encourage Black Girls And Boys To ‘Shine Bright’ With Her Children’s Book
Photo Credit: JC Olivera/Getty Images for iHeartRadio

16-Year-Old Fashion Designer Kheris Rogers Wants To Encourage Black Girls And Boys To ‘Shine Bright’ With Her Children’s Book

Kheris Rogers made her presence known across the globe when she made history as New York Fashion Week’s youngest designer to showcase a fashion line.

She was just 10 years old.

Inspiration for the brand: Flexin’ In My Complexion was created during her history-making year. Rogers’ inspiration for the line stemmed from her experiences with colorism and hair discrimination while attending school.

“Growing up I was always teased about my dark skin complexion, so I had no confidence in myself,” Rogers told AfroTech exclusively. “I didn’t love myself whatsoever. I hated the way I looked and I just thought l looked so different than everyone because when I was younger I went to a predominantly white school. That’s where I experienced racism with a lot of the kids. Then, my mom switched me to a more diverse school where I experienced colorism. So, growing up I went through a lot. I never had any self-esteem in myself.”

The young star’s confidence took a turn for the better when she performed in a fashion show through a program at Amazing Grace Conservatory, thanks to a nudge from her mother. While Rogers strutted down the runway, her sister, Taylor Pollard, took a snapshot and shared it proudly on Twitter.

The praise heard from around the world: The photo went viral and Rogers soon realized the very features that people in school bullied her for were being affirmed and adored by many users across social media.

As the momentum was building, Rogers saw a window of opportunity to turn her passion for fashion into a platform that could help instill confidence in other dark-skinned girls.

“The picture just went viral on Twitter in minutes,” Rogers explained.

 

“It was going crazy. Then after that, I constantly started going viral. Everyone was telling me how they loved my dark skin complexion and they loved everything that I was being teased about growing up. And I feel like that gave me a boost of confidence in myself. Then, I started my clothing line, Flexin’ In My Complexion, and it blew up literally.”

Rogers officially became a kid entrepreneur thanks to her apparel. The line features shirts, hoodies, and accessories sporting messages like “Black Women Matter,” Flexin’ In My Complexion,” and “Representation Matters,” among others.

Challenges as a kid entrepreneur: Getting her business off the ground did present its challenges, as she felt the need to prove herself to those who doubted her due to her age. However, she had the support of her sister, who helped co-create different designs, and her mother to help her bring the brand to light.

“I had no idea what I was doing, but luckily I had the help of my mom and sister,” Rogers said. “I feel like we figured it out and we’re still figuring out stuff to this day, but especially being a kid entrepreneur, a lot of people doubted me and I feel like they wouldn’t take me seriously. I feel like that was one of the main struggles I had to go through being a kid entrepreneur and being in rooms with people who are in their like thirties or forties looking at me like ‘Why is this kid here,’ but I’m doing just as well as them. We figured stuff out along the way. I’m super grateful that I had them with me along the journey.”

Since launching in 2017, Flexin’ In My Complexion has earned half a million dollars in sales. It has also caught the attention of some notable names including Alicia Keys and Lupita Nyong’o.

Making a difference: For Rogers, catching the attention of those she looks up to is a dream come true and she resonates with their efforts to have a positive impact in their community.

“I always tell my mom and sister that I just want to pave the way for other Black and brown kids to believe in themselves and to take on and come behind me to do the same thing,” the 16-year-old expressed. “People like Storm Reid, Marsai [Martin], Lupita [Nyong’o], and Zendaya, they’ve all paved a way for young Black boys and girls, or anyone, to come right behind them and do the same thing. I feel like every day we’re putting in work trying to be the best that we can and trying to empower other people. But this is still a long ride and I hope that when the next person comes in behind me, I hope that they can do it even bigger.”

Children’s book: Outside of her clothing line, Rogers is finding new avenues to uplift others, whether it’s through the Kheris Rogers Foundation or more recently, her first children’s book “Shine Bright.”

The title of the book was inspired by a childhood friend, who told her despite everything she was facing at the time to shine bright. The message didn’t register with Rogers until the passing of her friend.

Set to empower Black children: Now, Rogers wants other young Black girls and boys to reach that epiphany for themselves and she believes her children’s book will plant that seed.

“The book is really about myself. A little girl that’s trying to overcome bullying and love herself, going through all these obstacles. Her sister is trying to empower her, letting her know she’s beautiful no matter what.  That you are magic and you can shine bright no matter what other people are saying about you. This book shows other young kids that you can be anything that you want to be and to stop letting what other people say about you get into your head because you are enough,” Rogers declared.