Kheris Rogers, 11, had faced bullying over her dark skin since she was in first grade. Even compared to the other four other black students in her class, the blackness of her skin stood out. When her teacher handed out crayons for them to draw pictures of themselves, she recalled, she gave the other black students brown crayons, and to Kheris, a black crayon. Even after she moved to a more diverse school, the bullying over her pitch-dark skin persisted. So her older sister, Taylor Pollard, 23, decided to share a picture of Kheris to social media along with the hashtag #FlexinInHerComplexion — a reference to an expression frequently used by the sisters’ grandmother — to encourage her to feel more comfortable in her skin. The image — and sentiment — hit home as the tweet swiftly went viral before being deleted, apparently accidentally, by Twitter.
Feeling motivated by their sudden popularity, the sisters decided to try selling T-shirts featuring the slogan using $100 of startup money given to them by their mother. The shirts turned out to be an even bigger success, as famous black women including singer-songwriter Alicia Keys, actress Lena Waithe and Lupita Nyong’o bought T-shirts and promoted the young entrepreneurs on their social media. Soon, Rogers was walking the runway for VH1’s America’s Top Model, doing advertisements for Nike, and #FlexinInHerComplexion at New York’s Harlem Fashion Week — becoming the youngest designer to ever appear at the event.
— Kheris Rogers (@KherisPoppin) February 28, 2018
But for Kheris, perhaps the most important change she’s experienced since her sudden professional and financial success is that’s she’s now comfortable with how she looks, happy and enjoying life.
“I would always come home crying, like I would just have tears just coming down my face,” she said. “My confidence is probably at 10 million right now. You don’t even know. Like my confidence back then was probably at a negative one.”
Watch a video interview with the two sisters below.
— CNBC Make It (@CNBCMakeIt) July 17, 2018
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