Kheris Rogers likes sparkles. A lot. "I like anything with sparkles. Anything. Literally anything," she tells CNBC Make It from the her mother's house in Los Angeles.
That's not surprising. Rogers just turned 12 — she was 11 when speaking to CNBC Make It, an age when many girls gravitate toward sparkly things. It's one way in which Rogers is a typical (soon-to-be) seventh grader. In other ways, however, she is very different from other kids her age.
That's because Rogers started her own fashion business when she was just 10 years old, and it's thriving.
Called Flexin' In My Complexion, items of clothing in her line bear the namesake phrase, a call to encourage confidence and combat racism. Rogers was bullied for her dark skin as a child, so her older half sister Taylor Pollard, now 23, posted a photo of Rogers on twitter with the hashtag "#FlexinInHerComplexion," an expression her grandmother, Bettie Pollard, used to encourage the sisters to feel beautiful. The tweet went viral and the clothing line was the sisters' response.
Since launching in April 2017, the business has brought in $191,000 in sales. It's also gotten the attention of rapper Snoop Dogg; actress, producer and screenwriter Lena Waithe; Grammy Award-winning artist and producer Alicia Keys; actress Lupita Nyong'o; comedian and television host Steve Harvey and landed Rogers in a Nike ad campaign.
Rogers also walked in Harlem Fashion Week in New York City in September 2017. "This is a dream come true for anybody," she said.
Rogers, who with Pollard, runs the business out of their mother's garage, shares this advice with CNBC Make It: "If you have a dream, you should just go for it. Just go running towards it .... Just always have to believe in your dreams."
How do you do that? "If you want to be anything, just be it. You have the opportunity to do it. Just look into things, research about it and figure out what you really want to be so you can chase your dreams," Rogers says.
Indeed, Rogers and her sister Pollard didn't have much guidance in launching Flexin' In My Complexion. Pollard had started another small business (Taylor Made Pastries), but other than that they just figured out themselves what they needed to do to launch their clothing line.
The sisters say they "were playing it by ear," using the few resources they had to create a successful business. Their mom Erika, a social worker, gave them about $100 to start the company, remembers Pollard. Pollard, who studied art at the University of California Riverside ("I wanted to start something on my own and I knew that I could start that with creativity," she says) just Google-searched "how to make a website" to set that up, she tells CNBC Make It.
When things took off, Rogers was a bit agog at her own success. "I was like, 'Wow. I just started a clothing line at 10 years old!'"
But Pollard says the sisters didn't launch Flexin' In My Complexion to fatten their wallets.
"The goal wasn't to make this much money ... it really was just to touch people," says Pollard. "So for me it was just more so about being able to touch other people and to be able to help people."
Launching the business has grown Rogers' confidence from a "negative one" to "10 million," she says. And she's following her own advice about rushing after her dreams with abandon.
"When I get older, I know I want to be a fashion designer, a business woman, a dancer, an actress," says Rogers. "Anything you can think of, I want to be it. Because I am always chasing my dreams. Anything I can be, I am going to go for it because if I have the opportunity right then and there, I am going to do it."
— Video by Andrea Kramar
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