Last summer, 17 year old Cierra Roberts started a business combining two of her passions – recycling and fashion. Growing up in the Capitol Hill area of Washington, D.C. allowed Cierra to see all the opportunities and excellent things that young people can do in the community, so when she had the idea to start her own business, she felt confident enough to see it through. How did she do it? Well, 1st she needed a good idea. When thinking about a concept for her business, Cierra had an idea of what she wanted to do, so she started there and let her creativity do the rest.

“I knew that I wanted something to do with global change but knew that I couldn’t do it all myself. I looked into recycling programs and decided that there are many things that we don’t recycle or waste that can we can put to great use. The shape of the bottle tops really gave me the craft idea of making something from them. So the whole idea of recycling and creating a unique garment spontaneously was just a great idea to me.”

In the summer of 2014, Cierra started Retro Rumorz, a handmade design studio that uses photos and recycled bottle caps to create customized accessories, like earrings, bracelets and pins. If you’re looking for new look, or just looking to stand out, she’s got you. Starting a business is never easy and like all entrepreneurs, Cierra faced some challenges along the way, but this rising senior at Eastern SHS in Washington, D.C., is determined to succeed. Check her out.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My favorite subject is math. I love to sew and shop in my spare time but I also take part in track & field, modeling, and I am “Miss Eastern 2015” as well as “Miss Blue and White 2014!”

Where did you get the idea for the name, Retro Rumorz?
Retro Rumorz is my brand name. I came up with it through a sense of my style and the things I like having a vintage and retro style to it. I wanted my ideas to be the buzz around town and be talked about heavily in a positive manner.

What inspired your business idea?
My inspiration came from the idea that we can recycle and make have creative and unique creations with the things we dispose.

How did you go from an idea to an actual business?
After gathering the idea for my business, I talked to my mom about it and she was the very first to invest in the equipment that I needed to get started . I wanted to share these unique and creative items with people who wanted to express their individuality so that’s how my idea became an actual business!

Why did you decide to start a business?
I decided to start a business because I know entrepreneurship amongst the African-American minority is a huge deal and I am determined to get my idea out to the world because it’s a great idea.

What makes your product different from everything else that’s out there?
My products are different from others on the market because there aren’t earrings made of bottle tops that I know of. They are also very affordable at $4.00 and unique.

What has been the most difficult part of starting a business?
The most difficult part of starting my business is getting exposure and pulling in clientele for my products.

What’s been the best part?
The best part of my business is helping people bring out the individuality and express themselves through my jewelry. I have gotten so many compliments on how it’s a great idea so just making my mark has made this a great start.
What is one thing you wish that you knew before starting?
I wish I knew how hard it would be to get people to recognize my business and efforts.

What do you need help with?
I need help with promoting as well as business tips for how to stay up and running as an underground business.

What advice would you give other teens about starting a business?
I would tell other teen entrepreneurs not to give up no matter how hard it gets because some good is bound to happen even if it takes its time.

Who or what inspires you?
My mother inspires me because she is a single and independent mother of four girls and my mom owns her own hair salon so she motivates me to strive for what I want. She always reminds me that being your own boss is the best boss you can have.

What would “success” look like for you?
Success to me is to be able to show progress and efficiency throughout anything someone is doing or trying to succeed in.

Check her out on IG- @retro_rum0rz ( the “0” in rumorz is a ZERO ) & Retro Rumorz. You can purchase her affordable accessories (only $4!) on ETSY