Starting a successful business at the age of 18 would be difficult for many, but it wasn’t for Kayla Robinson—owner of the Green Box Shop, which makes statement tees—thanks to one spotlight moment. Just when the teenager’s enterprise was running low on cash, Frank Ocean wore one that reads, “Why Be Racist, Sexist, Homophobic, or Transphobic When You Could Just Be Quiet” at the Panorama Music Festival last month in New York City. Suddenly legions of fans were clamoring to get their hands on one.
“It was a surreal moment. Before that, my business was really struggling,” Robinson tells People Chica. “So I knew it was finally going to be okay.”
Her collection of tees make bold political statements, such as “Pizza Rolls Not Gender Roles” and “Climate Change is Real. Trump Is A Hoax,” which she promotes and sells on her website.
Her ideas often come from a personal place, but she also finds inspiration from her followers, who share their social struggles with her. “‘[Being] a bisexual, feminine Afro-Latina, I understand certain stigmas firsthand so I create those designs from that perspective. For subjects that are outside of my identity—including issues related to being disabled, other cultures, or transgender communities—I check in with my followers,” she explains.
Frank Ocean isn’t her only celebrity fan. Her apparel has also caught the attention of Zendaya, who once tweeted her plans to buy all of Robinson’s shirts, and Fifth Harmony’s Lauren Jauregui Instagrammed a photo of herself wearing the same one Ocean made famous.
What other celebs would she like to see donning her duds? Kehlani, whom she calls her biggest inspiration. The singer’s album “Sweet, Sexy, Savage,” she say, lifted her spirits and encouraged her to persist when her business was lagging.
While Robinson strives to build a strong foundation for her brand—which has gone from 20 to 200 sales daily—she also wants to stick to her mission of raising money to educate the public about homegrown food and sustainability. “Unfortunately, in America,” she says, “there are 23.5 million people who live in low-income areas that are more than one mile from a supermarket. “This means,” she continues “that fresh and healthy food is not accessible. I would like to teach and empower these communities to be able to sustain themselves through personal gardens.”
What was once a struggling business for a young teen became an overnight success. “I simply want this to continue to be a platform in which we can empower each other to be strong and to be heard,” she says.
Now, when you visit the shop’s website, it reads: “Due to the recent influx, order processing time has been delayed.”