Natalie's Everyday Heroes: Tiffany Miller, teacher and entrepreneur, inspires kids during pandemic

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Teachers have been helping their students finish out the school year through online learning. One teacher from Milwaukee College Prep Lloyd St. is taking it a step further. She’s continuing to help with a popular after-school activity.

Tiffany Miller runs the Young Creative Society through Future Urban Leaders. It’s a program that helps their students tap into their creativity and even launch their own businesses. She’s working with them now, to help keep that going through the pandemic.

“I rock a flower every day,” Tiffany Miller said, with a big smile on her face. Miller is hard to miss. A big bright flower in her hair is a signature look.

“All of my products have that pop of color to it,” she said.

That upbeat spirit is helping her get through the pandemic, but it hasn’t been easy.

“To go a few weeks with zero sales for the store, that hit hard,” she explained.

Miller is a partner in the Bronzeville Collective on North Avenue in Milwaukee.

“The Bronzeville Collective is a creative retail boutique that focuses on black and brown and queer creatives,” Miller said of the shop that opened in October of 2018.

She sells creations from 25 different artists, ranging from paintings, to jewelry, scarves and candles. That includes her own business called Fly Blooms.

“So you can wear it in your hair or pin it to your clothes,” she said, demonstrating the ways to wear the bright flowers. Each has its own special touch.

“I like vintage buttons a lot,” she said.

Inside the store, there’s a station where customers can create their own colorful flower, too.

“I like mixing prints and patterns,” she said.

Miller also creates scarves, clutches and jewelry.

“This is what I've been wearing to the grocery store,” she said, demonstrating how a plaid infinity scarf can double as a hood, or a face covering.

Miller heard her calling from a young age.

“My 5th grade teacher wrote the word ‘entrepreneur’ on the board, and I had never seen that word or heard that word,” she said. “When he shared the definition, I said, that's what I want to be.”

Now, Miller is both an entrepreneur and a teacher. On top of her work at the Bronzeville Collective, she’s also a teacher at Milwaukee College Prep Lloyd St. She’s been keeping in touch with the kids in her Young Creative Society online.

“I built the program, just starting with exploring creativity with young scholars,” she said of the program. “They expressed interest in starting their own business, and I'm like sure, let’s go!”

Eighth grader Jaeden Brown is one of her students. He showed off his t-shirt creations over a Skype interview.

“This one was inspired by Kobe,” he said, holding up a hooded sweatshirt. “If you can see on the back, it says Mamba Mentality.”

The 14-year-old started his “Not Famous” t-shirt line last year.

“Not Famous is a business to show that you don't have to be famous,” Brown explained. “You can still chase your dreams and goals, and I wanted to put that message onto t-shirts and sweatshirts.”

It’s a passion Miller loves to see from her students.

“If they have that interest now, let them play with their creativity and see what they come up with,” she said.

Her students were supposed to have a business showcase for their products in May, but that’s on hold for now.

“It's challenging because I want to see their face, and be in the mix with their creativity, but for them to be in the comfort of their home, where most of our creativity starts, is a beautiful thing, too,” Miller said.

She’s also busy working to move her store online, selling items from the Bronzeville Collective on its website. She’s helping her student entrepreneurs make the transition, too.

“It may become a huge business, it may just be a hobby for now, but I just want to let them figure it out,” Miller said.

It is enthusiasm and support that Brown appreciates.

“She's just the greatest,” he said of Miller. “She gave me a lot of advice, since she's a business owner, too.”

To find out more about the Bronzeville Collective and to shop items from the store, CLICK HERE.

For more information about Future Urban Leaders, CLICK HERE

And if you’d like to nominate someone for Natalie’s Everyday Heroes, just send Natalie a message at nshepherd@cbs58.com.

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