Growing up in the Philippines, Llana Rojas loved seeing her mother wear beautiful jewelry. She also always loved being active and playing sports in high school and knew from an early age that she had an entrepreneurial bent.
Today, all of these elements of her past have converged into Let’s Roar, her shop in Eden Prairie Center that opened in August, along with a pop-up location in Ridgedale Center in Minnetonka that opened in March.
Combining Rojas’ appreciation for jewelry and athleticism, the shop sells activewear for women and men and a variety of jewelry. The activewear pieces each feature the logo of a roaring lion or the phrase “Let’s Roar.” The jewelry is gold-plated stainless steel that, according to Rojas, makes it very practical to wear while exercising and is also hypoallergenic.
“I am very picky because I have very sensitive skin and I chose things I can wear myself and that are also at an affordable price,” she said. Many of the jewelry pieces have an Asian influence, featuring dragons and jade, a nod to her heritage.
After spending her early years in the Philippines, Rojas moved to the United States in 2010 at age 12. She enlisted in the U.S. Army as a senior at Hopkins High School and graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College with a degree in business management. After serving in the Army for six years, she now serves in the Air Force.
Rojas was motivated to join the Army because “I liked the idea of the discipline and the fitness aspect and being able to gain strength physically, mentally and emotionally. I thought that would help me as I was a very shy kid.”
She has trained in multiple places throughout the United States and served in Kuwait, Egypt and Saudi Arabia until last year. “Even though I’m a culinary sergeant,” she said, “I have driven tanks and got licensed to drive tanks, which was a pretty cool experience.”
“Not growing up in the greatest neighborhood in the Philippines” was another reason Rojas joined the Army. She revealed, “I wanted to feel stronger to protect my family in a sense.”
Today, she is helping protect her military family with her shop’s mission, “Let’s Roar.”
Rojas donates 10% of the store’s proceeds to the organization Protect Our Defenders, whose mission is to “end sexual violence, victim retaliation, misogyny, sexual prejudice and racism in the military and combating a culture that has allowed it to persist,” according to its website.
Said Rojas, “Being in the military for almost seven years, I have had a lot of friends that have been sexually harassed, assaulted and/or raped and I have been sexually harassed myself which fueled my mission to spread more awareness about the ongoing sexual assault issues in the military. A lot of it is swept under the rug because we are afraid of being judged or criticized or even blackmailed to not report or lose our rank.”
Statistics on protectourdefenders.com cite that in 2021, nearly 36,000 service members experienced sexual violence. A vast majority of those cases go unreported, and if they are reported, “retaliation is the norm.”
And that’s where Rojos’ store logo comes into play. The roaring lion and phrase “Let’s Roar” are calls to action.
“A lot of sexual assault victims are afraid to stand up for themselves or speak up,” Rojas said. “And afraid to stand up for others. Let’s Roar represents the necessity to speak up, stand up and support others, including yourself. Advocate for yourself, not silence yourself, and be heard.”
She added, “A lion’s roar can be heard from five miles away. That is something I want for myself, to have that voice. Not just for myself but everyone else who does not.”
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