Egypt “Ify” Ufele, a fifth-grade student in Queens, New York, has been crafting outfits for her dolls since age 5. But her foray into fashion — designing clothes that aren’t pint-sized — really kicked off last year, when Ufele launched a clothing label called ChubiiLine. The catalyst for the elementary school student to begin designing was pretty grave: She was being bullied by other students because of her body size. At one point, Ufele told Today, she was even stabbed with a pencil by a classmate.
“I wanted to relieve my pain [from] bullying,” Ufele told Refiney29 of the main impetus for getting into fashion design. Ufele’s oldest sister, Sade Perry, is a designer as well, with a line called MisPerri Fashions. Perry also turned to fashion as a result of being tormented by peers: Ufele says her sister started designing "to overcome her anxiety” that resulted from bullying. “ChubiiLine," she adds, "was designed to empower everyone that [has been] bullied."
ChubiiLine debuted in 2015 at UBM (Unique Blend Models) Fashion Week; Ufele’s second runway show took place last week as part of Small Boutique Fashion Week, which showcases indie talents with multi-designer shows in NYC and Atlanta. The brand is intended to be worn by everyone: “kids, straight [sizes], plus-size women, and men,” Ufele says.
As for Ufele's advice for other burgeoning talents: “Every young designer has to know this is not a game. It takes discipline, and lot of kids don't want to put the time [in].”
Ufele’s most recent designs are “in production as we speak,” she says, and though there aren’t any specific price points to share, the precocious designer says the items “will be inexpensive in cost, but very good quality.” Currently, ChubiiLine is solely available on its own website, but deals are in the works to have the line carried in brick-and-mortar stores and will be finalized next week, according to a rep for the line.
In Ufele’s case, the best revenge on cruel classmates is a (very!) young start to a fashion career — and she’s surely got many folks rooting for her success (us included).