At the age of 10, Egypt Ufele was teased by her classmates for her weight. Instead of letting it get her down, she started designing clothes for girls like her, inspired by patterns and prints found across the African continent. The resulting clothing line eventually became Chubiiline and debuted at New York Fashion Week when she was only 10.
“I started Chubiiline because I was bullied for being chubby,” she said in an interview with Insider. “So I turned a negative into a positive by naming it that.”
Egypt, nicknamed “Ify,” sews all of her pieces and styles the models herself for the runway. Her mother admits most don’t take the young designer seriously until they interview her and understand the depth to which Ify knows her company.
When it comes to her design process, she takes inspiration from the African culture of her father.
“And I’ll go to Africa and I’ll see all the different outfits that they’ll just be wearing on the regular or to a wedding or something and I’ll just take that as inspiration and put it with an urban twist,” says Ify. “I’ll see someone, and I’ll like their outfit. I’ll keep it in my brain and then I’ll probably wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning and just start sketching.”
Ify designs for all shapes and sizes, but doesn’t stop there. In 2015, she started the anti-bullying coalition, BullyChasers. The organization hosts events and showcases Ify’s story, inspiring other kids to stay strong. Ify’s work in anti-bullying eventually led to her being named as a junior ambassador to the United Nations.
Ify’s message: “Don’t let anybody tell you that you’re not good enough to keep doing what you’re doing.”