Talia Joy Castellano, the 13-year-old who has been battling two types of cancer for six years by making makeup tutorials on YouTube, just accomplished her next dream after getting to meet Ellen DeGeneres last year and becoming an honorary Cover Girl.
The past few weeks, although sick in her hospital bed in Orlando, Fl., she has been busy creating a new teen fashion line, called That Bald Chick with the help of Urbana Chappa — a Spanish-Persian designer whose latest collection made it to the runways of New York and Los Angeles Fashion Weeks this year.
“I wanted to create a fashion line for teens that is trendy,” says Talia. “I’m hoping to inspire young teens to express themselves through their fashion. I’m excited to have created this collection and will forever get to share it with the world!”
Chappa, 33, says she first saw Talia on the “Ellen” show and was fascinated by her story.
“It was very close to home for me — I had cancer when I was in my early twenties,” says Chappa. “Then my children were on my phone and her photo popped up on Instagram. I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is a sign.’ I went to her YouTube page, and I heard on her bucket list that she wanted to be a fashion designer.”
Next, Chappa says she e-mailed Talia and asked her if she’d like to get together and collaborate on a new line. When she agreed, Chappa flew to Orlando for four days and brought her some swatches and fashion books.
“We sketched 16 pieces, and we chose about 14, and I came back to LA and in two weeks, we put it together,” says Chappa, who taught Talia how to draw outfits on pre-made model cutouts. “We were on a very short time crunch with her being so sick we didn’t know what was going to happen. It’s been amazing. We have so much fun.”
Not only do the young ladies share a physical resemblance, but their work ethic as well.
“She’s a businesswoman,” says Chappa about Talia. “She’s very straightforward and upfront…We Skype picking out fabric, and she picked out buttons and zippers.”
That Bald Chick is a line which reflects one of Talia’s taglines, “Bald is beautiful.” It includes five styles of sheer shirts with her eyes on them.
“It’s amazing — you wouldn’t know she was sick. She’s touched my heart in the past month that I’ve known her. This is why this line is so important to me –to keep her legacy alive. She’s such an inspiration to those who have cancer and to kids.”
She says the next step is trying to get the line to a national chain like Target.
“That is her dream, and I want her to see this,” says Chappa.
She says besides wanting to help Talia achieve her dream, she also wants to help her family be able to pay her medical bills.
“We want to put a foundation together for other families going through the same thing,” adds Chappa. “Now we’re going to found a foundation with her name.”
Last week, Chappa was at the hospital spending as much time with Talia as possible as she went through more radiation treatments. Even more than becoming close friends, she says the cheerful young teen has taught her so much.
“She would say, it doesn’t matter if you are dying or homeless, if you have dreams do not give up,” says Chappa. “She wants kids and people to fight harder. I’ve been through a lot, and she’s taught me to not sweat the little stuff.”