Egypt (Ify) Ufele wasnt going to let a bunch of bullies stop her. The 10-year-old, who suffered from a chronic illness and whose medication caused her to gain weight, was bullied in school for being chubby. And the bullies were beyond mean–Ufele was even stabbed with a pencil once by bullies.
So she figured out a way to help other victims of bullies–and to use her love of fashion to do so. She not only launched a nonprofit called Bully Chasers she also debuted her own clothing line called ChubiiLine. The clothes have a touch of Africa as well as inspirational and anti-bullying messages. Her effort led her to become the youngest person ever to debut a line at New York Fashion Week!
Ufele suffers from a critical asthmatic health condition and must receive steroid injections, which cause weight gain. Her weight caused other kids to make fun of and bully her. But Ufele tries her best to manage her condition and not to allow the stress of dealing with bullies affect her health. I run track, do treadmill and watch my intake of sugar. My mom monitors my diet, she says. Asthma is a part of my daily life. I take steroids to stay alive. I got off my meds once and it almost killed me.
ChubiiLine offers clothes for children, plus-size women, men and boys. Many of them feature African prints. Ufeles mother, Dr. Reba Perry, works for the UN and travels to Africa often for peace missions; Ufele has gotten to tag along on some of those trips. And Ufeles father, Emeka Ufele, is Nigerian. During her trips to Africa, Ufele picks up fabrics and sometimes designs inspirational, fashion and sassy looks. My ChubiiLine is African Print with a Urban Twist, says Ufele. Her mother helps the young entrepreneur run her business. My mom, Dr. Reba Renee Perry, has a business management degree and owns a successful franchise business. I trust her because she will give the business 100 percent of her devotion, says Ufele.
Ufele, who was born on May 3, 2005, in Long Island, was also inspired by her older sister, Sade Perry, a fashion designer. When she was younger, Ufele would design and make by hand clothes for her Barbie dolls. My grandmother, Nellie Rembert, taught me at age 5 to sew with a needle & thread. Then I mastered the sewing machine later, says Ufele. Now with ChubiiLine, she is finding success–Ufele debuted the line at the Unique Blend Models Fashion Week during New York Fashion Week. Every Model was asking to walk for me. It was so crazy busy behind the scenes. NBC Today came out just for my featured story. It was so exciting, she recalls.
She also has a book and a manufacturing deal. Since I started Bully Chasers and Chubiiline, my inbox got flooded with emails and followers. With one site, Pop Suga Celebrity, I received over 5 million views, says Ufele. I got some negative reviews, but the positive attention overpowered them. Theres no stopping Ufele now. ChubiiLine is on tour. My strategic plan is to be a household name, she declares.