It’s not uncommon for a 12-year-old girl to look in her closet and feel she has ‘nothing to wear.’ What is uncommon, however, is what Tanesa Peterson did about it: she just made her own clothes.
“I didn’t really like what stores had for me, so I just decided to make my own stuff to fit my style,” said Peterson, now a junior at Dunbar High School.
Now, others are taking notice. She was invited to show her designs last summer in Las Vegas, and a few weeks ago, she returned from doing the same in New York.
She said that stage – the fashion capital of the world – made her nervous. But she left feeling very confident.
“I heard a whole lot of applause,” she said. “It felt good because they liked it!”
She recently had her designs featured in Equanimity magazine and will head to California over spring break to participate in yet another fashion show.
Peterson said she remembers being interested in clothes at a very young age.
“My mom used to dress me up in color coordination,” she said, and it just went from there. First it was experimenting with what she had in her own closet. Then it grew to obtaining various fabrics and sewing them together.
“My first fashion show was actually my own,” she said.
Together with the help of her mother, they found a seamstress, a location and invited friends. Her mom continued to help with the efforts by promoting her daughter’s work.
Though skeptical at first, Peterson’s mom grew more and more supportive when she saw how serious her daughter was about her efforts and that this would be her daughter’s career.
Peterson said the time and expense are an issue, but with the help of her parents, they’re able to make it work. She said she also finds her teachers to be very supportive.
“This is a little girl who just seems to be beyond her years,” said Dunbar Principal Doug Williams, who admits being surprised when he first found out what his student was up to.
“It’s amazing. She is so compartmentalized, you’d never know,” he said. “When she’s on campus, she’s just this confident, bubbly 11th grader. At home, she’s telling her mom all the things she’s going to make happen.”
Her latest goal is to design prom dresses for 50 girls in need, and, together with donations and assistance from others, make dreams come true for a few other high school girls.