Frisky Q&A: Teen Designer Talia Castellano Is Fighting Cancer With Fashion

Tania Castellano was seven-years-old when she was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, an aggressive cancer of the nervous system. Despite the diagnosis — and the harrowing treatments — Talia pressed on with the business of living. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, Talia reveled in her favorite activity — playing with makeup — and created a thriving YouTube presence with more than half a million subscribers. Her channel, Makeup Is My Wig, features hundreds of videos. There are videos of her happily chatting to the camera, (seriously really good!) makeup tutorials, and reviews of her favorite new shopping purchases, or hauls. Basically you could spend, like, a thousand hours watching Talia’s videos and never get sick of them. She’s smart, funny, approachable and really, really cute.

Earlier this year, after multiple rounds of treatment, Talia found out that the cancer had spread all over her body. Now 13, she knows she doesn’t have much more time, but has a few things she’d still like to accomplish. On the top of that list? Becoming a fashion designer — even if she’s designing from a hospital bed. And that’s where fashionista Urbana Chappa — herself a cancer survivor — stepped in. She’s collaborating with Talia on a new fashion collection called That Bald Chick, which reflect Talia’s upbeat personality and spunky style. Plus! All proceeds from the collection’s sale will go to Talia’s family, who are facing sky high medical bills.

For her part, Talia has a very Zen approach to her cancer. “I’ve gotten so many benefits from [cancer],” she said in one of her videos. “Having a YouTube channel, having to inspire people and having people look up to me … the journey of having cancer was amazing. But every journey has an end.”

After the jump, The Frisky speaks with both Talia and Urbana about their collaboration, and how fashion keeps Talia’s spirits up.

How did this collaboration come about?

Urbana: I saw Talia on “The Ellen Show” and I was very touched by her story. Being a cancer survivor, it was close to home for me. Talia’s picture popped up on my Instagram. One of her pics had made the popular page and I thought: “this is a sign.” I reached out to her and we had some dialogue about fashion. I saw on her bucket list she wanted to be a designer, so I decided to help her do it. Here we are one month in, and the collection is basically done. When I was in Florida these past days reveling the collection, her heart monitor beeped so fast because she was so happy and excited about seeing her designs come to life.

That Bald Chick lookbook

An outfit from the That Bald Chick lookbook.

Talia: Urbana contacted me after seeing a few of my fashion haul videos. It’s been a lot of fun and so exciting. Urbana has been awesome. We really have fun working together and seeing all of my designs come to life from my sketches and imagination. I love the jean jacket [in our collection] and would wear it with a high wasted circle skirt and one of my bandeaus. It’s also exciting to know that I am growing my business and making a difference in the world. I want to keep living and enjoying life as much as I can. It would be awesome to see a celebrity wearing “That Bald Chick,” but then again it would be awesome to just see anyone wearing it too.

What is it that you really love about designing clothes?

Talia: Fashion happens to be a passion of mine. I wanted to create a line where teens could express themselves through fashion. I love getting creative and thinking of what fabrics to use, what buttons to pick, where studs will look good––all of it.

What was it like working together?

Urbana: Working with Talia was amazing! I didn’t feel I was working with a teenager. She has great work ethic she knows what she likes–and if she doesn’t like it she’ll let you know! She was very involved with this line––picking fabric, buttons, zippers––and we collaborated on the designs. She is so full of life and just an honor to work with her. I’m fulfilled and blessed that I was able to make her dream come true.

That Bald Chick lookbook

Another look from the collection.

Why is this line important?

Talia: I love what I do. I love making my videos and I really care about my subscribers. One of the best responses I’ve gotten for my video is know that I helped a girl not to end her life because I inspired her not to give up, and that’s why it’s important that people get inspired by my fight. I wanted to create a line for teens that was trendy and for smaller girls to feel good about themselves.

Urbana: Our goal is to inspire the world make dreams happen and save lives through fashion . Her and I are alike in do many ways that this has been an amazing journey and collaboration so far. Her family and I have gotten close and I admire the strength courage and bravery these wonderful people have . It’s always hard for me to leave them. This has changed my life!