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Fashioning her future

A 7-year-old with an eye for style is pursuing her dream as a model and designer


A designer, child model and entrepreneur at only 7 years old, Taelynn Ballard is making her mark in the fashion industry. 
Her mom, Sina Bradley, is at the helm of her business helping her lead workshops for other aspiring models and putting together fashion shows to bring her designs to life on the runway. In September, the pair led members of 25 other families on a trip to New York Fashion Week. 
A first-grader at Cornerstone Christian Academy who loves math and recess, Taelynn is expanding her brand — Tailor Made by Tae — and will be going international with her first appearance at Paris Fashion Week to model in 2023. 
Taelynn started her journey at only 6 months old when her grandmother, Lutricia Bradley, entered her in a Sunburst International Pageant. She won local, state and national titles, giving her a start in modeling. 
“She did both glitz and natural pageants until she was 3 when she was offered her first runway modeling job in Raleigh,” says Sina Bradley. “She began to get modeling offers from other places and was invited to New York Fashion Week when she turned 4. She modeled for Chino’ Arte’ by Wayne, GAP, Melanie Caballero and other local independent designers.” 
She then started getting offers to do music videos. Taelynn was in an inspirational video called “Fly” and appeared in a video for local rapper Morray.
“Because she started working so young, she’s very disciplined,” says Bradley.
Her work was briefly halted during the COVID pandemic, so she turned her aspirations into a business, Tailor Made by Tae LLC.
“During COVID, when we were staying in the house, she asked me what she could do that wouldn’t get shut down, so she started making lip gloss,” says Bradley. 
While putting on a shade of rose gold, Taelynn says she uses only vegan and cruelty-free products to create custom options.
“For my lip gloss, I put together the colors and the scents,” the 7-year-old says. 
Her mom soon found other things for her to make and brand, including matching masks and headbands, safety key chains and bath bombs. 
“We looked at numerous options for DIY projects, played around with a few and had friends try them out before they started selling it,” says Bradley. 
They began by operating a vendor booth at different shows before Taelynn decided she wanted to have her own show.
The pair came up with the Tailor Made by Tae “Put on for My City” talent and fashion show at the Bordeaux Convention Center in the Ramada Plaza. About 400 people turned out. 
“Taelynn came up with the idea, and then I put it together for her. When we moved to the Crown Complex, our numbers doubled,” says Bradley, adding that their first few shows were staged without a production company. 
“I put the whole show together, and now we have summer and fall shows. It’s a platform for children to showcase talent and be seen.” 
Bradley says they now host the “Put on for My City” talent and fashion show twice a year. The next show will be on Nov. 12 at the Crown. 
More than 100 children participate in the shows through talent agencies in several states. 
“We’ve had children from Alabama, Georgia and so many other states audition to be in the show. We already have 400 applications, either to model or showcase a talent, for our show on Nov. 12,” says Bradley.
Participating in the show helps aspiring models, actors and singers connect with talent agencies that are there representing other clients. The application process is open for toddlers who have started walking to children up to age 18. Guest performing spots are open for anyone older than 18. 
“Our first-place prize is $500 that the child can invest back into their talent,” says Bradley. 
Another option is “Mom, I Want to Model” workshops that help prepare children to pursue modeling.
“We teach an entire four-hour session on how to take portfolio pictures, how to walk on the runway, pose and more,” Bradley says.
Bradley says her daughter came up with the model management business because she wanted to teach others what she knows and give them tips for modeling success. 
“Let’s say a 4-year-old didn’t know how to walk correctly on the runway. I can help her with that,” Bradley says. “I started modeling when I was 3. I work with my models on poses and looking at the camera. I also teach them the ‘model walk.’” 
Guest professionals, including a motivational speaker, give workshop participants makeovers. At the end of each session, parents are invited to come see what their children have learned. 
“The girls perform a mini-show for their parents,” says Bradley.
The trips to New York Fashion Week gave the novice models a chance to see what modeling high-end fashion is like.
“We had a lot of fun, too,” Taelynn says, noting that the models visited a Nickelodeon park at the end of their week in New York along with participating in a video shoot and taking photos in the city to use in their portfolios.
Taelynn, who has modeled for well-known and local boutique brands, started designing her own clothes this year. 
Bradley says she drew her designs in crayon. 
“When Taelynn is designing, she draws on Barbie-like pictures but will extend the heels into boots and so forth. Then we will go thrift-store shopping to find baselines for her designs. She’ll cut something apart, then add flowers or jewels. She gets creative,” says Bradley.
Taelynn says her designs pop into her head and she puts them on paper as quickly as she can.
“I’ll be thinking of a long, glittery black dress without a sleeve, so I start coloring it on paper,” she says.
When she wore one of her custom-made dresses to a show, someone asked to buy it. 
“We didn’t intend to sell at first, but she was approached at a fashion show with someone asking to buy her outfit, and it started from there,” Bradley says. 
Taelynn has been designing for about nine months and has sold about 10 pieces.
“We don’t even have a website yet to showcase her fashions,” Bradley notes. “People started asking to buy what she was wearing, which was, of course, designed by her, and they bought it off the runway. They are all one-of-a-kind, custom-made.” 
Taelynn mostly sticks with her favorite colors of blue, black and pink for her clothing. 
“I pick the colors. Teal, black and fuchsia pink are the colors for my brand, and then I look for designs. I’ll add rhinestones and gems,” she says. 
Bradley could not be more pleased with her daughter’s success and pursuit of her dream. She says she is amazed at how creative and business-minded her daughter can be, even at such a young age. 
“I’m very proud of her. I’m always going to see her as my baby even as she surpasses her age a lot. Taelynn is visionary,” says Bradley.
“She locks into a business mindset and asks if we can get this done. She’s pushed me into places like producing an entire show. I’ve said I’ve birthed my perfect business partner. Taelynn is the brains; I’m the muscle.” 
Taelynn says she wants to continue modeling and designing for her brand and she loves that her mother is there to support her. 
“I like modeling. I get to try new clothes. This is what I love to do.”