Talia Joy Castellano’s YouTube channel has nearly 600,000 subscribers. She also has a growing following on Twitter, Facebook and a number of other social networks.
The Orlando native is a beauty and makeup video blogger who’s also battling two forms of cancer. Some videos are for updates on her cancer treatment, and some are for interacting with fans, friends and family.
Talia, 13, an honorary CoverGirl, is fulfilling her dream of becoming a fashion designer with her recently completed collection, “That Bald Chick.”
She was first diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2007 and diagnosed with pre-leukemia in July 2012. She started posting beauty and makeup videos on YouTube in 2011, and has more than 41 million views. Talia’s gravatar on YouTube is a photo of her with “Makeup is my wig” painted on the side of her head.
After appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2012, DeGeneres announced she was an honorary CoverGirl.
“Personally, I’m able to meet a lot of really cool people,” Talia said. “Professionally, I’m growing my business and making a difference in the world. I want to keep living and enjoying my life as much as I can.”
On screen, she’s honest, positive and realistic. While she hasn’t stopped fighting cancer, she has decided against more painful or toxic treatments.
“Having cancer has been an amazing yet horrible journey, but every journey has an end,” she said in a press release. “I will enjoy every minute I have with the world.”
Since then, Talia has continued as an advocate for a cure for childhood cancer, video blogger and fashion designer. “It makes me very happy when I can do something to make others — my family, friends and subscribers — happy,” she said in an email.
One of the best responses she’s gotten from her videos is when she motivated an ailing girl to keep living. “That’s why it’s important that people get inspired by my fight,” she said.
Los Angeles-based designer Urbana Chappa came across Talia’s Instagram account one day when her children were using her phone. Chappa found Talia’s bucket list online, sent her an email and flew to Orlando to create a fashion line with her.
Chappa took her a bag full of pencils and fabrics, and she sketched 16 pieces in four days. They finished the collection in two weeks.
Chappa, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at 19, said Talia reminds her of herself — spunky, funny and serious when she needs to be. “I didn’t feel like I was working with a 13-year-old,” Chappa said. “She’s a businessperson.”
Talia said she wanted the collection to represent her. Chappa described it as boho chic, with fun buttons and sheer fabrics. They used her Instagram name, “That Bald Chick,” to name the line.
“I wanted to create a line where teens could express themselves through fashion,” Talia said. “I love getting creative and thinking of what fabrics to use, what buttons to pick, where studs will look good — all of it.”
The pair clicked after their second meeting. “It took us to the second trip to really bond,” Chappa said. “She really hugged me. I didn’t want to let her go.”
Chappa and Talia’s mother, Desiree Castellano, communicate daily. “Talia taught me to see life in a different way, and I’ve taught Talia to take a negative and turn it into a positive, Castellano said.
Now that the collection is finished, Chappa is working on getting it into stores that will make it affordable for kids.
“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,” Talia said. “I would really love to see my collection in Target and of course, Paris.”
Teaser T-shirts and tank tops will be sold through www.goodworks.com in about a month. Proceeds from the collection will go toward Talia’s expenses.