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March 01, 2016

8-year-old designer makes Atlantic City Fashion Week debut

Nyjha Lawrence is the little lady behind Saphari Designs

Lifestyle Fashion
Saphari Designs Catchy Eye/

Nyjha Lawrence (center) models her own designs at Atlantic City fashion week, alongside her friends and fellow catwalk stars.

You know those little kids who have so much talent inside a tiny little frame that you just know they're going to grow into super amazing adults (and you're super jealous already)?

Philadelphia second-grader Nyjha Lawrence is one of those kids. 

The 8-year-old fashionista, model, actor and student at Christ the King School just made it to the big leagues, hosting her own fashion week debut at Atlantic City Fashion Week on Friday, Feb. 26. She sent looks from her latest Saphari Designs collection, full of bright, energetic outfits for young girls, down the runway starring some completely adorable friends and fellow models. 

Though the creative youngster got bit by the stardom bug at a young age, landing both film and modeling gigs, Nyjha always had a passion for fashion, too. 

"I just noticed that whatever she was drawing, it was always a girl in some type of outfit," her mother, Christine Brown, said ahead of the big show. 

So, after taking some sewing classes and becoming interested in design, Nyjha decided to launch a line of her own, and Saphari Designs was born. Though Nyjha is the creative mind behind the designs, Saphari is also the product of her sweet relationship with her mom.

"She'll sketch out the outfits, and then once we have an outfit together, we go fabric shopping together - there's different stores in Philadelphia we go to - and she'll say 'yay' or she'll say 'no' to the fabric," Brown said. "And then we meet with a seamstress who actually puts everything together, for the time being, until she's able to put it all together herself." 

While the happy colors and bold prints featured in the collection seem like a young girl's dress-up fantasy, there's a real coherence to it all that shows off Nyjha's true sense of style, plus her desire to spread her confidence to others. 

"The line itself has a lot of abstract, a lot of colors," Brown said. "It's bright. If you wear it, you have to just be bold, and that's what she wants: kids to not be afraid. It doesn't matter what you have on. And sometimes we as adults need that, too!"

Though Saphari Designs is just beginning, the mother-daughter duo hopes to get the line in boutiques soon, in addition to it being for sale online. 

Will Nyjha become a huge fashion designer one day? Who knows; like many 8-year-olds, for now, she's exploring design as well as tons of other interests, including acting and modeling plus music and the arts. 

All we know is that her debut shows huge promise. (And that we wouldn't mind seeing some of those outfits made to fit her grown-up fans who may be young at heart.)