The 17-year-old fashion designer wants other girls to pursue their goals.
Few young adults can settle on a career path when they're finishing out high school, let alone when they're still a tween, but Tanesa Peterson knew she wanted to be a fashion designer when she was only 12 years old. Peterson, 17, the force behind fashion line Nesa Fab, just finished showing off her Spring 2013 ready-to-wear collection "Modern Day Vintage Glam" during Fashion's Night Out last week. Peterson took some time from her fashion studies at Michigan's Lansing Community College to talk to BET.com about her line for tweens, teens and young adults, her favorite Fashion Week designers and how she empowers other girls to pursue their dreams.
You just showcased your new "Modern Day Vintage Glam" collection at New York Fashion Week. Tell us a bit about what inspired this line.
My inspiration was vintage from the 1920s to the 1950s and I would add a modern day twist to it. Most of it is derived from the 1950s because back then women loved to look feminine and wear dresses that make them feel good and look good.
I've always loved the 1950s. My favorite decades are the 1920s and the 1950s. For Halloween I loved dressing up in vintage and last year I was a little flapper girl because I like the way they looked back then.
What sparked the creation of Nesa Fab and its branches, Nesa Gurl and Teacakes?
The reason why I wanted to get into fashion was because ever since I was little I was always dressed head to toe. It was a part of me and I used to watch all these runway shows like Project Runway. I was always fascinated [by the process]. I also wanted to empower girls to show them to go after your dreams no matter what age you are and you can always do what you'd like no matter what people say. As long as you have that determination, you can do anything and I want to be the example for everybody. That's why I started to chase after my dreams at 12 years old.
That's impressive that you were so focused at such a young age. Did your family encourage you to pursue that goal?
My family helped me to achieve my dreams, especially my mom and dad. They were with me from day one. I told them this is what I want to do, I want to do it now, I don't want to wait until I'm an adult. And they helped me ever since then and I really appreciate it a lot.
Your mom was an interior designer. Did that influence your career choice at all or provide any experiences that you were able to implement into your own career?
Yes, that's how I learned how to sew. My first job was actually in the back helping my mom with upholstery. That's how I started, how to mix color and prints, and all about the patterns. That's how I learned things, from interior design.
You've also founded a free two-week program in Houston named Dare 2 B U to empower young girls with self-esteem issues.
My fashion academy is a non-profit organization that helps young girls with low self-esteem and shows them that you can be who you want; you can learn what you like no matter what shape or size you are. All you have to do is feel beautiful about yourself and that's what I'm here to do. To show them that you look beautiful no matter what and I teach them about bullying and how to dress your body type and look and feel good.
What other projects do you have in the works?
I'm having a fall fabric line coming out September 25. I also have a prom fabric line coming out in November that will be exclusively sold through Hancock Fabric stores. I'm currently working a pattern line that'll be out through Hancock Fabric in 2013 as well as a new summer 2013 fabric collection that will be out very soon.
What designers are you loving these days?
My favorite designers that I'm loving out there are Betsey Johnson, Vera Wang, and Ralph Lauren. They keep pushing and going past their limits. I love what they do and how they do it. And I love Vera Wang's story. How she's  and she is still out there. She doesn't let anybody tell her that she can't do this or she can't do that and she's a very successful designer. I have a lot of restrictions because of my age, so to see a designer out there with some similar restrictions and still pushing it is very inspiring to me.
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(Photo: Courtesy of Tanesa Peterson)