Egypt Ufele, who goes by "Ify," tells Today that she was repeatedly picked on for her size at her grade school in Queens, New York.
"I was bullied and they called me all kinds of names," she says. "One time I got stabbed with a pencil."
But instead of letting it get her down, Ufele started hand-sewing clothes for her dolls and eventually learned to use a sewing machine to make clothes for all body types, Ufele's grandmother says.
VIDEO: What Advice Does Hannah Davis Give Ashley Graham After Being Picked for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Cover?
Now Ufele has become the only child designer to dress curvy models at New York Fashion Week. According to her website, Ufele's designs, Chubiiline, are about "bringing Africa to American, one design at a time."
And not only is she loving her budding career ("I like how you can interact with fabrics, get new ideas," she says) – but Ufele is proud of how she got here.
"I turned negative attention into positive attention," she says.