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Friday, April 19, 2024


Walk the Walk in New York

Taya and NaShay Johnson wearing outfits designed by NaShay at the AfterParty Starlight: Hollywood After Dark Brooklyn Networking event. The sisters are headed to New York Fashion Week to model some of NaShay’s designs.

By Karen Knight

Designers and Models, Sisters Plan to Head for Fashion Week

WHITESBORO – Two sisters whose interest in fashion and design developed during high school are headed to New York Fashion Week this fall.

Taya Johnson works to perfect her runway walk as she models a blue button-down denim skirt during a spring fashion show at Rutgers University, where she is a junior studying psychology.

NaShay and Taya Johnson, Whitesboro residents and graduates of Middle Township schools, are both pursuing their dreams, and while they recognize “it can be tough sometimes coming from a small town,” they have found that “confidence, practice and being optimistic” have helped them stay focused on following their dreams in what both describe as a tough industry.

“I’ll find a way, or I will make one,” NaShay, 30, said about her path to becoming a top-notch fashion designer.

Added her sister: “I try to be consistent by practicing all the time.” Taya said that as a 5-foot-tall African-American woman who models, she is finding the fashion industry “more accepting and very diverse now,” so she is “having fun and is very optimistic about her future.”

NaShay was selected to design 50 outfits for New York Fashion Week this fall, potentially showing them to upwards of 22,000 people. She has free rein to design her outfits, which tend to be “vintage” in style and one-of-a-kind.

“I like to go thrifting, and I travel a lot, so I am always looking to see what ideas are out there,” she said, explaining how her ideas originate. “When I see other designs, I make notes of things I like or don’t like, and what changes I would make. I then create a pattern and hand-sew the outfit.”

She is committed to creating unique items and not mass-producing them because she wants to maintain high quality.

She and her sister wear her designs, as well as sell them on her website, at small business shows or by word-of-mouth. She tends to use leather and fur a lot. As children of the 1990s, she also uses many Black sitcoms for inspiration.

Taya Johnson’s photo appears on a ticket purchase promotion for this year’s New York Fashion Week.

“When I was in high school, I took a family and consumer sciences class, like home ec, where I really liked the sewing section, and I really enjoyed making my designs out of paper,” NaShay said.

She pursued her love for fashion and sewing at Clark Atlanta University, from which she graduated with a fashion design degree. Since then, she has been featured in multiple fashion shows from New York City to Atlanta.

NaShay teaches social and emotional learning at Glenwood Avenue Elementary School, Wildwood, and financial literacy at an after-school program. She plans to participate in New York Fashion Week as a headlining fashion designer and model, and has a GoFundMe to raise $2,500 for entry fees.

As a headliner, she will get to select the models for her designs, see her name on the big screen and be featured in an ad in New York’s Times Square.

Taya, 22, is a junior at Rutgers University, after graduating from Middle Township schools and Cape May County Technical High School, where she studied cosmetology. She became involved with a modeling organization at college and enjoys collaborating with her sister on designs, and then modeling them.

NaShay Johnson shows off one of her outfits at the Queens RawArtists 2019 Showcase.

“I like to push myself and have perfected my runway walk,” Taya said. “I enjoy being a runway model, and have also been in photo shoots for some of the fashion magazines. It’s fun for me, and I want others to say that it doesn’t matter if I am from a small town, I’m in a big magazine. You can do it, too, if that’s your dream. Just keep at it if that is what you want.”

NaShay said if they don’t raise enough funds to pay for the week’s fashion show entry fees, “we will still find a way or make one. Taya and I truly live by that motto, which is the Clark Atlanta University’s motto. So far we have received a good amount of donations as well as commitments to donate before our May 1 deadline. A lot of our supporters want to see us win. We will be going to New York one way or another.”

Contact the author, Karen Knight, at


Karen Knight is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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