Fashion in her blood: NJ teen heads to FIT as she follows grandmother's legacy

For Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, News 12’s Nick Meidanis has the story of a New Jersey teen with fashion in her blood.

News 12 Staff

May 16, 2022, 4:26 PM

Updated 761 days ago

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For Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, News 12’s Nick Meidanis has the story of a New Jersey teen with fashion in her blood.
Eighteen-year-old Kayla Santos taught herself how to sew, but now it’s more of a passion.
“The first COVID lockdown it all started, I was just sewing constantly and I kind of just grew,” says Kayla.
But she’s always had an eye for fashion, authoring the basics of dressing up before she could even spell shirt. Turns out it’s in her blood, thanks to her grandma.
Her name is Esterlita Santos. She ran her own business in the Philippines. They never got the chance to meet but Kayla heard stories, and something clicked.
“There’s like a reason that I’m like so into this that I should definitely want to pursue that in the future,” says Kayla.
There’s another person who helped Kayla reach the next level -- her art teacher. While so many students suffered learning at home, Kayla excelled — working overtime, doing own research and making creations without being asked.
Kayla’s work was used in the school play -- "The Wedding Singer." Kayla found inspiration from grandma, who made the dress worn by Kayla’s aunt.
Kayla says her goal is to reopen her grandmother’s business — Essence. For now, she’s working on her own prom dress. She only let News 12 show a small portion of it, but it will be bold and big — like barely fitting through doors big.


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