VNHS’s Chelsea Ma Wins Project Runway Junior

By Jenisa Chuayjarernsook

The Mirror
Entertainment Editor

By Chandler Beon

The Mirror Staff

“Everyone thinks it’s so hard, but honestly, if you want to do something, the hardest part is starting and once you do it, it’s just the easiest thing. Once you gain momentum, it will go well. JUST DO IT.”


Project Runway Junior Season 2 Champion: VNHS’s Own Chelsea Ma

March 6, 2017

ENTERTAINMENT: Junior fashion designer takes home the prizes as the winner, along with a free trip to Italy


Competing against thousands of young designers, Van Nuys High School’s very own Chelsea Ma was declared the winner of Project Runway Junior Season 2.

In the final episode, released on Feb. 23, 2017, Ma’s final assignment was to make a six-piece spring themed collection with a budget of four thousand dollars.

Out of the final three competitors, her collection emerged victorious, giving her the title of the champion.

Along with her victory, Ma received a variety of prizes: full scholarship to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in California, a complete sewing and crafting station provided by Brother, a feature in Seventeen magazine, a full year of make-up provided by Butter London Beauty Studio, and a cash prize of $25,000 to provide an early start to her career.

Three of her designs in the finale collection will be manufactured and sold to the public.

In addition to her winning prize, she won a free trip to Italy for winning the “High End Italian Fashion” challenge in episode seven.

In Italy, she visited Fashion Week in Milan, a week dedicated to designer shows. She also had the privilege of seeing fashion legend Anna Wintour, the chief of Vogue magazine.

Although she had doubts about winning when the show first began, Ma became confident when her design placed in the top three during her first challenge. Her confidence was spurred even further when her Italian design eventually won first place.

Of course, Ma didn’t complete this journey without rough spots.

Ma claims that her most challenging factors were time management and modifications she had to make to her designs after comments and evaluations.

“A lot of times when Tim Gunn, the mentor of the show, came in to critique, he was like ‘I hate this—you have to change it,’” recounted Ma. “It was all about time and your mindset about stressing out and how well you do under pressure.”

Throughout the competition, Ma gained valuable life experiences. She believes that joining the show was “the most memorable thing.”

“We were all nice to each other when we first met since we were all artsy teens who did fashion stuff that nobody else can relate to,” she said. “Once the challenges came along, it turned into a friendly competition since nobody wanted to be eliminated.”

Following her win, she had the opportunity to explore the fashion industry by traveling and meeting new people.

Ma has some advice to those interested in pursuing a career in fashion designing.

“Fashion is literally blood, sweat, and tears. It’s stressful,” she said. “If you’re going to do it, be patient. It takes a lot of time to even make one garment.”

“ It’s not like math where you can solve it right away. It’s a long process. Trust your gut, be creative, have fun, and have motivation.”

Ma intends to pursue a career in fashion design and eventually wants to open up her own store with the name “The House of Chelsea Ma.”

She has already launched her own website at, where she sells original designs including sweaters and shirts.

“Everyone thinks it’s so hard, but honestly, if you want to do something, the hardest part is starting,” Ma said. “Once you do it, it’s just the easiest thing. Once you gain momentum, it will go well. JUST DO IT.”