Mama Taj, Daughter Share Catwalk For Cure Experience

Mark Remme
Lynx Editor/Writer

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MaiaSimone Franklin might be 9 years old, but designing clothes is nothing new. It’s something she became interested in as many as four years ago.

And on nights like Thursday’s Catwalk for a Cure, she’s able to display her talent and share the moment with her mom, Lynx center Taj McWilliams-Franklin. For the second straight year, the mother-daughter tandem made their attire, then walked side-by-side down the runway in front of a packed Mall of America Rotunda.

“It’s super special,” McWilliams-Franklin said. “She’s such a special kid.”

The duo worked together to make the attire, Mama Taj wearing a blue suit and a colorful evening gown while MaiaSimone sported a red pants and white vest look. McWilliams-Franklin said her daughter enjoyed working on their clothing for last year’s third annual event, albeit in a more limited role. This year, MaiaSimone not only designed her own attire, but aside from her mom helping with some of the needle and threading work, she did the project on her own.

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Using her own sewing machine, she followed in her mother’s footsteps as a talented young designer.

“It feels nice. We put some nice work into it,” Maia Simone said. “We made sure there were no mistakes. It feels pretty good.”

MaiaSimone said her first step is to design the outfit, and after discussing the plans with her mom the two go to work searching for the right material. They shop for cloth if needed, and from that point forward she works with her mom if she has questions or if she has a problem that needs fixing.

That’s the easy part.

The more challenging part of the night is modeling the attire on the runway. Fortunately, that’s another part of the evening the two can do together.

“It’s fun, but sometimes I get a little nervous if I’m not with somebody,” MaiaSimone said. “So it feels pretty good to be up there with mom.”

If she was nervous in front of the Lynx fans in attendance, she didn’t show it. The two made their loop down the catwalk, made a turn and joined the rest of McWilliams-Franklin’s Lynx teammates near the runway’s entrance.

Behind the scenes, Mama Taj’s teammates said her MaiaSimone certainly has a lot of her mother in her.

“Her daughter is totally inspired by her mom,” Lynx guard Candice Wiggins said. “Maia has her own style, too, and she has her own little points of view. It’s so rare for a kid that young to have her own distinct point of view, and she has it.”

McWilliams-Franklin said she encourages creativity in her household, often drawing designs and looking through magazines to see what she likes and what she doesn’t. Her daughter follows suit, and that method is how she came up with the style for her clothing at the Catwalk for a Cure.

“The fact that she’s able to draw and design—she drew that design, and then we found the pieces that fit and she made the pants,” McWilliams-Franklin said. “Creativity in our house is tops, tops. I’m an artist at heart, but I’m a basketball player in real life.”

McWilliams-Franklin said she sees a lot of design talent in her daughter, and she hopes she continues to work on her gift.

Does her daughter see a future in the design business?

“There’s a lot to look forward to,” MaiaSimone said.

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