BRIDGEPORT — Watching Kayana Reid draw is like watching one of those time-lapse films of an artist creating a pencil sketch.

In less than a minute, with a pencil and a blank sheet of paper, she free-handed a beautiful image of a bride in a wedding gown — without using an eraser.

Reid, 15, a freshman at Kolbe Cathedral High School, has more up her sleeve than artful speed drawing.


She’s also a businesswoman — there’s no such word as “businessteen” — with her own line of tops and costume jewelery that she’s selling under the name Chastity Diva’s. There’s a children’s book in the works, too.

On the face of it, Kayana hasn’t had the kind of life that would lead to entrepreneurship.

She’s one of 14 children. Her mom drives a tractor-trailer. She doesn’t see much of her dad. And she said she was bullied at Kolbe.

You might think that after all of this that she would be the recipient of a cash award. Instead, she’s on the other end of the generosity yardstick; she’s awarded a total of $1,000 to the Elizabeth Pfriem SWIM Center for Cancer at St. Vincent’s Medical Center and another charity close to hear heart, Jersey City Fashion Week.

The money came from the sale of her Diva T-shirts.

“It all started when my mom had breast cancer,” she said. “I like drawing and art and fashion, and I thought that it would help people take their minds off of their problems.”

Kayana’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. Last year she received the Sojourner Truth Youth Award from the Bridgeport Chapter of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs.

She also received an official citation from the General Assembly “for her outstanding leadership,” and the annual City of Bridgeport Youth Award in 2016 that was signed by Mayor Joseph P. Ganim.

After high school she hopes to attend Spelman College in Atlanta, and major in nursing.

“But it’s still early — I’m not really sure what direction I’ll take,” she said.

Her church, the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit on Union Avenue is an important part of her life, where she sings in its Youth Praise Team.

Her mom, Kisha Reid, has had a difficult life. She was raped at a young age and she was told that she had breast cancer about five years ago. The family lives in a tidy home on Ruth Street in the North End.

“My life is built on faith,” Kisha says. “Without faith I wouldn’t be here today — when I was raped, I almost lost my life. But, so far, my cancer has been in remission.”

At the moment, Kayana is going through her own stint of teenage torment — the staff at Kolbe Cathedral impounded her cell phone after it rang in class.

“And it only went ‘ding ding,’ ” she said.

Kayana it the oldest sibling still living at home — seven others are either off to college or are on their own. So what’s it like having 13 brothers and sisters?

“It’s good,” she said, “but I have to have patience.”

jburgeson@ctpost.com