Interview: Sunning with Zakiyah Everette
OPUS talked to Zakiyah Everette -- star of Big Brother 18, fashion model, former pre-school teacher, entrepreneur, and graduate student -- about her newly released swimwear line, Sunning, her inspirations, and her plans for the future.
OM: To begin, I'll ask a question I ask all my guests...how/where did you find the courage to dream?
ZE: Sitting in my art class at the age of 6, I knew I wanted to design, create and show what I was seeing in my mind.
OM: Where did your eye for fashion come from? What was your earliest inspiration to make fashion a part of your professional life?
ZE: At a very young age I was captivated by fashion from movies, believe it or not. I believe have the broadest taste in fashion, haha. Literally anything from the 1920’s all the way to fashion now instantly draws me in. I would watch timeless classics like “The Wizard of Oz, Carmen (ft, Lena Horne), the list goes on, haha. I was so mesmerized by how classy, sexy, sophisticated & well put together the women looked.
Fashions in the 20’s was a very edgy and liberating period for women and that really set the tone for styles today. The 70’s was so free, warm and natural -- a big deal for a free spirit like me. love the sharp, electric colors & punk style of the 80’s, the 90’s, omg, I mean that’s my era! Dark trends, brown lipstick, shoot, lip liner! Perfect combinations of tight and baggy clothing, grungy, straight hip-hop. I love it.
OM: What is your favorite part about being an entrepreneur? The most challenging part?
ZE: My favorite part is “being a boss.” Knowing what I expect and working towards what I want to achieve for my business. I’m happy every day knowing that I’m doing what I love, that’s the best feeling. There are always downsides to anything, initially the challenge was figuring out where to begin. I depend solely on my own, and I take pride in that. I was determined to figure out how to get things up and started and I’m thankful that I didn’t give up so easily, I feel that Sunning will take off, it’s my baby and I’m going to build on it.
OM: I noticed that your swimsuits are very versatile; I saw a video where you executed 8 different designs from one bikini. What do you feel like sets your swimsuit brand apart?
ZE: My swimsuit brand is diverse, fun, magnifying, stylish and sexy! My first collection, “The Element,” set the tone as a Sunning original piece, drawn and designed by me! It’s a convertible swimsuit (can be worn 10 different way and still counting!) My Swimsuit brand doesn’t stick to just one type of piece, it expands to other styles & pieces as well.
OM: What is your favorite swimsuit? I noticed that some of the pieces on your site are named for people. Tay, Monika, Jen, Lola...who are these people?
ZE: Yes I will dive into that! My favorite swimsuit is the Jasmine swimsuit, it’s another convertible piece that I have drawn and designed. It’s sweet and sultry & named after my best friend. One thing that I am very excited about is the “Girlfriend Collection.” These names are my best girlfriends :) I have partnered with new manufacturers so this collection is a great mix of Sunning originals inspired by my closest friends and swimsuits that my girlfriends absolutely love that I will be featuring.
OM: You have a passion for not only clothing, but fitness, hair, makeup...do you see yourself venturing professionally into other brand lines involving those aspects of fashion?
ZE: I love fashion in every way, I want my brand to be bigger than what I’m envisioning. Clothing apparel is where I want to head next. I want my pieces to become essentials; I’m aware it’s not going to be an easy task, but that’s the risk I am willing to take. I know that I have the passion in my heart and in my mind, my drive is solid and I’m ready to take off.
OM: You talked about the inspiration for the name of the brand, Sunning, being a funny allusion to the fact that you can't swim and that you sit beachside or poolside soaking up the sun. But you also correlate the idea of "sunning" to the empowerment of women, can you talk a little bit about that?
ZE: For sure. Sunning is meant to uplift women and to inspire them to shine their inner light. As individuals we are all are so talented, unique, beautiful and bright, I see those special traits as rays of light! I want Sunning to inspire others to shine fearlessly, knowing that they are amazing how they are. Your light can’t be touched; it’s your very own and that’s such a beautiful thing.