ZMJ Denim’s CEO Zakiya Jones is a full-figured woman who hated shopping when she was growing up because the options were lacking. She was forced to shop in stores that catered to older women. She teamed up with her sister, Tashiba, to create ZMJ Denim to reshape a young, curvier woman’s shopping experience.
ZMJ Denim’s president Tashiba Jones-Wilson’s life is influenced by fashion. Having a background in retail sales and visual display, designing and sewing since the fifth grade and worked alongside celebrity wardrobe stylists, she’s confident that ZMJ Denim has a strong foundation to make it a household name.
Read what this Los Angeles-based designing duo has to say about empowering women to embrace their curves.
How did you arrive at this career choice? Was it a deliberate decision or a gradual and natural evolution?
Zakiya Jones: My mom put me in sewing class when I was in the fifth grade, and things took off from there. Shopping at stores like Lane Bryant and the Avenue in middle school made me realize in order to have fashionable [clothes for my age, I had to make them].
Tashiba Jones-Wilson: Zakiya was the reason. Yes, it was deliberate.
What separates you from others in your field? What is unique to the experience that you create?
ZJ: I feel the fact that I am young and plus size gives me a leg up on the junior market. Together with my sister Tashiba, who contributes to the contemporary market, we have created a superb fit. A fit is not only comfortable but flatters your figure!
TJW: We combine junior and contemporary market; we added unique pieces to each collection that no one else carried. What’s unique is that our fit caters to both young and older women. Our fit is unlike others in our category.
For those considering entering this arena, what skill sets do you recommend mastering? What traits are most conducive to success?
ZJ: I recommend mastering the will to push yourself far beyond your comfort zone because in this fast-paced industry you will definitely be challenged. Conducive traits for success include patience, determination, drive and most important being a visionary.
TJW: I conquer
How do you stay at the leading edge of your craft?
ZJ: Market research, whether it’s searching the Web or skimming through a magazine, if you know what’s out there, you know where there’s room for improvement. This is what keeps you relevant.
TJW- In addition to Zakiya, following my own sense of style.
Do you think that there are any widely held misconceptions about what you do? If so, what are they and how do you work to dispel them?
ZJ: Yes! It seems people believe that plus size women want to wear dark shapeless garments. That is so far from the truth. We love color and showing off our curves too! ZMJ Denim has spent 2 years perfecting our fit because we know that in this market there is a variety of shapes. Not all plus size women have stomach or big thighs, yet another misconception.
TJW: Yes. People like to assume when your bigger it means less print, less fun, less options. We design just the opposite
How do you map out your goals? How do you measure your success?
ZJ: With my handy iPad Mini Notepad, I jot down my goals. Tashiba and I try to make it a point to revisit our notes weekly and check off what’s been accomplished and what is still in progress. I measure my success by customer feedback. They are the heart of your business without them you have no business.
TJW: I measure my success by not allowing failure to be an option.
Whom do you consider your peers in your field? Whom do you see/use as examples for you to emulate?
ZJ: I consider Torrid as our peers they have keep it young and fun. Levis, they have done a great job of catering to all market sectors.
Name two of your top role models: one from your industry and one from outside of it.
ZJ: Industry: Russell Simmons Non Industry: Donald Trump
TJW: Industry: Tracy Reese: None: Oprah
Name three books, works, performances or exhibits that changed how you view life and/or yourself.
ZJ: The book, The Power of Focus, the movie, “The Pursuit of Happyness” and the documentary “A Man’s Story” by Ozwald Boateng
TJW: The books: Rich Dad Poor Dad-Robert Kiyosoki ,The Brand Within – Daymond John and the works of Deepak Chopra
Why do you consider continued learning important?
ZJ: Continued learning is great when you are entering corporate America because it looks good. To me in the entrepreneurial field your drive, determination and passion are your continued education. No degree is needed when you pave your own way.
TJW: Learning is a part of growth; learning is changing to keep up with the world around you. It’s important to continue to learn how to grow your business or you will lose it.
What affirmations do you repeat to yourself that contribute to your success?
ZJ: I just found this one and I love it, “You are confined only by the walls you build yourself.” To be successful you cannot be confined.
TJW: “When you know better, you do better”-Maya Angelou
What role does technology play in your day-to-day life? How do you utilize it?
ZJ: Technology plays a huge role from social media updates, emailing, tablets and cell phones. I also use for drawing flats, editing photos and designing graphics.
TJW: Technology is the best way to keep up with Zakiya; she prefers the use of emailing for communicating. I use it most for exploring what’s going on in our market as it relates to trends, interviews and events
What software, app or other technological innovation has made the biggest difference in your life and/or career?
ZJ: Adobe Acrobat, Illustrator, Photoshop and Dreamweaver are essential software needs in my life and career. Apps include Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
TJW: “Business Plan Pro” software and the above apps
Please define your personal brand.
ZJ: ZMJ Denim is dedicated to the plus size market. We offer bold, edgy designs along with classic, subtle silhouettes. You will always be able to look to ZMJ to bring the hottest, in style pieces.
(personal, if you are referring to myself) – Im not a girly girl. I love to be casual and comfortable yet stylish and trendy!
TJW: Fun, daring, bold, style without limits
What is your favorite vacation destination and why?
ZJ: Anywhere tropical. I love the warm water beaches, swimming, cruising even a little rain and amazing views!
TJW: Virgin Islands for it’s beaches, food and ethnic flair
If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
ZJ: Find a way to reduce the poverty percentage and/or end it completely.
TJW: To change those who feel the need to be superior
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
ZJ: Read more books. I’ll read articles and watch documentaries but can’t get around to reading a book.
TJW: To be more patient
What does it take to be iconic? In your estimation, who has achieved that status?
ZJ: It definitely takes passion, drive, determination, heroism and be a humanitarian to be iconic. Who are you to the people if you don’t connect? People like Ervin “Magic” Johnson, Stevie Wonder, Ozwald Boateng, and Oprah just to name a few.
TJW: I conquer with Zakiya on what it takes. Whose achieved it in addition to the above : CoCo Chanel and Micheal Jackson
Check out their fashions in the gallery.