Moments with Zubaida Zang

Zubaida Zang is a born and raised Nigerian fashion designer based in Canada. I came across her on social media some time ago and was drawn by her work and write-ups that I had read.

We were both excited about the interview, as it was our first of its kind, and bonded over our love for the arts and “giving back”. Via skype, we got comfortable and ready to talk about her life and her journey to potential.

Dorcas Solomon: Let's start with you telling us about yourself and background

Zubaida Zang: My name is Simi-Zubaida Zang, I’m from Nigeria. I grew up in Lagos with my family. I come from a family of 6 Children, and I’m the 5th child. I moved to Canada in 2009 for school. Leaving my family and going to face life myself was a journey to my own self-discovery. I left for Texas in 2011 and moved back to Toronto in 2012. 

I’m a fashion designer; I go to George Brown for fashion design. I’m passionate about what I do, passionate about making clothes, passionate about designing for women. I’m passionate about inspiring and motivating others and in the process, motivating myself. I see everything I do as a social responsibility. My dad is the biggest inspiration in my life. My dad and grandfather were entrepreneurs. They both went for their dreams when they were younger and made me want to do same. That’s where my blog name comes from SHE-IS-KING. He inspires me to achieve everything I set my mind to. So yeah, that’s basically me (laughs)


DS: Tell me about your first introduction to fashion design

ZZ: To be honest with you, I know when people are interviewed they say, “I’ve always loved this”. I wish that was my story, but it isn’t my truth. I never really saw it as an option. My parents in a way viewed fashion as a hobby. I was more like a tomboy, but I gradually grew into my looks with the help of my sister. A friend of hers started a modeling agency and she told her about me and through that connection, I started modeling. It was through that I started enjoying the idea of design and the fact that designers had clothes for me to wear. Fashion was always an interest, but never really an option. When I moved here my mind was set to do communications, because my mother always told me, oh you are going be on TV, I see you on TV, and I’m so quiet, so I will just wonder; what is she talking about? (laughs)

I came here with the mindset of doing communications. My grades were good but I didn’t have the drive to continue and I thought changing my environment would help so I decided to move to Texas. While I was there I met a neighbor who taught me to sew and it just became more interesting to me, and I believed I could do it. I started learning how to sketch through YouTube, I would always just practice.

I stayed in a little town called Wichita Falls, Texas, and I knew I couldn’t pursue fashion there, and so I moved back. During my time in Texas, I spent a lot of time alone and that gave me space and time to practice and reflect. As soon as I knew fashion was what I wanted to do I started my blog She -Is -king. I just thought to myself my dad is where he is because of his hard work. Growing up we didn’t have everything, but my dad did everything to make sure we were comfortable. He went to school for aeronautic engineering. I saw him strive for what he wanted to be and it’s that realization that made me determined to go for fashion 100%. Initially, when I told my parents, they wanted me to finish communications and pursue fashion later but I didn’t see the point in putting time and money into something I couldn’t give my all to. It was a struggle for a short while, but eventually, they came around. Since then, I’ve been pursuing fashion design as a career and I believe there is never a limit to how much I can learn; I always strive to learn something every day. I’m so into fashion now {laughs)


DS: Why did you start your blog, She-Is-King?

ZZ: When I started my blog, I started it to push myself. Growing up I experienced a lot of things that I kept to myself and those situations were what made me introverted. Being able to express myself through art and design is what brought me out of my shell. I’m learning to communicate more and that’s why I’m excited about this interview because I’ve never been interviewed (laughs).

After a short while, I noticed people were following, and getting inspired. That made me want to do it more, made me want to put out more positive posts even when I wasn’t feeling my best. You know, people message me and say “Oh you so care free, I wish I could be like you” and in my mind, I’m like there are days I still feel insecure, days I feel down, but it’s something you’ve got to strive to work on every day.

DS: It’s a good thing because the moment you never feel there is something about yourself you need to work on, to make better, it means you’ve stopped growing.

ZZ: True

DS: What would you say is special about fashion design?

ZZ: It’s an art form of dressing the body and I’m fascinated by the fact that I can have an idea, sketch it, and bring it to life.

DS: What inspires your designs?

ZZ: When you watch runway shows you see a lot of designers using all sorts of unconventional materials, and when you ask them what their inspiration is, they tell you a fairytale. My aesthetic is just everyday living, the idea of living an independent life. It’s the life that I want, and it’s the life that I see and hope a lot of women out there want. I think up scenarios in my head: Who is this woman? Where is she going? How is she feeling today? What impression is she trying to make? These are things I think about when I design. I design mostly evening wear, casual wear, and swimwear.

DS: What are the cons of being a fashion designer?

ZZ : It looks so glamorous from the outside and most people think it’s a dream job where you don’t have to do much but the amount of work that goes on behind the scene is crazy, especially with production, finding manufacturers that mass-produce for the cost that you want, assembling, inspecting, etc It’s also really hard starting out, especially when you are not Paris Hilton (laughs)

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DS: What would you say pushes you to keep going?

ZZ: I would say my family and loved ones keep me going, but also just LIFE, the opportunity to be alive keeps me going, and that alone is enough. Another day, another chance to try again.

DS: What advice do you have for a person who wishes to follow their creative side, which is not the usual conventional career path?

ZZ : The first thing I’ll say is nothing good comes easy, always keep that in mind. You have to love what you do, If you are not in love with it, don’t do it, because having the love for what you do is what keeps you going, it’s what makes you pick your self up when things aren’t going so well. It’s never going to be easy, and if it’s easy I really don’t know if it’s the right thing you’re doing. Consistency, Practice, Keeping an open mind, Absorbing information – be like a sponge, wherever you go, open your mind!

Have the mindset of - my life is not only for me, and look at your life as a social responsibility (you never know who is following your footsteps). Be nice. Life works in circles; so the good/bad that you do would come back to you.

There is no one path to success; everybody’s story is different. Just understand and know yourself. Knowing yourself makes it easier for you to know what you want to do – that is what guides everything else so you have to be realistic.

And lastly, with every dollar you get, be smart with it. Make every dollar work for the next dollar. I put all I have into my work because, in the long run, that’s what is going sustain my family and me.

DS: From what you have learned so far, what’s the one thing you can say to others?

ZZ: Never let fear be in control. Fear has held me back from a lot of opportunities. There are so many things I can think about that just because I have been afraid I held myself back from. I have just learned to pray my worry. Never let fear be in control. As long as you are content with yourself and your decisions, you should not let anybody’s decision or thoughts rule your life. It could be the people around us, sometimes family, sometimes friends, or classmates. It could be that little voice in your head saying “It can’t work…” It could be anything, but whatever it is just always try to be in control.