To Top

Life & Work with Zavia Empey

Today we’d like to introduce you to Zavia Empey.

Zavia, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I have always loved art and fashion, so when I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease in 2013, I used art as a form of therapy. I started making handmade sandals, jewelry and painted on T-shirts. I used YouTube to perfect my craft. Soon after, my friends and family started putting in requests when they saw me wearing my own designs. I started making sandals and jewelry for them and then they told other people and I started getting orders. This was my little side hustle, as I was a high school English teacher during the days, and I would make orders in the evenings and on the weekends. At this time, I was living in Jamaica and had big dreams, but I had limited access to the resources I needed to grow my brand. I migrated to the United States in 2018 and thought it would be the perfect time to relaunch my business. In 2020, I started working 51 hours a week as a restaurant manager, so that I could both pay my bills and invest in building my brand.

I got to where I am today through hard work and dedication. I was working my day job, working on my business in the evenings and attending craft festivals in my local community. Today, I am back to teaching during the days and still working on my business during the evenings and weekend.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The road to success is not always smooth, but I have always persevered, nonetheless. Some of my struggles have been dealing with my autoimmune illness since it causes so much fatigue. Haha. Also, getting exposure for the brand. I am a small business and I do not have a big marketing budget, however, doing an interview like this one will definitely help, and I am grateful to have been asked to speak with Voyage about myself and my business.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I create original art through my fashion and lifestyle brand, which fuses classic style with my exclusive hand-painted prints, for those who want to look and feel good. I incorporate bold colors in my paintings and drawings, then I transfer these unto fabric and create my beautiful designs. This is what I am most known for, as well as my handmade earrings, which I also create using colors that remind me of the Caribbean. I am most proud of the fact that I keep persevering after all these years and how I have inspired so many people to go after their dreams. I love helping others, so if I can inspire someone to not give up, then that makes me happy.

What sets me apart from others are my unique prints. Sometimes I amaze myself with my creations, all that I do and the fact that no matter what I am dealing with/going through, I will always have a smile on my face.

What matters most to you? Why?
My customers matter most to me. It gives me great pleasure to put a smile on a customer’s face or have them message me to let me know how much they love the products or the compliments they get when they wear one of my designs. Inspiring others also matter most to me, because with so much chaos going on in the world, it is important to let others know that they too matter, that they too can be successful if they just embrace their journey and work hard.


  • $30- $300

Contact Info:

Suggest a Story: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in Local Stories