Early in 2015, I enjoyed seeing my daughters create their own artwork with their different and distinct art styles. I loved posting their creations on social media. I loved touting their appreciation for its forms, both in visual and musical. Yet, the more they drew, the more I noticed a distinct trend: the images they created never looked like them. At no point did their newest creations remotely resemble them--not their faces, not their hairstyles, not their skin color and not any likeness resembling them.
Even though we taught and still continue to teach our children about their rich heritage and culture, their drawings reflected and projected images and values they were exposed to the most. It wasn’t themselves, nor were they characters of color.
Ecstatic that I had a couple creatives in the making, I was a little concerned about how my children saw themselves and who their heroes were going to be. So, I set out to personally change the narrative for them.
I began my journey with simply wood and paint. I was creating imagery for my children to be proud of, but I wasn’t yet aware that such a simple 3-inch piece of art would impact black professional women in such a way--so much so that we actually started our own movement. Not only did my daughters start to see themselves as muses in their own creative endeavors, I discovered that meaningful, personalized representation of professional black women in the workplace was universally missing.
Within 3 years I had hand-painted more than 15,000 badges and my story has grown from a thousand dollar business to a six-figure brand. Reflections By Zana has and is expanding to represent more professionals of color with more unique accessories to celebrate themselves and their accomplishments.
With the traction and appreciation shown for my work, I set out to show professional black women how we could be our own muses in today’s workplace in many different professions – which is something that our generation grew up watching on TV and seeing in movies. I observed how the positive representation in today’s entertainment shows seems to be limited--or even recycled imagery. We were sorely missing the regular, mainstream depictions of our creative, cultural, and career-minded diversity.
This passion to expand our reach was amplified by our customer’s excitement. They were inspired by our products and often wore them as badges of honor, proudly displaying titles they worked so hard for.
To date, we’ve created hundreds of products that allow full, diverse representation and celebration of us while in the workplace. Our badges, work bags and backpacks, travel bags and a multitude of other art based accessories are warmly welcomed and have carved out a unique space in the professional marketplace.
Our Promise: to help black women who were unable to be represented in their chosen professions by creating beautiful, wearable and distinguishable artwork. That way we can show pride in what we do, be seen in our places of work and properly recognized in what we've accomplished-- without the constant need to explain who we are.
We will continue to push boundaries in workplace representation with our creativity, inclusion and innovation. We will be the go-to place for all things artistically made and professionally displayed.