ZyemKids: where art meets fashion and Brooklyn
Flatbush resident Monique Glover is used to being a little aloof and a little out of step with those around her. That’s probably why her children’s fashion line, ZyemKids, is standing out and starting to take the lead.
Her clothing line is named after her son, Zyem, which literally means “to lead.” It’s a dream and a passion she watches unfold right in front of her, but she knew it had to come true.
“I knew I wanted to be a designer around the age of 9,” Glover said. “I loved watching PBS as a kid, and one day I saw a documentary about a man who made clothes for African royalty… I thought, ‘Wow, what the hell is this? ? I didn’t even know you could do that! But that’s it, that’s what I want to do!’”
Glover, who is the eldest of 10 children, said she did not come from a wealthy or astute family, but loved to create. The only problem was that she didn’t have the guidance or the tools:
“However, I was fortunate to have teachers along the way who noticed some students with potential and did what they could to support them,” Glover said. His instructors noticed his creative flair and began to give him special projects. She has perfected her art enough to apply and be accepted into the visual arts program at LaGuardia School of Music & Art and Performing Arts.
“It was culture shock,” she said. “I was even surprised to enter it. And to see these kids who looked nothing like me and whose parents had groomed them to be great at what they do for years… Their portfolios were amazing; it was a difficult adjustment. But over time, I got more comfortable being myself and focused on what I really loved doing. So by the time I entered my sophomore year in high school, I began to realize that I really belonged there too.
Glover then attended the Pratt Institute and decided to major in fashion design. Again, a fit because she knew nothing about sewing: “It was another culture shock and a big learning curve,” she admitted. “But because I was strong with an artistic background, I just spent the next four years trying to catch up by focusing on achieving what I envisioned.”
After graduating from Pratt, Glover spent several years working in the apparel industry for a number of brands, including Ralph Lauren Children’s Wear and Macy’s. “But I really didn’t feel like I could share my story and my perspective,” she said.
“And it’s not that I felt like I was more relevant than anyone else. But when you have a story inside of you that you really want to share and which to other people could relate to, it becomes a passion.
She aimed to create wearable works of art that promoted positivity, empowerment and self-expression and allowed children to feel comfortable in their unique identity.
The turning point for Glover came about five years ago at an Essence Street Style block party where she made matching outfits for her son and her son’s friends. “So you know we had to floss, and when they got there the photographers were taking all these pictures of them that went viral on social media,” Glover said.
“So I thought, okay, maybe this is something I should really start venturing into.”
Glover quit her corporate job and started Zyemkids, designing her wearable art on the side, while teaching schools part-time.
She says she’s a little late (she was already in her late thirties), “But I feel like I needed that time to really and truly figure out who I am as a designer.”
Her line’s signature is oversized garments with unique cuts, patchwork, vintage graphics, statement words, all paired with bespoke designs that she creates by hand. The fashion line looks back and forth in time, as a sort of update on the fun and whimsical flair of 80s fashion.
Through an initiative called Made in NYC, Glover began selling online and at city markets. Her children’s line was so special in its outlook that, in no time, adults were asking her for items in their sizes. So now she also designs for adults: “Jumpsuits and jackets, for some reason, were attracting people’s attention. So I discovered that jumpsuits and jackets are my niche.
Now, ZyemKids is going global: Its latest collaboration is with Shein, a multimillion-dollar international fashion marketplace that will offer a limited collection of its kids’ line at an affordable price, starting April 24. ZyemKids will also be featured on Talk Shop. Live, a virtual shopping market.
“I’ve made a lot of mistakes in the past. But looking back, they’re good mistakes. Because I think you have to fail first before you get to a point where you feel, Alright, I feel good about it.”
Never letting the times she didn’t fit in or the fact that she started late or at a disadvantage become a reason to keep her from starting, Glover’s fashion line ZyemKids is now in the running and ready to take the fronts.
You can follow ZyemKids on Instagram at @zyemkids
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