Continuing our Amplify series, where we use our platform to elevate the voices of Black artists within in our store communities, we're excited to introduce Zindzi Harley, Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Zindzine. Zindzi is a creative force, businesswoman, and lover of all things artistic.
For the past five years, she has been an independent curator and has consulted on a variety of creative projects from music festivals to exhibitions. Originally from the music city of Nashville, Tennessee, Zindzi has always had a passion for the arts. Her early experiences in the fashion industry, where she started modeling in college, have since diverged into the launch of Zindzine.
WHO IS ZINDZI HARLEY?
Zindzi Harley is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of the digital magazine, Zindzine. I’m a creative spirit. Business woman, and a certified lover girl! I have been an independent curator for about five years and have been consulting on a larger variety of creative projects from music festivals to exhibitions in the last couple of years. I was raised down south in the music city, Nashville, Tennessee. I love art and studied it throughout my undergraduate and graduate studies. I was introduced to the fashion industry early on modeling in college and these experiences have diverged in my career with the launch of Zindzine.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START ZINDZINE?
Originally when I started Zindzine my hope was to create a space for my digital curation to live for the past 24 hours on my Instagram stories. Most people that follow me know that I enjoy skillfully curating my stories with fashion, design, art, and pop culture that I find compelling. After talking to one of my friends Anthony (@tone.rags) about this, he helped bring Zindzine to life as a brand with a unique and stylish visual presence through his graphic design. Our logo was made in blender which goes to show the importance of the digital medium to the work we are doing. I realized quickly that Philadelphia was lacking a space that centered diverse fashion, art and culture within our local creative economy. Most local publications are overwhelmingly white or socialite based which means there is no equity or representation for the real creatives in the city. I wanted to create Zindzine as an opportunity for creatives of color to present themselves as 360 artists and exchange material culture with one another. A space that we can all feel like curators and tastemakers.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR BLACK AND BROWN CREATORS TO CREATOR PLATFORMS TO SHOWCASE & AMPLIFY MINORITY VOICES?
It’s important for Black and Brown creators to produce and own platforms to showcase our talent and amplify minority voices because it is one of the greatest opportunities for us to author our own legacy, a legacy true to our experience. With this foundation we are given the opportunity to imagine alternative futures for what Black creativity and life looks like. When I grew up reading magazines I didn’t see enough of myself represented in such a glamourized form of media. The fantasy of seeing Black next to high fashion, luxury, or creativity was not accessible. Today, thanks to resilient and persistent designers and artists fighting to create these forms of media we can see ourselves depicted in more nuanced, beautiful, and abstract forms.
WALK US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS WHEN CREATIVE THE FIRST ISSUE.
The creative process has been a long and intense 6 months, which is an insane turn around for a new publication. Zindzine has been in the making since August of 2022. Initially it was a lot of brainstorming of what Zindzine was going to stand for and building the foundation for us to move forward as an official entity. I began reaching out to my community to develop a team around the project. This consisted of consulting with the Qader Group to scale the business and begin putting a plan in place. Once we had a plan there was a long outreach period of touching base with brands and creatives we wanted featured as well as executing a call for artists. I wanted to see what the community's response would be and it was really amazing to see the interest in Zindzine from its beginnings. I was able to structure the content we received and curate the issue under the guiding theme of “for the love.” The theme of Vol. I came about so organically. Following the death of Takeoff, I was really inspired to move forward full force with making this come to life. I knew I needed the support of fashion forward Philly based brands to do this. After pitching my plan for Zindzine we were able to bring in Urban Outfitters brand Nuuly as a sponsor. The support has been multiplied now with Atmos spotlighting the magazine and we are excited to debut in such a dope cultural hub in the city. In these final weeks we have been deep in the design process, finishing out the logistics of bringing it to print, and rolling out a really fun and strong first campaign for our followers to grow and connect with.
HOW HAVE YOUR PREVIOUS EXPERIENCES PREPARED YOU FOR ALL OF THIS?
I have had a myriad of experiences working as a creative and curator. All of these experiences have allowed me to see the entire process of production and the purpose of creating lasting and meaningful media. I have had to hustle working as a freelancing creative and it has fostered a level of ambition and passion within me. I’ve learned a lot of skills that have allowed me to run my business without having to outsource all of the talent. From curation and arts administration to social media and web design. I have worked in roles that cultivated individually important skills so I can be well rounded in my execution of a thorough project.
WHAT ROLE DOES FOOTWEAR PLAY IN YOUR PERSONAL STYLE? COULD YOU TELL US ABOUT ONE OF YOUR EARLIEST SNEAKER MEMORIES.
Footwear plays a big role in my personal style. I like a professional look and normally rock heels, but I always keep some sneakers with me. As a business woman in a creative industry I have to be like a chameleon. Having a comfy and stylish sneaker to change into keeps me ready for anything. My earliest sneaker memories come from getting new sneakers for school with my dad. He’s a huge sneakerhead and always kept me laced. I grew up on shell toes and samoas.
DESCRIBE THE PERFECT SATURDAY.
The perfect Saturday is waking up rested semi early, lighting some incense and starting the day with some hot coffee, r&b, and journaling. I like taking my mornings slow and having time to get ready before I head out to meet up with friends for a day out in the city. I love checking out local boutiques, seeing shows at galleries or museums, and of course a good happy hour. My Saturday evenings are best spent at a concert, play, or mixer where I get the perfect twist of work and play. All the fun is just research at this point lol.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR ZINDZINE? WHAT ARE SOME PLANS THAT YOU CAN SHARE, OR WHAT DO HOPE FOR ZINDZINE TO GROW INTO?
Zindzine Vol. II is next! I already have big plans for the next quarter. There will definitely be another call for artists, so get your submissions ready! I’ve been wanting to do an issue dedicated to the Caribbean community and the warmer months are approaching. I want Zindzine to grow into a larger community with more features for readers to engage with. As Zindzine continues to evolve we hope to implement additional options for people to get access to more stylized content and continue to host artful events and for artists and creatives to connect in person. As we continue to steward meaningful partnerships it will be reflected in the unique content we get to produce.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE OTHER CREATORS LOOKING TO START A PASSION PROJECT?
My advice for other creators looking to build something is to not let it just be a passion project. Use the energy to drive your vision forward and continue to refine your skills and approach. Anything you hope for your business or brand is possible if you put in the work and seek out the community. Do everything with reason and intention so that each step you take is impactful and draws you toward larger long term goals. Sustainability is everything so dream big and aim for the stars.