At the young age of 9, Monique Glover, CEO/Designer of ZYEM, knew that she wanted to become a fashion designer. It all began with a PBS special she happened to be watching about an African man who designed clothing for a prince. She was immediately intrigued with the colorful illustrations, the beautifully draped pieces in elaborate fabrics. Monique knew at that very moment she wanted to create these same beautiful pieces one day. She soon began on her journey of pursuing that goal, while at the Laguardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts she was able to build on her natural skills of drawing and creativity. Furthering her education in the arts she attended Pratt Institute for Fashion Design, where she realized that learning about fashion was more than drawing something cool, it was about executing wearable art.
After 12 years in the fashion industry, designing for various brands, traveling to Europe, Hong Kong and India, studying art and observing NYC’s pop culture; Monique’s “PBS special” dreams were becoming a reality. In 2011, she launched a Lifestyle Brand named after her little prince, her son Zyem (which means leader). ZYEM is a Brooklyn, NY based company creating garments that are fit for kings and queens, promoting a movement of love, peace and luxury. Monique’s company involves many great categories including: apparel for women and children (men collection coming soon!) & accessories…and provides a delectable array of flavorful couture cupcakes and wines.
Monique took a moment out of her busy schedule to chat with us about her eclectic style, how life in itself inspires her to design and create, how great Michelle Obama would look in one of her best sellers, and about her non-profit initiative Create Unity.
VF: Describe yourself using 4 words
MG: Resilient, caring, creative, and unique.
VF: When did you fall in love with fashion? when did you feel you came into a style of your own?
MG: I feel in love in fashion at 9 years old. I watched a PBS special about an African designer who made clothes for Princes. I came into my own style as an adult, when I had more accessibility to a variety of looks.
VF: How do you define your personal style?
MG: Eclectic, How I’m feeling is how I look, so it’s not always the same, but there are certain colors, fabric and prints I prefer. I like to put a spin on the basics.
VF: What three items would you never leave home without?
MG: My handbag, cell phone, and business card.
VF: Who do you admire, or who inspires you within the art/fashion world (dead or alive)?
MG: I enjoy seeing the body of work of Stephen Burrows , Tracy Reese, Michael Kors. Artwork- Ernie Barnes and many of my friends I studied with.
VF: Where does your personal inspiration come from?
MG: Life experiences… past, present, and hopes for the future.
VF: Do you have any favorite shoe designer/fashion designer/artist/poet/etc?
MG: I like a little of everything so having a favorite is hard.
Shoes- BCBG, MIU MIU, STUART WEITZMAN
Poet- MYA ANGELOU , NIKKI GIOVANNI
Music- old school hip hop, Marvin Gaye, Prince, SADE, Amy Winehouse, Lauren Hill, Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli, MC LYTE, Whitney Houston Michael Jackson…long list
VF: Does music inspire you to create/design? What type of music are you currently into/listening to?
MG: Absolutely! See music list above. Other Artist I’m enjoying are Elle Varner, Maroon 5 and M.I.A
VF: How did you get into this industry?
MG: I studied fashion at Pratt Institute, Interned and started designing in Childrenswear and ended concentrating on Women’s in 05.
VF: Tell us about your new collection/new venture, how did the idea for these pieces come about?
MG: ZYEM is a brand inspired by my son. It’s about Love, Peace, and Luxury. It’s new and still developing. The goal is not to be put in a category or box and to have items for everyone. I would like the women’s apparel to convey pretty , and for it to look like love has been put into it and accessible.
VF: Who is your target customer?
MG: My main customer is the modern woman who likes to shop, loves her family and travelling.
VF: What is your vision for your new line/your work?
MG: The name of the company’s name means leader so that is a big part of the vision. ZYEM will continue to grow and develop into a leading brand within the industry.
VF: If any celebrity could be photographed by the paparazzi wearing your pieces, who would you want it to be and which piece would they be wearing?
MG: I have love for everyone, there are so many great people doing wonderful things. It would be cool to see one of our many role model s like Michelle Obama or Holly Robinson Peete wearing a MO Love Tee Shirt or Kerry Washington wearing a Maxi or skirt.
VF: What shows/events do you plan on doing this year?
MG: I have a Back To School, Not- For- Profit initiative named Create Unity Collaborative Exhibit planned for September Fashion Week and ideally Circle of Sisters Expo in October.
VF: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
MG: Continuing to nurture my Brand and managing the retail flagship store and teaching scheduled workshops for Create Unity.
VF: What is your favorite quote or what is a statement/mantra you try to live by?
MG: “Keep Rising to The Top, Give it All you Got.”
All photography done by Michael Daughtry