Zerina Akers Talks New Project Black Owned Everything
Photo: Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for ESSENCE Fashion House)

Earlier this month, wardrobe maven Zerina Akers officially launched Black Owned Everything. Last year, Akers started an Instagram page with the same name, providing a social directory and immediate exposure to Black-owned brands. After encompassing a successful run on social media, the curator has launched a platform that is both a marketplace and media culture hub built to amplify a diverse community of creators.

“It’s actually surreal,” Akers tells ESSENCE. “It has been a very long six or seven months since I started the Instagram page, and now we’ve launched this experimental, almost kind of revolutionary concept.”

This past summer, there was a great deal of unrest as a result of the attack on Black lives at the hands of the police, as well as the widespread and disproportionate effects of the pandemic. In response, a multitude of industries initiated tangible efforts to amplify brands and services that were underrepresented. The fashion world took to this as well, with Akers being one of the industry insiders spearheading the change.

“I think before last summer, that summer of unrest, a lot of us really hoarded the information. We really kept a lot of brands that we were finding very private, we want our clients to be the first to wear it,” she says. “This shift in sharing has created and been able to spark a very insane ripple effect.”

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Akers began to post daily about brands in her network or that she was discovering on @blackownedeverything. While her day-to-day is working wardrobe for celebrities like Beyonce, Chloe x Halle, and Niecy Nash, the stylist has also galvanized her own brand. The 35-year-old has reached milestones in her continuous career, inspiring a new wave of creatives to come.

“The pandemic has been good to me. I see time as an endless resource, and also something to be cherished,” she explains. “It’s been something helpful in recognizing that the grind and the hustle, it may not last forever.”

In this season of inclusion, the stylist is utilizing her voice and platform to amplify Black creators while also holding other companies accountable. The stylist tells ESSENCE she is hopeful for a long-lasting shift within the industry.

“I think that the uproar of last year has created a certain accountability for many companies to actually put their money where their mouth is and do what needs to be done,” she says. “It shouldn’t be a quick fix or a quick band-aid. I hope that through this time of them having to prove themselves, we are able to generate and create long-lasting partnerships, where eventually we’re not necessarily trying to fill a percentage.”

Featuring products from Brandon Blackwood, Sergio Hudson, and Fe Noel, visit Black Owned Everything here.