Nearly seven years ago, Zakiya Shivers moved back to the United States after a few years in China. While in between jobs, she noticed she had a bunch of clothes that needed a home. She made the decision to open an Ebay account. A year later, she started an Etsy account. By 2012, she opened her first online store selling a combination of pieces made by her, thrift items and art.
“After researching and observing the secondhand industry, I became really passionate about the “green” side of reducing waste, retaining wealth and refashioning,” Shivers said. Equally, I was not particularly impressed with the secondhand options for young Black professionals such as myself. I felt that a lot of the secondhand stores catered to a different demographic—mostly white and aged. As a young Black woman, I wanted more expressive and more unique pieces. I opened the retail store in 2013 after several years of vending, exhibiting and doing pop-ups.”
Tightfisted Fashion is a Baltimore boutique where each piece is carefully screened with a keen eye. Often they inspire their customers to create new trends or revive old ones. The vintage haven provides a place for other small businesses to sell their merchandise. It’s just not another boutique in Baltimore. It’s an experiences with monthly events that connect fashion, arts and the community as one.
“Tightfisted Fashion started out as a tagline about myself in a conversation years ago,” Shivers said. I explained that I did something in “true tightfisted fashion”. I remember writing it down somewhere somehow knowing that it would be important later. Not only does it represent the value in shopping secondhand, it also represents the power of keeping a tight fist (versus an always open palm) and spending our money with local, loyal, vetted businesses that represent and uplift the community.”
As a boutique owner in Charm City, Shivers is an avid supporter of small, Black-owned local businesses. One of her projects this year is finding a space where small local businesses can sell their merchandise weekly.
“My plan is pretty simple: to “level up” and amplify what we have accomplished in 2016,” Shiver said. [I want to] host successful events and sales, revamp the website as well as social media presence and get more exposure to increase sales.”