Today we’d like to introduce you to Zakiya Davidia.
Zakiya, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My name is Zakiya Davidia (zuh-key-yuh duh-vid-ee-uh) and I am originally from Baltimore, Maryland. Growing up, I always knew that I wanted to be an artist, but I love learning which doesn’t help with my slightly indecisive nature. Must be the Aquarius in me. I spent a lot of time reading and becoming immersed in those stories. That inspired me to want to become a writer.
The idea of being able to captivate and inspire someone with my words was so cool to me. I also remember being bit of a super nerdy Science and English kid. Way too into educational television. I even went to a ten medical camp at Johns Hopkins when I was 16. My science teacher recommended me for the program which was an honor in my mind. Funny enough, I realized that I could never be a doctor after everything that was shown to us. I’m a bit too soft-hearted for that. I went to private school for most of my childhood, so I was fortunate enough to have access to music and the arts in school. I played the flute when was in the 4th grade and ended up stopping. Thankfully I still have my flute and music in case I want to get back into it. I graduated from the infamous Seton Keough High School. High school was a bit intense for me, especially the last two years. There was a lot of pressure placed on me to go to college right after high school, so I applied to about ten different colleges to give myself a fair chance. I ended up going to Delaware State for a year and a half. My first major was Psychology until I realized that I couldn’t stop sleeping through Psych 101.
Luckily, I switched my major to English which was always my best subject. I joined the marching band and had a lovely experience. Unfortunately, I felt like it was time for me to leave the band during that spring semester, but when I left I lost my scholarship so I didn’t have housing the first semester of my sophomore year. I transferred to Hofstra and stayed there for one semester. It was pretty lonely out there, so I started to model in editorial shoots and fashion shows as a way to network and meet other artists. Modeling is definitely a passion of mine that I want to elevate and grow in. Not out of vanity, but out of this desire to see more women who look like me in the mainstream beauty world. Locs aren’t seen very often and that really bothers me. I’m proud of my hair and pleased with my hair.
Everyone should be able to see every kind of person, especially now in this digital age. We can’t fight ignorance if we aren’t willing toped our eyes to the truth of the world around us. Hopefully, my time to shine is near right. I ended up leaving Hofstra after having a racist professor meddle with my grades and attempt to undermine my intelligence. So, I transferred to Morgan State University and graduated Magna Cum Laude three years later with my degree in Screenwriting and minor in English. Now that I look back, I realize how active I was in my undergraduate years. I wrote my first book, Seasons, my freshman year of college after being sexually assaulted by one of the students. After self-publishing that book on Amazon, I decided to venture into yoga, one of the passions I picked up as a dancer in high school. I completed my yoga teacher certification and decided to start my own business, Cocoa Yogi LLC, which didn’t do as well as I had hoped.
Being a black yoga teacher in Baltimore is interesting because people doubt you if you don’t fit into the aesthetic that they are accustomed to seeing. I decided to let yoga go for a moment and find a more lucrative option for myself. I started doing makeup when I was 14 and I’ve always loved it. So I created Vagabond Beauty (@itsvagabondbeauty) after completing my makeup artist certification at the Academy of Makeup in Maryland. People tend to ask me why I chose to go to school for it as opposed to going freelance. I respect makeup as an art form, and I was interested to learn about the craft as well as the history and sanitization aspect of it. I have had countless encounters with makeup artists during modeling gigs who have used dirty brushes and sponges and products on my face that burn and irritate my skin. Those experiences inspire the skincare routine that I like to follow with any of my clients/models today. I left Baltimore July 4th and drove all the way to Los Angeles by myself, car packed to the brim. It is the bravest thing I have ever done in my entire life to this date.
My childhood wasn’t always the most enjoyable experience, so I had always dreamed of leaving and living my own life. It wasn’t easy learning to believe in myself after growing in a home with a person who would constantly berate me. Not because I was a bad child, but because I wasn’t the exact person that I was expected to be at all times. I also knew that it wouldn’t make sense for me to stay home as an aspiring filmmaker/screenwriter, so California made the most sense. Plus, I can’t stand the cold even though I’m a winter baby. I found and secured my current living space on a Facebook hosting group over the course of a week. Thankfully I am still in L.A. and I’m enjoying every minute of it. Patiently waiting for all of this nonsense to pass so that I can further expand my business.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It most certainly has not been a smooth road, but I would have been so bored if it was. My journey has been a mixture of disappointment and desire. Wanting things that aren’t going to bring me happiness because they aren’t created to. I have battled emotional abuse, sexual assault, depression, self-doubt, and oppression before my life could be youthful and free. Growing up, conservative Christian did not help with any of these challenges either. For a long time, I felt like happiness was a physical thing that I could attain. I believed that the reason for my childhood environment’s instability was caused by lack of physical comfort and riches. I didn’t realize until I got older that happiness and home is always with you. Those are feelings that you shouldn’t sacrifice just because your physical environment isn’t what you initially imagined it to be. Don’t doubt the process, give yourself time. Everything is temporary and we all have the power to change and elevate through our past experiences and environments.
Connecting with those around me and forming bonds is the biggest challenge that I’ve faced so far. My memories of connection and interaction with others bring back a lot of feelings of rebellion against conforming to social, cultural, and religious norms. I never wanted to fall in line despite being in an environment filled with rules on why I can’t do majority of the things that interested me. I wanted to be able to connect to people, but I also didn’t want to change into something that “they” liked just to be palatable. If I can’t be accepted as I am, I leave. It has cost me a lot, but I have gained so much more within myself in return. I wouldn’t have been able to muster up enough strength to leave behind what doesn’t serve me and move towards the future.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Vagabond Beauty story. Tell us more about the business.
Vagabond Beauty (@vagabpndbeautyllc) is my new business baby. I wanted to create this soulful and honest artistic safe haven for myself where I can be creative and inventive and use those as tools to reintroduce myself to the world. Living in the shadow of myself hasn’t been very easy. Vagabond Beauty is my way of giving myself, and others, a fresh start and a solid chance to see the beauty and art within ourselves. I wanted to promote the idea of real makeup on real people. Everyone doesn’t need to fit into the beauty standard and many of us aren’t meant to. Despite where we fall in this lifetime, we all deserve to be able to treat ourselves well and like the timeless artworks that we are. I also like to play on the idea of freshness and youthfulness in my makeup as well as in my photography when working with models. I lean more so towards a clean, editorial look when I work with models. I love playing with color tones and shapes as well as accentuating stand out features on an individual. Paying attention to every detail in my work is a blessing and a curse for me because I have to teach myself to reach a point of satisfaction with my work and myself.
Beauty doesn’t have to feel difficult to attain or follow this strict routine. Not everyone has the time and patience for it. Naturally, I attract people who are new to makeup or don’t wear it often, so I love to teach them about their faces and show them simple yet impactful ways to elevate their look. Still, I view Vagabond Beauty as a personal artist brand, considering I am the face of it, that I created in order to market myself as well my makeup artistry and modeling skillset. I’ve never had the privilege of being known for much of anything yet. People often made an effort to divert attention away from me as opposed to bring it towards me until now. I’m proud that I’ve been able to take hold of this passion and drive that I have while I’m still able to move towards it. I believe that my diversity and openness to trying sets me apart as well as my professionalism. I want to take myself to every level and beyond because I know I deserve it and I can handle it.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I consider luck of any kind a blessing. There have been plenty of times when things that I felt were bad luck turned me away from a bad experience. For me, my luck comes in with timing. I didn’t file my taxes until 2018 after my roommate in college told me to. The money I received from my tax return is what I used to pay for my yoga teacher certification which snowballed into the business that I have today. My state internship came to me out of a sort of luck, through an email, when I needed an internship last minute to graduate. I told myself that I would use the money I earned from my internship to pay for my makeup artist certification. To me, giving my money purpose before it even gets here helps guide it properly to me. I feel like you can change your luck when you have a pure desire for the outcome. Even in my personal life, I see the balance between good and bad luck. Despite growing in a toxic environment, I was sent to private schools that gave me a great education and showed me glimpses of my potential. I don’t believe that I would be who I am today if I went to public school, especially in Baltimore.
- Intro to Makeup Session w/ Complementary Shopping Trip – $50
- Follow-Up Intro to Makeup Session – $30
- Photoshoot (1-2 looks) – $75, $15 per extra look
- Bride – $85
- Bridesmaids – $75
- Phone: 4438420195
- Email: email@example.com
Photographer of portrait with blue background: @jw.thephotog, Photographer of all other photos: @vagabondbeautyllc, Makeup Artist: @vagabondbeautyllc