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Conversations with the Inspiring Maria Cole

Today we’d like to introduce you to Maria Cole.

Maria, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I started designing clothing very early, six or seven years old. I would cut up my socks and create garments for my Barbie dolls. My mom saw my passion for creativity and bought me a sewing machine. I opened my first eBay store called Airam (Maria spelled backward) in high school. I would take used or vintage clothing and repurposed them into one of a kind pieces for purchase. My business was very successful and taught me entrepreneurship at an early age. I now have my own online shop called Zam Ghuden where I design clothing as well as repurpose them. I am inspired by the indigenous culture and I use a lot of African fabrics when creating my garments. I also have a non-profit called Zam Ghuden Fashion Upcycle where I provide my services to the youth of the inner city. I teach the youth how to recreate fashion using used clothing. It is important to place much emphasis on creative arts especially in the youth because it provides an outlet for
creativity and the opportunity to learn a trade for survival and entrepreneurship.

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 has not been a smooth road. It’s not easy being an entrepreneur. It takes a lot of self-determination and discipline which I struggled with for quite a while. You have to be organized and consistent in order to thrive. I would warn young women to not let the distractions of life knock them off their path. It is super important to stay self-motivated and be your own biggest fan. You will sometimes lack support so you have to be your own support. Consistency, organization, self-belief, discipline, and focus are your biggest tools. Be a boss, but still embrace your femininity. Stay in your power and hold tight to it no matter what.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I create fashions from used clothing as well as create designs from scratch. My specialty is upcycling clothing into one-of-a-kind pieces. I work with a lot of African prints and am inspired by African indigenous culture.
I am proud of my growth as a designer. It is really neat to look back on old photos and see the progression as a designer. It is an inspiration to keep creating and expanding my brand. I am also proud of my non-profit. It is a pleasure to work with the youth as they create their own pieces. It is a joy to bring out that creative side of the individual and see what they come up with.

Who do you look up to? How have they inspired you?
My greatest inspiration is my mother. She came from very little but somehow always managed to provide a better life for us. She went through so much in life but you could never tell because despite her struggles she still managed to have the biggest heart. It’s like nothing can break her! I strive to be just like that. One of the biggest lessons she taught me was integrity. I carry integrity with me through my everyday life as well as my business practices. She is my biggest supporter and best friend.

Contact Info:

  • Website:
  • Phone: 6828049577
  • Email:
  • Instagram: @zamghuden
  • Facebook: Zam Ghuden

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