DANBURY, Conn. — Ziya Shabazz-Williams of Danbury seems like your typical 12-year-old: She is in the seventh grade at Westside Middle School Academy and studies gymnastics and dance — oh, and she owns her own business.
Her business, Ziya Blooms, sells custom-made hair accessories, wall art, pens and wedding bouquets — all of which she custom-makes by hand.
“No two pieces are alike,” she said.
She sells her crafts at bridal shows at the Crowne Plaza Danbury, Ethan Allen Hotel, Heritage Hotel and Conference Center in Southbury and the Matrix Conference and Banquet Center in Danbury.
For supplies, she shops at Michael's and Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts in Brookfield, and also travels to craft stores in Manhattan.
It takes about 45 to 90 minutes to make each hairpiece, which requires a glue gun and an assortment of clips and pins.
What made Ziya want to start a business — or even think she could?
“My parents are entrepreneurs and they inspired me," she said. "They always told me I could do whatever I want and wouldn't allow anyone to tell me I couldn't.
“I like having my own business because it empowers girls to live their dreams, just like I'm living mine,” she said.
Ziya’s mother Malakah Shabazz-Williams is owner and founder Bash Boutique, an organic cake business. Her father Basheer Shabazz-Williams is a developer at Black Bridge, a computer network engineering business.
“I try to raise all my children to define who they are and to create their own sense of worth,” said Malakah Shabazz-Williams, who also has two other children.
"Since my husband and I are both entrepreneurs, that is what my children grew up seeing. They thought, ‘When I grow up, I’m going to have a business.’ And it turned into ‘Why do I have to wait?’”
Ziya said she is her own best marketing tool. “I wear hair accessories all the time, coordinating them with my outfits,” she said.
Her greatest challenge is balancing her business with her schoolwork and other interests.
She’s a top gymnast at Elite Gymnastics Center in New Milford and qualified to compete in the 2017 State Games of America in July in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Ziya has also studied dance and currently practices from online tutorials to keep her skills fresh.
“I push through it,” she said, referring to her busy schedule. “Sometimes, I’m up very late at night, working on orders.”
Her advice for other young people who want to pursue their own business is “to never give up and follow what your heart says,” Ziya said.
She started making flowers when she was 9, putting together hairpieces for her family, teachers and friends.
Ziya started the business by borrowing $25 from her mother to purchase supplies and later paid her back from her profits.
“I'm trying to get her to understand how money works,” Malakah Shabazz-Williams said. “So her profit from her business is always divided into three parts — save, spend and invest.”
To get ideas for new designs, Ziya looks at bridal magazines, goes to bridal shows and watches the popular cable show “Say Yes To The Dress.”
She hopes to one day to be in the fashion industry with her own line of gymnastics gear and dancewear.
To place an order from Ziya Blooms or to contact Ziya, click here .