Zolaykha Sherzad is the founder and creative director at Zarif Design. Zolay has been featured in Vogue Italia and The New York Times, and her work exhibited at the MoMu fashion museum in Antwerp, Belgium. Her company, Zarif Design, is an Afghan fashion brand based in New York, Paris and Kabul whose mission is to economically and socially empower Afghan artisans, revive tradition, and shape the future. Zarif builds bridges locally and internationally and builds peace through connection and creativity.
When Zolay was 11, her family fled Afghanistan, eventually moving to Switzerland after they were also forced to leave Iran. Zolay took refuge in her studies, graduating from the School of Architecture at Lausanne, practicing in Switzerland, Japan, and New York City. But her thoughts, her heart, always returned to Afghanistan. Zolay transitioned to fashion, determined to build bridges between the East and West and open people’s eyes up to the beauty of Afghanistan and its people, which has been overshadowed by media stories of an embattled, war-torn country.
Chelsea talks with Zolay about her journey to Zarif, how hope lifted her up, and how ‘hardship becomes the very thing that empowers us, and fear the enemy that keeps us behind’.