Zakiya Cita is trying to change the way people think about clothing.
From a young age, the Federal Way resident was interested in unique fashion. But it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that she started researching the sustainable fashion movement.
“It has just always been part of my style aesthetic to be unique so that started my treasure hunting with going to thrift stores and just being really forward-thinking in ways to acquire new items, in ways that weren’t necessarily new but new to me – whether it is swapping (clothing) with friends,” Cita said. “It has just been my way of dressing – finding ways to make things unique by upcycling it, adding some unique detail to it – going back as far as elementary school.”
In 2016, Cita set out to start a consignment/resale store, The Chayah Movement, but it quickly became much more than just selling unwanted items.
“When I started researching why would someone want to buy vintage, why would someone want to buy resale, what is the value in that, I kind of went down this rabbit hole of learning about the fashion industry and just how wasteful we are as a country and the impact fashion has on the world,” she said. “When it comes to pollution (from clothing) being the second largest pollutant next to oil, which is insane, and just how consumer driven we have become, I found that to be empowering and wanted to share the information.”
Cita started looking for ways to recycle clothing and got connected with several organizations that collect unwanted textiles.
“What can I do with the things that I don’t sell, that I don’t want to sell, or how can I help people get rid of things responsibly?” she said.
Cita has several indoor clothing collection bins at locations in Tacoma, where her office is located, and two in Federal Way: Federal Way Jazzercise, 2016 S. 320th St., and Victory Get Fit Club, 34303 Pacific Highway South, No. 116.
She also picks up items from people’s homes.
“It doesn’t have to be something like ‘oh, I wouldn’t donate this to you because no one would wear it.’ That’s what I am trying to change,” she said. “Even if it is not wearable, if it is a textile, instead of throwing it away, recycle it. Think of it as the same way you think of a piece of paper that serves no purpose anymore that is not going to be used, just to prevent it from going into a landfill.”
In addition to recycling and reselling clothing, Cita also offers in-person and online personal shopping services.
She also hosts events to raise awareness about sustainable fashion, including a clothing swap in honor of Earth Day from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, April 21, at Federal Way Jazzercise.
The cost is $5 if participants bring items to swap, or $10 without items.
“There will be plenty of items,” Cita said. “Even if you don’t come with something you want to get rid of, there still will be extra, so our goal is that everyone leaves with something new to them.”
There will also be vendors offering jewelry, makeup and massages.
“We are just trying to make a fun ladies’ night event in honor of Earth Day,” she said.
The event will benefit Ali’s Prom Project, a nonprofit that provides formal wear and beauty services to low-income girls so they can attend prom or homecoming.
Cita said she is having an impact on how people think about fashion.
“I do find that people come to me (and say) ‘I thought about you when I was going to throw this away, or I saw my husband throw something in the trash, and I was like wait, we can recycle that,’” Cita said. “I find it interesting that people are mindful now,” Cita said.
For more information about The Chayah Movement, visit TheChayahMovement.com.