Claudya Moreira was born in Cape Verde. When she was seven years old, she immigrated to Lisbon. Her studies then took her from Switzerland, to France, to England, and back to Lisbon, where, after 12 years of traveling the continent, arrived just before the February pandemic last year. Along the way, she picked up a couple more languages (she speaks Creole from Cape Verde, her mother tongue, as well as Portuguese, English, French, German, Spanish and Italian), a modelling portfolio, a degree in fashion design, and an intense hunger to make her name in the fashion industry.
The love of scarves traces Moreira back to her childhood.
"Older women wear a scarf tied around their heads on Cape Verde Island, where I was born, so that younger people know how to treat older women with the utmost respect, I've always had contact with scarves when I look back to my childhood, seeing my grandmother who raised me, wearing it tied to her hair." Said Moreira in an interview with vogue magazine.
Having always integrated the accessory into her wardrobe, Moreira brought her fascination with scarves to TikTok in April 2020 where her fashion tips took off. When you can turn scarves into anything from hair ruffles to asymmetrical crop tops to a long-sleeve, then you’re sure to grab the world’s attention.
Moreira has accrued more than 101,000 followers since actively being a Fashion TikToker. She pulls out new, unimaginable tricks on scarf styling that blows the mind of every follower. With more than 4million views on her scarf styling videos, the scarf genius never intended to make it the subject of her page at the beginning, and had not yet introduced her brand at that stage yet. She tried the usual TikTok fare instead, and realized it wasn't working for her.
"TikTok was definitely a way to distract myself, being at home and unable to go anywhere [during quarantine]," Moreira stated.
“I would just scroll through funny videos and dance challenges at the beginning, but it did not work for me, particularly the dance challenges, to be quite honest. And I honestly felt I was able to dance!”
As her videos began to gain attention, she launched Zafia in September. Her graphic prints and bright colors also bear traces of the scarves that were worn by her mother and grandma. According to Moreira, the Zafia brand is her tribute to the islands of Cape Verde, for everything given to her. She venerates, adores and worships her grandmother, mother and all her country women for the impact and waves of fashion transferred culturally that she has found an ingenious way to modernize. It all started with the women of Cape Verde.
When asked about Zafia, this is what she had to say:
"Crazy." In the midst of this global pandemic, that's what they called me for starting a company. The thought of designing silk scarves from my own brand came to mind after producing so many tutorials about how to tie a scarf. As I had no idea how to run a company, I was really nervous, but I knew without a doubt that I had to blend my imagination with the product and share it with the world. I did my own research on starting my own company, as well as an online course on project management, after four months of doing videos teaching people how to style a scarf. Finally, I opened a website in September where people can have access to Zafia Scarves. I strive to add complexity and sophistication to Zafia.”
The multi-lingual Lisbon model didn’t just scale to the top, she practiced with passion, desire and zeal, which explains why she could stand in front of a mirror for at least 2hours per day. In her exact words,
“Everything is about practicing. Amazing things happen when you enjoy what you do and you do it with enthusiasm. I do a lot of homework and spend hours every day only working on the next moves, the next styles and the next creations. I enjoy putting scarves around my neck, but by far my favourite is a top paired with a suit.”
Her initial ambition was not, believe it or not, to become popular on a modern social media site for teaching people how to tie her set of scarves. She intended to resume her modeling career when she came back to Lisbon, but claims she wasn't interested in maintaining the influencer persona that agents were asking of her.
With accuracy at the level of origami masters, Moreira has "uncovered" several new ways of wearing what was previously considered to be an accessory for the neck and nothing more. Any of her most common designs, she says, are those of which, by looping the material around the button and then slipping it through the button hole, she attaches a scarf to a blazer, button-up top, or vest, providing an anchor of sorts for the scarf to then curl around the waist or shoulders. Also common are videos that use brooches and pins, as well as tutorials for using scarves as bags.
In an interview with Instyle Magazine, Claudya had this to say;
"Beside the goal that any entrepreneur has of seeing their company grow, my main hope for Zafia is to create something powerful that has a voice, that says we're all the same, no matter the gender, the color, the body type. Scarves have a meaning at the culture of my country Cape Verde, and that meaning is respect. That's what I hope that my brand can pass on, the respect for yourself and for the others. It's just a piece of clothing, but it's also more than that, it's something that can highlight your personality, and for me, that's the beauty of it."