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David Zambrano of “DezCustomz” Talks to Us About Family, Art, And When He Finally Thought He’d “Made It”

David Zambrano isn’t your madre’s artist. Zambrano, the owner of DEZ Customz Art, is part of the new guard of artists and content creators on the internet who march to the beat of their own drum. The LA-born and DC-based artist and shoe customizer (known as Dez to his customers) started his art career customizing cars before he pivoted to shoes. Although Zambrano will be the first to tell you that his journey to success was long and difficult, he worked at his dream long enough to become the shoe-customizer to the stars. You can see Zambrano’s artful customizations of sneakers, cleats, and high tops on countless all-star athletes, from Tom Brady to Stephen Curry. 

But his client roster isn’t the only thing worth being impressed by. Zambrano boasts 115,000 followers on Instagram, landing him squarely in social media influencer territory (even if he doesn’t like the term).  A quick scroll through Zambrano’s page will expose you to the depths of his talent. Recently, we had a chance to talk to this Latino visionary about family, artistic integrity, and why he doesn’t think of himself as an “influencer”.

M: Tell us a little about your process–where do you get your ideas from? Do they come to you naturally or do you have to brainstorm them?

DZ: I get inspiration from everywhere. When customers come to us for work, we have to cater to their requests. I love taking their ideas and making one-of-a-kind pieces from them. I love graffiti art. A lot of my canvas works have elements of graffiti art in them. I’ve always loved that style.

M: How did you get into customization?

DZ: My road to success has been a rough one. It didn’t really take off until I was in my late 30s. It’s a long story, but I’ll give you the short version. It was a fortunate combination of incredible circumstances. I’ve always been in art. At the time, I had tried to start a few art-focused businesses and they all failed. I had resigned myself to the fact that art would be a hobby for me. I was managing a body shop and painting artwork on cars, helmets, and motorcycles. A kid approached me via a phone call and we started to work together customizing shoes. He brought me clients and I did the artwork. We were invited to NY Sneaker Con for the first-ever Ace of Customs Competition and we won. That was the beginning of it all. 

M: What did you think when your designs first started to gain attention online?

DZ: The first time you see your work on a sports broadcast, or really anywhere, is crazy. One of the first times was when I did cleats for London Fletcher for his last game in the NFL. It got picked up all over the place–images were on the news. It was crazy. Another time I did cleats for AJ Green of The Bengals. It hit everywhere, sports blogs and everything. It was all surreal. I was among some of the first customizers to have their work picked up online through multiple media outlets and on TV. It was crazy. It still is really cool when the work gets picked up.

M: Can you tell us about the time when you first thought to yourself, “I’ve made it”?

DZ: It took so long to believe that I was even okay in this business. So many failures make you doubt and even resist success. I was always waiting for the rug to get pulled out from under me. I was always prepared to go back to work for someone else. I had kids and couldn’t afford to be prideful. So it took about 2-3 years of steady business for me to believe I had made it. It’s weird to even say it now.

M: What did you think when your designs first started to gain attention online?

DZ: The first time you see your work on a sports broadcast, or really anywhere, is crazy. One of the first times was when I did cleats for London Fletcher for his last game in the NFL. It got picked up all over the place–images were on the news. It was crazy. Another time I did cleats for AJ Green of The Bengals. It hit everywhere, sports blogs and everything. It was all surreal. I was among some of the first customizers to have their work picked up online through multiple media outlets and on TV. It was crazy. It still is really cool when the work gets picked up.

M: Can you tell us about the time when you first thought to yourself, “I’ve made it”?

@dezcustomz/Instagram

DZ: It took so long to believe that I was even okay in this business. So many failures make you doubt and even resist success. I was always waiting for the rug to get pulled out from under me. I was always prepared to go back to work for someone else. I had kids and couldn’t afford to be prideful. So it took about 2-3 years of steady business for me to believe I had made it. It’s weird to even say it now.

M: Why do you think people resonate with your work?

DZ: The reason I feel the work resonates with people is that they see the detail, pride, and passion. Another reason I think is that I don’t make my personal life some weird secret. I post my failures, my struggles, about the love I have for my family, my kids, my life and art. I think people like to see that. I think when you’re human, people find it easy to root for you. At least I hope they do. I always tell people: if you knew what I’ve been through, you would cheer for me! I really believe that. I have suffered for this craft. There was a time my family had to move three times in three years because I couldn’t make the rent. The last time, my son was only one year old. I had to be away from him for a month because of the living situation. It killed me. 99.9% of people wouldn’t go through that, no matter how much they love something. I’ve shed blood and tears for this. I feel like that comes out in everything I do artistically.

M: Of all the shoes you’ve worked on, what’s your personal favorite?

@dezcustomz/Instagram

DZ: Choosing one shoe as my favorite is sincerely an impossible question to answer. I have so many favorites. There are some that have emotional ties, others that have just been very near to me, like a favorite show or movie, actor or character. I’ve done portraits of people that have died, those always hit me hard. So yeah, really it’s impossible to say.  

M: When you first committed to this career path, were there any people in your life who didn’t believe you could make a living off of customizing shoes? How did you overcome self-doubt?

DZ: Committing to this was hard because of the failures that I had already experienced, some of which I mentioned earlier. I was constantly worried that I would let my family down. Incredibly, my wife had the most faith. She pushed me, and that meant a lot. More people doubted me than the number of people that thought it was possible. That fueled me. That gave me all the resiliency I needed to keep going. And honestly, for me, God. I believe that a person like me is blessed with a life like this only through the grace of God. I don’t push my faith on anyone, but that’s what I believe wholeheartedly.

M: On your Instagram, you’ve spoken a lot about how important art is to you. Was there ever a time you turned down a commission based off of your own artistic integrity? What would make you refuse a customer?

@dezcustomz/Instagram

DZ: We don’t turn down too many works as long as we’re allowed to be creative. There are occasions where we have, though. Simply, we don’t copy work. We won’t recreate something that someone else has already done. I won’t create hate art either. I won’t create something that relates hate towards another human.

M: Who are some Latino artists that you look up to as role models?

DZ: I don’t think I could name a favorite artist. To be honest, I have a fascination with all things art. I respect so many artists that I would not feel comfortable naming any, even a couple. I take influence and inspiration from everything I see. I think as artists, we simply see things more vividly, we feel things deeper. That’s what brings the art out.  

M: What exciting things do you have planned for your next career move and your future as an influencer?

@dezcustomz/Instagram

DZ: I have no idea what the future holds. In all honesty, whatever I do I know that art has to be involved. In a perfect world, I would be more focused on canvas work, interior murals, and tattoos. I don’t see myself as an influencer. I think that word is overused and I feel like it waters down an individual. I see some influencers post constantly and ‘create’ content constantly because of the pressure to stay relevant, but in doing so the product suffers. I sometimes don’t post for days. And that’s ok. I’ll post when I create something that inspires me to post. 

M: What would you tell fans of yours who are looking to follow in your footsteps as shoe artist, content creator, and an influencer?

DZ: I would tell anyone looking to become a shoe customizer or simply creating art, period, be true to the art. Never do it for popularity, likes, attention etc. Value your skill and people will learn to value it. And if they don’t, then that’s not a reflection of you.   

Kat Von D Just Announced That She’s Totally Cut Ties With Her Makeup Line Effective Immediately

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Kat Von D Just Announced That She’s Totally Cut Ties With Her Makeup Line Effective Immediately

katvond / Instagram

Kat Von D has become a titan in the beauty industry due to her eponymous makeup line’s ultra long-wear highly pigmented products that also happen to be vegan and cruelty free. 

And although fans have long looked to the Queen of Ink because of her unconventional aesthetic and beauty expertise, the Von D recently announced she has decided to permanently step back from her successful business to focus on other projects as well as her new family.

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This past year has been one of great change for me. As many of you know, I gave birth to my beautiful baby boy, launched my vegan shoe line, and am now busy prepping to release my long awaited album in the Spring, followed by an international tour! As much as I wish I could balance all of this, on top of continuing my makeup line, it has become clear to me that I just can’t do everything at the maximum capacity. It's hard to admit this, since I’ve always said “You can do everything and anything.” But I don’t think admitting one's limits is a bad thing. With that said, I’ve decided to sell my shares of the brand, turning it over to Kendo, my partners for the past 11 years. This was not an easy decision, but after careful consideration, I decided I wanted the makeup line to continue to thrive and grow, and I believe Kendo is primed to do just that. The transition for you, my loyal customers, will be seamless. In order to avoid any confusion with such a big change, Kat Von D Beauty will take a moment to rebrand itself, so you will start noticing the change from KatVonD Beauty to KvD Vegan Beauty. I'd like to thank my beloved fans+followers who supported my vision to create a brand that stood for compassion, true artistry, and challenged modern ideals of beauty — most of which I never could relate to. I was able to create a makeup line that made outsiders like me feel like we have a place in this “beauty” world, and gave myself and others the tools to express ourselves in our own unique way, whether it was embraced by the majority or not. And I just couldn’t have done any of this without you! Lastly, thank you for understanding+respecting my choice, as it was a difficult one to make, but one I am proud of regardless, and am confident that the team will continue the KvD legacy! Here’s to many, many more years of KvD Vegan Beauty!

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On Thursday via Instagram, Kat Von D announced the unexpected news that she was selling her shares in Kat Von D Beauty in order to focus on other projects.

@thekatvonD/Instagram

In the lengthy statement, Von D explained that 2019 had been a year of “great change” due to the birth of her baby boy as well as her expansion into music. She went on to explain that, while she tried to balance all of her projects to the best of her ability, she wasn’t able to fully contribute to each of her projects at “maximum capacity.” Therefore, she would be officially stepping down from Kat Von D Beauty.

“I’ve decided to sell my shares of the brand, turning it over to Kendo, my partners for the past 11 years,” she said. “This was not an easy decision, but after careful consideration, I decided I wanted the makeup line to continue to thrive and grow, and I believe Kendo is primed to do just that.”

Von D went on to reveal that the beauty line would be re-branded as KvD Vegan Beauty in order to “avoid any confusion” for the brand’s customers.

@kvdveganbeauty/Instagram

Although the Sephora-based Kat Von D Beauty came out of the gate strong–even being named Sephora’s fastest-growing brand in 2018–the brand subsequently suffered from a highly-publicized dip in sales after Von D herself was embroiled in multiple controversies. Among the controversies was Von D declaring that she would not be vaccinating her child. Additionally, Von D had long been plagued by accusations of antisemitism throughout her career. 

The line will in all likelihood be in good hands with the LVMH beauty incubator Kendo, which also produces other popular brands like Fenty Beauty and Marc Jacobs. The former Kat Von D Beauty website has already been updated with the name change along with a statement from the CEO of Kendo. “I want to thank Kat for helping to change the beauty industry with us,” the statement reads. “We are fully positioned to continue the brand’s growth and development in both product and marketing…The same KENDO team that made history with KVD Vegan Beauty is ready to do it again.”

Since its inception, Von D has been extremely hands-on with her makeup line, involved in every aspect of the business from product inception to packaging.

@thekatvonD/Instagram 

“I name every shade, design every piece of packaging, help choose the colors and textures, the finishes and formulations,” she told HELLO! magazine in 2016. “There isn’t a font used on my packaging – I personally design and draw every letter on it. I even curate the content for our Instagram. I poured myself 100 per cent into this and I know that my customers appreciate that.”

And the tattoo artist and television personality obviously hit a chord with customers who felt connected to her through her products. In addition, Kat Von D’s products were truly high-quality at an affordable price-point. You could say that Von D was a trailblazer in the media personality-turned-businesswoman model that so many celebrities have since tried to replicate.

As for fans of Kat Von D, they took the news with a mixture of admiration, disappointment, and acceptance. 

Kat Von D has such a devoted fan base that many of them would follow her to the ends of the earth.

This person expressed undying devotion to Von D, no matter what she decides to do next:

Some Kat Von D supporters are ride-or-die.

This person thanked Kat for all she’s done for the beauty community.

Part of Kat Von D’s appeal is that she’s always marched to the beat of her own drum. For her, makeup was a means of artistic expression, not a means of blending in with everyone else.

This person shared a touching story about how Von D’s past generosity changed her life.

This kind of personal touch is hard to replicate once a brand becomes super corporate. 

This person was 100% supportive of Von D’s decision to step back.

It’s especially hard to juggle so many products as a new mom.

This person was just excited to hear Kat’s new album.

Not many people go from being a makeup mogul to being a rock-star. Talk about a pivot.

Some Of The Most Iconic Women In Fashion Have Been Latinas: Top 12 Latina Super Models Of Recent Times

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Some Of The Most Iconic Women In Fashion Have Been Latinas: Top 12 Latina Super Models Of Recent Times

laisribeiro / Instagram

The fashion world is embracing diversity more and more each season. And although the fight for representation is no doubt still ongoing, some strides have been taken toward inclusivity and representation. Women from Mexico, Central America, and South America have been breaking boundaries all on their own for years, and the success they’ve earned can speak for itself. Just look at Joan Smalls, or Christy Turlington, two of the most well-known (and well-paid) models in the world.

Latinas that are icons, trailblazers and true beauties. 

Latinx women of all shapes, sizes and skin colors have been gracing fashion shows and magazines for years, and we thought we’d round up the most iconic ones to prove it. 

Christy Turlington

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#memories #good #times

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A true icon. Christy was part of the first wave of top models that gained celebrity status in the 90s, also known as ‘The Supers’. Alongside beauty queens like Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell and Helena Christensen; part Salvadoran, Christy Turlington fronted iconic campaigns for brands like Versace, Coca Cola, Mugler, Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier and so many more. 

Helena Christensen 

With a Peruvian mother and a Danish father, Helena was lucky to get some great genes! Not only is Helena a former signature Victoria’s Secret Angel and a former Miss Denmark, she was also part of the 90s ‘supers’. She’s appeared on many a magazine cover —Vogue, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, and W, she’s been the star of several music videos and has been the face of some of the biggest brands —Chanel, Prada, Valentino, Versace, just to name a few. She’s even gone on to design her own clothing as well as serve as creative director for Nylon magazine. She certainly is an icon.

Talisa Soto

Born to a Puerto Rican family in Brooklyn, Talisa was raised there and in Massachusetts. She started modeling at age 15 and has appeared on the covers of major magazines like Vogue, Mademoiselle, Glamour and more. She’s also been on a “Sports Illustrated” swimsuit issue and even played a Bond girl in “License to Kill”. She has been making film appearances since 1988, and was a true celeb in the 90s.

Gisele Bündchen

Now, here’s a trailblazer. This Brazilian queen has been slaying the fashion world since the 90s —and the best part is, she’s still showing no signs of slowing down (or of aging for that matter). Blessed with the gene pool of a goddess, Gisele’s luscious blonde hair and infinitely long legs have landed her the most iconic jobs in fashion. She has been the queen of the Victoria’s Secret Angels, the face of top houses like Givenchy, Chanel, Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton… and the list goes on. 

Adriana Lima

My personal fave. Her tanned skin, is highlighted perfectly against her striking green eyes —and the Brazilian’s charisma just tops the whole thing like a cherry on top of a cake. She’s beautiful, talented and altruist. Adriana has walked world-class fashion shows and fronted campaigns alongside fellow Brazilian top models Gisele Bündchen and Alessandra Ambrosio, and the trio has definitely left a mark in the industry. 

Alessandra Ambrosio

Another Victoria’s Secret model and Brazilian super. This beauty was the first one to model for the company’s “PINK” line, launched for the younger VS shopper. She’s modeled for other brands, including Dior and Ralph Lauren, and is one of the top-earning models in the world. She’s not all about the catwalk though: she also serves as an ambassador for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. 

Joan Smalls

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2 0 2 0

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This Puerto Rican goddess is one of the biggest models on the scene right now— and is definitely leaving her mark! With a ton of magazine covers under her belt, as well as lending her image to front brands like Gucci, Gap, Chanel, Versace, Dior and more, this stunner’s star only continues to soar. 

Paloma Elsesser 

After being discovered by makeup icon, Pat McGrath to front her first beauty line, plus-size model Paloma Elsesser has become an outspoken voice for plus-size models through her vast Instagram following. Fronting campaigns for Fenty Beauty, Glossier and Nike, and appearing in editorials for Allure, Elle and Teen Vogue, the model of Chilean descent is only just getting started —and we can’t wait to see where she’ll go next. 

Sessilee Lopez

This Afro-Dominican beauty made history in 2008 when she appeared on one of Vogue Italia’s 4 ‘All Black’ issues. She’s also been on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar and has fronted major brands like Hermes, Lanvin, Levi’s, Oscar de La Renta and many more. 

Issa Lish

The special thing about Issa Lish is that she doesn’t look like anybody else. She’s a little Japanese, a little Mexican, but most of all, unique. Born in Mexico City in 1995, Issa started modelling for Mexico’s independent designers aged 14 and has already made a name for herself in the industry. She’s walked for major brands like Alexander Wang, Haider Ackerman, Yves Saint Laurent and Coach among others.

Lais Ribeiro

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Missing this special moment! ❤️

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This Afro-Brazilian model has become a force to be reckoned with in fashion. She’s been featured in all the top magazines, has been the face of many fashion and beauty lines and designers can’t stop booking her to walk their runway shows —she’s definitely on the way of becoming an icon of this generation. 

Mariana Zaragoza

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One of each pleaseeee 😜😜😜 @wwd

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This Mexican model made her runway debut walking for Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, and Proenza Schouler at New York Fashion week in 2017 at a very young age. She has made the cover of magazines like Vogue Mexico, T Magazine China, and French Revue de Modes. Her modeling career began after she was approached by a talent scout at a local shopping mall and she only continues to rise.