In high school, Zella Ziona and her friend Amber planned to go to fashion school in New York and become famous stylists and designers together, but Ziona was shot to death at 21 in October 2015.
The gunman was an acquaintance, and many of Ziona’s friends believe he was angry with the transgender woman for flirting with him in front of his friends.
Amber grieved hard for a long time before going to fashion school, and now she has opened her own boutique inside Federal Plaza on Rockville Pike, naming her store Zella Ziona.
“I just thought it was unique and I thought it was empowering for women to see at the top while they’re shopping,” she said.
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“We’re trans friendly but everyone is welcome,” is her motto.
“My store is made for transgender women but not limited to it, so anybody can shop here,” she said.
She says she sometimes hears the voice of Ziona – known for her exquisite taste – as she purchases things for the store, which also carries items from businesses owned by friends.
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Amber says she’ll also keep Ziona’s memory alive through her own family, including her little boy.
“She was positive, she was beautiful, she was brave and that she was loving,” Amber said.
Amber has dreams to expand, open a line of clothing and make Zella Ziona a household name across the country.