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After 18 months on lists of Black-owned businesses, her clothing company is “leveling out”

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Clothing designer and speech therapist Aliya Wanek.

Aliya Wanek now works part-time as a speech therapist to devote more time to her clothing business. Photo courtesy Aliya Wanek

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About a year and a half ago, Aliya Wanek’s company picked up dramatically as a result of being featured on lists of Black-owned businesses that people could support during the racial justice protests in the summer of 2020.

For years, Wanek, who lives in Vallejo, California, has been working as a speech therapist for young adults with disabilities during the day and spending evenings and weekends on her eponymous clothing business.

This year, Wanek said, has seen “a leveling out of the craziness of 2020,” when her collections started selling out within days.

“I’ve definitely seen a big plateau in that customer frenzy,” she said. “Now, I feel that I’m able to balance out what happened before 2020, what happened during 2020, and almost average the two and move forward.”

Because of the growth of her brand, Wanek decided to go from working full time at her speech therapy job to part time this year, working 2½ days a week. She spends the rest of her time on her business.

“One thing that has really changed for me across these past few years is just constantly being like this productivity machine,” Wanek said. “I wasn’t really talking about coming home and having a home life. I was talking about coming home, maybe I can take a nap, and then I can get up and work on orders after my speech therapy job. Now, I feel like that level of time crunching isn’t as intense.”

As Wanek looks toward the future of her brand, she’s focused on presenting the “joy of a Black woman.”

“I feel like in 2020, so much of our experience, through social media and through spotlighting, did have this connection to our suffering,” Wanek said. “I just really want to highlight and move through with the joy that we have. That’s something that I’m really going to focus on in my photography and how I shoot my products and how I present it on my site.”

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