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Meet Zae of Pray For Me

Today we’d like to introduce you to Zae of Pray For Me.

Hi Zae , thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I’ve loved art, design, and fashion since a young age. As a young black boy, expressing myself verbally was always difficult for youth, so I had to find different avenues to do so, resulting in my becoming creative. I discovered art and fashion was the easiest way to express myself. I started my creative career in high school at Cardinal Ritter, joining a multi-faceted creative group titled Ahead of Our Time, filled with creatives from photographers, designers, and artists. While in high school, I started painting seriously, designing clothing, and getting my feet wet with photography, learning from my friends. I made it a goal to surround myself with like-minded creatives to inspire and help push me creatively. I spent a lot of my time in high school playing basketball, so I figured once I graduated and went to college, I wanted to lock in my passion for designing and painting to make an impact. The summer before I left for college, I decided to intern at DNA and learned a lot about retail and the streetwear industry.

I went to college at Mizzou and immediately focused on developing my brand and monetizing my talents. I struggled financially so much my first year that it was demeaning. I wanted to begin monetizing my talents and figuring out how to creatively go to the next level. This was the birth of Pray For Me, a streetwear brand and art testimonial dedicated to story-telling the black youth experience through conceptual and cultural art. Pray For created me for black kids who grew up like me out of the mud, oppressed systematically, blossoming like a flower out of the concrete in cities with little to no resources, and finding their way to make an impact on the world while finding true happiness/purpose. I want to tell our stories in a way only we can tell them.

Pray For Me has developed tremendously since my college years and has greatly impacted St. Louis and the Midwest in general. I’ve had the opportunity to compete to design for Nike and Serena Williams, designed clothing for Young Thug, Smino, Veeze, Iman Shumpert, and more.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Nothing has been easy for me in this life or within my creative career. The brand’s name Pray For Me is somewhat a play on words because, as a black creative, that’s always what I wanted my entire life. Struggles I endured included:

  • Building a team of like-minded individuals with the same goals.
  • Funding the brand individually with no backing.
  • Maneuvering in Saint Louis to find resources and a network to create at a high level that I intended.

Another struggle was believing in my vision and having faith, walking without sight, and understanding that what’s for me will be for me, and I can’t control the unknown or everything. I still have this struggle to this day.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I’m an art director, designer, and painter—a multi-disciplinary creative. I’m known for various things, from customizing AF1s to painting and designing streetwear clothing. I’m most proud of my work, such as designing clothing for Young Thug, Smino, Iman Shumpert, and Veeze. Also, competing to design for Serena Williams with Nike in 2020 was a huge learning experience I’ll never forget. What sets me apart as a creative are my work ethic, humility, empathy and ability to relate to others, and faith in myself and my vision. Every day I wake up, I bet on myself and try to learn, fail, and succeed endlessly. I’m one of the most overly humble people you’ll meet, and it sometimes makes me sick of how humble I can be. All in all, I’m cut from a different cloth and consider myself a generational talent.

Can you talk to us about how you think about risk?
I was born a risk-taker and felt like I got this characteristic from my father. In this life, I was taught that there would be no gain without risk. Taking a risk and having faith correlate so much. These are two aspects of life I live by daily and embrace throughout all the struggles, adversity, and glory because you will see every stage.

Contact Info:

  • Website: Zaeahead.com
  • Instagram: @zaeahead @whyprayforme
  • Facebook: 
  • Twitter: @zaeahead @whyprayforme
  • Youtube: 
  • Yelp: 
  • SoundCloud: 

Image Credits
-@jared.us -@kaecm__ -@whyprayforme -@__bino_ : profile pic

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