Tiffany Zadi is redefining Miami accessories. Where most local brands offer delicate bling and colorful, cloth handbags, her brand Heist centers on handcrafted metal jewelry and salvaged leather products in darker tones. Nevertheless, Heist remains 100 percent Miami, just like its founder. Not only does Zadi locally source materials, her handmade products are all crafted in her Miami home. And, despite the seeming contrasts, Heist accessories fit seamlessly into Miami’s tropical life.
While these days Zadi is best known for her flourishing fashion career, her path to Heist is paved with enviable non-fashion milestones. In 10 short years, she earned both a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Miami and a Juris Doctor degree from the New England School of Law. Since then, she has established herself as an in-demand piano teacher in Key Biscayne and has been admitted to the bar in two states. So, how does a girl go from music and law to fashion success?
“Everyone wonders about this, because fashion seems like the outlier, but once you hear my story it makes a lot of sense,” says Zadi.
Growing up, her parents owned a jewelry store, and in the three years between music school and law school, Zadi spent her free time designing jewelry, learning how to craft her own pieces from her knowledgable father. With his help, she honed her skills for working with metals and began shaping her signature geometric designs. “My dad would help me figure out if a metal was strong enough to hold my designs,” explains Zadi. “Things like that.”
For the next couple of years, Zadi took her newfound knowledge in metalwork to law school in Boston, and then back to Miami, practicing her jewelry-making craft as much as possible in between taking the bar exam and working in part-time law positions. Then, in 2008, Zadi joined Etsy, and everything changed. Heist started to get a lot more traction and began to explode in popularity, requiring far more time and dedication than she was capable of devoting to jewelry while trying to build a law career. Dissatisfied with the types of law jobs she was finding in Miami, Zadi made the decision to pursue Heist full-time.
“People always assume that Heist is a hobby, so it is satisfying to see their reaction when they realize it is doing really well financially,” Zadi says. “I am lucky that my decision worked out and that my business has continued growing.”
In recent years, Heist expanded its line to include handbags, wallets, pillows, and other accessories made with salvaged leather. These new products are so well made that it is surprising to discover that Zadi is a self-taught leather craftsman. “My mom taught me how to sew, but not with leather. I spent days reading up on leather patterns and practicing them on cheaper materials before I began working with actual leather.”
Her inventory, which is now mostly comprised of leather goods, is in high demand both in Miami and across the United States, and Heist has been featured in the Huffington Post and Good Morning America. To date, Heist is carried in 11 stores, including Miami’s very own Sweat Records and Cutler Jewelers.