Gem City Style: Nov. 2023 Shop Local
An interview with Mia D'Amato, Sewist/Creator for Boho Basement
Jessica Hunter (JH): Mia, tell us about who you are and how you got your business started.
Mia D'Amato (MD): I'm 24 years old, originally from Buffalo, New York. I graduated from Mercyhurst in 2021 with a degree in business economics and sustainability. I've always been an advocate for the environment but discovered my passion for conscious shopping during my freshman year at college. I had been searching for brands to buy that prioritize ethical, low waste, production. To be quite honest, there aren't many brands that exist that are transparent and trustworthy in terms of production. So, I started reselling "still good clothing" as a means to educate people on the importance of secondhand fashion … and make a little extra cash so I could upgrade to Annie's mac 'n cheese from ramen noodles [laughs]
Being sent home from school after COVID hit is really what allowed me the opportunity to start selling and making content full time. After graduating the following year, I was disappointed in myself that I had not found a career or job in my field that interested me. Instead of jumping into something I knew I wouldn't enjoy, I decided to lean into Boho and see if I could make something out of my side hustle. It's now almost two years later and I have discovered so much about myself and the potential of being an entrepreneur. Having built a brand that aligns with my personal values inspires me to wake up and enjoy creating every single day.
JH: What drew you specifically to streetwear? How do you find your inspiration for creating new looks?
MD: I've never really been into dressing in anything but sweat sets. When I first started upcycling, I would create things that I liked to wear. The community that I've built around me is a reflection of myself, sports-loving comfort enthusiasts.
JH: Do you have licensing for your NFL and sports products?
MD: I actually do not have any pro sport licensing. Because I strictly work with goods in the secondhand market, I do not need a license because it has already been paid for at the initial point of sale for that good.
JH: Have you ever collaborated with other artists or creators on a project? If so, describe the experience.
MD: One of the coolest collabs I've done so far was with Nissan's Formula E team, NISMO. I upcycled a collection for the drivers and shot a campaign out in Portland, Oregon back in June of this year. Other than that, I am constantly working with different women connected to pro sports teams to create custom game day fits.
JH: What advantages does Erie offer you as a sewist? How are you enjoying downtown?
MD: Erie has been the best spot for me to network and grow my business. There are so many resources as a startup that I've been able to take advantage of. I work out of the Erie Technology Incubator located in the Gannon Business Building. Through that organization I've been able to meet and work with different groups like the Small Business Development Center, Ben Franklin, Athena, Entrepreneurs Forever, and so many other cool people who offer time to help drive and grow my business. I also have to say, the thrifting in Erie is top tier.
JH: What's next for Boho Basement? How are you preparing for gift giving season?
MD: I typically open custom orders on the third Thursday of every month. Other than that, you can buy ready-made items on my website. New drops every Thursday.
Jessica Hunter can be found at jessicahunterphotos.com