Bosa Modest Wear
Meet Mariam and Mwana, the mother daughter design team of Bosa Modest Wear. Their brightly colored modest designs flutter beautifully in the wind at Fenton Street Market as one of this year’s newest vendors. Read about how they got their start and what makes their dresses so special and don’t forget to stop by and say hello on Saturday!
1. Who are you, where are you from and what do you sell? How are you known at the market?
We are Mariam and Mwana, a mother-daughter fashion design team. We mainly design and make women’s clothes from scratch and we also dabble in making jewelry to accessorize them. We are originally from East Africa and currently live in Maryland; so our fashions are locally made with a global feel. We are known at the market as Bosa Modest Wear and a large banner inside our tent will make us hard to miss.
Mom has been an avid sewer for as long as I can remember and my childhood is filled with memories of all the outfits that she made for me and for herself. It took quite a bit of prodding (several years worth!) for her to get me interested in designing and sewing but once I got started, I finally understood her fascination with it. Together we came up with beautiful, unique designs that we would wear on special occasions, or to the office, or for casual wear in the house. At times I’d be inspired to surprise her with a design that I made especially for her. And at other times she would be inspired to do the same for me. Through it all, our family constantly commented how nice the things we made were. Friends and coworkers also admired what we made and would often ask where we bought them. They would encourage us to try selling what we made but we were content with designing just for ourselves.
Eventually though, as we found ourselves with plenty of free time on the weekends, we wondered if we should give it a try. Luckily for us, our local religious center was having an international bazaar and was looking for vendors. So off to the fabric store we went, looking for a bargain on cheap fabric to get us started. We came home with an assortment of fabrics that had our imaginations running wild. We made new designs as well as variations on things that we had made for ourselves in the past. We worked tirelessly through the week and on the bazaar day, we proudly arranged our wares on the table, eager to make our first sale. We sold three dresses and felt such a huge sense of accomplishment and from that moment, we were hooked. We took part in a fashion show and a few other bazaars before finding out about the Fenton Street Market.
We view our sewing as a hobby and are enjoying the weekend vending scene. We also put up our items on a website but our main source of sales has been vending. Therefore, for the immediate future, we’d like to see how we can grow our online presence so that we can generate more sales.
3. Tell us why you do what you do. What is so special about your business?
Mom and I design and sew because we like the challenge. We actually hand draw our own patterns. So to be able to have an idea, and then translate that idea onto paper and then into something tangible is very rewarding to us. And to be able to see other people appreciate what we have made is an added bonus. Because we do not use commercial patterns, we are able to let our imaginations run wild. This allows us to come up with unique designs that have been an instant draw when customers see our items. Our ability to draw our own patterns also means that it is easy for us to take on custom orders. We have made custom clothes for several customers and always have a measuring tape handy at the market. Prices for custom orders are only slightly higher than the prices for our ready-made items. And we are able to have custom orders ready in a reasonable amount of time. This is what makes us special. It is not very often that you see a dress that you like and then have it customized to fit you!
4. What is your favorite thing about FSM?
One of the things that we love about FSM is the interaction with customers and passers-by. We have met many wonderful people at the market and our summer has definitely been enriched by the experiences we have had. We have gotten very useful feedback that we have incorporated into the items we have made throughout the summer. We have definitely become huge fans of FSM and are glad to be part of the FSM family. We plan on signing up for even more dates next season!