Support Women Owned Businesses: Mia Calotta of A Shop of Things

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Tell us a little about yourself! Where are you currently based? How long have you run your business?
I started my business in Brooklyn where I lived in a 700 sq foot apartment with my boyfriend and a roommate. The apartment was so small that we only had one area to work on stuff- the kitchen table- and my boyfriend and I would literally take turns working at that table. In 2016 I moved to Nashville (space!) and I currently operate out of a spare bedroom in my house AND I get to use our basement as a little warehouse. I’ve had my business for four years!



Describe your business!
My business explores the dark, funny and irreverent parts of my mind but with fun fonts and cute colors. I like making things that people can’t walk away from without buying. I like the things I make to be ladylike with an edge. And also politically woke! I try to donate proceeds from sales each month to causes near and dear to my heart- most recently I've donated to the Beagle Freedom Project, the Nashville Humane Society and the Abortion Access fund!



What made you want to start your business?
It’s hard to pinpoint when how and why I really started my business.. Throughout my life I have always made things and sold them and have always walked the line of being creative and business-minded. In college I had an avid cross stitching hobby, I was really good and fast and would make all of my friends pieces for their dorms and apartments. Everyone loved them and friends of friends started asking me if I had business cards and a website and I had neither! I quickly gained a bunch of clients and would have a waiting list during the holidays for custom orders. When I graduated school in 2014 I partnered with my friend Gionna who sold ceramics and we did some markets together for a couple months before deciding on combining businesses. I was having trouble learning SEO tactics and the best ways to make product listings for unique handmade products while Gionna was going full speed ahead with spreadsheets of sales and reading small business guides. I was so grateful to have such an ambitious partner, someone to check my work. She was the one who named our business- A Shop of Things- because it literally started as a shop where we sold a variety of handmade goods! We continued to work together for two years. When I moved to Nashville in 2016 our roles in the business switched. I became super driven to gain more wholesale clients and to do more markets whereas she was feeling a greater need to focus on her passions of teaching and creating. We went our separate ways in the summer of 2017 but I still operate under the same name and we are still friends!

What are some of your favorite products?
I love my newest collection Not Yours!! I really worked so so hard for so many months, showing it to as many people as possible to get feedback, trying on all types of t shirts to find the most perfect comfiest ones, and learning to trust myself with designs I loved but no one else initially seemed to.
My other favorite item of all time is my Women’s Rights are Human Rights pin. It was the second pin I ever designed before feminism was a “trend” and I think it has carried me through a lot of tumultuous political times!
And then my most favorite product of all time is my Put the Seat Down stitch. I originally conceived of this idea when I was still in college in 2012 living with a roommate with a boyfriend. The seat NEEDED to be put down and I had the skills to make this happen and I'm proud to still sell this product today, putting the seat down is a small act of feminism we all need in our lives!!




What’s one of your favorite or proudest business accomplishments?
That I kept going!! Hitting the 5 year mark next year of owning a small business will be huge for me, I’ve had people tell me that only 1 in 5 small businesses make it to 5 years and when that happens I’m going to send all those people a cute little email that says looks like I’ve made it look how far I’ve come my babyyyy

What inspires you and what keeps you motivated?
I love seeing customers on Instagram who tag me wearing my products!! I love when someone sends me an Instagram message that one of my friends told them about my business. The other day in one of my group chats a friend posted a screenshot of someone reposting my work in their story and I didn’t even know them!! I love that people react to my work so fondly, there’s always a fear that I will make something and no one will want it.

What does your workspace, studio, home office, desk, storefront, etc look like? 
A MESS!!! I work out of our spare bedroom which is also our guest room. It is always a clutter of boxes, packing material, half packaged product and half packed orders. I like to be clean and tidy but I’m always doing 8 things at once and it’s just not possible so learning to forgive myself for not being 100% all the time has been a big part of my business.



Shout out a few of your favorite women owned business!
My gynecologist!!!! Best doctor I have ever been to and the entire practice is owned and run by women- it’s called WOMEN and it’s in Nash. My CPA, my banker, my dentist! Women are just better at everything because they have had to work harder to be where they are, especially women of color.

Caroline Kaufman is an amazing artist and a friend I treasure who makes beautiful textiles and who has never lowered her standards for who she works for and how much she gets paid and has built a sustainable business that I envy! @crosekauf
Made Au Gold started her business from nothing and she is amazingly talented and creative. There’s nothing she can’t do! @madeaugold 

Mia Graffam is my favorite tattoo artist and I’m going to get all of my tattoos forever from her- she owns Victory Tattoo in Nashville and is an amazingly skilled tattoo artist who has never once been arrogant about her skills and experience unlike some of the male artists I mistakenly have tattoos from. @miagraffam
My hairdresser Olivia Scibelli also owns an inclusive all ages space here in Nashville called DRKMTTR and is focused on cultivating community in a rapidly changing city. @drkmttrcollective 

I also love Instagram accounts Ladies Get Paid, Femistabulous, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Rachel Cargle and the podcasts Call your Girlfriend, Terrible Thanks forAsking and Hysteria.

Tell us where people can find you (IG handle, website, store address, etc)
Find me on Instagram @shopofthings or at www.ashopofthings.com 

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