A distinguishing characteristic of membership in Steilacoom’s Chamber of Commerce is the variety and number of its “cottage” industries. Mia Kountz is the proprietor of the newest of these cottage industries. She’s a sewist. “A sewist,” she explains, “is a gender neutral, politically correct term for someone who is a tailor/seamstress/dressmaker.”
One thing’s certain—this sewist, recently arrived in the community, is “sewing up a storm” and she’s eager to tell potential clients about her work. This talented woman has returned to her native state from North Carolina. There she was one of two sewists close to Ft. Bragg, where she had a lot of military clients, and “quickly fashions” garments from corsets to dresses; almost any project that requires fabric, a needle and thread.
Speaking of corsets: one of the most intricate corsets she’s designed is the tattooed one that covers her left arm, while her right arm is embellished with flowers and butterflies. Other tattoos, she says, camouflage the scarred skin on her upper body. The designs are her way of “taking my body back,” she says.
A cancer survivor, Mia specializes in creating attractive, tailored-to-fit clothing for women, particularly those who’ve had mastectomies. Part of that includes alterations to existing clothing so it’s comfortable.
“There’s no need to throw away your wardrobe.” Scattered across the top of her main worktable are assorted pieces of purple fabric, ready to be assembled into a comfortable cardigan with inside pockets for containers for drainage. The fabric represents the latest of her “post-mastectomy” attire product line.
Besides a line of moisturizers and lip balm (including two coffee-flavored varieties), she’s been mapping out her strategy for promoting the clothing products to oncology departments at local hospitals. Primarily she relies on “word of mouth” advertising, although she also markets her products on Etsy.
Mia’s interest in sewing began when she was seven years old, where she learned from her grandmother and mother. Her first project, inspired by reading fairy tales and Norse legends, was making herself the perfect princess dress that she wore while curled up on the couch with a book.
Displayed on a dressmaker’s stand on the opposite side of her workroom is a wedding gown destined for some fortunate bride-to-be whose wedding takes place in mid May. It’s a frothy white gown, with a lacy scallop along the hemline and sparkly silver designs all over the skirt and bodice. The Steilacoom Sewist has modified the bride’s dress, as well as those of the wedding party, from attendants to mother and grandmother of the bride.
While she’s worked on many wedding gowns during the years, one gown that she’d like to make one day—it’s strictly a fantasy, she explains, “Is a white leather wedding dress, trimmed with silver.” Mia notes that she now has a client for the fantasy leather wedding dress. She says that she chatted with a bride-to-be a couple of days ago, who is having a “rock and roll-themed wedding and she’s placed an order for the leather outfit. “It’s going to be a 1950’s-style simple bodice of white leather with a pouffy circle skirt that will need about 20 yards of tulle. I’m thrilled to get to make it happen,” Mia adds.
Mia said she prefers small town living. She plans to explore Steilacoom and find ways to make a contribution to the local scene. “I’m excited about all the new opportunities here.” The Sewist accepts clients, By Appointment Only, between 10-7 p.m., seven days a week. Please phone her at 971-999-1328.