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Family, fashion, flea markets: Sophomore’s story of creating a clothing business

Olivia+Boehm+%28%E2%80%9826%29+works+on+a+painting+in+the+art+studio.+She+started+her+own+clothing+business%2C+Disregulation%2C+in+ninth+grade%2C+and+it+features+her+own+artwork.+%E2%80%9CIf+Im+going+to+do+art%2C+I+might+as+well+go+full+throttle+and+start+my+own+business+to+really+show+how+committed+I+am%2C%E2%80%9D+Boehm+said.
Photo credit: Shae Killam
Olivia Boehm (‘26) works on a painting in the art studio. She started her own clothing business, Disregulation, in ninth grade, and it features her own artwork. “If I’m going to do art, I might as well go full throttle and start my own business to really show how committed I am,” Boehm said.

Equipped with a tent and racks of handmade T-shirts, Olivia Boehm (‘26) starts her day at the Silverlake Flea Market. Last summer, Boehm arrived early to the market multiple Saturday and Sunday mornings to set up her stand.

It wasn’t until she quit the volleyball team in sixth grade that Boehm realized she wanted to start her own business as an artist. She first created Disregulation, her T-shirt brand featuring original artwork, in ninth grade because of the lack of women in popular skate brands. Boehm said, as one of seven siblings, all of whom are very athletic, she has spent a lot of time at skate parks.

“The LA skate culture made me think, ‘Why am I not seeing any girls?’” Boehm said. “Why am I not seeing any women in brands like Thrasher, Institusi and Baker?”

Boehm said her family, especially her older siblings, not only inspired her to use T-shirts as the canvas to display her artwork, but they also helped her build up her confidence. They helped model the newly created T-shirts, and Boehm got their verdict on designs before using linoleum to print out distinct patterns.

The idea of starting a brand occurred to Boehm in her freshman year. She began creating her first design prints in March of 2023, but her T-shirts and brand name, were not released until May.

Over time, she has developed new styles and uses of materials. Boehm’s mom, Michelle Boehm, talked about the importance of family and commented on the support they have provided her over the development of her brand.

“Everyone’s been nothing but supportive,” Michelle Boehm said. “I mean, my eldest children are just amazed that Olivia can do what she can do.”

Boehm not only designs everything she sells, but she also advertises her products. Social media is one way she has gained a following for herself and for her business. Boehm said that even if a customer doesn’t buy any shirts, they might ask for her social media, which helps her gain both a following and recognition from a wider audience. 

Disregulation began under the guidance of Hannah Kremin, Boehm’s art teacher, who Boehm said has had a significant impact on her brand.

“She has really been that resource, she has taught me how to carve in linoleum and shown me how to print onto a T-shirt, told me what ink to buy,” Boehm recalled. “Everything down to the bones of  the drawings themselves and how to use Photoshop. All that stuff goes back to her. And I do give a lot of credit to her, but I think it’s well deserved.”

These images from Olivia Boehm’s Instagram feature original designs. Boehm made her first shirts in May of 2023. (Photo credit: Olivia Boehm)

One of Boehm’s friends, Finley Vincent (26), also has their own business called Nova Jewels. They shared a stand with Boehm at the market, which Vincent said helped ease the anxiety of customer interactions.

“[Nova Jewels] was kind of inspired by Olivia,” Vincent said. “I didn’t have a business before we started going to the Flea Market.” 

Even though they had each other for support, Boehm and Vincent said that didn’t stop the inevitable bad customer interactions. On one particular occasion, Boehm said a teenage boy approached their stand. She thought he was going to buy something, but instead, he told her she didn’t have an understanding of the fashion industry.

“He said, pretty much, ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about,'” Boehm said, “and walked away without acknowledging some more T-shirts or anything.”

While negative customer interactions have occurred, positive interactions have as well. Vincent said familiar faces often reappear at flea markets when you sell there for weeks on end. They recalled the memory of one day in particular when the owner of the flea market was wearing one of Boehm’s shirts.

“And I think he was even wearing one of Olivia’s shirts, which is super cool,” Vincent said, “because he actually wanted to wear it.”

Over time, Boehm said she has grown her business with tools and support from friends and family. 

“Find a business that you love,” Boehm said.  “Create your own community when you can’t find one.” 

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About the Contributor
Shae Killam, Staff Reporter

Shaelyn Killam started writing for the Oracle in 2023. She enjoys baking, cooking, writing, and playing with her cat Zevi.

Comments (3)

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  • G

    Gabby KaplanJan 26, 2024 at 9:44 am

    Great Job Shae!

    Reply
  • K

    Katie Ray McKillopJan 26, 2024 at 9:42 am

    Way to go, Shae!! I loved reading this– what an interesting article! Can’t wait to read what you publish next!

    Reply
  • V

    ViviJan 26, 2024 at 9:41 am

    Congrats on your first article Shae!! This is such an interesting piece, well done!

    Reply