November 9, 2007

Young Berkeley entrepreneur goes straight to the top with one-of-kind sweatshirts

By Jazmyne Young
YO! Youth Outlook

Sweatshirt designer Ali Madigan is already dressing music superstars like M.I.A. in her one-of-a-kind Boozey hoodies, named after a childhood nickname. Her $600 pieces can also be seen on Bay Area rappers like Stunna of The Pack.

Madigan, who launched her line at the tender age of 17, says this is only the beginning. “When I first started, there was a lot that I couldn’t do by myself, like sign contracts,” Madigan says, from her Berkeley studio. “But I worked around it until I turned 18.”

Her clothes are reminiscent of an early 90s hip hop style meets retro funk. “I would describe my clothes as colorful, funky, intricate pieces,” Madigan says. The sweatshirts have a unique look because they are made of carefully selected fabrics that she “could only find a yard or things that I searched near and far for.”

Madigan says she first started sewing when she was about six years old and lived with her grandmother. “She started me off by making dolls clothes and dolls, and that’s where I got my basic sewing skills that I still use today,” Madigan says, recalling how she had a real liking towards matching fabric pieces even then.

After that, Madigan began using the sewing machine to alter her clothing from first grade. “I would add patches or turn shirts into dresses,” she says. “But I saw it as just a hobby. I was more into painting and sculpting.”

It wasn’t until Madigan made herself a jacket when she was 15 years old that she got really inspired. “I made my first jacket from scratch with buttons and zippers,” she says. “I made it in the morning and spent five or six hours on it and wore it out that night. When I got all this [positive] feedback on it, it was my inspiration to start the line.”

Each hoodie in the Boozey collection is handmade and no two are the same. So far, Madigan has been marketing her clothes at fashion shows and through her MySpace page.

“It’s hard to decide who gets a hoodie,” she says. “They’re all made with love, and I’m attached to all of them.”

As for the future of Boozey, Madigan says that she would like to broaden her designs to fit more people. “I’m interested in all types of design, from womenswear to menswear,” she says.

“I make clothes because of the feeling I get when people come to the showroom and see a piece that I’ve designed, and instantly know that they want to purchase that piece because it embodies their personality, that’s what makes me proud of my work as a designer,” she says.

As for her longevity as a designer, Madigan says she’s hooked. “I’m still young, so I have a long way to go,” she says, laughing. “I’m definitely going to be designing until I’m 87.”

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