Boutique Boss: This Designer Worked for The Biggest Fashion Houses Before Opening Her Own Chic Store  

Yolanda Sangweni Dec, 15, 2017

ESSENCE’s “Boutique Boss” highlights dynamic Black women entrepreneurs who are independent shop owners helping to create more opportunities to #BuyBlack and #ShopSmall. Meet Haamacha Donadi, founder of Theory of Gaia, an independent lable, and boutique, in New York’s Lower East Side.

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Natasha Tendai

Tell us a little about yourself? How long have you been in retail? 
My name is Haamacha Donadi and I was born in Zambia. I attended the Fashion Institute of Technology where I studied International Trade and Marketing. I was very fortunate that at an early age I knew what my passion was and worked for some of the best brands, such as Armani, Valentino and Alexander McQueen.  I always knew working for these companies that I would have my own business someday so I learned as much as I could to prepare myself for my own thing.

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Natasha Tendai

How would you describe your brand’s design aesthetic? 
The aesthetic is oversized fits with details. We don’t shy away from fashion-forward bells and whistles. Ruffles, faux fur, fun prints and deliberately oversized pieces are what we call effortless style. 

 

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Natasha Tendai

Who or what is your biggest designer inspiration?
I enjoy brands that are feminine and fun. I don’t take myself seriously when it comes to fashion, so more quirky things work for me.

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Natasha Tendai

Who is the “Gaia Girl?
Our customer is a woman who loves dressing up, who thoroughly enjoys style - but whose priority isn’t shopping. She has serious goals like education, caring for her family, or embarking on travel adventures. She chooses Theory of Gaia because it’s about empowering to look and feel beautiful through fashion, while simultaneously living an impactful life.

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Natasha Hatendi

Is everything in your store your own brand or do you work with other designers? 
We curate the store with international indie brands as well as American brands.  Our own private label is not far away… Stay tuned!

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Natasha Tendai

What are your favorite pieces in the shop?
I’m a dress girl. I love wearing oversized dresses with motorcycle boots and tights for the winter season. I know that I can always count on a great print, flowy dress to throw on while running around town. I also love our Votivo Candles. They’re the best candles in the market for the price point. They burn for a very long time and super affordable at only $28.

 

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Natasha Tendai

How would you describe your brand’s design aesthetic? 
The aesthetic is oversized fits with details. We don’t shy away from fashion-forward bells and whistles. Ruffles, faux fur, fun prints and deliberately oversized pieces are what we call effortless style. 

 

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Natasha Tendai

Who is your biggest designer inspiration?
I enjoy brands that are feminine and fun. I don’t take myself seriously when it comes to fashion, so more quirky things work for me.

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Natasha Tendai

What are your favorite shops?
Besides Theory of Gaia, I turn to vintage. My favorite shop is in Milan. It’s small, stinky, but the treasures you find are amazing. 

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Natasha Tendai

What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned as an independent business?
I’ve learned to turn my disadvantages to advantages. I’ve also learned how to pivot from mistakes and try different ways of achieving the goal to further understand the business. Most importantly, I surround myself with strong supportive women. Having great mentors to guide me has been my saving grace. 

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Natasha Tendai

Being an entrepreneur can be exhausting. How do you recharge?
I’m still working on this honestly. My favorite thing to do right now is to run a hot bath, have a glass of wine and listen to music. This allows me to leave the outside world, outside and concentrate on the positives of the day and focus on the most important aspect of my life, my family.

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Natasha Tendai

Do you have any sales/ special offers coming up this holiday season?
For the Holiday Season, we have up to 50% off effortless style. Now is the part where you head to our site.