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Meet The Artist: Karema Deodato Millinery

One of the most important threads to the fabric of a community is the ability of makers and producers to successfully collaborate in order to build a symbiotic relationship. One way The Pass has recently seeked this out was in our collaboration with local fashion designer and hat maker Karema Deodato. 

Karema’s exceedingly impressive hat-making abilities didn’t happen overnight. In fact, her influence in fashion is rooted back to her childhood. “My mom was always really into fashion. She liked these European and Japanese designers, so she always had this flair for fashion. She sewed a little bit as well, so she always had sewing materials and fabrics around the house,” said Karema. 

This integration of fashion into the household at a young age caught fire with Karema, sparking a passion that created a path for the rest of her life. She soon began to take leftover fabric scraps that were laying around the house and began forming hats. At first, there was only enough for a tiny little velvet fez, but by the time she hit high school, she was already designing and producing custom hats for her classmates. “I just kept going with it. I loved it, so I haven’t stopped since,” said Karema. 

The next logical step for her was fashion school, so she attended the highly coveted Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City, the alma mater of Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, and Norma Kamali. 

From there, things only got more impressive for Karema as she landed an internship at the Metropolitan Opera working across multiple departments. But of course over time, she found herself in the millinery department and made enough of an impression to land a job as assistant milliner under the great Janet Linville. With a dedication to learning and hard work, Karema was finally able to turn her passion into a profession. 

After a lifetime’s worth of lessons at the MET, Karema set out to start her own business with a friend, allowing her to control every aspect of hat creation from conception to sale. In a way, it was back to that first year of high school for Karema, pitching and designing her own ideas, except this time she had vast amounts of experience and industry knowledge aiding her talent. And that talent was able to shine, landing her hats in incredible luxury retail stores like Barneys (now Saks) and Takashimaya. 

The 24/7 grind of running her own business in the city inevitably took its toll on Karema. This is where the serenity, opportunity, and open space of The Berkshires came into her life. She was finally able to breathe, which optimized her creative and professional ability, allowing her to create freely and build her business while also maintaining a peaceful family-oriented lifestyle. “The open space is amazing. It just blew open my whole process. Mentally, I feel like I have room to do what I do and to create. It’s just been great for my mental space… And I just love the people. I’m really lucky I was able to find a community of friends and makers as soon as I moved here,” said Karema. 

Reciprocating support from the local fashion industry was important for Karema. For this current iteration of her business, she sources most of her materials from the tri-state area and works with a group of local sewers to produce some orders of her hats. She is also a part of the Railroad St. Collective in Great Barrington that features a litany of talented local artists. 

She’s afforded the time to customize, work with clients, design, and produce wonderful hats, all in the immense space of The Berkshires. 

A few months ago, Karema was displaying her hats at a local farmer’s market when The Pass Director of Retail came across  her work. The instant impression it made led to The Pass’ newest collaboration with Karema for a limited-edition, luxury hat. These hats, like her others, are hand-blocked on antique hat blocks, made using old-world millinery techniques, and are branded with a custom Pass logo patch on the front, not to mention they’re also waterproof. 

The stylish handcrafted nature of these hats made them a must-have for The Pass. That’s why we’re selling them this holiday season. The Pass fundamentally believes in supporting Berkshires creative culture, so when we met such an experienced and skillful designer in Karema, the hat seemed to perfectly fit the head. 

Karema is hosting a pop-up at The Pass this Saturday 11/26 from 11am to 2pm showcasing her hats! Be sure to stop by, chat with her, and of course, check out these incredible limited-edition hats.

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