Wanting to learn more about the guy behind the amazing underwear, swimwear, and singlets we've been featuring this summer we decided to get to know Steven Miller...
What is your business: Handmade men’s underwear and intimates.
Location: I’m from Flint, Michigan, but currently live in Savannah, GA.
How did you become a maker? Creativity has always been in my blood; my mother is a seamstress and my father restores antique furniture. I didn’t go to school for fashion, though my hobbies have always gravitated toward art and design. I’m largely self-taught in the realm of sewing. I learned a lot from my mother growing up, but not nearly as much as I should have learned.
I’ve had some side-hustles over the years doing alterations or making things like aprons and bags, but hadn’t really found my niche until last spring, when a local gallery was doing a calls-for-entry for a show entitled “American Vices”. I was interested in the deep influence of sexuality in American life, often kept behind closed doors. My goal was to celebrate the beauty of that sexuality with original intimate items. The response to my work was very positive, and the seeds of Breezy Boy were planted.
What is your creative process: While there’s a lot of underwear for men on the market, it’s rare for me to come across brands that I feel represent me. I’ve always thought there should be more fun and femininity in men’s intimates. I love color, sparkle, and the unexpected. I tend to just browse fabrics when i’m sourcing until I find something that calls to me, something unusual. It’s taken a while to develop my voice and point of view in the market, and I think it’s still growing and developing. Now that i’ve built a foundation, I’m excited to experiment and take some risks. Because I work full-time, it’s a struggle to commit energy and resources to develop new products. But i’m working on it.
Why should we support and buy maker and American Made: There’s a lot you can say about this from an economic or political standpoint, but the driving factor for me is connection. Handmade items have a story, and for me as a maker, I hope that my customers appreciate the non-physical qualities of my products. I take a lot of joy in the discussions and relationships we build through our transaction, and I’m really making an investment in them, just as they are in me. Handmade items are unique and imperfect, just like us as individuals. I think there’s power in that, and I hope my customers feel that power in the items I make to help them celebrate their bodies.
What inspires you? I’m inspired by the people I’ve met as I’ve grown through this process. There are so many amazing queer artists in the Instagram community, and sometimes it can be a little discouraging to be around so much talent!
I’m also really inspired by anyone with self-confidence and body-positivity. It’s something that i’ve struggled with for years and Breezy Boy Clothing has actually been pretty cathartic for that. You might notice that I don’t typically use what many would consider to be “underwear models”, but my feeling is that everyone can be an underwear model. Why not? Initially I had friends model because it was convenient, but when I stepped back I realized that this is really a missing segment. Why aren’t men with “real” bodies modeling underwear? Now that I’m starting to get established and make connections, I hope to push that further. Every man can be a Breezy Boy.
What has been the most successful way to get your product out there? Almost all of my product has been sold via Instagram. It’s such a great tool for sharing a story and connecting with others. My Instagram is definitely a brand, and I do market, but I like when it happens organically. It try not to sell as much as share my story and learn about the stories of others. It’s been working out pretty well and I’ve made some great internet friends.
How do you ensure quality: Unlike a lot of larger brands, my items aren’t being produced in a factory. Everything being sold by Breezy Boy is sewn by me, with a hand-me-down sewing machine, in my bedroom. Because I’m so physically and emotionally invested in the production process, it’s important to me that I’m producing something I’m proud of and will make the customer happy. But also, because everything is handmade, each item is going to be a little different.
Is flannel always in season? If I were back home in Michigan, I would say flannel is always in season. In Georgia? It’s in season for about 1 week a year. I miss flannel. Maybe I’ll do a flannel underwear line for winter?
How do you divide between work and personal time? It’s really hard. Really really hard. Especially working full time in addition to this project. I’m pretty happy right now producing small quantities because it does allow me to have a life. Time management is the biggest thing. I think you have to set boundaries and “office hours” each week to produce product for customers, maintain social media, experiment with new product, and deal with the backend stuff like accounting.
What is the biggest question you’ve yet to answer? I find that people constantly ask me “how do you want to grow this business?” or “where do you see your brand going?” Honestly, I don’t have an answer. My logic brain would say I should have clearly establish goals and a business plan, but right now i’m just having fun and producing things I think are beautiful. If I can someday have a team and make it my full-time job? That would be amazing. If it stays as a hobby I do on the nights and weekends? I think I’m okay with that too. Ask me again in a year if I still feel that way.