Originally published in The Northern Light
Growing up in the Philippines, Bea Barth learned to hand sew from her aunt who would ask Barth to help mend their clothes. Now, Barth is launching her own intimates company along with her best friend, Kristina Carlson.
“It’s funny and very ironic because the way I learned to sew as a little girl was when my aunt would make me sew patches on her underwear because we were poor, and now I’m starting this,” Barth said.
Barth and Carlson, who has since relocated from Alaska to North Carolina, contracted a seamstress to help with the task of actually creating the lingerie. All of the garments are made in Alaska, with the idea of keeping the items as ethically produced as possible.
“The biggest thing is the importance of ethically produced lingerie and clothing… We try to source everything from the U.S. or from local places here. We want to support smaller local businesses that are essentially doing the same thing we are,” Barth said.
Love 49 began as an idea for one of Barth’s UAA marketing class finals.
“I had to do a marketing plan, so I did it on this and after I finished my paper I was like, ‘We should do this,’” Barth said.
Barth strives to make use of local talent in all aspects of her new business — even down to the price tags that will adorn the lingerie, made by Assets Incorporated, a small local non-profit printing company that employs residents with disabilities.
Model and UAA justice student Jasmine Alleva found comfort in Love 49’s undergarments.
“I love that this is all local. From the designs to the production. I love supporting local businesses. It makes my heart swell that I can buy lingerie sets and I know that my purchase isn’t hurting anyone in a different country and that the money is going back into the local economy,” Alleva said.
Barth and Carlson, who have been friends since grade school, have always shown a strong interest in fashion.
“One of our favorite things to do in high school was to go to Barnes and Noble and read fashion magazines. We were always really into fashion. We are really into consignment shopping. We aren’t uppity, we’re from Alaska and we want the deals,” Barth said.
Anchorage has very few options for buying lingerie, beyond department stores.
“I’m super excited for another local brand to pop up. I believe everyone who wears lingerie should have the option to shop local and support their economy. I also think it’s super important that people feel comfortable and sexy in what they wear, so it’s great that Alaskans now have another option,” Melinda Moto-Weinstein, UAA psychology student and lingerie saleswoman, said.
Love 49 hopes to fill a niche that hasn’t existed before in Anchorage that will cater to the city and state’s unique fashion sense.
“Our first priority is our audience here in Alaska. We’re just known to go to the nicest restaurants in Sorrels or Bogs and Xtra-tuffs, and no one cares, and that’s just the kind of fashion we have. Maybe the rest of the country looks down on it, but I’m not going to wear my heels outside because it doesn’t make sense,” Barth said. “We’re wearing sweaters half the year anyways, we don’t need push-up bras. I have a down jacket on half the year, I don’t need to show off. Comfort is number one for me. It can still be pretty and super comfortable.”
Currently, Love 49 offers general sizes that range from small to large, and custom sizing where intimates will be tailored to your exact measurements.
“Everything is made to order. You might be a 32, but a 32 DD, and we can make it. We’re not a store that’s already pre-made all of our stuff,” Barth said. “We are here to cater to a wide array of people, not just skinny people, not just models. Everyone is different and everyone needs underwear and deserves to have pretty stuff in their underwear store.”
Love 49 opened their online shop last week and are now taking orders at love49ak.com.