HOMER — On a blustery winter day with the temperatures dropping into the teens, the wind blowing 30 and the sun setting before 6 p.m., Alaskans look south — way south — and imagine themselves strolling a Hawaiian beach. Though thousands of miles apart and distant in latitude, we of the 49th state have deep connections with the 50th state.
That connection is the idea between Alaskaloha, a clothing line created by Homer entrepreneur Tiffanie Story. Her simple designs all feature the iconic Hawaiian state flower, the yellow hibiscus or pua aloalo.
“Most of us live here because we love Alaska, but at the same time we love to go to Hawaii,” Story said. “That flower evokes that feeling of paradise and relaxing and fun times. ... We’re just celebrating the spirit of Alaska with a Hawaiian state of mind and bringing it all together.”
The name came before the design. Story works with her husband, Chris Story, at their company, Story Real Estate, where she manages the books. Chris came up with the Alaskaloha phrase and registered it as a web name domain.
“Chris is always coming up with something,” Tiffanie Story said.
The phrase and web domain didn’t go anywhere. Tiffanie told Chris they needed to do something with the name or get rid of the web domain. Last July, while doing housework, the idea came to her.
“This concept came to me to create an Alaska image out of the Hawaiian flower,” she said.
Story isn’t a graphic artist, though, so she took her ideas to Meg Visger, the art director at PrintWorks.
“She was great in taking the concept in my mind and designing it on the computer for me,” Story said. “It would go back and forth a little bit.”
“It was a collaboration,” Visger said, “She told me what she wanted and I made it happen.”
So far, Alaskaloha has three designs: the outline of the map of Alaska, a bull moose with rack and a salmon. All include a collage of hibiscus flowers within the design and the Alaskaloha name. The designs are printed on a variety of shirts, from short and long sleeve women’s T-shirts to a unisex hoody sweatshirt. Story chose shirts from Bella, American Apparel and Hanes that are comfortable to wear but also a more trendy design. The long-sleeve women’s T-shirt has a hoody and is more a fashion fit, she said.
“I definitely wanted it something you would buy for the image, but you would like the shirt itself,” Story said.
Silkscreened on shirts in white and a single impression, the images are printed lighter so the color of the shirt comes through.
“That was a little more subtle, not so bam, in your face,” Story said. “I didn’t want that puffy thing on the shirt. I wanted the whole thing to be soft.”
Even the hooded sweatshirt is a lighter weight.
“My daughter (Zoe), this is her favorite sweatshirt,” Story said. “She keeps grabbing it from the stack. She just loves the sweatshirt.”
Story’s family has helped Tiffanie in the Alaskaloha enterprise. Zoe Story and her older sister Ashley Gregoire model the shirts on the Alaskaloha Facebook page, with help from Zoe’s friend Abigail Brant. Zoe and Chris helped staff their booth at the Nutcracker Faire in December, their first public showing of the clothing line.
“Definitely, that’s a great way to meet with people and get feedback,” Story said.
So far, craft fairs and through Facebook are the only ways Story has marketed the shirts. The web domain remains dormant while she works on the website. Story would like to work with retail shops to sell the Alaskaloha line. She plans to do some craft fair booths next summer, such as the Homer Council on the Arts Street Fair. She also is developing more designs.
“There’s a lot of different things to do with it,” Story said. “Anytime you start a new business, I want to take it slow one thing at a time.”
For now, people interested in looking at and buying the shirts can visit the Alaskaloha Facebook page.
Prices are $25 for the short-sleeve T-shirt, $35 for the long-sleeve T-shirt and $45 for the sweatshirtsAlaskaloha has been fun, Story said.
“Creating Alaskaloha was me needing a creative outlet,” she said. “Being a fairly creative person I need something a little bit more to do with my time than managing the accounts.”