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Telling Alaska’s Story: From a side hustle to a small business

Published: Nov. 1, 2021 at 12:00 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A local woman began a business selling bras during the pandemic and has expanded to employ four people who sew custom brassieres in unique sizes and colors.

“So swoop, it kind of started as always be swooping because we kind of think you should just always be swooping and so then we shortened it just to kind of make it a little bit more simple, so now we’ve been running with swoop,” said Owner Virginia Lynn Peterson of Swoop. Bras and Bitters.

Swoop began as an idea that started almost two years ago while Virginia was working as an ER nurse.

“I work 12 hour shifts and finding a bra to wear had been kind of challenging, just to wear one for 12 hours trying to find one that was comfy or one that my shoulder straps didn’t fall off,” she explained.

So Peterson made her own bra. Using different materials, Virginia kept her bra design simple.

“It wasn’t very good, but I kind of thought to myself, I know how to make it better,” Peterson said. “No hook and eye, we put the rings and sliders in the front, it’s a little more supportive than a bralette, but not as supportive as a sports bra.”

Peterson said she’s always been a crafty person and the idea of making something and selling it one day had always been in the back of her mind.

“I think the part that’s been most interesting for me is my love for starting a small business.”

When it’s time to get to work, she doesn’t have to go far. A quick walk upstairs in her home brings her to a sewing room where most of her bras are born.

“All of our patterns are kind of inspired by the love for outdoors, we also use some of local artists fabrics where their prints have been put on fabrics so we use some of those as well.”

The first year, her product was mainly sold online, but in year two, business has already doubled.

“So we just started underwear this year, so we got a lot of requests for matching underwear so we have added a high waisted and a low waisted bikini cut.”

Peterson said that each bra takes approximately one hour to sew and hope to eventually expand into a boutique-style space. From a side hustle to small business, Peterson’s advice to others wanting to take the leap is to trust your gut.

“Taking this on, it’s definitely taken up a lot of my time, but I kind of live by that saying ‘do something that scares you everyday,’ and that’s what I did and I would say that to others, you don’t know if it’s going to succeed unless you try.”

Peterson’s bras can be found on the Swoop website, as well as a custom sizing chart. The bras come in sizes XS to XL and ship out of state and. In late November, Peterson will be at the Vintage Market in Palmer at the Alaska State Fairgrounds with her Swoop bras.

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