You may have already seen Private Arts' lace undies and bralettes dusted in colorful patterns at Dolls Kill, ModCloth or, its biggest client, Free People. It's probably Orange County's most successful small-scale lingerie company, one that produces stylish, comfy and must-own unmentionables for the discriminating gal. Running the show are three adorable, humble women, one with a baby on her hip and one in her belly.
Michelle Alexander, Meaghan Witthaus and Jeffeny Hughes studied fashion in college, but they pulled together Private Arts in 2008 out of Hughes' laundry room in Long Beach. Witthaus and Hughes wanted to design lingerie, and Alexander noticed there was a lack of graphic undies on the market. Two years and a lot of trial and error later, they began distributing products out of their Huntington Beach studio.
Usually, small businesses work best in a niche market, but Private Arts has managed to create sexy bits for every kind of lady while maintaining a cohesive look. The sublimation process it uses involves printing the style on paper, then pressing that paper under heat and onto the garment. The ink soaks in and gives everything a soft and slightly faded look, everything from floral designs to boho maps to bondage-inspired patterns. All of the products are thoroughly tested to make sure everything is water-safe.
Speaking of water, the women of Private Arts have decided to take the plunge on a new line. "We've always wanted to do swim and loungewear," Hughes says.
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But, Alexander explains, "We don't have the money to start a whole new line." No angel investors here: The ladies used their savings and one credit card to launch the business. To make the new "Cabana" line happen, they've started an IndieGoGo page to help them raise $30,000. There's a little less than a month left, and you'll donate if you're smart. We've seen the prototypes, and whether you're punk rock or a hipster or a guy trying to surprise your girl, you need these pieces.
To donate to Private Arts' campaign, visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/cabana-by-private-arts.