The powder-blue panties prominent in Beyoncé’s pregnancy announcement, which set a record for views on Instagram last week, has Lindenwood roots.
The panties were designed and assembled under the pink ceilings of Liviara USA, a St. Charles-based lingerie company founded by Lindenwood graduate Kara Gatto.
Gatto’s company launched last November and is currently housed in an old brick apartment building on South Fifth Street.
Gatto said she was unaware that Beyoncé was wearing one of her designs until one of her 22 seamstresses spotted Beyoncé’s picture; the singer was wearing a design that they almost dropped.
“I was shocked,” she said. “If someone would have said Beyoncé is going to wear one of your pieces, that probably isn’t the piece I would have thought she would have picked.”
As of Sunday evening, Beyoncé’s post had 9.8 million likes, making it the most-liked picture ever on Instagram.
Her post received half a million likes within 45 minutes of being posted to the online photo-sharing and social network platform, according to USA Today.
Gatto said the coverage has been great publicity for her company.
“Our traffic went from 500 or 600 a day on the website to now it’s 15,000 people a day,” she said.
She said Beyoncé chose one of the pieces from their Marie Antoinette-inspired collection, which her staff has been working on for two years.
“Our trademark with lingerie really is that we focus on female empowerment and revolutionary women,” Gatto said.
At Lindenwood, Gatto majored in business, not fashion. As a single parent with a son, she said she thought a major in art was too risky to pursue.
She said she followed logic during college, but now she’s following her passion. Her business degree from 2000 helped her get the jobs that eventually led to creation of Liviara, she said.
“When I started this, I knew absolutely nothing about creating fashion,” she said. “The business knowledge converts over, no matter what business you’re in.”
She said she has been talking to administrators at Lindenwood about giving fashion students tours of their facility and offering internships.
She said students would benefit from learning from the Gerber Cutter Machine that dominates half of the company basement.
Gatto said she decided to open her own manufacturing shop after she struggled to find structured garment manufacturers in the U.S.
Liviara’s Director of Marketing, Karen Timmons, said everything made at Liviara is hand-sewn.
The design team at Liviara is considering a special gift for Beyoncé to show their appreciation for choosing their product.
“It was kind of fun to see that she utilized that piece and that we got to be a part of a special moment in her life,” Gatto said.