Alaska Patterns is a locally owned and operated family business. Alaskan Patterns can be characterized as a service and educational outlet to promote and preserve some of the Alaskan cultural aspects that have faded through the years. Its main goal is to provide Fairbanksans with individualized products and services. Alaskan Patterns retails Alaskan Parka Patterns, Kuspuk Patterns, Mukluk Patterns, Mitten Patterns, Alaskan Mini Quilt Patterns, as well as Instructional Books and DVD’s.
Lois Tapp (1920-2006) made her first parkas and introduced them into the Fairbanks market in 1952. When the Tapp family moved to Fairbanks in 1951 there was nothing suitable on the market to suffice this very chilling need to stay warm, so Lois set out to remedy the problem. She constructed garments for her family using products such as Jen-Cel-Lite lining, furs, poplin, velveteen materials, braids and trim. Lois’ garments were not only warm and cozy but also attractive. It wasn’t long before people were inquiring of her to make garments for them. It was through this unseen market that she developed a line of patterns (Alaskan Patterns by Lois) and found herself in a thriving business that kept her busier than she had ever hoped to be.
In 1965, Gene Tapp (1923-2006) saw a market; a need to keep the head and feet warm so he developed additional patterns. Gene designed the Mukluk Patterns, the Sourdough Hat Pattern and the Trapper’s Hat Pattern. The pattern business remained much in its primitive stage until Gene and Lois Tapp started the Mukluk Shop in 1965. It remained in operation until 1979. The Mukluk Shop sold patterns, mukluks, parkas, kuspuks, mittens, hats, furs and other materials.
In 1999, Lois, who was then her in her 80’s, completed her new line of patterns called Alaskan Mini Quilt Patterns by Lois. Many of the patterns represented by these quilts reflected Lois’ sketches of long ago when she worked as a school teacher in Belkofski located in the Aleutian Islands. She was a business woman for five decades.
Myrna Colp (Lois and Gene Tapp’s daughter) was very interested in keeping the family business alive, so in 1999 she started up the business again under the name Mukluk Shop, then later renamed it Alaskan Patterns. During the first few years of the re-opening, Lois assisted Myrna by teaching parka and kuspuk classes and helped out with custom orders. Myrna is a member of the Fairbanks Arts Association and heads out the Parka Parade in Fairbanks each year in March. Myrna’s desire is to keep the legacy her parents passed down, in the family for generations to come.
Myrna’s daughter, Michelle Amstrup became a partner in the business in 2012 and is now the current owner. Myrna and Michelle are working together to meet the cultural and cold weather needs of both the community and state through the production of warm winter wear and by providing classes and workshops to anyone interested in making their own unique individual garment.