Clothes to be comfortable in

COSTA MESA — Like most people, Shannon Stoveken wasn't thrilled by the prospect of having to make a trip to the post office last week to mail off a holiday package, especially because she would have to pay extra to ship it internationally to London.

Then it hit her: She wasn't just filling an order for a product from her Sexy and Sober clothing and accessory line; her product was going to be someone's Christmas present all the way across "the Pond" in Europe.

"It was incredible," Stoveken said of her first sale to a customer from the United Kingdom. Although the line, which features the proud announcement of Sexy and Sober had gathered a small Canadian following, not too many orders had come from overseas.

Stoveken, a Newport Beach native who's been sober since 2006 after a long battle with alcoholism, created the line to try to change the stigma associated with recovering addicts, she said.

"I'm proud of my sobriety — it's not an easy thing to do," Stoveken said of the decision to stop drinking. "That stigma, that shame, there's no need for it. People are not ashamed to have fought cancer and won, so there shouldn't be shame to have battled addiction and won."

So far, Stoveken's line of apparel, accessories and gift items — such as coffee cups and keychains — are only available in three Orange County specialty stores, including The Latest Thing in Newport Beach and her online shop,

Her plans are to expand the line, which does not yet have a huge selection for men. She also wants to reach high school students before they're influenced by their peers, she said.

However, some people have balked over the line's title because of its overtly sexual undertone, so she may retool the name for other audiences, she said.

"When I see Sexy and Sober, I don't think of sex," said Paul Kole, creator of some of the line's more recent apparel designs and the company's new logo. "I think about being comfortable in your own skin. 'Sexy' means confidence and radiating that in whatever you do."

Kole, whose paintings hang in two local restaurants — Old Vine Café and 118 Degrees — designed the logo as two intertwined S's to be something that represents all areas of addiction, not just alcohol.

Additionally, the design is more anonymous, which allows for people who are not quite as open with their past problems with addiction to still embrace the logo's empowering message, Stoveken said.

However, Stoveken prefers to wear the message loud and clear.

"I see it as something of an outstretched hand," she said. "It might be that a person would see the shirt and want to talk to me about it. Maybe that's what would help a person get sober."

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