On location at the Lacuna Artist Work Loft Studios in Pilsen-where art meets fashion.
Q. Anna, you represent true Chicago Style with your look and fashion.
Where are you from originally and how did you choose this city to call home?
A. Well, originally I'm from Grand Forks, North
Dakota. I moved here in 2003 to attend the School of Art Institute
Chicago graduating in 2007. I choose the Art Institute because it was
one of the top art schools in the nation and I wasn't ready to go to New
York, LA or Rhode Island. I wanted to get my start in the Midwest.
has been the transition like from North Dakota to a city like Chicago?
A. I'm from a tiny town in North Dakota and my dad is a farmer
there. Coming to Chicago was a big deal for me-at 17-18 years
old it was huge. I've always been a city girl at heart and
always into fashion. There wasn't much fashion in Grand Forks, it was what I saw on TV-idealized versions of music video outfits and
spreads in magazines. So I didn't really like live in fashion until I
got to Chicago-it was more like dreaming about fashion than inventing my
Q. How did you decide that you wanted to be a designer?
A. Well, I
knew I wanted to be a designer in like 5th grade-when I started watching
music videos. I've always been an artist since I was very young. I
always wanted to draw but didn't know how to make that into more-something of substance-something I could sell and then make a living out of
I always wanted to be a fashion designer, but didn't think it would
really happen. I thought it was like a crazy dream and the people who I
grew up with thought it was crazy too because North Dakota is very
practical. And there weren't any fashion designers for me to look up to.
I moved to Chicago and then one thing led to another. I became a stylist
for Akira, doing fashion shows, photo shoots and when I graduated I got
an assistant design job with a baby clothes company out in the suburbs.
That's where I learned the business side of it-how manufacturing works,
selling, what colors sold in what seasons. Then I got laid off in
December 2008 and I didn't know what to do. I was asking myself should I
move to New York, should I get another retail job...so I started
collecting unemployment and then started my business. I never thought I
would start my own business at 23 and for some reason it took off. I
got into Lucky Magazine-Jennifer Hudson started ordering from me and
then stores started ordering from me-it was a lot at once. Then I got
into the Macy's Fashion Incubator program.
Q. So you were already
selling clothes when you got into the incubator program?
A. Yes, I
initially applied for the incubator program when I was working with the
baby clothes company, but didn't get in. And then I got laid off a week
later. I thought my life was over. When one of the guys in the
incubator program dropped out I was the alternate. I already had my
business going and it was just an accelerant to what I was doing. I
already had a following, I was already in stores and right on track with
other designers in the program.
Q. How did you get a following
when you first started?
A. My first products were sweatshirts and jackets. I just started
putting pictures on Facebook and had photos from some of the stuff I did
in college-which was kind of weird artsy stuff. I got really good
acceptance of if through Facebook when I think about it. People were
commenting on my photos wanting to know how to buy this or that. I was like,
people actually want to buy my stuff...? Then I put together a whole
collection and sampled it all-I had people volunteer to help me-models,
photographers, graphic designers-team in and put together my first
Q. What drives your creativity each season?
one thing-I like to design what I want to wear. I'm still a
starving artist so I literally design what I want in my closet so I have
those as samples-lucky for me there are other girls who like what I do.
All of my collections are very conceptual from the beginning. They are
very concept driven, very abstract. A lot of my inspiration comes from things that have nothing to do with clothes.
My spring 2010 collection
was inspired by the modern wing of the Art Institute-specifically
Joseph Kosuth's work which is definitions of words on large canvases. This
really inspired me-I wanted to take words that women wanted to live
their lives by-and put them on the garments so they could be held
accountable for living into those words. This became powerful because it is
you putting yourself out there for what you want to be in this world
and others helping you be what you want to be.
Q. How do you go
about sourcing your fabrics?
A. When I first
started out I was sourcing everything from retail stores in Chicago.
Luckily I am at the point where I have enough minimums where I can
source fabric from mills. Everything is manufactured here in Chicago
and my fabric is coming from California-I'm starting to look at
mills in Asia and Toronto. But I love having everything constructed
here in Chicago. I have more control over the production and I like
helping provide jobs here in the city.
Q. Describe your ideal
client or customer?
A. It would be a girl 18-25, urban, cultured,
stylish, someone who still wants to be comfortable, still wants to be
flirtatious. But I find all types of women who like my stuff-anywhere
from like a 15 year old into hip hop to a 60 year old doctor.
Q. What are your price points?
A. Anywhere from like $25 for my
new t-shirt line to like $450 for one of my jackets. It really varies-season to season.
Q. So Ms. Hovet what's next for you?
A. Well, I am very excited about the upcoming release of my signature tee collection. We're planning a fabulous cocktail reception at the Black Market Caviar Store in Wicker Park. It's set to take place July 1 from 6p-10p. Be there or be square! And don't forget to buy a tee to support integrity.