An Afternoon at Anna Brown’s Studio
By Amanda Harth
Designer Anna Brown let us into her world one afternoon as she launched her Spring 2019 collection.
What is your favorite thing about being a creative?
Getting to do what I love is the greatest luxury I have.
Why did you choose fashion design as your creative form of expression?
I think it chose me! I can’t draw, I can’t sing, I can’t dance, but I can make clothing, and I really love doing it.
What are essential things you need to create besides your tools for design? For example, is it a song or a certain type of mood you have to be in to execute.
Patience. Ideas come slowly for me, and it sometimes takes time for me to work out a design to my satisfaction. It can be a painful process!
Who is your customer?
My customers tend to have a creative streak of their own, and typically are looking for pieces to integrate into the wardrobe, rather than seeking a complete outfit or look from me.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the fashion industry as a whole?
It’s a difficult time in fashion, I think. The industry is working on a possibly outdated model and somewhat dated calendar in an environment where people are conditioned to want things instantly and inexpensively, and I think the industry as a whole is trying to figure out how to navigate that.
How many people do you have on your team now?
While I don’t have other employees working for me directly in my studio, I have a pretty impressive list of other professionals throughout Chicago that I rely on to take a garment from idea to reality. I couldn’t do what I do without the people who help me adjust and grade patterns, do sample and production sewing, photograph, style, and otherwise market the line.
What resources do you use to market your products?
While I do use all of the usual avenues of social media and other kinds of promotion, I’d say my greatest resource for marketing is really client referrals.
Do you currently have any mentors that you look to for wisdom or advice?
Of course! I am constantly calling, texting, or visiting with other designer friends to talk through design ideas. I don’t think I’ve ever had an idea that didn’t pass through the filter of my design community and come out the better for it.
What is the most challenging thing about running your company?
The cliche of wearing all the hats is really just a truth. The difficult thing is that not all of those hats fit very well.
What have been some of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
Be open to opportunity, be generous with resources as much as you can, and be kind.
What plans do you have for 2019?
My goal for this year is to focus my design projects a little more, and to do some stretch projects that expand my collection a bit outside of my current comfort zone. I’m off to a good start with a screen print in the new collection, done in collaboration with the Hyde Park Art Center, which something I haven’t done before!
What is the ultimate goal for your company?
Of course I want to create a successful business that has some longevity, but I also hope that I can become part of a rising tide of Chicago independent designers. We have terrific designers here, and I hope that we can really create an infrastructure to support this community.