by Anjulie Rao (MA 2014)
From the beginning of her career at SAIC, Anna Hovet (BFA 2007) has been focused on giving back to her community. As a senior in Fashion Design at the school, her final collection was centered on raising awareness of domestic violence in the city of Chicago. After graduating, she raised money with her work and utilized social media as a method to get the word out.
Hovet has come a long way since her senior year at SAIC; today, she is the owner and lead designer of Anna Hovet Designs, a local, independent design firm that focuses on chic yet comfortable knitwear for both women and men. Her designs have been worn by Jennifer Hudson and have been featured in Lucky magazine. Hovet herself was featured in Refinery29’s 30 Under 30 list in 2012. Regardless of how far she has come, Hovet has maintained her passion for giving back to SAIC as an employer for the Cooperative Education Internship Program (Co-op).
During her time at SAIC, Hovet was dedicated to expanding her skills in fashion design to more than just creating garments—so she took on a Co-op internship at Lara Miller, Ltd., one of Chicago’s premier independent designers. Reflecting on her experience, Hovet remembers how the hard work paid off: “My internship was incredible, because [Lara] was an independent local designer with a small studio. I got to see the day-to-day of owning your own apparel business. It’s not all glitz and glam, it’s a lot of hard work…but at the end of the day, it was all worth it. It really showed me what it was like to own your own business.”
Her time with Lara Miller has paid off. Not only did her Co-op internship give her a business-savvy edge, but it also continues to serve her business. “I still stay in touch with Lara. I was a part of the Fashion Incubator program, of which she was the director, so she really helped me through that.” As a result, Hovet is giving back to the SAIC community as a Co-op employer—hiring interns for her business and providing them with invaluable professional skills.
Each semester, she brings on several marketing interns who focus on helping her develop her business by increasing her reach through social media; as well, she employs three design interns who help her with the daily tasks of owning and operating an independent fashion design business—from sewing and patterning to placing orders and shipping finished products.
She notes, “Interns should expect to get a great experience on what it takes to be an independent designer here in Chicago. They learn all the nitty-gritty things like finding a sewing contract, or how to order a thousand buttons. My days are always different; interns arrive ready to tackle whatever the tasks for the day might be.”
Beyond helping with the day-to-day business, the Co-op interns also help Hovet develop design concepts. She says, “SAIC students have a lot of really great ideas, and they’re also my target market. They give me inspiration, feedback, and critique.”
Hovet’s business supports emerging designers from SAIC, and also continues her career-long belief in giving back to the greater Chicago community. Anna Hovet Designs has participated in various runway shows that raise funds for her continued support of domestic violence awareness. She also leads an annual clothing drive for the homeless.
She says, “I get so much support out of Chicago, and I feel like I have a responsibility to give back.”