Interview with Educator, Entrepeneur, and Designer Anna Hovet
Anna Hovet Dias holds a diverse portfolio in the fashion industry. She designs, runs multiple businesses, provides consulting services, and hosts workshops. With multiple accolades and reputable ventures, Anna operates on many levels and provides values to a wide range of customers.
Anna is eclectic in her endeavors, and is behind Sophic Standard, a Chicago based standardized test prep service where tutors provide guidance and tools for students to utilize all throughout their academic careers. Additionally Hovet Fashion Studios consult with aspiring fashion designers and provide tangible lessons to help generate creative business solutions. Her Tedx talk explored topics about entrepreneurship and her success in the Chicago market.
Read more for insights into her life as well as check out more of her portfolio and eclectic background.
What do you do for a living?
I have many jobs. I like to diversify my workflow. I am professionally trained as a fashion designer and had my own fashion line, Hovet Apparel, for 10 years (some of you may remember it at Clever Alice). In 2018 I stopped manufacturing clothes and opened Hovet Fashion Studio, a creative workspace where we teach fashion lessons, host fun group workshops, and do business consulting and product development. I’m also the Director of Programming at the Chicago Fashion Incubator, a nonprofit sponsored by Macy’s on State Street that helps local fashion designers grow their businesses. I also teach at SAIC and do private standardized test prep tutoring.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Grand Forks, North Dakota in a pretty rural area. My only exposure to high fashion was from magazines and television. Fashion was not a very recognized art form in North Dakota and no one really knew about brand names or luxury designers. I thought of 'fashion designer' as a dream career and was elated to attend college at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career in fashion?
I always loved art, but it wasn’t until first watching music videos around the age of nine that I realized how fashion can have such a great influence on culture. I became obsessed with clothing - drawing fashion, creating mood boards from magazines, and wearing the trendiest clothes I could find (usually from Delia's catalog or on our yearly trip to Mall of America in Minneapolis).
What designers inspired you early on in your career?
Vivienne Westwood was a huge inspiration for me, both aesthetically and personally. She created a new genre of fashion and continues to fill our world with joyous creations.
Do you design for yourself or do you have a muse in mind?
I very much design for myself. I think that’s really the best way to design, since you know you have a customer. When designing a new collection, I would consider what was missing in my wardrobe and create it.
How do you deal with feedback and find a balance between your own creative signature and the demands of new trends?
I always like to implement some trend-based detail into my designs, but I don’t let it overtake my collections. One challenge is that people often buy designs that I would consider quite plain, so even if you create a gorgeous, unique design, it’s not necessarily going to sell. Designers must find a balance in their collection between extraordinary pieces that will look great in photographs and on the runway and staple pieces that will be more likely to be purchased by your customer.
Tell us about one difficult obstacle you overcame.
As an independent designer manufacturing in Chicago, I was always competing with global manufacturers. The profit margins are very thin if you are paying American workers a reasonable wage. I hope that there will be a renewed appreciation for apparel made in America over the next year.
What lessons has your work life taught you?
Your business plan must be flexible. What some people may consider failing, I consider pivoting. My design business has re-branded twice, then pivoted to a completely different business model. I've also learned there's always financial opportunities out there. It’s a good idea to diversify your income so that you can take more risks with your own business or side hustle. Having a specific set of skills is also really important for being valued in our economy.
What are some of your favorite pieces that you've designed?
My all-time best seller is my bamboo joggers. They came in men’s and women’s and many customers ordered them multiple times. During this COVID-19 crisis I’ve been living in mine and I’m greatly considering putting more into production over the summer.