People that Inspire: Anna Lee


Briefly describe your background
The core of my work is based in fashion + art + community, its creating and connecting with others. I’ve spent 20+ years in the fashion industry including corporate, non profit, and independent route.
Right now, the work that I do is under the umbrella of my company, Workerby. I do product development for the fashion industry, specifically for fashion accessories, and do my own line of hats under Ruby3. I also do career coaching, and teach workshops. Gray Matter Series is the vehicle for my collaborations. The Spring 2018 concept is “Sense of Place” and how where we are impacts who we are.

Do you have that definitive moment from your past that you realized you were a creator and a connector?
When I stepped down from MN Fashion, an organization that I had built with a group of incredible people, I had really maxed myself out I found myself not understanding my inherent skills and gifts of bringing people together. I assumed it what was I was just what I supposed to do. Then I took a break, and let go of the things that didn’t feel like me. It was a time of getting really real with myself. And I remember a meditation I had: the most important things to me are creating and connecting, and if I can do that, no matter where I am in the world, as long as I can hold true to those two ideals, I will be fulfilled.

How has the Minneapolis fashion community changed in the last 10 years?
It’s amazing what’s possible right now and it’s such an interesting time to be an entrepreneur. It has never been easier to have your own business, buts it’s also never been more necessary. We have a generation of people that came into the workforce when there just weren’t a lot of jobs, and ended up creating their own jobs, and there are plenty of us looking for more depth and meaning in the work that we do, so we are creating our own definitions of success. It’s been a really interesting spiral of impact as people are looking for more meaning, and more control of their own destiny. The world has never been more uncertain, and in that uncertainty, we want more certainty for ourselves.

What are you most excited about for the SS 18 Grey Matter Series?
Personally, it’s the potential for developing this part of my skillset in textile design, and spending more time with my art. And ultimately, every time we put together an event like this, it’s how the work of a collective creates a something greater than the sum of its parts, and that’s the magic.


You and I had a cosmic moment where we had not caught up in quite some time, we came together and shared our projects, which ended up having insane parallels – tell me what that experience was like for you?
Simply, it blew my mind. It made my ideas feel grounded by seeing the same kind of concepts coming through someone else, it made it more real. And for the whole experience to be so serendipitous, those are the moments that I live for. Everything has been orchestrated in the universe up to that point to just exist. It’s those moments that you think back on when things get tough that remind you that you’re doing this for a reason. It’s so cosmically inspired that these perfect moments give inspiration for everything to move forward.

Do you think this is part a larger trend?
Absolutely. Especially when we realized someone else in Minneapolis was also doing a parallel project and it turned from an “this is an amazing coincidence” to “this is a movement”. In all sincerity, I know the future of fashion is blending more art forms, and creating unique experiences and statements for people to really connect with the inspiration. My goal, for creating work like this is: it’s not going to resonate with everybody, but for the people it does, I want it to be one of their favorite things. And not only does it have a story, but there is an emotional connection because felt that emotion when I was creating it.

What would you tell your 2008 self?
Chill the F out!
I would tell my 2017 self the same thing.
Really take the time to take good care of yourself.
Self-care is a big buzz word right now, but it’s so important. It’s essential that we care so deeply for ourselves, and it’s not just the fluffy self-care, but the things that may be difficult. Its doing what you need to do to ensure a good tomorrow. I would tell myself to slow down.

What are three tools you need for optimal creativity?
Time for play
Easting really healthy
Bonus- having an audacious goal

What’s your current stretch goal?
I would LOVE to create art every day, to be a professional artist.


What is one thing you need help with?
Getting more comfortable marketing my work. I can speak on behalf of others, but I struggle with being comfortable talking about myself.


Rapid Fire:
Late Nights or Early Mornings?
Coffee or Tea?
I’m trying to drink more tea and I love coffee
Getting on a jet plane, you have one hour to pack, where are you going?
Pen or Pencil?
Favorite place outside of the Twin Cities?
Right now, Montreal, as a place to return to. 

Gray Matter Series FWMN show takes place April 23, you can find more info at

Gray Matter Series FWMN show takes place April 23, you can find more info at

Allison Quinnell