Anna Lee Opens Workerby, New Design Studio

A new style incubator supports the Minneapolis entrepreneurial spirit

Anna Lee Workerby
photo by tj turner

In 2004, local designer Anna Lee created the long-running rock/fashion show Voltage: Fashion Amplified, which served as a launching pad for emerging designers. Two years later, she founded MNfashion, a non-profit dedicated to promoting and supporting the local style industry, primarily through semi-annual fashion weeks.

In 2010, she stepped down as executive director of the organization, and produced her final Voltage show the following year. Soon after, she began to focus on a full-time position as a technical designer at Target.

But Lee’s passion for hand-creating and connecting with others in the design community resurfaced on the scene last year with a new collection of hats under her label Ruby3 (a millinery line she had stopped producing in 2011). This past summer, she left Target to launch Workerby product development studio, a venture that contains some of MNfashion’s entrepreneurial DNA. Part of Workerby’s mission is to build community and commerce through creative business development consulting and workshops. But it’s founded on a for-profit model, offering services spanning technical development, design, and prototyping.

Workerby also gives Lee the opportunity to focus on her first love, millinery. Her fall line of Ruby3 hats includes a variety of boaters, fedoras, and wide-brimmed hats in merino wool and angora fur felt, available in a rich range of jewel tones. With her new business, Lee is happy to return her focus to smaller-scale artisan craftsmanship and collaboration. “I have this confidence I didn’t have when I started MNfashion,” she says. “It’s not my first rodeo—I’m less scared of failure now.” •