Producer Spotlight: Workerby Presents “Gray Matter Series: Sense of Place”

February 28, 2018



Viewing our entity as a complexity in this world allows ourselves to find “middle ground,” according to designer Anna Lee. As an emotionally driven species,

“There is always something said in the way we dress, the work we create, and the images we “like.”

We view reality the way we want to, and this premise is beautifully integrated into the Gray Matter Series and its subcategories. As confliction continues to tug at humanity’s yearning heart, determining balance allows an environment for self expression, and room to explore complexities of appealance. Finishing this series, her collaboration incorperates custom lipsticks, a new addition to her collection. 

“The “Gray Matter Series: A Sense of Place, features the final products of this current collaboration with photography by Lauren Krysti, creative direction by Melanie Haroldson, hair and makeup by Kristine Loehrer. And a set of custom lipsticks from Elixery: Ruby + Rosa.”

More indepthly, Lee wants her audience to understand the focus of “sense of place” a she concludes this story. She explains how ““Sense of Place” investigates the idea that WHERE we are impacts WHO we are.” The theory that the choices we make and the places we travel make up ourselves, is a complex concept that is adequately portrayed through Lee’s collection. It’s a strong aspect that Lee wants her audience to experience in a way similar to how she experienced a sense of place herself.

“…spending time with my sister Martha and her daughter Rosa on a beach last summer where they live on Long Island. Rosa was only two, but she was already one with the waves. Seeing the joy in her eyes, her ease in the wild ocean, I knew then that she would be a fierce young woman. It gave me hope for the future.”

Continuing her collaborations has enabled Lee to launch her line of uniquely constructed hats, and digitally structured scarves. Attire stemming from the artistry of brand, Ruby3, Lee accompanies her collections with authored paintings and photography exhibitions. This pop-up gallery and shopping experience is presented by Workerby at the aesthetically pleasing venue, Winsome Goods Flagship +Studio in Minneapolis. 

Experience the brilliantly imaginative talents of Anna Lee, as she displays her view of the “modern human experience” through the intricate concepts of the pleasure of acceptance, the fearsome realization of imperfection, and the will to embrace the quiet peace of coexisting; we must understand that we are not alone. According to Lee, creation should “spark conversation, the kind that is curious and asks good questions.”


Model: Gabby Vandenavond MUA: Kristine Loehrer | Behind the scenes at Grey Matter Series photo shoot

With the non stop flow of creative juice, Lee founded MNfashion, a non-profit organization that supported the emerging Minnesota fashion culture through fashion shows and events.

“When I founded MNfashion Week in 2005, it was to bring together the indie fashion industry that was happening in MSP at the time, a far cry from what we currently have going on. We worked with the connections and resources we had, and within several years there were enough events and runway shows to practically have a fashion “month”.”

Lee’s expertise originates from her desire to grow the Minnesota fashion community through independently owned fashion and art industries.

“…MSP is an amazing place to make things happen with a community of people, but the next level work is to build a sustainable model for our industries where everyone can benefit in the long term. When it comes down to it, a runway show is a marketing and PR tool for the fashion industry, and these worlds are changing. Runway shows will always have a special place in my heart, and a significant place within industry events, yet I am excited about working with new ways of presenting my collaborative work.”

Her past projects, Voltage: Fashion Amplified, aided in launching the career of several upcoming designers as well as boosting her own as well as her debut of her newest collection, Gray Matter Series, during 2017 MN Fashion Week in the fall. 

“The Gray Matter Series debuted at Fashion Week MN Fall 2017 as a pop-up gallery and boutique at the Hewing Hotel. This season, we are creating an immersive gallery experience at the Winsome Goods Flagship + Studio that allows attendees to connect directly with the creative involved with the project and purchase their own wearable work of art.”

Mood & inspiration board | Behind the scenes at Grey Matter Series photo shoot

As her career continued to grow, Lee’s love for millinery led to the creation of her headwear brand, Ruby3. A distinctive design brand that incorporates vintage caricature, and emphasized modernism. Lee explains what inspired her to go into the hat business.

“I have danced between fashion and art my entire career. I have been designing one-of-a-kind hats for over 20 years, and painting for even longer than that. In the midst of this, I have also been a costume designer, event producer, executive director of a non-profit, designer and technical designer in the fashion industry, career coach, fashion show producer, educator, energy healer….often a combo of several of these at any given time. I guess you could say that all of this has brought me to this very moment, where I am creating beautiful hats that are works of art and translating my paintings into works of fashion.”

The designer, although successful in her career path, felt as though she needed to not only keep designing, but share her artistry with the rest of Minnesota. Product development studio, Workerby, was launched and continues to thrive, educating creative innovators on the fundamentals of building art-based businesses that will flourish. Through various workshops and business consulting all across Minnesota, Anna Lee is able to enhance the Minnesota fashion community by engaging in commerce.

“Workerby (pronounced worker-bee) encompasses all that I do in my 800 square foot studio. It is there that I balance client design work, creating Ruby3 by Anna Lee hats, painting, career coaching, developing new workshops for creatives, and collaborate with likeminded artists and fellow entrepreneurs. So although my company is pretty diverse, I am currently developing my textile design skills. I received a grant this year from The Arts Partnership to develop and prototype the collection of scarves, and it is safe to say that my product offering and art will continue to evolve as I spend more time in design and development.”

Model: Gabby Vandenavond MUA: Kristine Loehrer Custom Lipstick: Elixery

She has truly found her “middle ground” as a beautifully inventive complexity, in this human space we call ourself. We need grace, peace, and mind. Society craves, yearns and desires it. Lee states, “I need this grace, we all need this grace…but we need resolve it within ourselves as we also work to help heal our communities.” And the Gray Matter Series is Lee’s platform to do so.

By Parker Hunstiger