Anne Johnson Shares The Inspiration Behind Her Skyline Accessories Brand, Anne Cate
There's nothing quite like repping your love for your hometown, and that's what makes Anne Cate's accessories truly one-of-a-kind.
Founded by entrepreneur Anne Johnson, the U.S.-made brand features the country's most recognizable skylines on its stylish bags, purses, totes, wallets and more, helping us all make a fashion statement through the places we love most. We got to speak with Anne to learn all about her history with all things crafty, and how her passions led her to where she is today.
Name: Anne Johnson
IG Handle: @annecate
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
Zodiac sign: Gemini
1. Creating has been Anne's fashion for as long as she can remember, which naturally led her to create Anne Cate.
"Whereas some kids grow up loving a sport, I grew up with my hands covered in paint, glue and glitter. When I was 13, I received my first sewing machine and quickly discovered I could make money from the products I created. I sewed purses for friends, participated in countless craft shows and even established an Etsy shop selling beach glass necklaces, bridesmaid purses, canvas crossbody bags and ribbon headbands. If I could paint, sew, glue or craft it, I would put it on my Etsy store to sell! It was rewarding to bring a concept to life through the creation of products that brought other people joy. When it came time to attend college, I chose to continue pursuing this passion for creating by studying fashion and entrepreneurship. Without really knowing what the word 'entrepreneur' meant (or how to spell it!), I packed up my sewing machine and took the next steps in my journey: a journey that led to my current venture, Anne Cate."
(Image courtesy of Anne Johnson)
2. She got the idea for her skyline accessories early in college.
"I always loved to keep a bit of home with me while I was away at college. Excited to move into my dorm and decorate my new home away from home, I designed and created decorative pillows with three city skylines (New York City, Cleveland and Chicago) that were meaningful to me, not knowing the potential of this product. After many compliments and requests for the pillows, I tested them out in the same youthful Etsy store that I had had since I was 13. Three months later, a national retailer, American Greetings, contacted me, expressing interest in wholesaling the pillows. This moment was an incredible step in realizing my dream of being an entrepreneur. I came to the realization that these skyline products are unique and meaningful, and that this idea could be a foundation for my future."
3. Her go-to accessory is the Anne Cate wristlet.
"I use it day and night! During the day, it rests inside my work bag, holding my essentials: phone, keys, wallet and lipstick. Then, when we are ready to head to dinner, I grab it out of my tote and use it as a night-out bag! It is always a conversation starter and looks great with any outfit."
(via Anne Cate)
4. It took a while to land on a brand name for her business, but eventually, they found the perfect fit in "Anne Cate."
"When that moment hit that our skyline product could be something, I spent nearly six months rebranding my Etsy store to reflect me and encompass the new product I had created. My youthful Etsy store was transformed into "Anne Cate," a made-in-America accessories boutique specializing in simplistic products. When brainstorming new names for my business, a friend suggested Anne Cate, stemming from my full name, Anne Catherine Johnson. I fell in love with this idea. It was classic, elegant, simple—and a part of me. It is the perfect fit for our business. It's an honor to represent our brand and work with our customers! I am very hands-on in the business and I always laugh when I answer the phone and a customer says, "Oh my gosh, you're the Anne Cate?!" It is humbling to know our customers have not only invested in our products, but the brand, and myself, as well."
5. According to Anne, the brand's mission is: "To craft simplistic accessories of high quality and value that convey meaning and tell a story unique to each customer."
"What makes us different is that we proudly sew every Anne Cate product ourselves at our manufacturing studio in Cleveland, Ohio. It has been a pleasure to grow this business enough to provide careers for local women. Quality and community are most important to us, which is why each product is created using locally and domestically sourced, high-quality materials. On top of that, our products are more than just a purse or a pillow; they tell a story that is unique to each person. Creating products that bring joy to my customers is the best part of my job!"
(via Anne Cate)
6. The best entrepreneurial advice she ever received came from artist and designer Anne Coroneo, who went from dreaming of running her own business to having her pieces selling at Bergdorf Goodmans, Harrods and more luxury retailers.
"She told me that there are some things as an entrepreneur that you just have to go for and take a risk, no matter how much fear or uncertainty you may have. The day she gave me this advice, I had gotten an offer to do the Artist and Fleas Brooklyn, but was unsure if it was worth the investment. After talking to her, I instantly went home and signed up. She was right—it was worth the risk! There are going to be plenty of ups and downs with any business. But, no matter what, I have now learned from Anna there is something to learn from every situation that will only benefit your business in the long run."
7. She says that learning how to balance her life with her work has been the key to her success.
"Running a business is no joke, and I am guilty of working more than 40 hours most weeks. After countless periods of burnout, I have shifted my priority from working nonstop to making sure I make time for my family, friends and husband! I also worked hard to accept that there will always be things to do and that I can't get everything done at once. 'Leaving work at work' is hard for an entrepreneur—but it helped me come to work refreshed every morning and be more productive!"
8. Above everything else, Anne wants people to know that Anne Cate started with one sewing machine and a girl who loved to create.
"The revenue generated was just an added plus at first! Creating my own success—both with hard work and physically, with my sewing machine at hand—is the greatest reward. That passion that Anne Cate was founded on still holds true today. But now, it's not only my passion but my team's, too! As a woman in business, I'm proud to have built an environment where women—both myself and my team—can come and create their own success. I am proud to provide jobs to women and support them in their creative visions, both for Anne Cate and beyond."
Love Anne Cate's skyline accessories? Click HERE to see how Sammy Gorin Art turns pop culture moments into adorable stationery.