Meet Anthropologie’s 25-Year-Old In-House Designer


You may not know 25-year-old Jerri Hobdy by name, and we'd wager that you probably wouldn't be able to recognize her face in a crowd, either. We'll tell you one thing you're probably familiar with, though: her furniture. In March 2015, shortly after graduating from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), Hobdy landed a position at Anthropologie as an in-house designer specializing in furniture, upholstery and lighting.

To say her pieces have been wildly successful would be putting it mildly. Hobdy's Elowen Chair – which features a plush velvet seat and elegant, polished brass legs – became an overnight success once it hit stores. Since its debut, it's sold over $1 million in volume, and has earned the title of Anthropologie's leading item in the Home category. Hobdy is also responsible for their whimsical Bumblebee End Table, handsome Metallic Mosaic Coffee Table, and stunning Geo Brass Inlay Bed, among many other pieces.

Her Passion

“I have always been a hands-on creative," Hobdy told SWAAY. “Bringing ideas to life, whether it be drawing or actually building furniture, I have found to be a hugely satisfying outlet for myself. When I discovered that I could earn a degree – and more importantly, make a living – as a furniture designer, I pursued it fully and am loving it!"

Hobdy begins her morning with a pour over of Rival Brothers Coffee (her fave), and then walks her seven-pound Pomeranian Dixon. Then it's off to Anthropologie, where she busies herself sketching, styling, and photographing.

“Every day, I learn new ways to channel my creativity and excitement about furniture and home decor design into sketches, digital renders, and technical drawings that eventually come to life," she says. “There is always a scribble filled stack of papers and a spattering of fabric swatches and eraser bits on my desk."

Her Aesthetic

Hobdy describes her aesthetic as “rooted in simplified silhouettes, fine and layered textures, and pure finishes that showcase materiality." She is also passionate about utilizing more sustainable practices in furniture making and manufacturing, which goes hand-in-hand with her pure, refined aesthetic. She is one of only a couple hundred Green Accredited Professionals who currently live in the United States, and she was the 2015 Cradle2Cradle Professional Design Challenge winner, where she incorporated solvent-free, vegetable-tanned leather and steel into her winning design.

Despite her age, which can be a hindrance in any professional field, Hobdy has found success in furniture and design by being both true to herself and tuned in to the brands she's designing for.

Her Future

At this point in Hobody's career, her mission is to focus on channeling a brand's language and the consumer's needs. But she has every intention of building her own brand and fully exploring, and showcasing, her personal aesthetic.

As a young, twenty something who's already found success in the furniture design field, Hobdy offers these words of wisdom to others just getting started:

“Don't be afraid to stop and give yourself time to really analyze what you love, what you desire to change or impact, and what your skills are," she says. “Identifying those clearly, and then searching for and building strategies on how to merge them, is the most rewarding and motivating self-actualization. Each of us has unique abilities, and even if they don't fall into traditional or clear-cut career routes, stick with your guns and carve out your own space."


A Modern Day Witch Hunt: How Caster Semenya's Gender Became A Hot Topic In The Media

Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.

Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.

That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.

Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.

Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.

Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.

With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.

The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.

Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.

As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.

Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.