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

People

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."

Our newsletter that womansplains the week
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Career

Momtors: The New Wave of Mentors Helping New Moms Transition Back Into Careers

New parents re-entering the workforce are often juggling the tangible realities of daycare logistics, sleep deprivation, and a cascade of overwhelming work. No matter how parents build their family, they often struggle with the guilt of being split between home and work and not feeling exceptionally successful in either place.


Women building their families often face a set of challenges different from men. Those who have had children biologically may be navigating the world of pumping at work. Others might feel pulled in multiple directions when bringing a child into their home after adoption. Some women are trying to learn how to care for a newborn for the first time. New parents need all the help they can get with their transition.

Women returning to work after kids sometimes have to address comments such as:

"I didn't think you'd come back."

"You must feel so guilty."

"You missed a lot while you were out."

To counteract this difficult situation, women are finding mentors and making targeting connections. Parent mentors can help new moms address integrating their new life realities with work, finding resources within the organization and local community, and create connections with peers.

There's also an important role for parent mentors to play in discussing career trajectory. Traditionally, men who have families see more promotions compared to women with children. Knowing that having kids may represent a career setback for women, they may work with their mentors to create an action plan to "back on track" or to get recognized for their contributions as quickly as possible after returning to work.

Previously, in a bid to accommodate mothers transitioning back to work, corporate managers would make a show at lessoning the workload for newly returned mothers. This approach actually did more harm than good, as the mother's skills and ambitions were marginalized by these alleged "family friendly" policies, ultimately defining her for the workplace as a mother, rather than a person focused on career.

Today, this is changing. Some larger organizations, such as JP Morgan Chase, have structured mentorship programs that specifically target these issues and provide mentors for new parents. These programs match new parents navigating a transition back to work with volunteer mentors who are interested in helping and sponsoring moms. Mentors in the programs do not need to be moms, or even parents, themselves, but are passionate about making sure the opportunities are available.

It's just one other valuable way corporations are evolving when it comes to building quality relationships with their employees – and successfully retaining them, empowering women who face their own set of special barriers to career growth and leadership success.

Mentoring will always be a two way street. In ideal situations, both parties will benefit from the relationship. It's no different when women mentor working mothers getting back on track on the job. But there a few factors to consider when embracing this new form of mentorship

How to be a good Momtor?

Listen: For those mentoring a new parent, one of the best strategies to take is active listening. Be present and aware while the mentee shares their thoughts, repeat back what you hear in your own words, and acknowledge emotions. The returning mother is facing a range of emotions and potentially complicated situations, and the last thing she wants to hear is advice about how she should be feeling about the transition. Instead, be a sounding board for her feelings and issues with returning to work. Validate her concerns and provide a space where she can express herself without fear of retribution or bull-pen politics. This will allow the mentee a safe space to sort through her feelings and focus on her real challenges as a mother returning to work.

Share: Assure the mentee that they aren't alone, that other parents just like them are navigating the transition back to work. Provide a list of ways you've coped with the transition yourself, as well as your best parenting tips. Don't be afraid to discuss mothering skills as well as career skills. Work on creative solutions to the particular issues your mentee is facing in striking her new work/life balance.

Update Work Goals: A career-minded woman often faces a new reality once a new child enters the picture. Previous career goals may appear out of reach now that she has family responsibilities at home. Each mentee is affected by this differently, but good momtors help parents update her work goals and strategies for realizing them, explaining, where applicable, where the company is in a position to help them with their dreams either through continuing education support or specific training initiatives.

Being a role model for a working mother provides a support system, at work, that they can rely on just like the one they rely on at home with family and friends. Knowing they have someone in the office, who has knowledge about both being a mom and a career woman, will go a long way towards helping them make the transition successfully themselves.