Anne Hathaway Loves Vs. Mittens – And So Do We!
College pals Hanna Lavon and Ashley Connors had no idea when they started their company that their playful Vs. Mittens would become so huge! Meet the entrepreneurial designers here!
When Hannah Lavon and Ashley Connors met as students at Syracuse University, they had no idea that it was not only the beginning of a beautiful friendship, but also of one heck of a business venture! Founded in 2007 after they graduated, their company, hoopla, specializes in playful and fun apparel and gifts—like the fabulous Vs. Mittens now available at BettyConfidential Shop. With each pair featuring one mitten shaped like, say, an owl, and the other shaped like, oh, a mouse, your mittens can duke it out with each other whenever the mood strikes. Celebs like Anne Hathaway have even been spotted wearing Hannah and Ashley’s quirky creations. Just because you’re a “grown up” doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun!
We caught up with Hannah, hoopla’s Creative Head (Ashley is the company’s Business Head), and chatted about how they got started, what they learned along the way, what her mittens would say if they could talk, and more. Read on for their story!
BettyConfidential: Ashley and Hannah, you both attended Syracuse University for college. How did you meet?
Hannah Lavon: We were actually in the same group of friends, but somehow our paths never crossed until our junior year. I met Ash at a house party thrown by one of our mutual friends—we hit it off, we had really great energy with each other, and it felt like we had known each other for years! We actually didn’t think about starting a business together until later, though, after graduation.
BC: How did you become designers? Can you tell us a little bit about how hoopla and Vs. Mittens came to be?
HL: I’m the designer, while Ash is the logistics/rational/numbers side of hoopla. I’m an Art Director and designer by trade—I went to Syracuse for Advertising Design and got my BFA in 2006. While employed in creative advertising, I used to go with my mom to the New York International Gift Fair trade show at the Javits Center and was super inspired by all these interesting people with their businesses. They worked for themselves, they worked hard and played hard, and they made really fun things! As an ad concepter, I decided that if they could do it, so could I. I had a whole sketchbook of fun product ideas—which, of course, were all way too expensive to start out making with zero seed money. I convinced Ash to be my partner so we could work for ourselves someday, and she was super enthusiastic. It was then that hoopla became a reality.
BC: Had you dabbled in any other sort of design before coming up with Vs. Mittens?
HL: I actually had no formal experience in product design previously—I just had a good eye and appreciation for design. Our inspiration came from things we loved, and things that maybe didn’t exist yet that we knew we would love if they did. Our first products were vintage Valentines Day cards called My Punny Valentines that we actually created using old cards found in my parents’ basement!
BC: What about design drew you to it?
HL: In high school, I was originally into photography—I was really into negative space and how the shapes impact the overall image. This led me to graphic design.
BC: What was the first thing you ever made? Do you still have it?
HL: Childhood art work? My mom has a lot in the attic.
Up next: Hannah tells us what it was like learning that Anne Hathaway was wearing their gloves, what they wished they’d known when they started out, and more!