In the summer of 2009, Anna McCraney had toiled her way through Bravo’s brand new fashion design competition, "The Fashion Show" hosted by Isaac Mizrahi, and found herself walking away with a 125K prize and bragging rights to reality TV survival and domination. When asked if she was worried that the fashion industry wouldn’t take her seriously because she had participated, she laughed and said, “It’s fashion, it’s not supposed to be serious!” And that is just it, Anna wants to have fun, and she wants to do it for a living. She was in it for the money.
What the half-million viewers didn’t know when they ultimately decided her fate as winner, was that the effortless and flattering, bold and flirty designs that solidified her win, are rooted in her past and present, successes and failures. Her designs incorporate history, art, and music, three things she believes hit an emotional chord for people, and she translates them to her clothes through fabric, color, and smart, detail driven design. Her connections to the art world through her time at the Rhode Island School of Design, collaborations with DIY collectives like Fort Thunder and Space 1026, and cutting edge printshops and galleries such as Forth Estate and Halsey McKay, keep her inspired by the world of fine art, that in her eyes, perhaps, has a more pure connection to the self. On the flipside, her professional life, spent as a teacher, buyer, and head designer for brands like Dolce Vita, gave her that connection to the girl she designs for that every designer must have. In her life before Bravo, Anna was a dive bar debutante in downtown New York and Brooklyn. She designed collections as homage to the B-52’s and had her models assume wrestling personas and battle each other in a raucous upstairs Thai boxing studio on Walker street with a line around the block.
Blank Canvas Development was born in 2013, when Anna decided to pivot her business and apply all the skills she had picked up along the way to assist other young start ups and new designers. Her positive attitude, guidance, and industry experience allowed her to build up loyal business to business relationships, encourage sustainability, and promote American manufacturing. In her product development services, she offers her clients 20 years of industry experience, a designer's perspective, practical advice, a common sense approach, and patient education in an overwhelming and dog eat dog industry. Her long relationships with her factories allow her to negotiate fair prices for her clients, and her clients can rest assured that the details of both development and production will be managed appropriately, with great quality control, and fast turnarounds.
Today, the Blank Canvas production office is in Brooklyn, New York, allowing staff quick and easy access to New York's best sewing rooms, factories, and fabric sourcing, and allowing clients to communicate and execute their ideas remotely. As of 2018, Blank Canvas has opened a second office and retail store in Savannah, Georgia, which serves as the basecamp for the pattern making and development end of the business. The showroom showcases her work, and her employees' and clients' work, as well as serving as testing ground for new ideas with the public. By actively employing and training graduates of the Savannah College of Art and Design in the art of pattern making and the inner workings of an industry that is largely closed off to beginners, Blank Canvas is contributing to a renaissance for production and manufacturing in the United States, making the industry more aware of its impact on our environment and economy.
Most of all, Anna has not forgotten her roots in the South, in color and culture, narrative and nuance, education and celebration, and in the nature and the nurturing of a line of clothing that will inspire us to notice not the dress, but the girl.