Meet the Designer: Anna Ptak
Anna Ptak is a Policy Consultant, Fashion Designer, and Speaker. We met this brave woman in 2017, and since then she has been a source of great encouragement to us. As an Overcomer of trafficking herself, she has committed to using her voice to fight for others. It was an honor to have her design one of our dress collection designs this year. We're grateful to introduce you to Anna Ptak, designer of "The Anna".
Anna, tell us a little bit about your dress design and why you decided to design your dress the way you did?
I wanted a dress that is versatile and stylish. I wanted something that women of all shapes and sizes could feel comfortable in. I added pockets for the mamas who need their keys and pacifiers easily accessible, and for the women who need to keep their phone nearby for that random perfect instagram shot. I decided to design a tunic dress so curves can be hidden or accentuated depending on how you style it. You can add a belt, leave it loose, wear it with boots or leggings..the list goes on! I am in love with this piece and hope that others will be as well.
"I added pockets for the mamas who need their keys and pacifiers easily accessible, and for the women who need to keep their phone nearby for that random perfect instagram shot."
I mean, dresses with pockets is our love language. Why did you say 'yes' to designing a dress this year for Dressember?
In 2015, I launched a collection with Elegantees at New York Fashion Week. As I continued my work in ethical fashion and keeping up with Elegantees, I came across Dressember. My heart was automatically attached to their dedication to supporting Overcomers of sex trafficking in Nepal. As someone who was sexually trafficked in high school, I wanted to show the world that fashion is useful in the after-care process. I graduated my program in 2012, but I have practiced a large amount of self-care since then. My work with Dressember and Elegantees has been a large part of my self-care. If we do not create after-care resources or employment opportunities for Overcomers we are essentially seeing them like a pimp does: not worthy of any more than for what happened to them. All elements of the healing process are important. I am glad that I am working with Dressember because they understand that.
"As someone who was sexually trafficked in high school, I wanted to show the world that fashion is useful in the after-care process."
NYFW sounds like a dream. How did that experience play into your inspiration?
I seek inspiration from designs that I saw when I was tracking trends. What made me stick with parts of those trends is my belief in modesty and women's empowerment. In today's world we see wearing less clothing as more beautiful than wearing clothes that are more modest. I want people see that you can still feel beautiful and sexy while wearing modest designs. That in it is empowering; stretching the norm and creating something that all women can wear and love. After all, confidence is the most important part of your outfit.
Your confidence is so encouraging! Confidence can be a hard thing to find though. What advice would you tell yourself when you first launched your work?
I would definitely tell myself everything will all work out and to not get too caught up on the details. It is so easy to do in the fashion design process with trying to find the balance of staying true to your brand and making it sellable. In the beginning of my professional career in law and policy, my maturity was much lower than most women my age due to my lack of healing. I wish I had taken more time to work on myself so I could keep personal life and professional life separate like I understand how to do now. As far as working in this movement as an Overcomer, I would have told myself to not make my work and story my identity. I didn't realize how much I have placed identity into my advocacy efforts until I experienced some challenges in my work. I was crushed much more than I should have been because it felt like my whole world crumbled. It goes without saying, that I am much better at keeping my identity out of my work and immerse myself in who God says that I am.
"As far as working in this movement as an Overcomer, I would have told myself to not make my work and story my identity."
Such wisdom, Anna! You're certainly a woman who inspires us for more reasons than one. Who is a woman that inspires you?
I can confidently say the Founder of Elegantees, Katie Martinez. Katie is a true example of grace, humility and an excellent example of encouragement. Katie can make any form of constructive criticism into a compliment. The way she balances her family and marriage with running a business where passion can easily override your personal boundaries is nothing short of amazing. Katie has always been supportive of my dreams and ideas, but also helps me see the big picture versus being caught up in the details. Trust me, if you meet her or even speak with her through email you will see that she is a slice of heaven. She is someone I want to be more like and soak up all of her tips on marriage, parenting and designing.
We couldn't agree more. It's been an honor to work with Katie! We're nearing the end of our interview, but want to know if you'd leave us with some words of wisdom you're holding onto?
I have two: "If your dream can be done without God it isn't big enough" bu Mark Crow. The other by Meghan Markle, “Women already have a voice, they need to feel empowered to use it, and people need to be encouraged to listen." Both of these keep me humble, but also remind me how fierce that I am. I think if we spread kindness as much as we share things on social media, likes on Facebook, follows on Instagram we would see a cultural shift in our planet. In my opinion, women's empowerment isn't about creating a female-dominated world; it is about a creating a culture where women's thoughts, wages and ideas are seen as equal to men.
"In my opinion, women's empowerment isn't about creating a female-dominated world; it is about a creating a culture where women's thoughts, wages and ideas are seen as equal to men."
Now we have to ask -- what is the craziest thing you have done (or would do) in a dress?
I truly believe that when I am in a dress and heels that I am unstoppable. I always say the higher the heel the closer to heaven. I cannot think of the craziest thing I have done in a dress, but I do now that anything that I do will be more fabulous if I am wearing one!
Well we feel fabulous when we're wearing "The Anna," that is for sure. Something Anna said that really stood out to us was: "If we do not create after-care resources or employment opportunities for Overcomers we are essentially seeing them like a pimp does: not worthy of any more than for what happened to them." We couldn't agree more. That is why we're hopeful that this collection will provide enough demand to create more dignified employment opportunities for the 500+ women on the waitlist to work at Elegantees' sewing center in Nepal.
It's bigger than a dress!
The Dressember Dress Collection offers dignified jobs to women who have overcome human trafficking in Nepal. Pre-orders launch today and all dresses are 15% off until October 1st (no code necessary!). Be one of the first 350 orders and receive a free piece of jewelry from Starfish Project*!
*offer does not include the cost of shipping
About the Author
Madeline considers herself a bit of a nomad, having split her time between three continents over the past few years. Now, digging her roots down in Southern California, Madeline spends her time crafting content for the Dressember campaign, doing yoga and searching the web for flight deals.