Let’s Get Ready is a community of many. Students, alumni, staff, and partners work together to advance a mission that supports students from underserved backgrounds as they pursue their goal of earning a college degree. Our collective dedication to the mission, however, comes from our unique lived experiences that have shaped who we are. Anya Cole, founder of HANIA New York and a committed Let’s Get Ready partner, has a compelling story that connects her directly to Let’s Get Ready students, their families and donors. Read more about her story and consider the question: What experiences in your life motivate you to engage with Let’s Get Ready?  

Anya Cole knows well the value of putting people first. This value became core to her identity with years of overcoming adversity and discovering opportunity. Through it all, Anya put a premium on giving back and paying it forward to support people from humble beginnings like her own. That is why she supports Let’s Get Ready. HANIA donates 5% of gross profits from all retail sales from April to September to the organization and will donate 10% of gross profits from all patrons who use the code LETSGETREADY15 (see additional information below).

Anya moved to the United States in the 1980s after reuniting with her daughter, Kasia, in West Germany where she knit to support herself and her family. It was a welcome reunion since Anya had to leave communist Poland and her professional career in ballet. Moving to the United States provided a safer opportunity for Anya and Kasia to build a life together. However, immigrating came with challenges, particularly as Anya navigated the education system with Kasia. Anya did not attend university herself, but knew that it was a path to success. Since Anya could not help her daughter with the college admission process, she is personally aware of what Let’s Get Ready students and families experience. Kasia navigated much of the process on her own, so making the process accessible to families who need additional support is a mission that resonates with them both.

Founding HANIA put Anya in a position to pay it forward and she strongly believes that it is important to give back through her personal philanthropy and her business. For example, many of the women who make luxury knitwear for HANIA are newly immigrated to the United States and looking for opportunities to provide for their families. Anya hopes to show other women what can be done even if they cannot pursue their former career in the United States. She gets to know each woman personally. Anya also commits time and resources to cultivating the next generation of designers. She hires interns from Fashion Institute of Technology and has opened up her business doors to Let’s Get Ready students interested in fashion careers. In addition to her personal philanthropy, Anya has donated pieces to the Let’s Get Ready auction and contributes 5% of gross profits from all retail sales between April and September to Let’s Get Ready. For Anya, putting people first is about helping others and also honoring all those who have helped her as well, including her father whose passing in 2008 inspired Anya to turn HANIA into a business.

Anya and Kasia offered a few words of advice to students pursuing their dreams. Anya said “Dream Big … Maybe you get a little bit off track, but always move forward. Why shouldn’t you be the one to get that opportunity?” A lot of doors were closed for Anya, but she never gave up. Kasia added, “Take pride in what you do and let your passion drive you. No essay or job is too small, and behind every opportunity is a multitude of connections that may take you where your passion is.” Part of that journey, according to Anya, is “finding people and communities that have values aligned with yours.” Anya ended by encouraging students to think about their legacy. Every piece from HANIA New York includes the name of the woman who made the piece, their unique needle and craft. Similarly, students have an opportunity to make their own mark in the world.

Message from Anya and Kasia: HANIA will provide Let’s Get Ready patrons the following discount code for 15% off purchases: LETSGETREADY15. Additionally, we will donate 10% of gross profit from sales that result in the use of the discount code, which is specific to Let’s Get Ready. We are proud to partner with you in this important venture. Please continue to support Let’s Get Ready with us!