How did Anna Haggerty go from a small town in rural Minnesota to landing a job at the world’s largest cosmetics company?
After starting work recently as a graphic designer at L’Oreal in New York, Haggerty still is somewhat disbelieving of her good fortune. On the other hand, she’s not all that surprised.
Since about age six, Haggerty has dreamed of moving to New York to work and live. When she graduated in May 2017 from University of Wisconsin-Stout with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design and interactive media, that’s exactly where she went.
Except she didn’t have the job — yet.
“I left Minnesota with very little money — the one-way ticket thing,” said Haggerty, who grew up in Oronoco, a city of about 1,300 people in southeastern Minnesota.
Haggerty lived at first on Long Island with an aunt and uncle. She found a part-time job last summer in New York and then a short-term, full-time freelance position last fall with Marchon Eyewear, with clients that included Nike and Calvin Klein.
Then, enlisting the aid of a recruiter, she interviewed in January 2018 with L’Oreal, showing interviewers some of her best work from UW-Stout and more. “Five minutes after I left the interview, the recruiter called and said I had the position. It was insane. I started one week later,” Haggerty said.
Working in midtown Manhattan near L’Oreal’s U.S. headquarters — the company’s home is in Paris, France — Haggerty is designing print materials for one of L’Oreal’s best-known brands, Redken, along with myriad other design duties.
For example, she has designed posters for Redken that will begin showing up this summer at salons around the world and at Ulta Beauty stores. She’s part of a three-person Redken global team and working with about 30 designers overall.
Along with L’Oreal and Redken products, the company’s many brands include Maybelline, Giorgio Armani, Yves Saint Laurent, Lancôme, Ralph Lauren and Garnier. Haggerty will be involved in new product launches this year.
“I’m doing lots of ads, brochures and technical guides for stylists. I have even recently designed presentations for the CEO of L'Oreal, Jean Paul Agon. We did a big photo shoot in February. The work is very technical,” Haggerty said.
She also created signs for a L’Oreal education center on Fifth Avenue, where prospective beauty professionals and stylists are trained. “I took a signage course at Stout from Assistant Professor Vadim Gershman so when they asked me if I could do that, I knew exactly what to do.”
Haggerty believes she had a well-rounded education, with a strong foundation in design principles, at UW-Stout’s School of Art and Design. She also gained valuable experience working part time as a designer in University Marketing all four years of college.
“Everything Stout provided helped me prepare for this. I had no anxieties,” Haggerty said.
Less than a year out of college, she’s already appreciating how Professor Nagesh Shinde pressed her to reach her potential as a designer.
“He definitely pushed me. I was so stressed out, but when I look back I can see why he was pushing me so hard. He only wants the best for you,” Haggerty said.
One of those times Shinde pushed Haggerty was for her senior capstone project. It paid off. Her Hopswatch Beer concept, eight fruity, seasonal beers based on a Pantone color system, was one of the portfolio projects she showed L’Oreal creative directors. The concept recently was featured nationally on the Instagram account of AIGA — the American Institute of Graphic Arts.
“Anna always impressed me with her desire to create outstanding work in my classes,” Shinde said. “What impressed me the most is her ability to be insightful and sensitive and her sincere self-awareness to explore design with a deeper understanding of the human condition. Her openness and empathy for the opinions, feelings, and perspectives of others empower all her design work.”
Shinde said he and others at UW-Stout “are all very excited and look forward to her future accomplishments.”
UW-Stout was No. 1 on her list
Although Haggerty’s dream was to head to the East Coast, she didn’t look very far east when it came to choosing a college.
With influence from a brother who studied photography, she decided at age 12 she wanted to be a graphic designer. Several of her high school teachers were UW-Stout graduates and recommended their alma mater when they heard what she wanted study. UW-Stout’s School of Art and Design has six undergraduate programs.
“My teachers said, ‘You have to go to Stout.’ I toured it three times, as a sophomore, junior and senior, and really loved everything about it. I only applied to Stout.”
She earned the Chancellor’s Award for academic achievement and, as a senior, received the Wood Medallion, the highest nonacademic award for students.
In addition to working at University Marketing, she worked part time at Blue Devil Productions, a student-run events and entertainment organization.
“I was ready to move forward in my life when I graduated,” Haggerty said. “My goal was to move to New York and get a job in the city. I was happy to announce to my friends that I had achieved my dream.”