For today’s I AM profile, we visited the beautiful, magnetic, wildly spirited Ann Cooper. Ann is a successful realtor in Boulder, whose face can be seen across magazine articles, ads, and around town in various boards and non profit groups. Ann goes above and beyond the call of her job, getting deeply involved in the community in which she works – particularly around issues of poverty and race relations. Ann has also been a customer and supporter of Goldyn since the beginning, but most importantly I am honored to say that she’s been a long time family friend and role model in my own life. Read on below for Ann’s words about her childhood, how she developed her sense of style, and the woman she is now.
Goldyn: You grew up in the South in the late 1950s – early 1970s, which seems quite different from your life in Boulder now. Can you speak a little bit about what life was like for a young girl then?
Ann: It was very different from my life in Boulder now. I grew up in public housing in rural Georgia. Public housing was great, though. It was an upgrade from our former house. We had running water and a bathroom!! My grandmother came over every Friday for a nice bath. We had fabulous neighbors – 98% single moms, and we were one big family. Life felt like a big ‘ol party. It was the epitome of “it takes a village.” Neighbors were allowed to discipline us and you were disciplined again when your mom came home. Children really respected their elders and you were expected to always help when you could. It was a great way to grow up. We were close knit and didn’t realize that we were poor, or that we were experiencing the true meaning of “community.”
Goldyn: Do you think your child self could have envisioned the woman you became? In what ways do you think you carry your upbringing with you now – i.e. how did growing up in the segregated South influence the woman you are now?
Ann: Absolutely. I’ve always been a dreamer. My child self envisioned even more for me. I think the way that I grew up instilled in me a real sense of community, for which I shall always be grateful. I love where I live and care deeply about my community. My limited sense of philanthropy came from my childhood, where we always tithed to the church. Even though we were segregated, my mother taught us to love others, regardless of social status, race, or anything else. I carried that with me into adulthood.
Goldyn: Were you interested in fashion or style growing up? How were you able to express that style, given the environment you were in?
Ann: I like to think that black people, in general, have always had incredible style! My aunt was a seamstress and made me a few unique pieces. I remember a maroon tunic with zippers on each sleeve – soooo cool! We didn’t have a lot of clothes. I wore a lot of hand-me-downs, but I was choosy about them. We also made a lot of garments in home economics – midi and maxi vests, big leg trousers, hip huggers and short boots. My style now is somewhat bohemian, which I developed later in life, partially because I have serious kankles and am always trying to hide them with long skirts! I love scarves! They can change the mood and style of any outfit. I can even tie them around my head. I’ve recently gone afro natural with my hair and I’m loving it. Though I find it work to make my hair look like it hasn’t been combed. Not sure if my fellow Boulderites get it lol. My mother and her friends only dressed on Sundays with pencil skirts and big hats. Black women still wear big hats.
Goldyn: What do you do for a living now? How does that influence your style?
Ann: I am a realtor at Re/Max of Boulder. I love my profession, especially in the Republic. Anything goes, as long as you’re clean!
Goldyn: How would you define your style in a nutshell?
Ann: BOHEMIAN! I wear sandals year round, long skirts, scarves, big tops, large earrings!
Goldyn: What would you say are your wardrobe essentials?
Ann: Black skirt, black wrap, black duster, 5 printed skirts, basic tops in white, black and red and all the animal prints I can find.
Goldyn: If you could be anyone at any time, who would your fantasy self be (famous or just made up!) and what would she be doing?
Ann: I would be Barack Obama. He is brilliant, he is fit, he is healthy, he is generous, kind, humorous, concerned about others and almost ego-less. He looks at the greater good and moves towards making things work in that way. His life has been tough, adventuresome and he has reached incredible heights. He is an amazing individual.
Goldyn: Any words for girls growing up today about style and being who they are?
Ann: Sounds like a cliché, but my advice would be to just “do you.” People look good in clothes they are comfortable in. Be individualistic. Create your own style. In the words of Oscar Wilde, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.” And Dr. Seuss says, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”