At first glance, Annie Connolly seems like just another face in a throng of new students entering the University of Utah this fall semester — but after speaking with her, you’ll learn she’s a bit different from the average college freshman. An active member of the new Lassonde Studios, she’s already doing more for her community, and excitedly building a new career for herself at only 18 years old.
Entering her first semester at the university, Connolly planned on studying modern dance, but her “passion for creativity and innovation” eventually led her to the Lassonde, where she could hone her entrepreneurial skills. She is still excited to be a part of the University’s Performing Dance Company, but can’t wait to see what she can bring to the Evok clothing line, too.
The Lassonde’s new building opened this past August on the University of Utah campus, and it’s already inspiring entrepreneurs. Behind the walls of bright copper and glass, it offers promising futures for all students and encourages them to discover new things about the world — helping to improve it one step at a time. Entrepreneurs are leading factors in today’s society because of their unique ability to create new answers and solutions to persistent problems. Their passion and drive to create their careers, rather than just find a job, is remarkable — but it’s also risky. Connolly is one of these amazing students striving towards a much larger goal.
Evok Clothing is a fashion line brought to the University of Utah by student Colby Russo. The clothing line has been popular since it opened because of its support of local artists and the equal pay opportunities it offers its workers. Think of it as an apparel line with a conscience. Although Colby is the company CEO, he and all his coworkers receive the exact same pay. This demonstrates the company’s commitment to equal pay and equal value — and it offers consumers a different take on how successful companies can operate.
Although she’s only been with Evok a short time, Connolly has already enjoyed the company culture and the pleasure of giving back to her community. Most recently, Evok partnered with Planned Parenthood in Salt Lake City to hold a fashion show — and Connolly attended and helped raise money for the cause. She believes strongly in Planned Parenthood, and she was excited to be able to join them and bring her passion to the entire event.
Connolly said that these kinds of events really made her realize what college and university are for. She had never expected to be a part of something with a community impact this soon into her career, especially not at age 18. But the opportunity to give back to her community on a regular basis and be a part of both the Lassonde and Evok Clothing was just too great to turn down (Evok gives one-third of all its profits to a charity of choice). She’s also hoping to show others that “the clique image of a businessman in a suit and tie, working 9-5” is outdated. She said: “Women have just as much creativity and drive as men. Everyone can bring different perspectives and fresh ideas to the table, and the more diverse these perspectives, the better.”
Connolly wants people to know that the “Lassonde is providing young women with resources and opportunities that are truly one of a kind. To live here and not take advantage of them would be absurd.” She says her experience has been nothing short of amazing so far, and she’s looking forward to many more wonderful opportunities to come at Evok. Connolly is a prime example of what it means to be a student at the U and an entrepreneur at the Lassonde. To learn more about Connolly and Evok, visit the website or the company Facebook page .