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Ann Inc. Unveils FIT Scholarship

Kay Krill revealed that the company will endow a full-year scholarship annually and in perpetuity to a student with a passion for women’s design.

NEW YORK — As a college student, Kay Krill didn’t think much about retailing or fashion, except maybe for her tennis whites.

“I thought I was going to be a tennis player,” Krill, the president and chief executive officer of Ann Inc., told WWD. She was on her high school and college tennis teams, taught the sport, and majored in psychology and economics at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta. But during her senior semester, Macy’s came on campus to interview for its executive training program, and a light went on in her head.

“I had absolutely no intention of entering retailing but I found myself in that recruiting office. When I joined the executive training, the president of Macy’s, [the late] Herb Friedman, said, ‘If you don’t wake up every morning dying to come to work, then retailing and the fashion world is not for you.’ I quickly realized after a month or two that I loved retail.”

That was 1977. On Monday, Krill revealed another surprise — a commitment from Ann Inc. to endow a full-year scholarship annually and in perpetuity to a Fashion Institute of Technology student with a passion for women’s design. Krill was scheduled to unveil the scholarship Monday evening at the fund-raiser for the F.I.T. Foundation. Krill, along with longtime F.I.T. supporter George Kaufman, the chairman of the Kaufman Organization and Kaufman Studios, and W magazine editor in chief Stefano Tonchi, were the honorees at the event.

“I feel like this scholarship is absolutely in alignment with Ann Inc., as a purpose-led company that believes in investing in, and empowering, the next generation,” Krill said. “It all just hangs together. There is great talent coming out of F.I.T., not just in design, but in merchandising, marketing, communications and other areas. But it is getting harder and harder to find talent, so why not invest early on in students?”

Three years ago, Ann Inc. started an internship for college juniors and seniors in such disciplines as design, merchandising, communications and finance. “We got 5,000 applicants and can only take 33,” Krill said. “We hire most of these interns as they get out of college. It’s not an executive training program. We really don’t have one, but we have entry-level positions in each function, which is kind of what an executive-training program is about. It’s just not labeled as such. Every associate that starts here has to spend a week in the stores to really understand what the front lines are all about.”