Behind The Chic

An Hayward

Chico’s model An Hayward is more than just a pretty face. A truly gracious person, she’s dedicated to bettering the lives of children in her adopted home, the Gulf Coast of Florida. She explains how she got involved in building a massive new Children’s Hospital, plus gives her thoughts on aging with style (feeling great about yourself is key.)

An wears Chico’s Tasseled Cold-Shoulder Top, Abigail Hoop Earrings, and Brigitte Pants

Tell us your story.

I’m An Hayward. I am 45 years old. I’m a full-time mom, I’m a wife, I’m a fashion model, and I’m also the First Lady of Pensacola, FL. (My husband is the mayor!) I was born in Antwerp, Belgium, and I’ve been in the States 23 years. And I became an American citizen almost three years ago. Before I started modeling, I was a professional ballet dancer.

Q: How did you get involved with Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital?

About three years ago, I was asked to be on the advisory board for the adult hospital in Pensacola. I met lots of great people who knew I was very passionate about the Children’s Hospital. The reason why it’s so important to me is that my son was born there, prematurely. He was in the NICU for a long time.

Q: What are your goals for the hospital?

We are trying to raise $60 million to build a new facility that will cater to children along the whole Gulf Coast: from Panama City all the way through Alabama. At the moment we are trying to raise a lot of money and finding sponsors, people, and large corporations to help. There are many kids born prematurely that need a lot of help, and this facility will give us all that.

You also act as a parent liaison at the Children’s Hospital. What does that entail?

Once a month a group of us—staff, parents, doctors—get together to figure out what we can do better right now. We are trying to create a new environment where people can come and feel at ease. Parents spend a lot of time with their children in the hospital, sometimes for a long time. We want to make sure everything they need or want is there for them—that they are being welcomed as a family.

An wears, on the left: Chico’s Ikat Breeze Shirt, Platinum Boyfriend Jeans, Cassie Hoop Earrings, and Doyle Bracelet. On the right: Black Label Semi-Sheer Lace TopBlack Label Lace Midi Skirt

Q: Where do you draw your style inspiration from?

My mom. She definitely has had a huge influence on my style. And I think I’ve passed it on to my son now too. The one thing that my mom has always taught me is to be yourself. And I think it’s important throughout life that you stick to where you came from, what your roots are, and wherever you’re going, to be who you are. Be authentic. I always tell my son: be a leader, not a follower. You know, and it’s okay to be different. Stand out in a crowd.

Q: How has your style evolved?

I’ve come into my own. I’m comfortable where I’m at in life. So I just um, you know, I… I look back in my 20s, and I thought that I looked so fabulous. But I look back at pictures and I think, “What in the world were you thinking!?” I’m more sophisticated, but I also like jeans and a t-shirt. Um, you know, throw a little jacket on there. A little Chico’s jacket. So, I think it has evolved quite a bit. I look back now and wish I could have looked this way through my 20s and my 30s.

Q: Why is style ageless?

To me, style is ageless because I think you can really look good at any age. There shouldn’t be a set number that only at 25 or 30 you are fabulous. I’m 45 and I look, I feel, the best that I’ve ever looked. So I think age is just a number. It doesn’t mean you can’t look fabulous. You know, my mother just turned 69, and she looks amazing. My grandma is going to be 90, and she looks amazing. I want women to know that whether you are 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, it doesn’t matter. Style is for everybody.

Q: What makes a woman beautiful?

I think what makes a woman beautiful is her inner beauty. I think that’s the first thing that comes out. And you can be 20 and be kind, you can be 30 and be kind, but I think the kindness and the generosity of women is the first thing that shines out. You can be a beautiful person, but if you don’t have a great personality, you know, it changes everything about that person.

Q: What are you celebrating right now?

I’m celebrating a lot of things. I think I just celebrate being in a good place in my life. I’ve really embraced my age. I think once I turned 40, I was very excited about it. I thought that was like the best thing ever happening… suddenly, I’m 45 and I’m like, “Wait, I’m halfway almost to ninety!” But I’ve enjoyed aging. I’ve come into my own. I’m very comfortable where I am.

Q: How are you celebrating Mother’s Day?

My mother, my grandmother, my mother-in-law, myself, and all the sisters-in-law celebrate together. We go to church, have a nice brunch, and exchange gifts. Each mom gets a gift and flowers. Just being together with family is the best.

For more An, follow her on instagram, and watch our interview with her below. 

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25 Responses

  1. Patricia Barton

    Hello An, I enjoyed your interview very much. I have been a fan of you for many years and have enjoyed seeing you in the catalogs. You always look good. Your commitment to the Children’s Hospital is commendable and I wish you well in your plans for them. I have been a Chico’s customer for 20 years since I first visited them in Sanibel. And I have been so happy to see the success they have made in their business. Good luck to you in all that you do, and thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. Sincerely, Pat Barton, Glen Mills, PA

    1. Josef

      I think An always forgets that she has a father too, he’s never mentioned, anywhere… A pitty, because he was always very concerned about her ! He was only a teacher, maybe that was not enough for this “lady”…
      a pitty….

  2. JANE EVERHART, New York

    Hi An. Seeing a Chico’s outfit on you makes me want to buy it. I bought khaki silk slacks and vest because you were on the Chico’s catalog cover wearing them. I don’t know if the clothes enhance you or you enhance the outfit, but somehow you make every Chico’s design look great.

  3. Jo

    An, I have tons of Chicos fashions that I started buying when Chicos opened in Greensboro, NC. Hat ever you wear is what I want to buy…you really have style. Love your short hair! Jo Robinette

  4. Alex, April 17 , 2016
    Hi And, your interview was very intesting but, is super discover more about the people behind the one brand, your style is perfect for chico’s; I know chico’s throw one friend and never forget. chico’s is awesome, the design in you are pretty fabolous.

  5. Gwen

    Your are beautiful and graceful! you always inspire me to buy what you wear in the chico’s catalogs, Im 64 and bigger than you, but you inspire me still!

  6. Great interview, I love your hair style, I was trying to grow my hair but whenever I see you, I decide to go short again, I too, look better in short hair. You always look great in Chicos clothes. I’m a fan of Chicos.

  7. Jill

    You always look great and your hair is perfect. If you are looking for ideas for the hospital for children do check out St. Jude’s in Memphis.
    Their hospital is designed to appeal to children who are very ill and to make their stay as happy and comfortable as possible. If you can’t visit in person you can go on line and see what they have done.

  8. Hi An, I enjoyed your interview. I grew up in Pensacola. Lived there 20 years. Pensacola will always be home to me. It sounds like you are doing a great job with Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital and the new facility. Thank you.
    Love Chico’s beautiful clothes. Wish I could buy them all.

  9. conn

    Hi An, I have been observing your style for a long time. I have to tell you this story though: I loved your short short haircut several years ago (really short). I took your pic to the hairdresser I have used for years and asked her to cut my hair like that. We were on our way to Europe on a trip, so i knew it would be so easy to do. What happened, the shorter it got, the more it looked like a burr. It stood straight up and would not cooperate AT ALL! So, I had an interesting cut/look, but looked nothing like you although my hair is natural silver. Thanks for the inspiration anyway!!! Keep on keeping on. You look fabulous!!!!

  10. Kay Spencer

    Hi An, As a long time Chicos shopper, I’ve always been inspired by how well you wear the clothes. I hope that you continue to model for Chicos for many years! I’m loving the “Hello, I’m…” Campaign and particularly appreciate how the campaign seems to be targeting mature women who not only love fashion, but women who believe that we have much to offer and lots of life to live and discover! Keep it up!

  11. Lori Lacerenza

    Hi An, I am a devoted Chicos shopper and love the style that Chicos represents. I am a 60 year old woman who has loved fashion since I was 12 years old. I look forward to receiving my Chicos catalog and seeing you represent the Chicos woman. I love all the models but must say you are my favorite. I enjoyed hearing your story to know you are beautiful on the inside as well as the outside.

  12. Diane Saed

    An, You are an inspiration! I have always loved Chico’s from the beginning—marketing clothes that are comfortable and chic! But, when you model the outfits, they all get an extra look and a trip to Chico’s. After reading your interview, I am more impressed than ever with you and your lifestyle. Please continue your wonderful work and know that you are a “Rock Star”! That particular comment came from the sales staff of the MOA store! I agreed!

  13. An, I too look forward to getting the Chico’s catalogs and feel you are the prettiest and classiest model in there! you inspire me to want to buy different clothes than I ordinarily would because they look so great on you! The clothes in Chico’s always seem to fit so well! Thanks for making older more mature women feel like they too can look and feel beautiful inside and out!

  14. Winnie Morgan

    Your short cut made me more confident in losing my hair from a stem cell transplant! Thank you! I am a Chico-junkie and always look forward to getting the catalog to see you. Did you ever wear your hair grey/silver in the catalog?

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  16. Melanie kuta

    Hi ,An, yes , I totally agree with the other ladies comments . You wear Chico’s clothing so easily and well . Your beautiful smile adds to the lovely picture and makes me think hmmm…just maybe at 75 years of age my look has promise!! Thank you!

  17. Marion Burkholder

    An. , you so beautiful…and when I see you in chicos catalog……I have to have it too… are
    Very inspiring. ……I admire you so much.

  18. Yours has always been my favorite face to see in the Chico’s magazine. When I see you on the cover it is as if a dear friend has stopped by for a visit. Thank you for being a beacon.

  19. Micki

    I have carried a pic of you in my purse for a few years now. Whenever I feel that need for a change, I tell my guy to give me the Chicos cut! I always feel invigorated when leaving the salon and get a ton of compliments. Being 5’3, wish I could figure how to grow a couple inches taller ! Thanks for being my inspiration.

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  21. Hello An!
    You are my favorite Chico’s girl! 🙂 Your European chic is a great addition to your charismatic personality. I always look for styles you show here. Your haircut is FABULOUS! I have a short haircut too and love it. In Russia we say: Two things make a woman look GORGEOUS: Stylish haircut and beautiful shoes!

  22. Josef

    I think An always forgets that she has a father too, he’s never mentioned, anywhere… A pitty, because he was always very concerned about her ! He was only a teacher, maybe that was not enough for this “lady”…
    a pitty….

  23. Robin

    An is my favorite…I love her short hair! I also appreciate the tips she offers on hair products; like An I have short, coarse hair.
    Sorry other Chico’s models, but An definitely shows the clothes better than anyone!