Moms in Business: Get to know Andrea Hansen
Mothers in Business: Andrea Hansen
You probably know Andrea Hansen. The industry veteran has an infectious passion for championing the talent of others—something that has been apparent in her work with LuxeIntelligence, her firm that specializes in brand and business development. “Being the best version of you” is a mantra that applies indefinitely: Hansen pushes her clients to remain authentic, while striving to push the limits of their capabilities—be that with technological developments, exploring new design techniques, seeking inspiration in unexpected places, and so on.
Hansen, as you may have guessed, is also a mom. Two children—a girl (“16 going on 26”), and a boy (“who is 6’2” at 14)—plus a fur baby, beloved rescue dog, make up her brood. With kids getting closer to college by the day (we’re sure she doesn’t want to hear us say that!) and a full-fledged, successful business, you have to wonder what a day in the life is like.
Truthfully, no one tells it like Hansen herself—and so, we let her do just that.
You have so much experience in the jewelry industry, wearing many hats along the way. Describe your journey that led you to where you are now.
Andrea Hansen: My journey has very few twists and turns, and it has been guided mostly by love. I’ve actually had to make very few difficult or complicated decisions because clarity of what’s important has always prevailed. I took my first “industry job” when I was 15, and fell in love. I worked with passion and commitment because I always loved what I did. With that, one thing led to another. I once had to decide to leave my long-time position of 24 years with a company, because I knew I had to prove something to myself. I am generally happiest when I follow my instincts, and when I know I am learning new things and impacting people for the better. My “career journey” and my personal journey have always been intertwined. And I like it this way.
This journey–which is really just living life doing what you love and trying to make good things happen–continues. As much as I realize I am older, and yes, accomplished, my goals never changed based on what I have done, or where I have arrived. I am always looking forward. You know, “work until you no longer have to introduce yourself.”
What makes you so passionate about promoting jewelry brands?
AH: I was lucky to learn the jewelry business from inside out and to be mentored by a true “giant.” He taught me how to run a business, how to audit, how to make jewelry, how to make jewelry that can sell, how to sell, figure out what the consumers want. He especially taught me how to listen, how to never judge someone by their appearance, how to treat all with kindness, and how to be fair above all.
After I joined the WJA, I realized one of the main purposes of being successful is to share what you know. I started mentoring a few younger women, and then I realized how lucky I had been to be given the opportunities I had to learn, to practice, to grow professionally. I am passionate about the bigger meaning of what we do, and about empowering people to be their very best. So I share what I know, sometimes as a friend, sometimes I get paid to do it as a consultant, but often what I find is that the industry is insular, and in some ways incestuous.
Ours is a small industry, where people know each other, and we pat each other on our backs and forget to look outside, to stay current, to refresh and innovate. In our industry, up until the arrival of 3D printing and CAD, even our tools had never changed. I am an avid consumer of tech innovation news, consumer behavior, and market research data, and feel that I have a role in pushing our industry to think of new solutions, new ways to continue to be relevant and desirable. So I want to help, I want to have a role in paving the future of jewelry. And to me that starts by making better jewelry that the consumer wants, and helping good people tell their stories.
What is your favorite aspect of your job at Luxeintelligence?
AH: That I get to do what I love, and choose to work with people that have unique talent and something to say. I can focus on what inspires me, choose my projects, but if I am successful, it generally means that I am also helping someone—designer, retailer or manufacturer—be a better artist, a better jeweler.
Which came first: babies or business?
AH: As I said, I took my first job at 15 and have been at it ever since, so in many ways, jewelry came first.
Business aside, what’s the hardest part of being a mother?
AH: Letting them go and make their own mistakes.
What’s the hardest part of your working day?
AH: Being able to “turn off.”
Describe what a typical (business) day looks like for you.
AH: Well, I have two “modes:” home office and mobile office (the various devices I carry around). If I am home, I work from my home office, or my backyard by the pool, or my deck. I have incredible focus and the ability to work anywhere, shut off all noise and work on what I have to, so I like the variety and the outdoors. I wake up around 6 a.m., start doing phone calls with Europe, Middle East, East Coast. Mid-morning I take a break for a walk, then work again until late afternoon. In the spring/summer/fall, I often end my day around 4 p.m. PST and then head out to see my son play baseball, or see my daughter cheer her high school football team. If I am with a client or doing research, that means I am traveling—which happens a lot. I travel to see clients at least once every week, so my “commute” is generally by plane. In that case, my days are crammed from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. with meetings and strategy sessions, so I can make my trips as short as possible and come back home.
What’s been your biggest success thus far in your journey to being a successful business owner?
AH: Having the courage to launch my own business, be on my own and make it work.
Your biggest challenge?
AH: Saying no to projects and clients, and making time for myself.
Do you talk to your kids about your profession?
AH: Yes, I always have. When they were little, and because I always travelled a lot, I was very careful not to complain about travel, or working taking me away from them. I did not want them to blame my career. I want to believe that I have instilled a good work ethic in them, and also that they are adjusted and accomplished in their own ways because they know that it takes hard work and perseverance.
How do your kids impact your business decisions?
AH: I am always making decisions that take into consideration their needs, especially because I only have them at home for another couple of years. But I am mindful of making decisions that fulfill me, because they are better off with a busy but happy mom than with an unhappy mom with too much time in her hands.
How does what you do professionally impact your daily life with family?
AH: They have learned to be quite self-sufficient very early on, independent and responsible. They also know the value of money because they have to work (chores) to get theirs.
What helps you to unwind?
AH: Gardening, and wine!!!
What is your mantra?
AH: “Nothing grows inside your comfort zone” and, “Be Nice, Be Kind, Rewind.”
What’s the one thing you wish someone had told you before becoming a mom/working for yourself?
AH: Before I became a mom, I wish someone had told me that “balance” is not achievable. By definition, equilibrium is the act of constantly balancing things, but at some point things get wobbly, and may fall. You just have to clean up, pick up and start again.
Before I started my business, I wish I had known that it’s impossible to find someone who cares about it with the same passion and commitment I have. It would have saved me a lot of heartache.
What other moms in business do you admire?
AH: A woman who is willing to follow her dreams, work on her passion, compete in the marketplace or industry, put herself out there as a leader, and raise a family is deserving of three things: Praise, thank yous and wine. I am privileged to count as friends some amazing women who do incredible things at home and at work. Women who run from office or airport to a school function, from a client meeting to a doctor appointment or a sports event. Our industry is lucky to have women like Sally Morrison, Monica Stephenson, Debbie Hiss, Jennifer Dawes, Kalee Scholdt, Zoey Minkowe, Malak Atut, Pamela Froman, the late Cindy Edelstein, Brandee Dallow, Fran Penella, Bernadette Mack. I am also inspired by mom-friends who are making incredible things happen in other industries, such as Heidi Metz, who is a mom of three and launching “Imani,” a platform that will offer mobile banking in poor African nations; Shenan Reed Golimbu, a giant in the digital marketing space; Priyanka Murthy, a lawyer-turned-jewelry designer, philanthropist and a brand new mom; and the one who inspired me early on in my career and life, the unique Diane Von Furstenberg, who I had the honor of working with and knowing, who uses style, class, candor, kindness and a great dose of good humor to do good and encourage women to be Super Women. She gave me this image (see below) and it’s a source of daily strength and inspiration.