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By Chris | August 25 2009
Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry
Following a 24-year long “summer job” at H. Stern in Brazil and New York, Andrea Hansen recently took on the role of CEO for Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry.
With a career in the fine jewelry industry that began at the age of 15, Hansen learned the ropes of the jewelry from world-renowned gem expert Hans Stern. Starting off as a hostess who gave tours of the H. Stern factory, she became a brand ambassador, welcoming royalty and celebrities to the factory, and learning the public relations world hands-on. With Mr. Stern serving as her mentor, he spent time to educate Hansen in all areas of the fine jewelry industry, providing her the knowledge base to eventually run a jewelry brand. After receiving her graduate degree in business with a focus on advertising and marketing, Hansen moved to New York where she expanded the H. Stern business on a global level.
In July 2009, Andrea Hansen was chosen to lead the Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry brand. Style Editor Tanya Dukes recently sat down with her to discuss her background, her goals for the Ivanka Trump brand, and her personal and professional passions.
ET: How are your first few weeks going in your new role of CEO at Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry?
Andrea Hansen: It’s a little bit like learning to walk again. I feel like: ‘I kind of remember this.’ It’s nothing that I haven’t done before and it’s all very much within my passion. Even though it’s such a young company—it’ll be two years old in September—they’ve done such a good job with establishing the brand identity. You see it from the stationary to the store design to the product and the accent on the jewelry. Everything is so cohesive and so nicely done and so representative of who Ivanka is.
ET: What are some of your goals for growing the business?
Andrea Hansen: It’s already a great product, in a great home, with a great name on it. And visually everything is very well connected. What’s harder, I believe, and exciting at the same time, is that this time around, its all in front of me. There’s one jewel box of a boutique, and the world. Open. It’s a big challenge. But what’s first? Well, first will be for the next few months, working with Molly, who is the designer, on expanding some of the key product line. It will be a mix of wholesale, retail and probably a careful, aggressive franchise program. We’re going to start with Asia, the Middle East, and here, the US.
I think the biggest mistake people make is when they look at the potential of a brand like this is that they tend to go everywhere and be everything for everyone. This is a niche brand. It will always be niche. We can make that niche a lot bigger, but it is “heirloom-chic” jewelry. Ivanka coined that expression, and I think it’s important, because it’s a modern twist on the best classic of jewelry from the best periods.
ET: How do you manage your priorities in your professional and personal life?
Andrea Hansen: I’m a very good multitasker. When you have kids and you work and you travel, you have to be good at multitasking, but also I have a need to be very structured and organized. As long as I have priorities and a focus, I can do a lot of things. The number one priority is really to build a very good sales development team for this location.
ET: Is the jewelry sold in the Ivanka Trump Boutique exclusively?
Andrea Hansen: Right now, just here. And on the website, of course: ivankatrump.com. This is the only store for now. I think in the US we will probably add two, maybe three more flagships, but then we’ll do wholesale. Not 100 doors, not 500 doors, more than anything I’ve learned in the past 10 years, is that you have to be very selective. You should only go with the retailer that really understands and values your brand.
ET: How did you get your start in the jewelry industry?
Andrea Hansen: I took a summer job (at H. Stern in Brazil) when I was 15 and never quit. I was going to school and I went to college and work part-time. It was almost a 24-year summer job, lasting from December 1985 to July 2009. All the time, Hans Stern was teaching me all the different facets of the business.
ET: Was that a hard decision to leave H. Stern after your ’24-year summer job’?
Andrea Hansen: Oh, yes. Of course it was hard. They are family to me. And as much as it was a very hard decision to make, it was such an amazing challenge and opportunity. I felt so sure about it. And then I met Ivanka and I was so impressed. There was also a personal side to things. I feel strongly about the role of women in business. Here I have the chance to build a company that is the vision of a woman that I think is brilliant and who I have come to admire deeply, that is so professional and that can bring so much experience and knowledge with her.
ET: And what is that relationship like, the collaboration between you and Ivanka?
Andrea Hansen: It’s so easy right now. She is very involved. Everything, the brand and the product, is a very direct interpretation of who she is. Everything comes from her—from an aspect of her personality or an aspect of her life. She is very, very involved. At the same time, being the business woman that she is, she knows I need to run the show. And I’m honored that she has shown the trust in me. I understand her. I can relate to her. I appreciate the time she can give me. And I just want to get things done.
ET: Did you take any time off between H. Stern and your new job?
Andrea Hansen: The truth is I took three days. From the moment this became a done deal, I was already I thinking about how I was going to go about so many of the developments I’ve been talking about. Actually, before I accepted I had already explored the potential in my mind of how I would do things. And I had to make sure there was the smoothest transition possible for H. Stern in all the different markets.
ET: On a personal note, do you have any holiday plans on the horizon?
Andrea Hansen: Once a year my husband and I take a short trip. Just us. No kids. Usually no more than a week. We just love to walk around. We pick a city and lose ourselves. Last year we did Madrid, we’ve done Florence, Rome, London… We leave in the morning and have a nice breakfast and walk around. If you pay attention, without following a prescribed tourist route you see so much more and learn so much more about a place and its people. We never make reservations. We just stumble upon a cafe, a bistro–we just go with it. We’re probably going to do London next.