Since Hannah was a little girl, she was asking questions about equality. When she was just 6 years old, she asked why there weren’t gingerbread girls when there were only gingerbread men.
Feminism was a concept that came naturally to her, but as she grew up and started to make style choices, she questioned herself. Was she a good feminist even if she wanted to dress feminine? It felt like she had to tone down either one in order to fit in. Dress too girly, bad feminist. Dressing like a tomboy didn’t feel right either. Girly is who she is and so she’s arrived at a place where she’s found strength in her femininity and confidence in showing up as herself.
She is persistent in her pursuit of justice, for all people. It shows up in her personal life and her professional life. She is always looking out for the best interest of everyone and will speak up to rally people to do the right thing.
Hannah has great style, and she’s a very interesting person. Whenever we interact, it’s always filled with laughs and challenging conversations. Challenging in a good way. She doesn’t take any crap and I respect that. I wanted to get to know her even better, so I sat with her and talked about more important matters.
Would you like to be famous?
Absolutely not! I only care about being recognized by the people I care about. Strangers’ opinions don’t matter to me.
Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
Totally! I have phone anxiety. I would rather discuss things in person because so much is lost over the phone, especially in meetings! When I’m working on personal things like calling a doctor or my accountant, I have to make a checklist because I worry I’ll forget what I need.
What would constitute a “perfect” date for you?
A spontaneous dinner out with my fiancé. We always have such good conversations cozied up in a restaurant. Or better yet, it would be a day where I just let him plan it because he’s super thoughtful. I love NOT being the planner every once in awhile.
When did you last sing to yourself?
Alone in the car, or anytime my fiancé starts singing. He, his name is Geoffrey, will start singing and then I’ll sing back at him.
Do you have a secret hunch about how you’ll die?
Not really. I’m one of those people that when I feel ill, I think: “Oh my God, I have cancer!” I’m a stubborn worrier so I feel like I’ll outlive everyone & I don’t want that.
Name 3 things you and your fiancé appear to have in common?
Style, love of music & we both value independence in our relationship. Honestly though, it’s our differences that make us work.
For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
I’m really grateful for my family. I have a loving, supportive and open relationship with my parents. They have always been supportive in our differences and didn’t project any expectations on us.
If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
I wish my parents would have pushed me to do more things even though I was afraid (perfectionist!). The desire was there, but I had too much fear and my parents couldn’t see through it.
Can you tell me your life story in 4 minutes?
No, but I’ll tell you for as long as it takes.
I was born and lived in Minneapolis until I was 13. My parents had a generally good relationship but were also super open and honest with my younger sister and I about the realities of relationships – they’re not easy! My mom was an independent and driven artist with a million friends – making it up and figuring it out as she went. My dad was quiet, a recovering addict, a craftsman, and speed demon, happiest on solo motorcycle trips. There was a lot of love, but also a knowledge that things were tough at times too.
We didn’t have money growing up and I was keenly aware of that. It made me a worrier. I didn’t ask for much because I knew what our money situation was. When we would go shopping at Target for our back to school clothes, I was always very pragmatic in my choices, never asking for more than I thought we could afford. I also didn’t want to make my mom feel bad for what she couldn’t give us.
In middle school, my parents announced we were moving to Cannon Falls, which is a small town of 3,000. I was incredibly upset and nervous, but ended up finding a new confidence in the change of context aided by kids who were just excited to have a “new girl in town”. I still worried about fitting in, especially since we were pretty different from most of the families in town who had lived there forever.
I was a good student, but failed to be like the cool sporty girls I was friends with. Instead I focused on art and choir and joined the musical. I always loved clothes and fashion, but tended to dress more preppy and “normal” as a way of fitting in.
My parents split up with I was 16. It was tough, but our open communication remained and we all figured things out together. I credit this time, and fights with my dad, for teaching me how to communicate through anger and frustration. I couldn’t wait to get out and go away to college. I ended up at UW-Madison, after a quick visit and somewhat hasty decision, where I studied art and graphic design. I found myself feeling frustrated and not as challenged as I wanted, and decided to study abroad at Central Saint Martins in London. The program and students were super impressive and intimidating, but it really taught me the importance of self motivation. I definitely learned that I needed to be challenged to be happy. A fear of complacency and a desire to push through my nervousness is what motivated me to move to New York City after college.
I moved there with only $2,000 to my name and no job. Totally crazy, but I did it! I experienced a lot of personal growth and increased confidence while living there. I got my first job at Tiffany, 1 month before the economy crashed in 2008. When I got the job, I felt the relief of making it out. “I’m not going to be poor,” I thought. Then less than six months later, I got laid off. It sucked and I was scared, but it ended up leading to so many better things.
So much after that felt random. Like shit just happened – and fast! I assisted a stylist on a photoshoot and suddenly landed another gig as a lead stylist. I worked freelance for a few years at One Kings Lane while also going back and assisting other great stylists and working for a variety of clients and generally learning more about the industry. From there I went on to work at Gilt and was so lucky to have the support of a wonderful woman and manager who believed in me and valued my point of view. She helped open the door for me to start art directing. Her faith in me gave me the confidence I needed to move into this new role. I learned so much there about my creative vision and my ability to communicate and lead a team. It was fun, and really hard too.
When I felt like I had learned and achieved all that I was meant to, I resigned from Gilt without a job, took a ceramics class and did some freelance. I needed to clear my head and refocus a bit. Slow down and make what felt like more conscious decisions about my life. It was during this time that my now fiancé, who I met in New York, and I started thinking more seriously about moving back to Minnesota. He’s from here too!
New York had been great, but we needed a new way of life that didn’t just focus on us. We needed something permanent. So, we moved back and we’re getting married this fall!
How long did that take?
A lot more than 4 minutes. Probably more like 40.
Back to style. How do you create your look? Where do you shop?
I focus on basics, quality and fit. I want to be better about not buying fast fashion, both as a way of supporting makers and small business and being more environmentally responsible. In New York there was a lot of “looking like you’re not trying” in a $200 t-shirt. There’s a part of that approach that is still in my head, but from a more practical perspective. Now that I don’t live in New York, I actually feel more free to experiment. I care less about what people think. This is for me!
The perfect white tee is ESSENTIAL and is shockingly hard to find. My current summer fave is from H&M. Another is a linen tee from Stark. When I find a good one, I’ll wear it down to rags. I wear my vintage Lee jean jacket almost everyday. It just goes with everything! I love the fit of Madewell jeans when I can’t make vintage work. Otherwise, I’m not super brand loyal. I like crafting my own mix of vintage and modern. It’s really exciting to see smaller brands led by women, like Lauren Winter and Winsome Goods really succeeding. I want my look to be personal and unique, always finding the balance between feminine and masculine. When in doubt, I throw on a classic black leather jacket. It’s an instant confidence boost. And lipstick. Always red lipstick 🙂
What’s your favorite red lipstick?
Lady Danger from MAC