We thought it would make sense to ask a few questions of some of our favorite MN companies, charities, & individuals in a regular series on our blog called, "Spotlight On".
Who better to start with then Anne Lenhardt Koebele, the creator/designer of one of my absolute favorite jewelry lines, Hardt Jewelry. Her pieces are elegant & refined while managing to exude a sense of power & uniqueness. Additionally, the message of equality, authenticity & love really take it to the next level. Anne regularly partners with charities & organizations through collaborative collections as well as donating profits. Please read more about the Hardt mission on the website. #girlcrush right here!
1. WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO CREATE NEW PRODUCTS & WHAT IS YOUR PROCESS?
Because I live in the city, I get most of my inspiration from buildings, textures and unique lines and shapes. I often describe the aesthetic of the collection a “sophisticated edge”. The designs combine a minimalist approach with clean/architectural lines, and an unexpected element. For instance, our iconic angular “Hardt” is a classic symbol with a twist of individuality and strength. I want pieces to be
significant enough to be worn alone, but delicate enough to layer and stack Every collection is also inspired by, and designed around a specific cause. The signature Equal Hardt Collection, was inspired by my personal story of coming out, and the love and support I had received. I felt a sense of purpose and responsibility to ensure the message of acceptance, love and kindness reach a larger audience.
2. WHAT IS EXCITING YOU THE MOST ABOUT YOUR COMPANY RIGHT NOW?
The long-awaited, new collection! I am in the design phase right now, and cannot wait to release a new cause-related line. If all goes as planned, there will be a small release for the holidays, then a full collection this Spring.
3. IF THERE WAS ONE SPOT IN MN THAT YOU WOULD SEND AN OUT-OF-TOWNER TO, WHERE WOULD IT BE & WHY?
My #1 favorite spot in Minneapolis is Saint Anthony Main – right alongside the Mississippi. I absolutely love when cities meet nature, and this is the perfect setting, overlooking the Minneapolis skyline. There’s a hidden gem called the Heritage Trail, right across from Aster Café. I go there at least once a week on a mini “hike”, and sit by the edge of the river to reset. It’s my peaceful, happy escape in the city.
4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE INTERACTION YOU'VE HAD WITH A CUSTOMER?
I have been so fortunate to have such amazing, kind, customers. It truly makes my day, week, year… to hear positive feedback and compliments…it’s what keeps me going! My favorite interactions have definitely been the most meaningful. The one that sticks out most is when I received an email from a woman who bought the Equal Hardt Necklace for her and her daughter, who was struggling with coming out. Because of the meaning and significance behind the piece, the two bonded and the daughter was
able to see the incredible love and support from her mother. I get tears in my eyes every time I hear stories like this, and is the VERY reason I started Hardt.
5. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF OWNING & RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS?
ideas, and see the positive impact the designs and company have on others.
6. WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN CREATING HARDT?
I think the challenge with owning any business comes down to two things: time and resources. After the first year, I definitely found myself burning out. I was solely focused on Hardt 24/7, and let other things in my life slide. I am so driven and passionate about Hardt, that I need to be mindful about creating a sustainable balance in life. The other huge challenge for me is resources. There is so much I have yet to do with the company, and so many collections and collaborations I want to create. I have to tell myself daily that it will happen eventually, and that slow but sustainable growth is okay.
7. IF YOU COULD PUT ONE OF YOUR PIECES ON ANY CELEBRITY, WHO WOULD IT BE & WHICH PIECE?
Oh man….this list could go on forever. Two that immediately stick out: Ellen wearing the Equal Hardt Necklace, because it encompasses exactly who she is, and what she
stands for: Equality, Kindness, Love. …And on a completely different page, Beyoncé rocking our studded rings and empowerment cuffs…because, duh, it’s Bey.
8. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MN MADE PRODUCT OTHER THAN YOUR OWN?
9. WHAT IS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE PART OF OWNING/RUNNING A BUSINESS?
I would say the everyday stress and anxiety that comes with being responsible for everything… rent, product, customers, running a shop, retailers, finances, etc. It’s been a definite change in perspective and lifestyle going from having a steady paycheck, to risking it all, and not knowing if or how sometimes you’ll make it.
10. WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU WOULD LIKE PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT HARDT?
I would like for people to know why I created Hardt, and why I continue to pour every aspect into it every day. I’m so passionate about the true meaning behind the first collection, and excited to where I am taking it in the future. To me, Hardt Jewelry represents strength, individuality, authenticity, support, and love for all human beings. When I wear my Hardt, I am reminded of why the collection was created: to bring visibility and create dialogue needed for change. My goal is to encourage people to start seeing each other as equals and as human beings. Because we all have one thing in common—a heart.
11. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT LIVING IN MN?
I will forever be in love with Minneapolis. We have a romance that will last a lifetime. I love my North Loop neighborhood and my Cheers-like neighbors, the river, the local breweries, the music scene, and the amazing summers.
12. WHAT IS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE PART OF LIFE IN MN?
I’m a cold baby, so I’m not a fan of our winter season.
13. WHO IS YOUR TOP MN CELEB?
Hands down the late Prince and Bob Dylan.
14. DO YOU HAVE ANY UPCOMING NEWS TO SHARE?
I have been (in)patiently waiting to release the next full collection. It has been a year in the making and I’m almost there!
15. WHAT ARE YOU BINGE-WATCHING RIGHT NOW? (I realize this has nothing to do with Hardt or MN but we need to know)
I work alone during the day, so my best friend is Netflix. I’m currently binging on: Ally McBeal (my spirit animal), Shameless, and just finished Girls and Breaking Bad (for the 2nd time ha).
So good! Thank you, Anne!