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First Person

The Experience Questionnaire: Dana Gordon

Dana Gordon is the founder of Dana Rebecca Designs, a jewelry brand that has been worn on the red carpet by such stars as Emma Stone, Kerry Washington, and Selena Gomez.

Where do you come up with your best ideas? 
When I travel I am able to reflect. I find myself inspired by both the architecture and other visual nuances of my destination.

What is the best non-material gift you’ve received?
My husband (then fiancée) took us on a once-in-a lifetime trip to Bangkok, Mumbai, and Hong Kong as a celebration of our engagement.

What is the best non-material gift you’ve given?
Without a doubt, carrying my children. It was a gift to my husband, my parents, all of us really.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
Finding the daily fit of motherhood, running a business, being a friend, daughter, and wife. Just finding a way to tuck my two kids into bed, return afternoon emails, eat dinner with my husband, or call my mom are wins.

If you had to choose a different profession, what would you do?
This is my plan B! I was going to be a lawyer — I was sure my personality was a great fit for litigation. However, by age 16 I had launched Dana Rebecca Designs, and by the time I graduated from college, I had five collections under my belt. From there I went to the Gemological Institute of America and continued to grow the line.

What is the most useful mistake you’ve made? 
Missing, or putting off reacting to, a miss in team chemistry. When a hire was not a good fit, I used to let it slide for too long. I learned to acknowledge and honestly communicate versus my old strategy of hoping and wishing for better outcomes. My organization is so small, cultural fit is essential. 

What’s the strangest experience you’ve had?
I agreed to take a nighttime bike tour of Bangkok during our engagement trip. It was a ride to various temples, and to get there we rode in the dark streets in dense traffic. There were cars speeding by, opening vehicle doors, and more rats than I could ever imagine, yet the beauty and the experience of the temples erased the horror of the “getting there.”

What opportunity do you regret passing up?
I can’t say that I have any regrets; I am a risk taker so I usually go for it. Often, I learn from those experiences — meaning, many things I said “yes” to I regret later.

There were cars speeding by, opening vehicle doors, and more rats than I could ever imagine, yet the beauty erased the horror of the “getting there.”

How do you relax?
The most relaxing spot I can think of is a 17-hour flight to India cozy in business class with movies, wine, and most of all, no cell service!

If you could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go?
Maldives — it is exotic and far away. I would relax my way through Dubai and then allow myself the escape of all escapes.

What is your most indelible childhood memory?
I grew up in the house that everyone went to; we had an open-door policy. In the summer, our pool and backyard were constantly filled with guests. I remember diving competitions and the warmth of everyone knowing each other.

What’s the most valuable thing you learned in school?
The most valuable course I took was focused on interviewing skills. I learned how to present myself and answer questions.

When you’re stuck how do you get unstuck?
I get stuck all the time. My team is my best sounding board. I feel the same way about raising kids. My support network is my holy grail for my personal success.

What is your proudest moment?
First, when Dana Rebecca was featured on Oprah’s Favorite Things in the show’s final season. Second, when we opened a holiday pop-up store on Michigan avenue in Chicago, between Van Cleef & Arpels and Chanel.

What would you like to experience before you die? 
I want to come full circle as a mother: experience my kids having kids and enjoy an adult relationship with my girls. I remember calling my mother after I gave birth, crying tears of gratitude for all she had done for me, sharing how very much I loved her. I would love to keep heading in that direction with my daughters!

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