Jackie Ardrey is an accomplished business leader with 25 years experience growing multichannel, merchandise-driven organizations, including Harry & David, Oregon Home Gourmet, and Hanna Andersson. She is currently the president of Grandin Road, a designer-inspired home decor retailer, as well as a member of Women in Retail Leadership Circle. We asked Jackie some rapid-fire questions so you can get to know her better!
- What’s the best book you’ve read recently?
“Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens, and “Girl Unbroken” by Regina Calcaterra. I love novels about strong, unbreakable women
- What excites you most about retail?
I started my retail career at 16, as a Macy’s seasonal hire for the swatch counter. I couldn’t believe that someone would actually pay me to do something I loved so much. I still have the same excitement when I come to work every day — learning what items are selling, understanding when we served our customer well and where we fell short. There’s always something new to learn, something new to try … it’s a continual discovery.
- What’s one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?
I wish I knew that I didn’t have to always be right — that I could fail and it would be OK, as long as I learned from it.
- Where do you do your best thinking?
On a plane or on my way into work.
- What woman inspires you right now and why?
I lead an all-women team, and report to a woman leader. Their investment to the brand and to learning and growing inspires me every day.
- When you’re traveling for work, what’s a must-pack item?
I always take a copy of the brand’s strategic plan and our budget. It helps me stay grounded, and be purposeful about how my travel fits into the overall plan. It also helps me determine in real time whether that trip helped us reach our strategic or budgetary goals, so I can plan future travel accordingly.
- What’s the hardest thing about your job?
The hardest thing I think we have to do as leaders is to eliminate distractions for ourselves and our teams so we can achieve our goals.
- What’s your favorite aspect of your job?
Leading a great team.
- What’s the best advice that’s ever been given to you?
Develop your financial skills so you always understand how the decisions you’re making affect the P&L. It’s invaluable advice, and something every woman leader should embrace.
- What’s your favorite time of day to be productive?
Late afternoon/early evening is when I get my best work done.
- What’s the biggest surprise you’ve had in your career?
That I didn’t have to change who I was to be successful. I did have to change some of my behaviors, but not who I am and what I value.
- What’s your favorite app?
- How do you decompress?
Reading. Spending time on the bleachers or on sports fields with my mom friends. Visiting Oregon.
- What barriers have you had to overcome in your career?
I had to overcome my internal belief that if I pursued my career, I couldn’t be the mom I wanted to be. Once I was free from that internal belief, and learned to be confident with the balance, it fueled my career growth.
- What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Two things: First, never miss an opportunity to learn. If a leader you trust asks you to do something out of your comfort zone, embrace it. Give yourself permission to fail, but never to waste your own time. If you’re always learning, you’re always moving forward. Second, work hard. Hard work earns respect.
- If you weren’t working in the retail industry, what do you think you’d be doing?
I would teach.