Ann Hand on her jewelry design philosophy ~
“I think I look at myself as a storyteller because most of my jewelry has a message. That’s what I want to do for America . . . I want you to wear it and be able to talk about what it represents.”
Andy Ockershausen: This is Andy Ockershausen and this is Our Town. I’m so excited to have a very special friend today to talk to you about Our Town. A lady I’ve known for many, many years who has
to me the foremost jeweler of the city of Washington, maybe in the East Coast and certainly better than anybody in New York. Ann Hand is a legend and a major, major player in Our Town and Ann, welcome to Our Town.
Ann Hand: I am thrilled to be here. Truly excited.
Andy Ockershausen: I was trying to explain to you and we’re still working on it ourself, what is this podcast thing. It is magic and as I told you, everything you do and say here, as long as it’s in the ionosphere is there forever.
Ann Hand: Now you’re scaring me.
Andy Ockershausen: We have a record of everything you’ve done but your business has been fabulous for our nation’s capital.
Meeting Lloyd Hand at University of Texas Where Their Odyssey Began
Ann Hand: Thank you very much. It’s been a real pleasure.
Andy Ockershausen: You’re a Texas girl obviously. Grew up in the great state of Texas.
Ann Hand: I grew up in Houston Texas, went to the University of Texas.
Andy Ockershausen: In Austin.
Ann Hand: In Austin. Met my wonderful husband the first day. I was 17, married him six months later then it began an odyssey.
Andy Ockershausen: A beauty contest and the cheerleader and everything you did growing up and you made Lloyd Hand. As far as I’m concerned he’s known as Ann Hand’s husband.
Ann Hand: He’d better not hear that. No way.
Andy Ockershausen: I tell him in the barber shop. We’ve been going to the same guy for years and of course I knew him and saw a lot of him and a lot of you with Joe Robert. But that’s another subject. Ann, but you went to UT and Austin’s had some problems here recently. An explosion or something?
Ann Hand: Yes, I’ve been reading about that. It’s so tragic. I don’t have any family there now but everything.
Andy Ockershausen: It was real dangerous for a while.
Ann Hand: Pretty, pretty scary.
Andy Ockershausen: But they found the culprit. You and Lloyd decided to get married and stay in Texas?
Life in the United States Navy
Ann Hand: Well he went off to the Navy and I went with him to the Navy base out in San Diego.
Andy Ockershausen: Vietnam war?
Ann Hand: No, Korean war.
Andy Ockershausen: Korean war, right.
Ann Hand: We had a interesting three years in the Navy and then after that he went back.
Andy Ockershausen: Wonderful, I didn’t know that.
Ann Hand: And then went back to University of Texas, finished his law school and got his degree and then he went to work for LBJ when LBJ was a Senate majority leader.
Andy Ockershausen: He was a congressman before that.
Ann Hand: Yep, that’s right.
Andy Ockershausen: I know way back, Lloyd’s too young. What was he was in the Navy, was he on a ship? Did he ever ship out?
Ann Hand: Oh yes he was, the USS Telfair. He was in Japan, Korea.
Andy Ockershausen: So he had a nice time in the Navy but being away from you. And you waited for him in San Diego.
Ann Hand: Well for a while, then we went to Corpus Christi because he was going to be assigned there. The Navy base.
Andy Ockershausen: Move across part of the country back east.
Ann Hand: We just kept moving.
Andy Ockershausen: A Navy wife.
Ann Hand: Navy wife.
Andy Ockershausen: So many of my friends, that’s my war too, the Korean war. It’s so hard to believe now that that was that long ago. I’m sure it’s hard for Lloyd too.
Ann Hand: It seems like an instant ago.
Andy Ockershausen: It was a just a big part. But he is a very, very upstanding guy physically. He always carries himself well. I don’t say he has a military bearing but Lloyd always looked good.
Ann Hand: Thank you. I think so too.
Andy Ockershausen: I know you do. When he said, I don’t want to use, this is not the Lloyd Hand show, it’s the Ann Hand show, when he was with the president of course, that was an enormous job for him. When all the people around him like Jack Valenti and all the people you must have had a wonderful time.
Llyod Hand – President Johnson’s Chief of Protocol
Ann Hand: It was a glorious time and he was the youngest Chief of Protocol in history.
Andy Ockershausen: Is that right?
Ann Hand: He was 35 when the president appointed him. Of course I was 31.
Andy Ockershausen: A baby.
Ann Hand: It was a wonder we didn’t go to war. We didn’t know anything. But the president took a chance on him and I think he did a really good job.
Andy Ockershausen: He even looked the part. He’s almost like a central cast and protocol guy.
Ann Hand: Thank you.
Andy Ockershausen: Seriously. He got the hair, the looks. He dressed like a million dollars. He still does.
Ann Hand: Oh thank you.
Andy Ockershausen: That’s from my relation with him is been come closer and we go to the same barber. And barbers know more about people than anybody.
Ann Hand: And your hairdresser.
Andy Ockershausen: They know everything. It’s great to see Lloyd and he’s doing well.
Ann Hand: Thank you.
Andy Ockershausen: You are doing so fabulously well and I’m so proud to have you and I’m going to take a break here and come back and talk about your business and the Ann Hand jewelry business. This is Andy Ockershausen. This is Our Town.
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Announcer: You’re listening to Our Town.
Andy Ockershausen: This is Andy Ockershausen. This is Our Town. And I’m talking to Ann Hand about her personal life, I got most of it. I did not know Lloyd was in the Navy but that must have been a great experience for you to feel that life coming from Austin, Texas going to San Diego and then you began to have children while you were in the Navy.
Started Family in the Navy
Ann Hand: Yes we did. I had a Navy baby. For $7.
Andy Ockershausen: The rest of it’s paid for by Uncle Sam. We chipped into paying that baby.
Ann Hand: I think so.
Andy Ockershausen: We gave you the money. I always refer to people that get things done and I say, “Just look at it his way, we paid for that. We’re taxpayers and the Medicare takes care of it.” But that was before Medicare. That was the US Navy.
Ann Hand: Goodness sake, that was the Navy. That was the Navy.
Andy Ockershausen: Your family is connected in the Washington area in any way, are they in the business with you at all?
Ann Hand Jewelry Design
Ann Hand: Well actually I say they’re not but I have three daughters who whenever I’m in a bind they are right there to help me. And I have one daughter that just flew in to be with me for two weeks while my manager went off to China to do some work over there. It was great that I have this backup team. And of course you have a wonderful staff at my store but you never know when you have a little gap there you need to fill in.
Andy Ockershausen: I want to talk about your jewelry business but the thing you were telling me before we began our talk was your store has changed so dramatically because your business now is going to be like everybody’s business, it’s going to be electronic in some way.
Ann Hand: It’s truly amazing. In a way I’m sorry to see it happen because you are losing a lot of that day to day personal experience with your customers and clients. We still have some of that but I would say 50, 75% of our business is now on the internet throughout the US and overseas.
Andy Ockershausen: And that’s only going to get more Ann, as you know.
Ann Hand: Well that’s happening to every business. Every business.
Andy Ockershausen: It would be great that your daughter’s there. I would assume in the jewelry business and small amount of jewelry that I’ve bought has all gone to Janice as you can see.
Ann Hand: Good. Good for you Jan.
Andy Ockershausen: She deserves. But it used to be when you ran your store people would come in you could work with them. And you designed. The things that you’ve done have been world class.
Ann Hand: Thank you.
Andy Ockershausen: It’s too many for me to explain but I know you did it for some of the great names in America and history of the city of Washington. Like Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton and Madeline Albright and late Pamela Harriman. Were they all individuals you designed for?
Jewelry Design for Women and Men
Ann Hand: Oh yes. We did. We’ve had so many other wonderful American women. But you know, we do a lot of work for the men too.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh good. I didn’t know that.
Cufflinks for Secretary Tillerson
Ann Hand: Oh yes. We just delivered a big order right before he left to Secretary Tillerson. We did cufflinks for him at the state department.
Andy Ockershausen: Is that right? Janice, are you listening to this?
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: Yes I am.
Andy Ockershausen: My last pair of cufflinks came from the ABC Radio Network. It had a little microphone on it.
Ann Hand: Oh how cute.
Andy Ockershausen: Because men stopped wearing cufflinks. It used to be you could not be well dressed without cufflinks.
Ann Hand: But our men wear them. We have, we make a lot.
Andy Ockershausen: A lot of customers. I know every time I see Bill Clinton’s sleeves, he’s wearing cufflinks.
Ann Hand: Oh yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: So Ann, tell me about what is your biggest seller? Is there one item? I know you’ve done things for inaugurations, you’ve done them for parades, you’ve done them for holiday. I don’t know what you haven’t done.
Ann Hand: There’s a lot. We’re open for business. If you know anybody. It’s funny, we did a little eagle pin that we brought out about 28 years ago. This pin is still our number one seller throughout the US. And many people have referred to it because it’s been out so long is the American sorority pin. And I thought that was the nicest thing one of my clients wrote me a letter and mentioned that she had heard that and then somebody else said they had. I like that. That’s kind of nice. The eagle, it pulls us all together.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: Is that the one Ann, that has pearl.
Ann Hand’s Most Popular – Eagle and Pearl Pin
Ann Hand: Eagle and pearl. That’s it.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: That’s on the cover of Pamela Harriman’s book.
Ann Hand: It is. It’s on the cover.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: Reflected Glory.
Andy Ockershausen: I tell you, Janice is up on everything. I don’t read all of those things.
Ann Hand: Well, you don’t wear a pin.
Andy Ockershausen: You’re probably right. I’m sure that Lizzie knows what’s going on ’cause she’s a Georgetown girl, one of your girls. How about for the military? Have you sold anything for military?
Ann Hand – Jewelry Design for the Military
Ann Hand: We do so much for the military. That’s a core constituency for us. We have just brought out a line for the Marines, the Navy, the Army, the Air Force, we’ve done rings, bracelets, pins, everything for them. No, it’s exciting and we always have had for all these years military wives that work for us and that has been a great blessing because they’ve traveled the world, they’re team players. They move on a dime and we are so blessed to have them work with us.
Andy Ockershausen: Do any of them still work for you even when they’re traveling? When they get paid station?
Ann Hand: That’s a disadvantage because they’re forever getting orders, they’re husbands leave, they have to follow.
Andy Ockershausen: I got you.
Ann Hand: But we have a wonderful network now around the globe that have young women that have started out working with us.
Andy Ockershausen: I knew you were a conglomerate but now you’re worldwide. Next thing I know Ann Hand will be on the moon.
Ann Hand: I don’t think so.
Andy Ockershausen: You probably designed something for the moon already and we didn’t know.
Ann Hand: We did do the last space shot.
Andy Ockershausen: How about the future with this new gang in Washington? Are they buying pins now that they’re in the power structure?
Ann Hand Jewelry Design for White House Historical Association and First Family
Ann Hand: Yes, we did a lot. We’ve done a lot of work for the inaugural committee and we’re continue to do it. We work with the White House Historical Association and we are doing some private work for the First Family.
Andy Ockershausen: I think that didn’t we get something from the historical association that Ann had done? Some kind of work?
Ann Hand: We’re in their catalog.
Andy Ockershausen: Janice is a member there. We believe in it. That’s a wonderful organization.
Ann Hand: That’s a wonderful, led by great man, Stewart McLaurin.
Andy Ockershausen: Ann, we’re going to take another break here and come back and I’m going to talk to you about President Lyndon Johnson ’cause you know more than any of us. This is Andy Ockershausen.
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Announcer: You’re listening to Our Town with Andy Ockershausen, brought to you by Best Bark Communications.Andy Ockershausen:
This is Andy Ockershausen and Our Town and talking to Ann Hand about how in the world she got started in this wonderful, lucrative business which is not only I’m sure, it’s great profit but it’s also a great satisfaction to her. To watch this business grow.
On Getting Started in Jewelry Design
Ann Hand: It has been. I just feel so privileged that this little germ of an idea caught on and blossomed. But you know we have a niche market. We are not for everybody because we want to tell, back up a minute. I think I look at myself as a storyteller because most of my jewelry has a message. That’s what I want to do for America instead of painting pictures that you’ll see on the wall, I want you to wear it and be able to talk about what it represents. But many people said, how did you start? Well as a frustrated opera singer, I never really got to.
Andy Ockershausen: What?
Ann Hand: Oh yeah, I was studying to be opera singer. But, you don’t want aging divas.
Andy Ockershausen: You’re still young and attractive. You have to be old and heavy to be an opera singer.
Ann Hand: But after five children I think that’s it. Anyway, I just on a fluke took a course in jewelry design at the Gemological Institute of America.
Andy Ockershausen: Online, or were you in person?
Ann Hand: No, I was very fortunate, they had a traveling campus about 30 years ago. And they came into D.C. two different times and each time for two weeks. I signed up. The first time I had to use a blowtorch or anything I was terrified. I thought this is not for me. I’m getting out of here. But it introduced me to what I could do with gems. It set off a fire within me and I wanted to know more.
Andy Ockershausen: Raging fire.
Ann Hand: It did. And I did and my first earrings though were made from the Washington Post newspaper. I painted them and put stones on them and I sold them for $10 a pair. That was huge.
Andy Ockershausen: I believe it. The Washington Post of all things.
Ann Hand: I know. But I learned to cook it.
Andy Ockershausen: Did they come after you and say you can’t use it?
Ann Hand: Shh, shh, I never told them.
Andy Ockershausen: I’ll protect you Ann.
Ann Hand: Okay, protect me.
Andy Ockershausen: Your involvement with the President of the United States, ’cause you were involved. When Lloyd was involved, you were involved.
Ann Hand: Yes, that’s right.
Andy Ockershausen: I remember he lived in the Spring Valley neighborhood. I think in Pearl Mesta’s house at one time. And then he got elected vice president. And then he moved up. But Lloyd waited til he was president to come to Washington, correct?
Ann Hand: That’s correct.
Andy Ockershausen: Or were you already here?
Living in Hollywood
Ann Hand: Well we were here when he was in the Senate but then Lloyd left and we moved to California where he was practicing law and we had an exciting life in Hollywood.
Andy Ockershausen: I remember that the stories came out that Lloyd Hand from Hollywood was moving to Washington.
Ann Hand: It was just so much fun. You go to a party.
Andy Ockershausen: Beverly Hills and the whole thing?
Ann Hand: Oh yes. Frank Sinatra might sing after dinner or Lucille Ball would have you over for cocktail. It was a fantasy.
Andy Ockershausen: Show biz.
Back to Washington DC and Raising a Family
Ann Hand: We were young kids. What did we know? But, we came back here when he became Chief of Protocol and we’ve never left. We’ve loved it ever since then.
Andy Ockershausen: You did a lot of traveling of course.
Ann Hand: Some.
Andy Ockershausen: Precede the President.
Ann Hand: Yes, but I didn’t do as much as I would have like to.
Andy Ockershausen: You had babies then.
A New Career At 50
Ann Hand: I had these children. So I had to be a mom first. But the career had to wait. And I had no idea really I would ever do this. But after they’d all left and went off to college and I had recently turned 50, I thought, hey, I’ve a got of life left.
Andy Ockershausen: You’re an incredible woman.
Ann Hand: So I sold a pair of earrings and I didn’t want Lloyd …
Andy Ockershausen: Washington Post yet.
Ann Hand: I didn’t know that was, no another pair. I couldn’t have done it with $10. But I sold a nice pair of earrings and I had little capital and I vowed I would never go in debt which I have never done. We have never had a bank loan.
Andy Ockershausen: Smart, smart, smart.
Ann Hand: Because I’ve seen too many people do it and they just are gang bust. They’re broke in six months.
Andy Ockershausen: Worst thing possible.
Ann Hand: So I didn’t do that. But it hampers your growth because you don’t step out and take on too much risk. I’m adverse to, well certain risk you have to take. But anyway, I started this and it just grew by word of mouth and then a radio show like Janice had and things like that. People were nice to give me some publicity and it just became something that it grew.
Andy Ockershausen: Amazing work you have done.
Ann Hand: It grew.
Andy Ockershausen: And Lloyd just bask in your glory I know that because he’s so proud of what you’ve done.
Ann Hand: Well he’s been so supportive.
Andy Ockershausen: He’s a good guy. He understands. But when did you go to any of these meetings that he went to like he’d go to summit meetings and so forth backing up the president for protocol purposes?
Travelling with Lloyd as the President’s Chief of Protocol
Ann Hand: Well sure. I would do some of that. I was just observer. Watching in the background.
Andy Ockershausen: He was deeply involved.
Ann Hand: Oh yes. Very much so.
Andy Ockershausen: That was a major thing. Is that a cabinet appointment? Semi-cabinet.
Ann Hand: No, but it does the carry the rank of Ambassador.
Andy Ockershausen: They don’t need approval of the Congress then. He can appoint his own guy.
Ann Hand: Not for this.
Andy Ockershausen: Great. Well Ann, you’ve had a wonderful, wonderful life. I can’t believe this. You didn’t start the business til you were 50 years old about six years ago.
Ann Hand: Oh thank you. It is.
Andy Ockershausen: Ann, you’re still gorgeous.
Ann Hand: Thank you.
Andy Ockershausen: And we know that. We’re so delighted to have this to talk to you now. I had to explain to you about podcast. I’m not sure I understand it but I know it’s there and you can hear it. As a matter of fact, I’ll give you a manual of Our Town and we’ve got a 160 some people that you grew up with. If you didn’t know, you know about. Football players, Sonny Jurgensen was one of our first guests. And Maurice Cullinane was chief of police. The new chief of police has been on too, Newsham. We’ve just been through the whole list of them, people, Mark Tuohey, the Lerners. We’ve done it all. This is Our Town. And it’s your town now too.
Ann Hand: I’m trying hard to be a good citizen of this wonderful, wonderful town.
Andy Ockershausen: Isn’t it great?
Ann Hand: Great.
Andy Ockershausen: It’s wonderful. Well Ann Hand, you’ve been a great, great friend and a great guest and thank you so much for it. Will you tell Ann Hand’s husband I said hello.
Ann Hand: I’m going to tell him.
Andy Ockershausen: I’m dying to see him in the barber shop. Let my Janny talk.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: Ann, could you give us your website so people can enjoy what you’ve created?
Ann Hand: It’s annhand.com.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: That’s an easy one.
Andy Ockershausen: Boy, that’s complicated. I’ve got to remember that.
Ann Hand: Thank you Jan.
Andy Ockershausen: Only Jan. Janice is our executive producer and my life. Lloyd can relate to that. You made his life too.
Ann Hand: We all need someone to produce our life.
Andy Ockershausen: This is Andy Ockershausen. This has been Our Town. Delightful conversation with Ann Hand.
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