16 May 2022
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I met Amanda over a decade ago while each of us was working for mentors we still admire, I with Martha Angus and she with Richard Andronaco. What began as a professional relationship soon evolved, intentionally, into a friendship built on trust, admiration, and a shared passion for beauty and quality. When deciding who to highlight in conversation about investing deeply in quality, items that stay with us through time, Amanda was the obvious choice. She’s also a delightful human who I feel deeply honored to call a friend.

When Amanda is asked how she came to specialize in fine, custom upholstery, she starts with the short answer: “I answered an ad on Craig’s list.”

The longer answer tells us more about her drive and passion. Amanda came to San Francisco from Ohio alongside her future husband, knowing almost no one. Determined to find a new path, she slept on a friend’s sofa while she searched for work. By chance, she answered an ad for a job at Richard Andronaco Upholstery. Beginning as an administrative assistant, she embarked on an unoffcial apprenticeship. Moving up quickly, she absorbed the art and business of fine upholstery as she went. Nine years later, she took over the company and Hardesty Dwyer was born.

I love being involved in a culture where we take the time to focus and create products that are the best that they can be.

Amanda grew up making things. Her father is a carpenter and her mother is a quilter, so this came naturally. At Hardesty Dwyer, she has found her passion, and discovered a deep-seated love of quality furnishings made by hand. As the business has grown, she has also discovered a strong sense of connection and commitment to the people who carry out this work. She is not shy about expressing her devotion to her staff, and to the community of colleagues in the design field that she has assembled with great intentionality.

This leads us to the second of six questions we are asking ourselves this year—how do we invest deeply in quality, in things that stay with us?

What does it take to invest in quality?
Making investments in quality requires a shift in mindset. This applies to physical things as well as experiences and friendships. We need to seek out, and surround ourselves with, people and things that flesh out our life experience.


What does this mean for us, and to the planet?
Quality products made with care support our community, and are better for the planet because they are built to last, not to end up as future garbage. It’s about living intentionally. As a society right now, we suffer from a lack of curiosity. We have to develop in ourselves the curiosity to know more, and know more deeply.

How do we move from intentions to actions?
Once our basic needs are met, every dollar we spend is a vote for our beliefs. We have the power to change things with every decision we make and every dollar we spend. Using those dollars in ways that support our stated beliefs is how we move from intention to action. We have a lot of votes at our disposal and, collectively, those votes send a message to the industry, creating demand for products that are in line with our beliefs and decreasing demand for those that are not. The important thing to remember is that every purchase pushes the market in one direction or another.


How do we know which products align with our values?
That’s the interior designer’s role—to ask questions about products and sources on behalf of their clients as they create spaces that work for their clients not only visually but at a deeper level as well. That’s the other wonderful thing about investing in quality—it makes for a more joyful and meaningful home, just like investing in quality relationships and experiences makes for a more joyful and meaningful life. Those things we invest time in become more meaningful.

What is the one thing you love most about what you do?

The people I work with.

I am unbelievably grateful for my team and it’s beautiful to work with craftspeople who are so enthusiastic about what they do every day.

Who—or what—inspires you?

Brave people inspire me, whether it’s a child trying a new food for the first time, or friends taking a leap of faith to start a new business. I choose my friendships carefully, and the two things I look for in friends are compassion and bravery.


What is the single best business or creative advice you’ve received?

When we started our company someone, (I can’t remember who), told me about quarterly retreats. At the end of every quarter, my husband and I go somewhere and take a deep dive into the business. We spend this time intentionally, evaluating how we’ve done in the past quarter and setting goals for the next.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be up to?

Honestly, I can’t imagine doing anything else.

If I weren’t doing this, I’d be somewhere else wishing I was. I’m so grateful to be in a design environment that supports what we do.

How do you love spending time outside of work?

My favorite thing is hospitality. I love having people over and cooking food for them.

What is one fun fact that most people don’t know about you?

I’m a huge fan of Formula 1 racing.


Last book you read?

“All The Light You Cannot See”, by Anthony Doerr. Right now I’m in the middle of reading “The Thin Man”, by Dashiell Hammett.

Favorite quote?

‘In this life, find the thing you are not good at, and don’t do that thing.’ It’s from the Dos Equis commercial series, “The World’s Most Interesting Man”.

Where do you live, and what is your favorite thing about it?

I live in El Sobrante and my favorite thing about it is having a quiet space to recharge. Really, though, my home is wherever my husband is, full stop.