Tracy Jordre has never been one to back down from a challenge. As she balances a full-time career in architecture with JLG and a loving family, Jordre has launched Haute Hyde, a handbag line that’s getting increasingly popular by the week. Now, her biggest obstacle is time and how to fit her many creative outlets into a busy schedule. Read further to check out her background, efforts with JLG and Haute Hyde, and how she balances the many different facets of her world.
Born and raised in North Dakota, Jordre graduated from NDSU with a degree in architecture. As she entered the workforce and built an impressive resume in the world of architecture, her path led her to the renowned architecture firm, JLG Architects. Jordre has crafted quite an impressive portfolio after immersing herself in the world of architecture for roughly 30 years. For nearly 10 of those years, Jordre has been contributing her efforts to the mission of JLG.
In early 2022, Jordre took a seven-month hiatus to properly tend to various health issues within the family and be with one another while acclimating to a post-pandemic world.
“It’s okay to talk about needing a break, and it’s okay to need a break. Whether it’s seven minutes or seven months, having that time to get healthy and focused is okay. You have to find what works for you. I needed to take a little step back, get healthy again, then come back to life,” Jordre said.
“I’ve been an architect for almost 30 years, yet I’m having more fun in my career now than ever before. You should focus on yourself and your career, but always remember to spend time with your loved ones. You never know how much you’ll miss an opportunity until it’s gone.”
Jordre returned to JLG in October of 2022. Upon returning, she was able to find a healthy balance between her professional career with JLG, her side hustle with Haute Hyde, her personal life and family, and more.
“Financially, it was a scary moment. I didn’t know how JLG would react, but they were extremely supportive of me and welcomed me back with open arms after taking a break. That is a testament to how amazing of a company they are to recognize that there are times employees need to hit pause for any reason. When I got back to work, there was a lot of catching up and training to do, but it was the best thing I could have ever done,” Jordre said.
Did You Know?
Tracy Jordre has sold over 250 Haute Hyde handbags to date!
A Haute Hyde Q&A with Tracy Jorde
Q. Tell me a bit about the beginning of Haute Hyde.
A: In 2020, during the pandemic, the kids were at home with me, as my husband is a baker and he was working around the clock. I needed some form of a creative release, as the world of architecture was kind of chaotic at that moment and projects had stalled. At the same time, I was frustrated trying to find a handbag that also acted as a computer bag. I was tired of carrying around three to four bags and wanted something elegant and classic that would serve my needs. I couldn’t find anything that was both good quality and less than $1,000, so I decided to learn the craft. I started playing around with leathers and making a few bags on my own. In the beginning, I just made them for my mom friends, and myself. Little by little, however, it started to gain traction where more people were asking how they could get one or if I’d be willing to make them one.
When I launched my website, that’s when it truly took off and exploded. I’ve been doing this for almost four years. When I took some time off from JLG, I briefly thought that focusing on Haute Hyde would be exactly what I wanted to do full-time. Soon after, I realized that full-time was too much. I really missed the world of architecture and realized that Haute Hyde would be best as a side hustle for me. It’s something that just brings me joy and is even a form of therapy. I’m able to turn my mind off and go into another world of creativity for a couple of hours at night. I am so blessed to be in such a creative field. Certainly, there’s a lot of complexity in balancing everything, but I feel so blessed from a professional standpoint. JLG is a dream company and I’m still able to focus on Haute Hyde. I have the most supportive husband in the world and if it weren’t for him helping with the kids and every other aspect of life, I don’t know how I could do any of this.
Did You Know?
Jordre aims to work on three Haute Hyde handbags at a time. From start to finish, it takes her between four to five days on average at two to three hours a day to complete a Haute Hyde bag!
Q. Do you set aside firm time to work, or work when it fits in your schedule?
A: I’ve been fulfilling a ton of orders lately. I try to find two to three hours a day, which means working late into the night sometimes, which is a challenge as I’m an early morning person. I’ve found a comfortable pace and I’d like to keep this pace for the foreseeable future. At JLG, there are work weeks where I’m putting in 60 hours, and I fit my work with Haute Hyde in when I can, as JLG is my first and foremost priority.
Q. All of the bag styles have different names. Where did that come from and what does it signify?
A: It’s been really fun designing the bags because I’ve been naming them after important girls in my life. One of my favorite bags is the “Annika,” which is named after my daughter. My niece Brittany is the best seller right now, but Annika is bound and determined to dethrone her!
Q. What’s next for you with Haute Hyde?
A: I’m ready to transition to some new styles and turn a corner if you will. I’ve had a lot of success with the bag styles that I currently have on my website, but I’m ready for something fresh and new. The biggest constraint right now is time. It’s a real business, so I have to actually put in the time and effort, and that takes a lot of dedication. When it isn’t fun anymore is when I’m going to stop doing it.
The next product, which is going to be a backpack, will be the “Riley,” named after my niece. I’ve had so many requests for backpacks, so that is going to be my next focus point. My intention is that it’s a fun little side hobby, yet it’s growing faster than I would have ever expected. I can certainly see it growing and turning into something bigger, but I love my work in architecture with JLG, so I’m in this beautifully awful predicament where I feel like I have it all and don’t want to lose any of it.
Did You Know?
On the Haute Hyde website, you can choose the bag style, kind of leather, hardware color, handle color, and other fine details of your bag. “I try to make them as customizable as possible, which is so much fun.” – Tracy Jordre
A Professional & Personal Q&A with Tracy Jordre
Q. What does a normal day at JLG look like for you?
A: With the role that I’m in right now, leading our workplace portfolio, I’m doing a fair amount of traveling, which I love. It’s hard to take time away from the family sometimes, but again, that’s where my incredible husband picks up so graciously without missing a beat. In an average week, I’m in Minneapolis, Bismarck, or Sioux Falls roughly two days a week. Otherwise, I do a lot of team and client meetings, which are so much fun.
The world has changed so dramatically in the last few years and especially in designing the workplace. Everyone wants to understand what the new post-COVID office environment looks like. I have had the chance to do a deep dive into that world, which has been fantastic. Clients are excited to understand how to create thriving workplace environments right now that are different from when they were pre-pandemic. There’s so much energy and focused intentionality on employees, workplace wealth, and wellness.
Q. Regarding your personal life, where does that fit into your schedule? Do you set aside concrete family time?
A: I truly believe there’s no such thing as enough family time. As with any other mom, there’s always an internal struggle of if you’re doing enough and being present enough. Personally, I don’t think I’m doing enough, but I think that any good mom would say that. I don’t know that there’s any right number of hours or moments spent with family, but I try to make sure that I’m being very intentional with my time around them.
We try to do family dinners often, although we’re not perfect at it. Our kids are very busy being involved with different activities, organizations, and advanced placement classes, so we all appreciate that time together. We also have two dogs that are integral members of the family, Aspen and Willow.
Q. There are only 24 hours in a day. What are your top priorities in those 24 hours?
A: Personal development is a huge, everyday, non-negotiable thing for me. Some days, I’m more focused on the career side of my personal development. Some days, I’m more focused on other aspects of my life, such as my family or Haute Hyde. It’s a juggling act, but it is possible to excel in all areas with the right mindset and effort. A few years ago, I started reading my Bible every day, which was a game-changer for me. Having those quiet moments to myself and taking time for self-improvement is a major part of building myself. If you take those moments to work on yourself, you can now be what the rest of the world needs you to be for the rest of those 24 hours.
Q. What are your greatest creative inspirations for both JLG and Haute Hyde?
A: I love that I’m finding ways to integrate beauty into all aspects of my world. Throughout the majority of my day, I’m inspired and in awe at the beautiful architectural designs that our teams at JLG are coming up with. Having the ability to just open yourself up to see the beauty around you is beautiful.
I just find inspiration around me every day. It’s so much fun to go to Minneapolis or Chicago to see how other people are doing beauty and art as those environments are so inspiring. I’m constantly looking for more ways to integrate art and beauty into my life all day long. Really, I need 48 hours in a day!
Did You Know?
Tracy Jordre is the chair of the Fargo Arts & Culture Committee and loves having that world interjected into her days of architecture and handbag making.
3 Days with Tracy Jorde
• 4:30 a.m. Waking up early is the easiest thing in the world for me… I know, I’m weird! (Staying up past 9 p.m. is a whole other story. Ha!) Get ready to work out and drink my pre-workout beverage.
• 4:45 a.m. Log onto my workout team’s Zoom call. There are usually between 9-12 people on the call, but this week is spring break, so there are only 6 today. The ladies I work out with are from Toronto, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Wisconsin, Kansas… and yep, North Dakota. Today, my right knee is just a bit sore, so I’m going to do some stretching yoga. Working out every morning is a non-negotiable for me and if I don’t do it first thing in the morning, I know it won’t happen. I’ve tried working out later in the day, but it’s complete torture for me then.
• 5 a.m. Stop for a quick team picture. A few of us started Zooming together at the start of the pandemic in 2020 and we’ve just never stopped. Having this kind of accountability has been a game-changer for me, but the best part is that these ladies are now some of my best friends and I look forward to seeing them every morning!
• 5:30 a.m. Workout done. Work for an hour to finish up a bag for a customer… packaged the bag and got it ready to ship out.
• 6:30 a.m. Get ready for work, quickly pack, drop off packages at UPS, and then head into the office.
• 8 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Internal JLG meetings.
• 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. Lunch with a good friend that I don’t get to see enough. I’m trying to make a much more intentional effort to spend time with friends. It’s always hard to make the time, but when I do, I swear that my week is so much better!
• 2 p.m. Leave for a three-day trip to Minneapolis. Spend most of the drive time on conference calls with different JLG design teams prepping for meetings the next few days. I’m excited to get to Minneapolis for a couple of days… I love getting to a few specific stores to see the newest high-end bag designs in person that I’ve been seeing online. I could sit for hours just looking at the quality and craftsmanship of these beautiful bags! It’s inspiring and it keeps me excited to continue creating.
• 6 p.m. Dinner at Benihanas with a co-worker.
• 4:30 a.m. Woke up with a really sore knee… not sure what’s going on, but may have to get it looked at when I get home. Iced for a few minutes. Decided it was probably best to skip a workout to let it rest… I hate doing that as I feel a bit “off” the rest of the day.
• 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. Today our team gets to meet with multiple different user groups to listen to their needs and how their current spaces could be improved. It’s so interesting to me to see how quickly people have completely changed their perspectives on what they need to work effectively and efficiently and what they expect their office environment to be like.
• 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Internal meetings and a new project kick-off with JLG.
• 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Shopping for clothes for my kids for a family photo shoot we’re doing at the end of the week. Buying clothes that a 16-year-old “dude” will wear is one of life’s biggest challenges for any parent!
• 9 p.m. Check and see the new orders that came in over the day. Spend a few minutes checking my leather and hardware supplies. Order a few items online just to be sure that I have enough hardware. Mentally work out a schedule to get the orders done in the next one to two weeks, if all goes well.
• 9:30 p.m. I finally have a quiet moment to read and journal a bit. I need to find more space to get back into a routine where I can do this in the morning, but for now, this is the best that I can do.
• 4 a.m. Wake up… last night I slept horribly. So ready to get home. Did 20 minutes of yoga in my hotel room… not enough time to work out at the hotel gym this morning.
• 6:30 a.m. Coffee and go!
• 7 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. Another user group meeting.
• 9 a.m. Back to the hotel. Catch up with a few conference calls for several projects.
• 11:30 a.m. Drive back to Fargo. Thankfully the roads were pretty good today despite another storm yesterday. Will winter ever end this year?
• 4:30 p.m. Help Annika with homework. This has been a struggle lately and she’s gotten a bit behind. So even though the kids have this week off for Spring Break, we’re working hard with her to help her catch up.
• 5:45 p.m. – 9:15 p.m. Get kids to Prairie Heights church for youth groups and activities. I love the fact that the kids beg to go! They do such an incredible job making the evening fun and engaging.
My husband Kevin usually takes the kids so that I can spend time working on bag orders. Tonight I cut out three new bags from a new hide that arrived while I was gone. This hide in particular is spectacular and has hardly any blemishes. Each hide can vary so much, so when one arrives that’s in extra good condition, it’s really fun to see. With a hide like this, I can usually get six to seven bags out of it, but often times the hides only allow for four bags.
• 9:15 p.m. It’s been a long day… I go to bed before the family gets home which I hate to do, but tonight I can’t keep my eyes open.
Tracy Jorde’s Tips for Time Management
Create a system to get into.
I get up every morning at 4:30 to work out. I love to vary my workout, whether it’s cardio or another form of exercise. My boxing-style workouts are the days that I probably get the most “therapy” done through an endorphin release. After my workout, I start working on a handbag or project for work. I set my mornings up so I can do my most important things right away before the kids even get up.
It’s crucial to not lose yourself throughout your day.
Find those little moments to take a deep breath and reassess what the most important things are that day. It’s not selfish to take 10 minutes to just take some deep breaths. When I feel like I’m too busy to stop with Haute Hyde, I still force myself to pause. Journaling has also been a very transformative and healthy process that’s helped me think deeper.
Find your joy and build around it.
Having a side business when you have a full-time job sounds ridiculous because you already have this whole world with kids and family. For myself, Haute Hyde fit in perfectly and brought another layer of meaning to my life. It’s therapeutic and joyful to me, and I think that’s why it works.
It’s never going to be perfect, so you might as well jump.
It can be scary and make you feel exposed. I don’t think anyone is coming into a business venture thinking that they have the best product ever. Have faith in your dream. It happened really organically because I was having fun doing something creative.
Jordre’s Podcast Recommendations
- The Jasmine Star Show
- The Product Boss
- Joel Osteen
Contact Tracy Jorde
Email: [email protected]
Email: [email protected]