Eighteen years ago, Susan Hanover flew from Israel to Great Neck in pursuit of a legal career. Today she owns and operates the newest jewelry store in Roslyn, Susan Hanover Designs, which opened at Wheatley Plaza in mid-August and features items worn by celebrities like Katie Holmes and Beyonce Knowles. The unique jewelry on display matches the unusual origins from which it came.
Located on the eastern half of the retail row that abuts Northern Boulevard, Susan Hanover Designs occupies the small storefront vacated by Lazar’s Chocolate, which moved to a larger space within Wheatley Plaza. Hanover’s signature pieces include aquamarine quartz earrings, stone-wired necklaces, and engraved silver bracelets—all of which stand on display against white walls with intermittent square-mirror cutouts. Prices range from $100 to $500.
For her initial years in the United States, Hanover worked as a corporate lawyer in New York City while sketching fashion accessories in her free time. “I’d done jewelry as a teenager and always messed around with it,” she recalled. “I decided to start a small home business to sell to friends and family” in 2006. This month marks 10 years since the company began in her living room.
As she described it, the business “slowly, organically expanded,” eventually garnering pop-up appearances at
midtown manhattan’s landmark fashion accessory store Henri Bendel. Soon after, other department stores asked for shipments of her work. A mother of three children, Hanover brought her youngest with her to business meetings, she said.
Hanover soon quit her job as an attorney in order to focus full-time on jewelry. Asked if it felt risky to leave a stable profession for an unpredictable one, she shook her head. “I realized I needed to be here [in Long Island] with my kids,” she explained. “Growing the business while home with my children—that was the goal.”
Hanover’s big break came in 2008, when she received a call from the famed designer store Neiman Marcus. “I was still working out of the house at the time, but they thought they were calling an office” she recounted with a wry smile. The call led to a partnership that endures to this day.
Another pivotal moment arrived in 2014 with a different call—this one from a public relations firm contacting Hanover on behalf of the stylist for the first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, who later wore Hanover’s earrings on a state visit to London. Additional celebrities who have worn her jewelry include Jennifer Hudson, Blake Lively, and Brooke Shields.
Over the course of her career, Hanover formed wholesale partnerships with large retailers like Nordstrom and Harvey Nichols. She also developed international clients in places as far-flung as Munich and Dubai.
Having lived in Great Neck for almost two decades, however, she wanted to open a store in the North Shore. “I’m a local girl,” she said. “I wanted to have a relationship with the end consumer.”
She only considered two locations for a permanent storefront: Wheatley Plaza and the Americana Manhasset. “For a while it was never the right fit,” she said. “The stores were very big and we wanted [the store] to be more like a small jewelry box.” After two years of searching and waiting, she leapt at the opportunity to move into her current location at Wheatley Plaza. Measuring at just 400 square feet, her store features a spare, modern interior that highlights the jewelry on display. Hanover said the store has experienced a “great response” since its opening six weeks ago.
Proud of having grown her business while raising three kids, Hanover wants her store and its story to serve as inspiration for young women entrepreneurs.
“I get calls from young girls about following their dreams,” she said. “I tell them you can make your dreams into a business.”