John Hardy CEO Kareem Gahed: How Vertical Integration Enables Transparency

John Hardy is an ethical jewelry brand whose production facilities are based in Bali. In fact, they’re the biggest employer on the island. In this episode of Lead With We, I spoke with their CEO, Kareem Gahed, about how John Hardy employs local Balinese artisans to hand craft their pieces and build communities and a culture of humanity and courage. We dig into the details of what ethical production truly means in the jewelry business and how the company’s vertical business model enables greater transparency. Plus, Kareem shares how he hopes to level up the entire industry by setting an example and encouraging others to take a stand on today’s pressing social and environmental issues.

This episode of Lead With We was produced and edited by Goal 17 Media and is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, and Audible. You can also watch episodes on YouTube at WeFirstTV.

Kareem Gahed:

As CEO of John Hardy, Kareem Gahed is guided by a singular belief: people are the key to retail success. Since stepping into the role of CEO in 2019, Gahed has fostered an open and honest company culture that supports diversity, teamwork and creative thinking. By combining this people-first approach with globally tailored, targeted growth strategies, he has uniquely positioned John Hardy to expand to new markets, capitalize upon new opportunities and reassert its original commitment to sustainable sourcing, manufacturing and operating practices. Born in Los Angeles, California, and raised in Kansas and Ohio, Gahed — whose parents immigrated from Egypt — developed a passion for travel as well as a curiosity about different cultures at a young age. A degree in Political Science from Ohio State University further illuminated the complexities of the world, awakening within him an entrepreneurial spirit similar to that of John Hardy’s namesake founder. This penchant for taking risks and learning by experience guided Gahed as he grew from store, visual merchandising, merchandising and buying positions into executive leadership roles at prominent global companies, including American Eagle Outfitters (AEO). 

Simon Mainwaring: 

Simon Mainwaring is a brand futurist, keynote speaker, and bestselling author. He is best known as the author of We First: How Brands and Consumers Use Social Media to Build a Better World and Lead With We: The Business Revolution That Will Save Our Future; as the Founder and CEO of We First, an award-winning strategic consultancy that works with purpose-led companies to build their brand strategy, company culture, and impact storytelling; and as the author of the influential ‘Purpose At Work’ column in Forbes and host of the podcast, Lead With We.


Learn more about John Hardy at

Connect with Kareem on LinkedIn:

Visit to learn more about Simon’s new book or search for “Lead With We” on Amazon, Google Books or Barnes & Noble.


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