Wednesday, September 1, 2010
the souchi story
Suzi Johnson always knew she would be a clothing designer and own her own boutique. But deciding to take a knitting class as her final elective at the Academy of Art in San Francisco changed everything. In the summer of 1997, souchi was born.
In her first class, she learned how to hand knit,crochet,and knit on a loom. In a follow-up independent study, she learned how to create patterns and knit her first sweater. She had hoped for a simple crew neck, but ended up with a sweater with a neckline that was askew and uneven sleeves. It was very avant garde, but turned out to be a happy mistake (the first of many!)
She was wearing the sweater one day when she was stopped on the street by a stranger who happened to own an exclusive boutique. When the woman found out Suzi was the designer, she immediately ordered sweaters for her store.
Suzi used her basic skills to create tube tops, tunics, and tanks. She dropped the sweaters off at 2 PM on a Friday. At noon the next day there was only one left. Success!
Next the owner of Metier, a boutique on San Francisco’s Sutter Street, suggested Suzi go to New York to sell souchi. Just before boarding the plane at SFO, Suzi grabbed a copy of TimeOut, New York. The issue was devoted to the city’s best boutiques. She spent the red-eye to New York circling the shops she thought were a good fit for her knits.
From a pay phone in Soho (pre-cell phones!) she called the first store on her list, Steven Alan. He loved the collection so much that not only did he order it, he made arrangements for Suzi to meet other exclusive boutique owners in the city.
After visiting three stores and selling three hundred sweaters, Suzi called it a day. Now, back at the hotel, it was time to figure out how to produce all those sweaters.
Suzi called the store in San Francisco where she had been buying yarn (at retail prices!). Amazingly, they were on their way to a show in Paris. They offered to purchase the yarns she needed and bring them back on the plane so she could start working immediately.
Four weeks after Suzi completed her first delivery, her sweaters were sold out. A month later, she got a call from Seventeen Magazine. They found souchi at Steven Alan and had chosen several souchi sweaters: two were in a back-to-school feature story. A third was on their September cover!
Fourteen years later, souchi has been featured in print in Elle Magazine (U.S., U.K., and Spain), Vogue, InStyle, Women’s Wear Daily, Bazaar, Marie Claire, Fitness, and many more. Souchi has been on TV: Friends, Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place, Dharma and Greg, and Charmed.
Souchi is loved by celebrities and musicians for movies, videos, and everyday living. Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Julia Roberts, Julianna Margulies, Charlize Theron, Keri Russell, and Courtney Cox have all worn souchi.
Suzi designs and knits three collections a year and creates exclusive pieces for the souchi flagship store in Portland, Oregon. Inspiration is fund in traveling, art, books, meeting customers, and in the colors and landscape just outside her door. She believes there is always more to knit... and to wear.