1. What’s your sign?
Are you a Libra at heart?
Yes, oh yes. (FYI: Libras are known for being elegant, charming and full of good taste, a description that fits Suzi to a T!)
2. When did you know you wanted to pursue fashion design, professional knitting, Souchi?
That’s a hard question to answer. I went to school for clothing design. I thought after I graduated I would open my own store and sell a mix of things I made and other people’s designs. I took a knitting class in school; one day I was wearing one of my own pieces and a friend who owned a boutique asked me about it and ordered on the spot. Souchi was born after that.
3. What drives you each day – the “fire in your belly”?
I still wake up each day loving what I do. I love coming up with new designs and now that I have a Souchi retail store I especially love seeing people’s reaction to my work. In a wholesale environment there is no immediate response to your designs. I love being able to see first hand how the customer is responding to the fit, shape, and colors I choose.
4. What is the best investment you ever made?
A $500 used knitting loom – this was the $500 I used to start my business. I still have the loom. I don’t think I’ll ever give it away!
5. When you were young, what did you think you would do professionally?
As a child I always drew and loved clothing. Once I hit high school I got more into fashion and knew it was what I wanted to do. I always knew I would own my own business.
6. Most memorable job (that wasn’t your own venture)?
My job at Chanel taught me about quality and that people were willing to spend money on timeless design that was well made. Chanel gave me the notion of brand and quality, and my understanding of those two things helped shape Souchi.
My first retail job ever was at Contempo Casuals. I made about $3.95! They did a great job teaching me the basics of selling – how to add on, build outfits and relate to customers. I still use selling skills I learned while I was working there.
7. What is the hardest choice you have ever had to make?
Mostly I just go with things, it’s my personality type. When I decided to move to Portland and open a Souchi retail store I had only spent about five days in the city over the course of about five years! It was a big decision.
My hardest fashion choice is committing to a watch! i have lived without one since my swatch in 1984! i just can't seem to commit.... but i dream of having one....i have to have one! Someday...
8. The best part about owning your own business… and the worst?
The best part of owning your own business is that it teaches you ownership. At the end of the day there is nobody but yourself to blame for your decisions. It teaches you to trust your instincts and make better choices. The worst part of owning your own business is that when something does go wrong, there is no one else to blame!
9. Night owl or early bird?
Both! Until recently I never used an alarm clock and still woke up every morning at 7AM. Really it is the middle part of the day that makes me most unhappy.
10. Role model for success (or inspiration)?
I admire the designer Ann Demeulemeester because she is who she is! She is a very consistent designer but her name is not well known to the masses, but in fashion circles she is highly regarded and very sought after. I like that she doesn’t need everyone to know who she is, but her designs are in great shops and are stylish and very well-made.
11. Signature look?
I want to make clothing that people can wear all the time and that will get better and more lush with age. Souchi is classic – we always have a cardigan sweater and a comfortable pullover. But the quality of our yarn and our beautiful colors are what really sets us apart.
12. Guilty pleasure?
Lollipops and all things for my feet!!
13. Material item you can’t leave home without?
My Jeanine Payer rings. I have to take them off to knit, but I can’t leave home without them. They were a birthday gift to me, from me. Jeanine Payer makes beautiful jewelry inscribed with phrases and proverbs. I have two rings that say “it is when I forget to judge that I remember to live.”
14. Favorite way to spend a morning?
It would be so perfect if my mornings actually worked out like this: the ideal would be to get up, get chai, and take Billy (my dog) for a six-mile hike in Forest Park. And I would not care if it was raining.
15. Book, movie or art that inspires you?
Art: I love Egon Schiele and Francesco Clemente
Book: I have a vintage Pucci book that I look at all the time and a book of wallpaper from the 1930s and 40s.
Movies: Anything old and black and white. The Birds. North by Northwest. And i love the movie 'mahogany' with diana ross for inspiration.
16. Favorite travel spot for R&R?
17. Most admirable quality a woman can have?