One of the things I love most about attending different events around Orange County is all the people I am able to meet. The Brunello Cucinelli event was a perfect example of this. That evening I was introduced to Suzan Lee Paek, one of the hosts of the event. It was one of the most enjoyable conversations I had that night. Suzan is the mother of four, has served on 10 boards, has chaired the Harvester's Fashion Show and Luncheon 4 times, has started and still maintains 2 women's bible study groups, started a mentoring program for Korean youths and has now launched a handbag line that is taking off. It was fascinating to hear how involved she is and is such an inspiration to other mothers who want to not only be successful in parenting but also in business and the community. That evening I was also introduced to her handbag line, Jessica Grant Handbags, and fell in love with the design and look of her bags. I asked Suzan if she would be willing to sit down and answer questions regarding the handbag line and how she juggles it all. Here is what she had to say.
What was the inspiration behind the name "Jessica Grant"?
Jessica is the name of my daughter and Grant is my son. I also have a men's line launching this month called "Nathan Robert" after my other two sons.
How did Jessica Grant handbags come about?
I worked in commercial interiors for 15 years, and I have always loved fashion. My mother works in the fashion industry as a designer, wholesaler and retailer, so the introduction into this realm was not so far fetched. Last year, I was invited to the first ever Fendi runway fashion show in Seoul, Korea. I took my mother as my guest and she of course mingles business into our trip. As I tagged along with her on her buys, I, by chance, met the manufacturers of my line. I sketched out some designs of handbags for them that I would love to see. We corresponded via emails, phone calls and monthly trips to Seoul. Within the course of three months, we developed the first line of Jessica Grant handbags.
Where does the inspiration for the designs come from?
My love for fashion and couture is the inspiration for my designs. I love the classic elements but I wanted to improvise and put a modern, young fresh twist to Jessica Grant. Most of the handbag designs are created for the busy modern woman. The interior structure is designed in such a way that a woman can carry her iPad, cell phone, and other essentials in an orderly fashion, while still looking chic. The handbags come in a variety of colors. I feel colors serve as neutrals and reflect a different side of our personalities. Plus, color just feels good to wear.
How have you managed to launch a handbag line while still maintaining your involvement in so many different areas?
My husband and children will be the first to tell you that I am ALWAYS into something at all times. My mind just goes and goes. Constantly creating, thinking of ways to improve "things": events, fundraising aspects, introducing people to each other, new ways to cook a meal, handbag designs, etc. This is who I am. This is how I have lived my life thus far. I love being creative. I love being around people. I love helping and contributing to our society and to humanity.
What are a few of your favorites in the line?
I don't have a favorite. I love them all. For daily use, I love the "Nancy". For fun, I love the "Sookie". For a chic look I love the new "Ellen". For evening, I love the "Lynn".
You are such an amazing example for other mothers. What advice would you give other moms who are trying to "juggle" it all?
Every woman can have it all, just not all at once. Keeping tabs on their desires, their talents, and knowing themselves will only enhance their lives. Women should never lose themselves to "others". I say this loosely because it is so easy to do this. Stay true to who they are, find out the things that bring happiness and keep their inner center focused on the bigger picture. Overall, the guilt is what inhibits us from growing into the women that we can become. Guilt that we are not the best moms, guilt because we do not want children yet, guilt that we must travel for our work, guilt that we are...... women have the capacity to achieve it all.....even juggling it all in heels.
What is your most coveted item in your closet?
I LOVE my simple black dress. I have a variety of this essential. It is a must have and I ALWAYS buy a new one for each season.
You mentioned a men's line is launching this month. Any additional lines we can expect in the future?
In the Fall I will be launching "Suzan Lee Paek", which is a line of scarves, tees, simple dresses and mink accessories.
It was such a pleasure speaking with Suzan and I encourage you to take a look at more of her designs at JessicaGrantHandbags.com. For information on where to purchase Jessica Grant handbags, click here.