Talking Spring Accessories with Susan Alexandra
Susan Alexandra—both the brand and the designer herself—radiate immense joy. Whether you’re donning one of her sparkly designs or in the presence of the powerhouse creator herself, it’s not uncommon to feel a sense of ease or bliss.
Living in Chinatown on the Lower East Side area of Manhattan for the past decade or so, Alexandra finds beauty in the everyday from the fruits sold at the local bodega to patterns seen in store windows; she finds inspiration from the life happening all around her and turns that magical energy into wearable designs. As her brand continues to expand, Alexandra remains true to herself—humble, honest and full of wonder. Here we speak with the designer about her favorite neighborhood spots and get her tips on accessorizing for spring.
Why did you decide to live on the Lower East Side?
Susan Alexandra: When I first moved to New York, this is the area that really, really spoke to me. It felt magical and like this true New York experience. I think that through the power of manifestation, I managed to find an apartment on the block that I wanted to live on. It’s the area I always wanted to be based in. I’ve lived here for about eight years now, and when I was looking for a studio and decided to move my business outside of my apartment, I knew that something important to me was being able to walk to work, and walk everywhere. So finding a studio with close proximity was crucial for me. It just feels like home, which is a feeling that is so hard to find in a very big city.
What makes it feel like home to you? What do you love most about living and working there?
SA: It feels comfortable and it feels safe to me. And that’s really important. It’s not just a physical safeness. It feels like an emotionally safe place for me. I really love the fact that I can walk anywhere. I can walk out my door and there’s a world of possibilities. Things are so vibrant. All of these different people come together, and the colors and texture are just so stimulating.
What are your neighborhood spots to get inspired? What makes each spot special to you?
SA: I love Baz Bagel. Not only are the owners my friends, but it’s just this cozy experience and it makes you feel like you’re with family. I love Cafe Integral coffee shop because they make incredible nut milks and really interesting drinks. A new restaurant opened down the block called Shoo Shoo that I’ve been really enjoying. It’s Israeli food. I love American Two Shot, which is a boutique that opened right around the same time that I moved to the neighborhood, so it’s exciting for me to see them thriving. They were the first people to carry my jewelry before anybody else did, and I will always have a big place in my heart for them. There’s just this whole world when you walk out the door. There’s so much to look at and there’s so much to do.
Do you have any tips on accessorizing for spring in New York?
SA: Obviously you need a fabulous, exciting bag in a bright color. You can wear rainbow colors with literally everything and it just pops your outfit. I think people look their absolute best when they’re comfortable. I love the idea of a girl wearing a fabulous pair of sweatpants and a matching tank. I think there’s something so effortless about that. I love people who are comfortable in their own skin.
I started making goofy earrings and I just love a classic and fun, sparkly hoop. I’m looking for the perfect pair of really funky sandals right now that I can walk in everywhere. A fabulous Birkenstock is my dream shoe. So yeah, totally comfy chic with flashes of color.
Can you tell me more about your creative process: how you go from getting inspired to making something?
SA: It’s a really internal thing for me. An idea will come to me as I’m walking down the street and it just sort of snowballs into another idea. As soon as I can put everything down on paper, that’s when I start to really think about how I can turn an idea into a reality. I try to do the best I can to let this vision come to fruition organically. So, the actual idea is something untraceable. It’s not a very defined process. Sometimes, I think the universe just speaks through me. I think that’s what true creativity is, the universe just working through you.
Do you keep a journal? How do you keep track of all your ideas?
SA: It’s funny ’cause I was just looking around my studio, and I think I have 10 or 12 notebooks that I pick up and put down. I have so many different ones and I always forget to take one with me. I try to write things down so I don’t forget. Unfortunately, there are probably so many ideas that just get washed away with time. But I try to get them down on my phone if that’s the only place I have. Still, there’s definitely something powerful for me about actually sketching something out with pen and paper.
WORDS Sara Radin