10 Questions: Getting to know Suhaa Schmitz

Suhaa Schmitz, born and rooted in Africa with an international upbringing, is the creator of beautiful and unique African Jewellery for Men and Women. Beginning her journey in 2007 in the arts and crafts, designing jewellery as a hobby, she now has her own established brand. For this week’s Blog post, we asked Suhaa to answer some questions and allow us to get a glimpse of who she is, what motivates her in life, and what inspires her designs.

1. When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career as a designer and how old were you?
It was late 2007. I woke up one morning feeling very bored and creative at the same time. I felt like playing with beads and colours on Massai jewellery I had seen at the craft market. I was 25 and expecting my first child. It wasn’t till mid-2008 that I felt like this new found hobby needs a little more attention. This was when I took it to the next level, I bought tools, my own beads and findings and started making sketches of my ideas.

2. Can you describe your style as a kid and young adult?
I was always pretty sporty and “tomboyish”. I dressed like a real Gemini. I could live in denim and baggy shirts for the rest of my life, but, I dress for the occasion when it calls. The other part of me was very girly. Flowy dresses and the highest heels my feet could handle. My wardrobe is black, white, blue and red tones. No in-between! Nothing much has changed to date…

3. If you could go back and give yourself fashion advice, what would it be?
I’d go back to when I was 14 and tell myself, “You’re on the right track.”

4. How would you describe your personal style today?
I’m stuck on that thin line between casual and elegant. I call it the “Suhaa Style”. Any look can be dressed up or toned down depending on the mood. I keep up with runway fashion and infuse my own style into every look. I would never ever leave the house without large earrings and red lipstick. Ever! That’s all you need for the transformation from Casual to chic. I love totes! I carry a lot of everything in my bag, including a pair of heels. If they are not in my bag, they are in my car. Let’s call it “Glam on the run…”

5. What inspires you the most?
My son. It’s hard focusing on work and being a mother at the same time. I force him to sit with me when I’m creating new pieces, and he helps me and gives me feedback and his opinion. I teach him how to use the colours we see around when we travel and the different cultures and tribes, how they dress, the jewellery they wear, and how they accessorize. We then start to create from that. If he’s not with me, I design something that he would react too. There’s nothing more satisfying than him saying “wow, that’s beautiful!”.

6. Now, if you could go back and give yourself advice, before beginning your career as a fashion designer, what would it be?
I would tell myself to appreciate the flaws. I spent a lot of time making sure everything was perfect and symmetrical. I then realized sometimes flaws work, an imperfect “round” bead is still a bead, its still pretty and it makes an interesting focal. I see a lot of it being used today, and it’s called artistic. This was something that used to freak me out in the beginning. Advice to myself: “It’s gonna work because it’s unique and different, don’t Stress out.”

7. Can you describe your brand in three words?
Bold,Authentic,Stylish.

8. What can the African Fashion industry learn from the European Fashion industry and vice versa?
It would be fantastic if Africa would be a bit more creative with their fabric variety. Wax fabric is very beautiful, the prints and the colours, but they can be a little too “themed”. When we say African Fashion, we know immediately to expect Kitenge and safari prints or geometric patterns. Africa needs more investments to build the skill for the textiles and materials, to develop them into higher quality and expand to different fabrics. We have prominent European designers now using African textiles to create, but they too keep the “Safari” or “African” look of designs in their fashion. With the expertise based a little in Europe, they can come up with new styles and patterns for Africa to compete with. Creativity is on both sides of the fashion platform. I don’t want to say one is better than the other. Europe has its style, and Africa has it’s own as well.

9. Can you give young and aspiring designers a tip?
Stay focused, be creative, be unique. Thinking outside the box works too! Don’t be afraid to be judged.

10. Can you tell us a little secret about yourself?
Ohhh… Aren’t secrets not to be shared? 🙂
As much as I encourage imperfections, I like things to be pretty perfect. I’m also a superhero freak, not a lot of people know that. I also have as much an obsession for power tools as I do for shoes and bags.