Suzy Reed Arquez opens the door to her spacious house in Hampton Hall and leads the way through happy chaos to her kitchen table. Racks of high-style women's clothes, from her fashion line Suzette, fill the front room and entrance hall. Her bedroom, vibrating with a wow paint color between watermelon and persimmon, holds more racks of clothes and serves as the dressing room for her "appointment only" clients. Toddler toys fill the great room. The yarns, buttons and beads she uses to make her designer earrings spill over the kitchen counter tops. Every where is proof that her dreams of being a wife, a young mother, an international fashion designer and a successful business woman who lives part-time in Argentina and part-time in South Carolina have come true.
This tall, stunning woman pushes things out of the way and sits down to talk about her life; more than beautiful, she is lit up from the inside with enthusiasm. As she reminisces, she uses the word dream frequently. "As a little girl growing up here on Hilton Head I dreamed about being a runway model. I think that's every girl's dream. I learned to love fashion from my grandmother and mother. I was always allowed to put together my own outfits and encouraged to express myself. I dreamed about working in fashion."
She took that dream and graduated with a degree in Fashion Merchandise from Old Miss in 2003. Her other dream was to travel. During her sophomore year in college she went to Australia, and after graduation she traveled around Europe. She definitely caught the "bug" and dreamed about going back to Europe to live. In 2004 she returned to Rome with the TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) program.
From this point on Suzy's story unfolds like a romance novel. In Rome (still 2004) she meets an MTV photographer who takes her to a Music Awards party. There, she meets a dashing and eligible professional tennis player from Argentina. They fall in love. They spend a year in Italy. While on tour, Patricio, her tennis player, is injured. He returns to his native Argentina - with Suzy, the love of his life.
Today Suzy and Patricio are married and are the delighted parents of their two-year old son Sebastian. Patricio is the President of the Argentina Tennis Association and a financier. Suzy has built a thriving fashion business that she runs alternately from her South American headquarters in Tucu'man, a Northern province of Argentina, and here in the Lowcountry.
As she describes her bi-continental life it becomes clear why Suzy's dreams come true. She is fearless. "When I first got there [Tucu'man] it was like stepping back in time with horses and carriages on dirt roads. No one spoke English and I spoke very little Spanish. I remember asking Patricio to teach me some phrases I could use when I met his mother. I was trying to compliment her house and her cooking but his brothers and sisters started laughing and his mother was not happy. I was actually telling her everything was awful and ugly. I could have killed Patricio. In the beginning I know I sounded stupid, but I love to talk and everyone loved me for trying. No one corrected me or made me feel self-conscious. I'm sure I still make lots of mistakes; but within a year I was pretty fluent."
"I also made all sorts of mistakes starting my clothing business. Besides the language issue, it took me a long time to figure out what to buy.in the beginning I would overbuy or under buy. I had to fail a lot to become good."
If Suzy credits her mother and grandmother for her love of fashion, she attributes her common sense and resilience to her father. "He always told me the most successful people fail many times to become successful. I trust that. I also have a strong faith so I never give up or get discouraged."
Suzy says that being an American and having US dollars in Argentina has been a big asset in building her fashion business. (Being beautiful and smart probably hasn't hurt!) She has become a favorite TV personality during Fashion Week in Buenos Aires. With her typical good humor she attributes it to one of her early mistakes in Spanish which has become a famous blooper in Argentina. When asked by the interviewer how she was feeling (being in the spotlight) Suzy thought she was answering, "I am very embarrassed." What she actually said was "I am very pregnant."
Suzy's success is also the result of hard work and limitless energy. She flies with Sebastian back and forth, three months there, three months here since her mother was diagnosed with acute leukemia. "I want to be here for her as much as I can. So I bring my clothes to the US to sell and take back things for the house we are building in Tucu'man. Once I wrapped up a heavy sink and pretended it was a baby carrier for Sebastian. They [airline personnel] know me so well now they just wave me through."
If courage, faith, resourcefulness and a sense of humor are the stuff dreams are made of, then Suzy Reed Arquez is truly a dream maker.
Best Advice: Give 100% to what you do because you love it, not for the money.
Best sales practice: I always serve wine and cheese and make it fun because I love women and I love making them feel good about themselves.
For a private appointment to view the Suzette line of designer clothing call 843-384-2073. (Suzy will be back in the area in May)
Become a fan on Facebook: Suzette by Suzy Reed Arquez.