How Suzanne found her perfect match at weddings

29th Mar 2018
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Truly creative people often find even creative jobs unbearable. Eventually, their restlessness sets them free to pursue what they’re best at. Suzanne Furtado is one of them. Read her #PassionToPaycheck story below.

She chose to graduate in commerce and become a chartered accountant but her astute boyfriend (now husband) recognised her creative streak and steered her away from a boring accountant’s job. And, sure enough, Suzanne discovered she was good at copywriting and worked for 11 years in top ad agencies such as JWT, Lowe Lintas, and Team Young & Rubicam, working with some of the biggest brands like De Beers, HSBC, Pepsi, Idea, Johnson & Johnson and more.

Rediscovering creativity

Her career in advertising was an absolute blast. “I got to create and write every single day, hang out with a whole bunch of exciting, often eclectic and sometimes eccentric people, and be a part of the industry that invented cool. However, even as I grew to be Associate Creative Director and my salary increased, my job satisfaction decreased. While the creative process itself continued to exhilarate me, I felt stifled and jaded by the same drills and systems I’d been doing for years. The need to do something new and creative on my own terms got really strong.”

She simply quit advertising without any clear plans for the future. Though not formally trained, she had always enjoyed visualisation and graphic design. She designed some stationery for a friend’s wedding as a lark and right there she discovered her new career. Thus was born ScarletSage Design, creating original, custom invitations, stationery and decor for weddings and parties.

Initial lonely journey

The first two years were extremely trying. “I earned peanuts. And being an entrepreneur is a lonely journey when you begin, as you alone have the true vision of where you are headed. Everyone else around you wonders why you quit your lucrative job to struggle in a totally new venture, and probably thinks you are a bit mad. Another challenge was understanding my market and building trust as a remote vendor. My customers are based mainly in the US and other foreign countries and have countless vendors closer to home to choose from.”

But being an eternal optimist and believing that she would succeed helped her stay motivated and focused on her dream. “I did not doubt myself. Ever. I kept designing, expanding my product line, learning the know-how of an online business, researching my markets, and fearlessly making trials and errors, all of which led to new lessons learned, insights gained, and a superior design identity for my brands.”

She also launched two online design stores targeted at the US market, The ScarletSage Tree for modern & urban weddings, and The Indian Paper Forest for contemporary Indian and fusion weddings.

Perfection is the ideal

Her own wedding remains her biggest inspiration to day. Though her husband and she had been a couple forever, they wanted their individualistic style to shine through and planned every minute detail together. “These memories inspire me not only to create original and unusual designs that set my customers’ weddings a class apart, adding to the beauty and bliss of their once-in-a-lifetime celebration, but also towards making sure every customer’s interaction with me, my products and my stores is easy, efficient, and most of all happy, just as their big day is meant to be.”

Brand lift

Suzanne’s designs have travelled to 28 countries and counting. Her work has been noticed and featured in Brides UK, one of the top international wedding magazines. The Indian design magazine, Kyoorius, handpicked her brand, The Indian Paper Forest, to feature among India’s top 5 wedding invitation designers for its 2015 wedding special issue.

“I don’t have a typical work day. Some days I’m busy processing all my orders and there’s no time for anything else. Other days I spend time creating new designs or updating my stores. I keep fine-tuning a design till it is exactly what I want it to be; I just can’t stop until I’m satisfied with every tiny detail. And on some lucky days, I give myself the day off to go hang with friends or read a book.”

Future plans

Suzanne would like to expand her stores and have her work map of 100 countries in the next couple of years. “I also want to pursue my other passion again: writing. While I’ve continued to write for myself over the years, I have missed writing professionally and the creative high it brings me, so I wish to do more with it in the future.”

Helen Keller’s famous quote, ‘Life is either a daring adventure or nothing’, is what motivates Suzanne to dream on. “I feel you have to be brave and go after what you love, do what makes your heart sing, get off the beaten track and out of your safe zone. I’ve been blessed with not one but two successful careers where I followed my heart, and if the future has a third and fourth in store, I’m game.”

Read other such inspiring #PassionToPaycheck stories brought to you by Signature Startup here.

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