We had the good fortune of connecting with Suzanne Rogge and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Suzanne, what principle do you value most?
Integrity is the value I hold most important in my jewelry business which carries over from how I live my life in general. I build long lasting relationships with customers through being trustworthy and honest, creating quality jewelry pieces that will last, and offering excellent customer service. A core part of my business model is also donating a portion of my profits to nonprofit to give back for the success I have enjoyed as a jewelry designer. I frequently hear from my customers that my support of my local food bank (www.foodbankccs.org) as well as Women For Women International (www.womenforwomen.org) means a lot to them when they buy from me. Integrity plays a part in how I source my materials. Many of my stones come from US-based lapidary artists (stone cutters) who take great pride in creating high quality gems. I also buy and personally recycle precious metal to reduce the need for minIng these materials which is destructive to the environment. Lastly, it is important to me to buy my materials from companies where employees are paid a fair wage.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I have been in business as a jewelry designer and creator for about 10 years to date, and what a wonderful journey it has been! A decade ago I left a long career in corporate retail doing production and business planning which was numbers and spreadsheet oriented. The strong creative streak within me since I was a child would no longer be stifled, and I began seriously pursuing jewelry smithing. I am captivated by the visual and tactile delights in the world, drawing my eye and sparking my imagination. My jewelry designs reflect these sensibilities, integrating color, contrast, texture and shapes inspired by nature, architecture, symbolism, and art. I’m drawn to the geometric simplicity of Mid-Century aesthetics, the striking effect of mixed metals, and the brilliant hues of semi-precious and precious gems, especially Australian and Mexican fire opals. I also find it meaningful to upcycle vintage jewelry, refreshing beautifully constructed antiques into wearable, contemporary pieces. Hence my motto: renew, reuse, recycle, relove. My experience in corporate retail has been invaluable in managing my jewelry business in terms of understanding the value of excellent customer service, planning my inventory, and promoting on line. But learning my craft is a continuum which I don’t ever see coming to an end. There are so many interesting and fun metal smithing processes to explore which make my designs ever more unique to me. Understanding how to best promote on social media is also a never ending part of my business since those platforms and their users continue to evolve. And then there is the ‘heart’ side to my business. For four decades I have volunteered for a variety of nonprofits, but the plight of women and children in need has always been near and dear to me. That I would donate some of my profits to two nonprofits, one in my community and one international, which serve women and children is a no brainer for me. That I can alleviate suffering by doing something that gives me immeasurably joy is as good as it gets. Hence the total name of my business is: Suzanne Rogge Designs. Artisanally designed. Philanthropy minded.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well, I live in Northern California, and so the options for a fabulous week playing tourist are endless. I might take them to the area where I grew up: the Monterey Peninsula. We would stay at a cute Victorian bnb in Pacific Grove, and do plenty of walking to see the cute neighborhoods and stunning coastline. Asilomar beach, 17 Mile Drive, Lover’s Point, Carmel Beach, Hwy 1 going south, and Nepenthe are ‘must sees’ in terms views of the Pacific Ocean, gorgeous landscape and stunning homes. Monterey was once the capital of California under the Spanish, and as such has very interesting old preserved adobe buildings, many of which are open to visitors. And there is also the Carmel Mission which was built by Father Junipero Serra back in 1770, also open to visitors. We might catch a concert at the Sunset Center in Carmel which has awesome acoustics. Lots of good restaurants would keep us from going hungry. My favorites are Jeffries in Carmel Valley for breakfast, Nepenthe south of Big Sur for lunch, and Wild Fish Restaurant in PG for dinner.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I owe my passion for working with my hands to my parents who were also creators. My father was an architect and contractor who built close to 150 custom homes where I grew up. He pounded nails along with his crew and was known for being fair, producing well built houses, and a love for timeless design. My mother was a talented artist who created things of beauty in a variety of media. She lived on the California coast and could often be found rendering exquisite landscapes in pen and ink or watercolors. She was also an avid seamstress and knitter paying attention to every construction detail within a garment.