By Linda Marx
Photographs by Ricardo Mejia –
They’ve got it, and they give it—to their projects and their clients, in the form of fashion, accessories, jewelry and expert counsel.
Susy Wong Cohen
Jewelry Designer, www.purejewelrydesign.com | WESTON
You’ve been a jewelry designer for nearly 20 years. What do you love about it? I’m Spanish, Chinese and Italian, and I have always loved fashion, art and jewelry. So it’s a natural. I started designing with jade, doing combinations, buying and layering. I use gold, silver and other unique metals. I also redesign sentimental necklaces, earrings and bracelets in colors like coral and turquoise. I do conservative pieces with a twist— sexy, elegant and magical.
Describe a typical work morning. I’m up at 4 a.m. on social media before my husband brings me coffee in bed while I edit pictures and write up descriptions for the new designs I created the night before. I love mornings because my home studio captures so much natural light. I select beautiful semi-precious stones, colors, Swarovski crystals, natural pearls and various textures that I will use to create pieces later in the day.
How do you give back to the community? I showcase my jewelry creations at charity functions like Children’s Harbor and JAFCO. I know nonprofits need to raise money and awareness. I’ve always given back because it feeds my soul.
What new designs are you launching now? I am designing jewelry to take in the water, like chokers with 200 Swarovski crystals crocheted into stone. These pieces can go from swimsuit to sundress and heels. They are spectacular, and I am in the process of teaming with a swimsuit designer. Stay tuned!
Fashion and Accessories Designer/Stylemaker; marrerocollection.com | FORT LAUDERDALE
After 25 years as a fashion illustrator for top magazines like Glamour, Vogue and Cosmopolitan, you are now a designer of scarves, swimsuit cover-ups and accessories.
How did one successful career lead to another?
I’m an island boy from Puerto Rico inspired by nature and intrigued by the way women wear clothes. Scarves are the best product to transfer from my fashion illustration art work where I make women look glamorous. The scarves in my Marrero Collection are classic, timeless and versatile, with an edge. Women can wear them a hundred ways, in colors that raise the dead!
Who are some well-known women that wear your silk scarves?
Bette Midler, Hillary Clinton, Caitlyn Jenner, and “Real Housewives” Lea Black (Miami) and Cynthia Bailey (Atlanta). Do you create your scarves and cover-ups from patterns? No, if I had to do that I would use my scissors to kill people! I am not Project Runway; I draw. Plus, I like bling, and adding heels and leggings to my scarf and cover-up concepts so women can have the total design and functionality to go from the beach to the boîte.
How do you give back?
I create custom scarves and offer them to nonprofits and charities for their events.
What’s next for you?
Later this year I will showcase my scarves, then my cover-ups on the Home Shopping Network. I’m excited to see my limited-edition wearable art without the couture price tag available to HSN viewers.
Fashion Stylist | FORT LAUDERDALE
How did you get started in the business? Growing up in Cooper City, I always liked fashion and read fashion magazines; then I was an extra in a couple of movies. When I met a person who was with a Hollywood, Florida, boutique, I went to work creating and producing fashion shows and hiring models. I loved it.
What notable people have you worked with? I did a Barneys New York campaign with the photographer Bruce Weber and have worked on shoots with Walter Looss and Deborah Goldstein. I also did a book cover with U.S. Secretary of Housing & Urban Development Ben Carson when he was running for President, and I’ve styled major hockey and football players and big-ticket models.
What do you love about your work? Being creative and free to make up my own trends. I am excited by both big and small jobs. I work seven days a week, around the clock. Seeing the finished product is very rewarding.
Textile Designer; @stavrosgarger | FORT LAUDERDALE
As former Vice President of Home Design for Ralph Lauren Corp. in New York, and now Senior Design Director for Li & Fung in Hong Kong, where you design bedding, how did you make the transition from management to the creative side? In all of my work, which is related, I am inspired by the world, especially what I see in fashion, design, lifestyle and destinations when I travel to Europe, India and China. I collect references and love to create. I can fall in love with a fabric anywhere, and the result is a collection of sheets, comforters, coverlets, duvets, throws and pillows.
Describe some of your new designs for Destinations by Stavros. “Destinations” is the name for my eight new bedding collections each season with different themes. For example, “Shanghai” is a red jacquard with golden accents, silk coverlets in golden/camel cover and tonal red embroidered pillows. “Modern Tribal” is interpreted in a pewter gray with pewter leather pillows and metal embroidered studs on foil-printed linen. And “Gustav Floral” is a creamy, dreamy Swedish winter floral with large check yarn-dyed sheeting with a faux fur and metals coverlet.
What stores are you in, and how is retail doing with the explosion of home fashions like yours? I am in stores like Bloomingdale’s, Bed, Bath & Beyond and Hudson’s Bay in Canada. Retail has been vanilla and playing it safe for too long. Consumers are dying for fashion with coordinates pulled together. They want designer collections.
What is your goal for the future? Fashion that brings in both home and apparel because the mix is new for the consumer. I am thinking brocade, and damask mixed with linen bedding.
Interior Designer/Entrepreneur; Fashion Designer; kesicase.com | SUNRISE
You design and remodel interiors, sell real estate, and create and wholesale fashion. How do you find time to do all of it when you have two small children under 10? I used to swim and exercise, and now there is no time for anything! I divide my time between showing property and interior design. My fashion business is wholesaling stylish swimsuits shipped to the Caribbean. It runs itself, because I design once for the season and add the new designs to my staples.
How did you get started in the fashion business? I was born in Toronto, raised in Kingston, Jamaica, then studied at the Art Institute in Fort Lauderdale. I worked on private labeling for stores like Cachet, Arden B and Forever 21, which was great experience. In 2002, I opened Azuri Fashions and began styling for companies, creating custom shoes, and hosting fashion shows for charity events. In 2015, I shifted gears and got into wholesaling because it was easier to manage my time.
How do your interior design and real estate businesses function every day? I have a partner who does the sketches and meets with clients. Then we source the tile, wood and other items to remodel the home. The construction is done by a firm.
What kind of satisfaction do you get from your design projects? I love the design process, but the end result is what impresses me the most. I like to take a great idea and see it come to life. The look on the faces of people who see their new home or their new swimwear really excites me!