Suzanna Dai Studio Tour

June 11, 2014
Suzanna Dai


Suzanna Dai is a collection of jewelry and accessories inspired by old-world travel, exotic destinations, and diverse cultures.  Each exquisite piece has a vintage feel with a modern flair.  All items are hand-crafted with cording, metal threads, semi-precious beads, silver, and 14K gold-plated components.  The designs are sophisticated and glamourous with a dramatic edge, with adventurous and sometimes quirky personalities. The desig
ner Suzie Gallehugh is the creative force behind the Suzanna Dai collection, and she has infused her unique personality into each design.  Suzie’s love of intricate embellishments, international travel, foreign cultures, and all things vintage led her to create Suzanna Dai.  She is a native Texan from Houston and lives in Austin TX with her miniature dachshund Chloe.  Meet Suzie this Saturday, June 14th, at our Trunk Show from 12-4pm at Eliza Page.

Did you have any formal training in jewelry design and creation?  How did you come to realize your talent?

My background is in clothing design, which is what my formal training is in – I went to FIT to study fashion design.  My work experience involved a lot of beadwork and embroidery design, which became my specialty.  I have taken a few silversmithing classes, but for the most part, I am self-taught.

What was the first piece you ever created? How have your designs evolved?

The first piece I ever created was a necklace called the Kathmandu Necklace (image is attached).  It was a very big statement piece.  Since then, my designs have evolved a lot, and now incorporate chains, and multiple appliqués connected together with jump rings, instead of just large bib necklaces.  Each season, the trends are different, and jewelry has become a bit more delicate than it was when I first started.

Walk us through your creative process for each piece – choosing materials, design development, etc. Where do you draw inspirations from?

I am usually inspired by color first and foremost, followed by any interesting new beads I find.  The main inspiration for the line is travel, which has always been the most influential inspiration for me.  I bead a swatch of new bead techniques first, and then usually photocopy the swatch and arrange it in a pattern to make a necklace or bracelet.  I then send both of these to my supplier in India, where all the beads are sourced and the first sample is made.

Since the production of the collections takes place in India, how does the vision of your jewelry line translates from swatches to the actual product?

My supplier comes pretty close most of the time to sourcing most of the original beads I use in the swatches I send her.  If she can’t find a particular bead, she usually can find a good substitute.  In the case that she can’t source any specific beads, I will order them from stores here in the US and either ship them to her to use, or I will add them on my my studio here.

Your collections have entirely intricate and handcrafted statement pieces, tell me about why this is important to you as a designer and what challenges come along during the design process?

I am very detail-oriented, and I think the smallest details add an extra level of specialness to a design, so this is very important to me.  It can be challenging because more detail means more production time, but I think in the end it pays off and gives my line a very unique look.

How has moving back to Austin influenced your design style?

I’m not sure that I’ve been back long enough for it to have influenced my design style yet, but it has definitely influenced my way of life – I feel a lot more balanced and happy, so this in turn I think will lead to a lot more creativity.  I’m excited to be back in Austin !

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