We sat down with Suzanne Mckenzie, Founder, CEO, and Creative Director of Able Made, an active lifestyle brand that inspires healthy living. Suzanne is an award-winning creative director with experience in branding for the FEED Foundation, Tom Ford, Maria Sharapova, MoMA, and more. She believes that design can drive lasting change. Through Able Made, she creates thoughtful and innovative pieces that raise awareness while encouraging a healthy lifestyle. Able Made is committed to fair wages, safe work environments, low environmental impact, and responsible practices. They have collaborated with American manufacturers that build their process on innovation and can push the boundaries of luxury, eco-tech, and sustainability. Through the Ucal McKenzie Breakaway Foundation, they support the health of the next generation. Ten percent of all proceeds from every product funds special initiatives that empower the world to be healthier.
Suzanne, where did you grow up and how did it impact and inspire your creative process?
I grew up in Maine around the Portland area. I was surrounded by nature. I played a lot of outdoor sports. I went to college in Boston and double majored in graphic design and advertising. I went back for a graduate degree. I knew I wanted to be in communications and art in some form. That led me to pursue a variety of different paths.
What was your first design job after college?
I landed a job in advertising at Arnold right after school. I was there for eight years. They had big accounts, such as The Truth and Volkswagen. They ended up doing a big project on the awareness of the tobacco industry. It was a work experience that allowed me to build a lot of relationships.
I started as project manager and was promoted into the creative group. I was able to touch all of the accounts that the agency had, which included national and sometimes international clients. These clients had budgets, but it was also during the time of 9/11, so they did see lots of layoffs. It was a very unstable time at the beginning of my career.
Media buying is totally different from social media today. I started my career in print, but the idea concepts of the work and the base creative process is the same. The execution always evolves, but a good creative is still a good creative.