I sat down with Susie to discuss the multifaceted meaning of celebration in her life, from her favourite Tropic event to her thoughts on bringing smaller moments of joy into our day-to-day.
Celebration. It’s the invisible thread woven through the tapestry of our lives, from its earliest appearances as we’re showered with more gifts than our pudgy newborn hands could ever know what to do with, to the assorted family gatherings we come to know and love. A birthday here, a graduation there, a wedding, a retirement; each one an opportunity to come together, connect and share in the experience of being human.
When I begin my conversation with Susie, I know why I believe in living a life full of celebration – it’s an excuse to eat copious amounts of food I haven’t paid for and potentially hop onto a karaoke mic to bray my way through a Shania Twain ballad – but I suspect she might have a more thoughtful answer.
I’m proven correct almost instantly. “We get one life, and there is so much to celebrate if you look for it. Celebrate who you are, celebrate those around you. I believe we have so many holidays and traditions simply because we’re looking for any excuse to be close with the ones we love, and there’s really nothing more wonderful than that.”
That celebratory spirit of togetherness and connecting with those most special to us was there on day one when Susie officially launched Tropic back in 2011. “I did a little jump and heel tap after coming out of Lord Sugar’s office and signing all the contracts, and then I called everyone I cared about. I had an amazing meal with my mum that night – I wish I could remember what I ate, but I do know that I was just so excited for what was to come and beyond happy to be sat there with her.”
It’s safe to say that in the decade since, Susie has kept celebration front and centre at Tropic. When the world isn’t in the grips of a global pandemic, she’s leapt at every opportunity to laud the hard work of Tropic teams, Ambassadors and HQ alike, from yearly summer and Christmas parties to the legendary Ambassador vacations. I ask her if there’s one event in particular that’s stood out. “Last March just before the world went into lockdown, Carlton (Tropic’s director of operations), Connor (our Brand and Social Responsibility Manager) and myself were lucky enough to go to the opening of the school we funded in Cambodia through our partnership with United World Schools. That evening, we got to celebrate with the locals, including the village chief, and it was an absolutely unforgettable experience. We were in the middle of this remote town with no electricity or running water, but they had gotten giant speakers with a generator and a DJ to play music for us! We spent all night dancing with them and eating delicious freshly grown local foods, with loads of yummy veggies and sauces. That’s one of those moments you just know will stick with you forever.”
Closer to home, Tropic’s iconic Glambassador events don’t go unremarked upon. These biannual get-togethers celebrate Ambassador achievements and are also used to announce the exciting new season products. “I absolutely adore those events, Carlton always puts on a really incredible show. I remember there was one where he dressed up as an inflatable airplane, which is a sight I think I’ll have in my mind forever!’
I don’t want to let the opportunity go by without celebrating Susie’s own achievements, so I pose the question – what are the three things you’re most proud of having accomplished at Tropic? “Absolutely our work with United World Schools. Knowing that what we’re doing here is having such an immeasurable impact across the globe for the next generation makes me unbelievably honoured to be leading Tropic. Then I’d have to say bringing together such an amazing team, from the incredible HQ staff to our ever-growing family of Ambassadors. Everyone works so hard with so much conviction and belief in what we do, and it inspires me every day. Last (but certainly not least), I’m really proud that we’ve never wavered in our ethics and stayed true to the vision I always had of Tropic as a green beauty brand.”
Of course, those big, seminal achievements are what our minds immediately turn to when we hear the word ‘celebration’, but I want to know Susie’s perspective on how we can all find little ways to celebrate ourselves on a more regular basis. “Controlling every single aspect of our lives is completely impossible, but I think that we get to choose how we wish to see the world. Take time to prioritise the things you like that make you happy, even if those are only small moments each day like listening to a song you like on repeat, cooking a meal you love or wearing clothes that put a smile on your face. Just doing what you love is really a sign of celebrating yourself.”
We can’t go through life untouched by struggle, whether that’s in our personal or professional worlds, but knowing how to maintain a positive attitude, look towards the future and value the little things in life can make all the difference. I’m intrigued to hear how Susie herself celebrates life while moving through the difficult times, and she tells me, “I’ll close my eyes, visualise myself from far away and think ‘What’s the worst thing that can happen? Will it matter in five years?’. If not, I don’t give it more than five minutes of thought. We can have tunnel vision on such minute details of our day-to-day lives and really lose sight of what’s important. Keeping the big picture in view is so helpful in allowing me to just celebrate living in the here and now – well, that and dancing around my kitchen like crazy to all of my favourite songs.”
So ultimately, we come right back to where we started; home, family and celebrating those we love the most. “There’s one person who means the world to me to celebrate, and that’s my mum. Every year on her birthday, I take her on holiday to places I know she’ll love where we can enjoy relaxing and spending time together. Each one of those trips holds such special memories for me, because they’re with the person I care about the most in the world. My mum is the kindest, most spectacular person I know. She’s my rock.”
After that perfect ending, I can’t resist rounding off our conversation by asking Susie to humour me with one final game changer of a question...if she had to celebrate right now, how would she choose to do so? “With cake! The softest Victoria sponge cake with fresh strawberries and maybe even some coconut flakes on top. It’s either that or a coffee and walnut cake, with plenty of coffee cream in the middle.”
I thank Susie and make a mental note to head to the nearest bakery. After all, such a successful interview deserves a celebration!