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Coffee with Susie

On Mondays we like to share a short format interview with one of our wider Gather community members. Just a handful of questions with a generous helping of everyday inspiration to tuck into over your morning cuppa. This week, meet Susie.

This week, we've picked an optional background vibe for you, My Sunrise by musician, Ruti:

Susie Sandford Smith

"...don't try to fit yourself into that box, don't worry about what people think and just live life unapologetically passionately."

What part(s) of the world do you call home?

London, UK. Though, the first time I visited the south of Italy I felt as though I'd gone home - I dream about spending lots of time over there.

What is your industry, hustle, current project or passion?

For the last eleven years I worked in academia as a PA and then EA with significant project management responsibilities. Before that I worked in the music industry as a promoter and then artist manager.

I'm currently living off of redundancy and taking a moment to pause and rest, last year was just full on work work work. I set up a supper club in 2019 and hope to get that up and running again this year, alongside that I'm starting a newsletter that will support a blog that will (hopefully) become a magazine! I really want the blog to be a 'home' for vibrant, middle-aged people who aren't ready to hang up their dancing shoes quite yet. What’s an important moment that signified a first step towards where you are today? I led on organising a big academic conference last year which was to be held in London in August. In March we made the decision to go virtual and essentially had to organise a new conference in not very long at all. The conference was far bigger than we'd ever thought it would be and it was brilliant. I learnt so much and, somewhere along the line, I realised that I could - I was capable.

My son said to me one day, after I'd made decision after decision "and to think you had Imposter Syndrome when you started this job! So funny". It gave me a huge confidence boost or, it made it hard for me to keep telling myself that I didn't know what I was doing and I wasn't very good. What is a moment you are proud of? I was thinking I was going to write something else but actually this I'm very proud of. I found out that I was pregnant with my first child whilst on summer holidays between lower and upper sixth. I had to push to be allowed to continue with my a-levels and had to have several meetings with teachers and the head of sixth form! Anyway, my daughter was born two weeks after my first exam and two weeks before my next. Needless to say I didn't do quite as well as I had been predicted to but, I did them and went on to university (where I had my second child!).

What advice would you give your younger self today? Buy bitcoin. But also, it's difficult because everything I've gone through has made me who I am hasn't it but, I probably could have saved myself a lot of pain if I hadn't tried to conform.

I'd say "No! stay at fashion college, you're can always do your a-levels later" or, "No darling, Business Studies isn't the right degree for you, you're going to bore yourself stupid...go to drama school" or just,

"Be your mad brilliant self Susie, don't try to fit yourself into that box, don't worry about what people think and just, live life unapologetically passionately. You be you".

In one word, what is the most important thing to you in life?

One of the things I'm really working hard on this year is becoming a woman who makes decisions so please take that into account when I give you my (one word, haha) answer - Joy. But also family. See also kindness, love, and generosity!

Where can we find you?

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