#howimend Designer Susan Alexandra On Creating Community After Heartbreak

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By Kate Paguinto


Susan Alexandra is a NY-based designer known for her eclectic collection of handmade jewelry. She draws inspiration from a variety of sources including Frida Kahlo's lace gowns, watermelon candies and of course, heartbreak. When Susan isn't designing pieces to add to her colorful collection, she is organizing gatherings and workshops aimed at nurturing and connecting women.

Susan opened up to us about her experience with heartbreak and how it has influenced her work. 

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If you think back to the first time you were heartbroken, what advice would you give to that younger version of yourself?

"The younger version of myself needed this advice 6 years ago, 6 months ago, 6 weeks ago. I think it's important to remember that life, though beautiful, sweet and delicious has many thorns, many heartbreaks, many rocks in our shoes. I want to encourage my younger self to trust the weave of life. Just trust that whatever is happening is part of a grander scheme. Trust that this won't hurt forever. The fire will dim, the wound will close, the memories will become fuzzy. You are not a bad person, you are loveable just the way you are. Everyone deserves forgiveness, especially you. This too will pass. Say to yourself  'I forgive you, I forgive me, we did the best we could.'"

What has heartbreak taught you about yourself?

"Heartbreak has taught me that I can survive. I can live through the most exquisite pain and still, I am alive. I can create love and community with my own two hands. I can feel immense joy without a partner. It has taught me that time is the greatest medicine."

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What are your rituals during a breakup? What things/practices/people helped you mend?

"I would like to start a company that caters to people who are in the midst of a breakup. Here is the schedule for my company: 

1. Arrive in your bed in the morning. Mornings are the hardest. Sit with you while you cry, while you look at your phone, urging a text to appear. My employees will sit with you in bed and add coconut creamer to your coffee. 

2. Loud, hot, dark yoga (y-7 is amazing). You can scream and cry and no one will hear a thing. You will sweat so much that no one can tell you've been sobbing. This is good. You need to wail, you need to cry, you need to sweat, you need to scream. 

3. My staff will take you to the coffee shop around the corner, smile to go. Here they have the most heavenly banana quinoa bread. We know it's all you can manage to eat. The sweetness and softness are good for you, you need things that are sweet and soft right now.

4. Art and movies. You need to see all the movies and go to all the galleries.

5. Lots of Rose and Lambrusco. Drinking is suddenly so fun! And such a quick fix.

6. Reach out. Build community. Guess what? Everyone can relate to what you're going through. Allow yourself to be hugged. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Tell people you appreciate them. Write them a letter telling them how much you love them. 

7. Write yourself a letter, telling you how much you love you."

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Thinking back to breakups you’ve had, did you have any breakup vices (checking your ex’s Insta, etc) and how do you conquer them?

"Checking Insta has been the biggest set back for me. Immediately unfollow on instagram, facebook, venmo, twitter, g-chat. I thought that I didn't need to do this since my ex and I were on good terms. Big mistake. I was incredibly triggered by seeing that my ex was somehow surviving-nay-thriving without me! While I was sobbing in bed he was drinking beers with friends (thanks for the information, Venmo). Unfollow, unfollow, and dare I say, BLOCK!"

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about love so far in your life?

"Trust. And hope. And believe what people say."

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Do you think exes can be friends? Do you stay friends with your exes on social media?

"Eventually. Perhaps. I think sometimes we think our heart has healed until we realize the wound is still open. Be careful with yourself and don't rush things. If your ex still has your crock pot and you want to make bone broth, spend the extra $30 on amazon prime and buy a new one. Seeing him, even 7 months post breakup, still can be too soon. Be gentle with the healing. Everyone heals at a different pace."

What keeps your heart open, despite the heartbreaks you’ve had in your life?

"Hope."

"Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all"

-Emily Dickinson.

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What is your favorite movie about heartbreak?

"Something's Gotta Give. Diane Keaton goes through a break up and there is a montage of her sob-screaming in a variety of turtlenecks."

What projects are you currently working on, and looking forward to most?

"I had a brutal breakup in Spring of 2016. I was so so down and now, I'm finally crawling out of my dark hole. I made a goal of creating community, and that is what I am most excited about. This brings me great joy. I'm a jewelry designer by day and community organizer by night. I am really looking forward to a series of panels I am hosting/organizing where we have women giving guidance and advice on a series of topics. The panels are called "what now?" and our panel of women speak on topics from being your own boss to having difficult families to feeling lost and un-creative. Community and growing and loving my community is a huge passion for me."

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Thank you for sharing Susan. You can follow Susan on her Website + Shop + Instagram!

writer photo

Kate Paguinto

Kate is a Content Strategist at Mend and co-owner of a small business called Dizzy Cactus. She likes puns, Wes Anderson, and the Oxford comma.

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