We had the good fortune of connecting with Suzy Simmons and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Suzy, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
IT’S A BOY! In early 2006, Brad and I were two corporate grunts who daydreamed about owning our own creative agency after years of working with Fortune 500 companies and managing other creative agencies. We would talk for hours about “we’d do this” and “we wouldn’t do that”. So they started planning. And planning. We just didn’t want to open a design agency but something more niched and strategic. We chose to focus on strategic branding.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I think success is a subjective word. I would define my life as a success. From an early age, I would set goals for myself–some easily attainable to some really far-fetched. I feel like I’m bragging here so forgive me for being a douche for a minute. I’ve always been proud of the fact that I graduated college in 3 years. It was a major life goal that I was able to achieve. Yay, me. Throughout my career I always wanted more no matter what job I was at. I wanted to learn more, do more, earn more. While I’ve always been creative, I never thought I would own a creative agency. My first job out of college was as a receptionist during the day while at night, I drove 2.5 hours to graduate school. I thought I wanted to become a professor–elbow patches and all. After a semester of dickheads arguing over poetry, I realized “Nope, not for me.” Then, I wanted to become an International business woman. So I quit graduate school and moved into the marketing department. Back 20+ years ago, is was a crazy “old boys club”–even worse than it is today. I kind of lucked into the jobs I’ve had over the years and those jobs led me to the most influential one because 1) I discovered my love for branding and 2) I met my husband there. I worked for Hewlett-Packard and was able to go through two major brand identity refreshes–one with Landor and one with Lippincott. I was hooked. After 10 years with HP’s Global Marketing group, I felt like I could offer businesses the same strategic brand services to clients who couldn’t afford a multi-million brand identity system.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m an introvert so this is a bad question for me. Ha. And since I live in The Woodlands which is a beautiful township, it’s 30 miles from Houston so I rarely go into the city. When I do, I love going to Tiny Boxwoods. Or somewhere in Post Oak or Highland Village. I would definitely take them to Goode Co. TexMex and Papadeaux Seafood. While Papadeaux now has locations across several cities, it started in Houston (I think) and it’s just one of my favs. They even put on in the Houston Airport. Discovery Green is a great place to walk around too. In The Woodlands, Hughes Landing is great place to have a cocktail while the sun sets. And we work at Market Street which is a beautiful area to shop or have lunch (Jasper’s or Tommy Bahamas). You fee like you’re on vacation.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Sorry if this is a canned answer but it’s true–my parents were a huge force behind my success. From an early age I was super creative and always trying out new things. Even when I cut a hole in my mom’s favorite piece of fabric to make myself a pair of pants or would spill paint all over my Dad’s organized garage, they never discouraged my yearning to try new things. We didn’t have much money growing up but my mom would also create these elaborate party-type celebrations for everything. We had to make everything ourselves so the more creative, the better. More recently, I would say my husband. He’s always there for me and always makes me laugh. He never holds back any crazy idea EXCEPT one time. I wanted to put Tide in the bathtub to create a REALLY ginormous bubble bath. He told me that he didn’t think that was a good idea because I would probably chemically burn my vagina. I’m glad I listened to him now. LOL. He’s a true partner both at Test Monki and in our personal life. He’s like an appendage I didn’t know I needed but now could never live without.

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