The life and times of Marie Su – founder and director of creative brand Sumarie – would make for the most fascinating film or novel. Her journey has crossed continents, cultures and creative experiences, before consciously culminating in Ibiza. It is here on the white isle where the artist, designer and new mother found herself experiencing a life shift; a liberating new chapter in the story that saw her switch from protagonist to author. There is no question that Marie is firmly in charge of her direction; her designs, her art and indeed, her life, are thriving in this new environment. Let us set the scene…
Born to Russian Israeli parents, Marie spent her youth in Russia, surrounded by a well-educated family; her grandmother was a writer, her father an architect and engineer and her mother a doctor. She was always encouraged towards an intellectual path, with the idea she would follow in their footsteps, career-wise. When the time came for secondary school, the free-spirited Marie convinced her parents to send her to boarding school in Israel. “This is where my own real journey started,” she recalls. After high school graduation, she enlisted in the Israeli army. “That time doesn’t define me,” she says thoughtfully reflecting on the experience. “But it was very important – it’s in my subconscious and my experience and in many ways, it’s what built me into a strong woman and a survivor.”
The next step was to follow her heart and her dreams all the way to Paris, France, where Marie enrolled in the prestigious Sorbonne to study art history and learn to become a couturier. The final stage of her education took place across the channel in London, where a fashion degree at the renowned Central St Martins college put her in good stead for the career in design and development that lay ahead. Opening her own fashion house; starting a preparatory school for those who needed to learn the basics to be accepted into colleges; running an atelier manned by her students; designing lingerie and swimwear behind the scenes for big name luxury brands; launching her very own glamorous jet set luxury swimwear brand, Sumarie, amidst all the action – it was full steam ahead for Marie during this period.
While telling her story, Marie is very clear that she sees these experiences as evolutionary, and as part of her past. “The truth is… where I am from, what I studied, who I worked for – it doesn’t define who I am. Unfortunately, some people still live by this, like a business card, but I don’t need that. I don’t want to go there anymore. Of course, I’m so happy that I did it. At times it wasn’t easy, or supported, but I still did it. I always did what I wanted to do. I followed my heart.” Which brings us back to the island of Ibiza, the evolution of the Sumarie brand and the ongoing evolution Marie Su herself.
While she had been visiting the island for work and holidays for over ten years, it wasn’t until around 2013 that Marie started to feel a true connection with the white isle. “I was always here with friends, doing the touristic thing,” she explains. “Then came a point where I started to want other things. There were quite a few people I knew moving to Ibiza and I wanted to experience this place from another point of view. My Ibiza adventure really started by falling in love with the people who lived here and discovering the energy here. Now, for me, Ibiza is an experience – it’s not an island. It’s an energetic field. In fact, it’s a feeling.”
Her energetic connection to Ibiza continued to grow and in 2014, Marie was married in a beautiful long weekend celebration on the island. “After that, the island kept calling me,” she says. “It was such a strong feeling for me and for my husband as well. Every time we landed here my heart would expand. I felt more open and liberated while I was here. I couldn’t pinpoint why, but I started to feel the need to shift.” Describing her life at the time as ‘work hard, play hard’ – in line with the brand philosophies and growing customer base of her label Sumarie – Marie found herself flying across the world three or four times a month. At the same time, she began to think about starting a family and knew in her heart, she couldn’t continue at this fast pace.
“It took a long time to stop,” she recalls. “It was like when you’re driving really fast, pressing the gas and then you press the brakes to stop; it takes a few metres. My life was like that. I had to stop and pace myself; to be more aware.” Falling pregnant in 2017 was the ultimate catalyst for change – the moment in life that saw her change her vibration. “I knew the set up we were living in wasn’t right and again and again, something pulled me to Ibiza. I spent the final two months of my pregnancy in Ibiza and it was a process of saying goodbye to myself. I became a country girl!”
After the birth of her child, Marie instantly realised her way of life could never be the same again. She was irrevocably changed; in her eyes, for the better. She shifted the focus of her business to allow her to operate from a place of personal freedom and reality, closing down the elements that no longer served her and looking to creating a more meaningful future. “It was scary during some phases, but when you actually do it, your fear goes away. The truth about life is it’s not about getting rid of a fear, the truth is about looking it in the eye and being cool with it. Only then the fear disappears – you are much stronger than it.”
She describes the process of transformation as removing clutter and focusing on the deeper essence of her brand; that is, connecting with her customer on a new, more personal level – whether it is with a swimsuit, leisurewear or a painting. “In the past, my business was driven by lifestyle – chasing the sun, designing collections for women who want to wear a certain look wherever she goes. It still has that strong element – you are who you are and you don’t need to fit in anywhere you go – but now I want to give feeling and emotion to the products. Now I’m driven by a form that has soul. I want to make people feel something and understand the source of where it’s coming from rather than focusing purely on the aesthetic.”
Swimwear will no longer the core of the Sumarie brand – Marie is currently developing a new movement collection, inspired by different ways the body moves and how the pieces of clothing make you feel while doing so. “ The system teaches you to perform, to create for the buyer, but it’s killing creation,” she says. “I’ve escaped that dominant energy and I don’t play by the rules of the fashion industry anymore.” Having always been one step ahead of the fashion pack when it came to using cutting-edge materials, the new designs are no different, with Marie now looking to innovative new sustainable fibres created from plastic waste (without creating additional pollution) sourced from the sea. “The only home we have is planet earth – not just for this generation but for others to come. The only thing I can do is try to make a difference in my word, in my own way – to maintain my truth.”
In addition to clothing, Marie is now bringing her art to the forefront of her brand. “I don’t describe myself as an artist,” she says humbly. “I’m just a creative person. All these boundaries and descriptions and tools – people like to put you in a box but once you remove all that and UN-define yourself… you discover beautiful things. You become unlimited. I want to appeal to people who feel this.” Her work is quite abstract by nature, driven heavily by textures and described as ‘her feelings in the flow of the moment’. Marie hopes her customers see the connection between the painting and the clothes – the same energy goes into creating both rather than dividing them into specific ‘collections’.
“It’s about less is more,” she concludes. “The consumeristic side of us needs to stop at some point. We are doing horrible things to the planet by buying fast fashion or spending a lot of money on art because we think the more it costs, the better it is. Of course, you can refresh or edit your look with what appeals to you or resonates with you, but it’s not about constantly updating each season or thinking ‘I have nothing to wear’. That’s not my customer. I’m trying to be futuristic in the way I produce from now on. I have a lot of hope for the future.” Her ethos now is to trust the flow. “Why worry about the future?” she muses. “It hasn’t happened yet. And why worry about what has already happened – it’s done. Now I try to live in the present, enjoy what I am doing and allow myself to be free and undefined. I trust the journey and the rest will follow.”