Elizabeth Suda is the Founder and the Creative Director of ARTICLE 22 , a company that creates meaningful jewellery out of metal used in bombs dropped in Laos during the Vietnam War. Dubbed “peacebomb metal,” Suda developed the concept to repurpose and transform this material into fashion jewellery to promote positivity and provide sustainable income to Laotian artisans and their villages, as well as help to clear the bomb-littered country.
Read on and learn about Suda’s secrets to happiness, life, success and style, and her pioneering efforts to transform weapons into jewellery.
Astrological sign: Aries
Favourite colour: Blue
Favourite guilty pleasure: Foie Gras
Your life philosophy: Live and learn
Going to Laos changed your life trajectory; from working with luxury fashion companies to becoming a social entrepreneur and advocate for bomb removal in Northern Laos. What has been your most moving experience with ARTICLE 22 to date?
Each time I go to Laos the artisans and friends in Ban Naphia (the village where our Peacebomb jewellery is made) ask me, “Are you married yet? Do you have any children yet?” and I always laugh. For years I would say, “Same guy but no ring!” and I would explain that life in New York is so fast that it is almost slow. While Laotians tend to marry in their early twenties many of us in New York marry later. I was thrilled last year during our annual village trip that I could finally say, “I’m engaged!” They know about our lives and we know about theirs. This genuine connection is fundamental to what we do. We built ARTICLE22 to tell real stories that foster human connection. Together, we have built a relationship and a business. I am constantly moved – that they feel comfortable to invite us to dinner and to sleep in their homes, to ask our advice on a first computer or to ask for our help translating a sign for tourists in English. I am moved that, thousands of miles apart, there is a foundation of trust and mutual affection.
You’ve spent a lot of time in Laos and with the Laotian people. What life lessons have you learned from them?
There is always a good reason to have a party! The Laotians know have a true joie d’vivre. That includes lots of laughter. I have noticed conversations between strangers that make you think you’re witnessing the reunion of long lost cousins. I have also noticed their habit of living each day for itself. They value the present moment. Perhaps their ability to reconcile comes from this alchemy of spirit and consciousness.
Can you recall your reaction to seeing the first Peacebomb bangle made?
Butterflies. It took months to get the first sample. At first, the Laotians were skeptical. They saw the utility of spoons, which they had been making and selling since the 1970s. But the utility of a bracelet? I was told for months that the bracelet was not possible, so I booked a ticket to Laos. I knew they could do it. The day before my flight, I received a package of the first 50 bracelets. They were jagged, rough, and beautiful. I knew we were onto something.
What are some of the things we can look forward to in the future from ARTICLE 22?
A new story-collection from South America. But it’s still a secret! We. Can’t. Wait.
Photo credit: Stephanie de Rouge
Finish this sentence: I want women around the world to ___________.
Have the ultimate freedom: the ability to choose between options.
What are your favourite go-to pieces in your wardrobe?
I’m an accessories person, so my clothes tend to be classic and minimalist. I’m always wearing Peacebomb bolts rings stacked with the Rose Gold Bolts Skinny Bangle. My favourite shirt is a chambray denim button down. I love it because the crisp light blue almost sparkles and I can dress it up in New York or down when traveling dirt mountain roads to the village. Equally versatile are my Swedish sandals from a shop in Paris which bring height, comfort and security.
If you could create a recipe for happiness, what would it contain and why?
- Remember that life is not fated: know when you need to make a change and change it.
- Remember there are 365 days in a year: know when you need to take a rest and take it.
- Remember that life is short: know when it’s time to enjoy and relish it.
- Boil it down to being fully conscious of the moment and top it off with bubbles whenever possible (from your bath to your glass!).
If you could spend Sunday brunch with a famous person (celebrity or historical figure), who would it be and why?
Right now: Katy Perry. Her obvious talent, unswerving vision and perseverance own her success.