Secrets to Success: La Perla's Suzy Biszantz
by berry bloomingdale
Suzy Biszantz in La Perla’s Madison Avenue boutique
What’s her secret?” is a question many of us ask when we meet someone as accomplished as Suzy Biszantz, CEO of La Perla North America, who seems to handle all elements of her busy life effortlessly. Fortunately for me, this superwoman has been a close friend for many years and was happy to sit down and discuss what’s happening at La Perla, as well as how she manages to do it all.
Suzy joined the company in 2008, as the economic crisis was looming. It was a daunting time, particularly since she did not come from a luxury background. Before joining La Perla, Suzy was CEO and president of The Greg Norman Collection, Reebok’s golf-apparel brand. She was further challenged with managing both a wholesale business and a retail operation: dealing with landlords, leases, staffing and, perhaps most importantly, customer retention. “The interesting thing about retail is having the ability to directly impact each customer’s experience with your brand,” Suzy says. “It’s been fascinating, working with such an iconic brand but having the ability to make an impression on each client through their experience in our boutiques.”
This is particularly true in New York City, home to three La Perla stores, which each offer a slightly different shopping experience. The boutiques are among the few places to find La Perla’s recent capsule collection, created in collaboration with Jean Paul Gaultier. The project was “very synergistic,” Suzy says, and references Gaultier’s designs in the ’70s and ’80s that used corsetry. The collection did so well that La Perla and Gaultier will launch another for Spring 2012, this time including a swimwear series, which is already receiving rave reviews.
Despite the brand’s success, Suzy is modest when it comes to her role in guiding these projects. She will, however, acknowledge that this year La Perla has been experiencing double-digit sales growth in all regions. “I feel fortunate to be managing an operation that is trending this way,” she says, adding that the specialness of the product makes her job much easier.
So what is her secret to success? “Live close to work,” Suzy says without hesitation. She resides six blocks from La Perla’s Madison Avenue location, and this allows her to spend more time with her daughter, Avery; she will also be able to pop into the office when necessary after her second child is born in a few months. “Work has always been a happy and positive part of my life,” Suzy goes on. “That makes decisions easier.”
What else? “I do think what you wear underneath your clothes really matters,” Suzy says with a smile.
photograph by carolyn fong