What qualifies as arm candy in Susan Korn’s book? One day it might be a beaded Susan Alexandra bag decorated with a sunny-side-up egg. Or a tiny, wearable nod to the dirty martini—its size seemingly suited to packing extra olives for the road. There’s a Milton Glaser tribute by way of her I 🖤 NY carryalls. (A taxicab-yellow version hit the stage during the brand’s Comedy Cellar variety show this past September, an off-piste Fashion Week event featuring Cat Cohen and Chloe Fineman, among other local luminaries.) A bag with piano keys reminds me of the FAO Schwarz scene in Big, a movie about a kid who suddenly finds himself in a grownup’s body. Such a forever-young spirit runs through the Susan Alexandra universe, where nostalgia is not Depop-direct but rather filtered through Korn’s subversively sunny aesthetic. The sunflower-yellow shop on Manhattan’s Orchard Street even has a wishing well up front—as much a twist on suburban mall decor as a heartfelt bid for good fortune.
“My journey back to these childhood roots, it’s something I explore a lot,” says Korn, an Ohio native who has spent the past dozen-plus years in New York. (Her rescue chihuahua, Pigeon, got his name at an event for the city’s Wild Bird Fund.) The latest Susan Alexandra collection—a debut run of Judaica, including “vegan cheeseburger” yarmulkes, menorahs styled after nail polish bottles, jewelry, and tableware—circles back to Jewish tradition, which manifested in her family as low-key rituals. “I think from the ages of 18 to 25, you’re really trying to carve out a new life for yourself,” she says, explaining how synagogue and holiday dinners fell away for a time. “Now that I’m older, I’m realizing I really crave that grounding part of my life.”
It’s fitting that Korn’s three-day wellness diary, below, incorporates not one but two Shabbat dinners—an alternate means of recalibration. “I’ve been through every community of wellness since I’ve lived in New York,” the designer says, detailing a winding odyssey through acupuncture, sound baths, astrology, infrared schvitzing. (Therapy too: “I’m currently on a break, which is so naughty!”) For her, there’s a practical comfort in embracing a “sense of well-being [that] is a lot more accessible and at hand”—maybe in hand, via a trompe l’oeil strawberry dreidel at the Hanukkah table. It’s part of Korn’s charm to marry old world and new, as seen in the whimsical glossary of Yiddish terms at the Judaica launch event. Beshert, the handwritten notecard explained, “means ‘meant to be’ and fated. It’s giving ‘trust the universe’ vibes.”
Thursday, November 10
7:23 a.m.: For the past two weeks I have been re-watching Game of Thrones like it’s my job. I watch it in the morning, I watch it at night, I watch it on my lunch breaks. This is my second time watching it, and it’s really a game changer to semi-understand what’s happening. I think my escape from reality is to be sucked into a different universe. I really need that kind of thing where my brain turns off.
I’m starting my day with coffee, pistachio milk, and GOT when I get a text from my dad. He’s coming in from Ohio to surprise me! His flight lands at 1:36 p.m! I call him, and he tells me that he wants to be there to support me for tonight’s Shabbat dinner (more on that later). He made the decision to book the flight at 3 a.m. It’s so, so sweet that I feel guilty. I don’t want him to make such a fuss over me!
11:32 a.m.: It’s a really perfect day: 70 degrees in November. I’m wearing one of my beloved Suzie Kondi track suits (pink) with sneakers and a trench coat, along with one of our Go Bags in black because I will be schlepping today and need my hands free. I stop at Roasting Plant on Orchard for an Americano with oat and, because I don’t know when I’ll be able to eat next, a piece of their pumpkin loaf. This is because it appears to be the healthiest option, which it most certainly is not. I run into my friend Michelle Salem, who is visiting from LA. “This is such a NYC moment,” she says, and she’s correct.
11:50 a.m.: I schmooze and chat with Michelle and then power walk over to Haven’s Kitchen. I have been WAY off my workout routine lately. This always happens when I’m busy. I am very stoked to be trekking from the East Side, where I live, to SoHo—I’m thinking of it as a mini workout.
We (as in Susan Alexandra, the company) are hosting a Shabbat dinner to launch my Judaica collection. Even though Shabbat is actually Friday-Saturday, we’re doing it tonight because it’s important to me to have an actual, real-life rabbi present for prayers—and he’s busy on Fridays, being a rabbi and all. I’ve arrived at the venue to finish setting up. In my next lifetime, I would LOVE to come back as a florist. I love creating with flowers, and it’s important to me that the flowers be seasonally appropriate. Since it’s November, we’re doing marigolds and dahlias and adding in kale, cabbage, cauliflower, and other hearty autumn produce. Mary and Megan from my team are tying bows and draping bead garlands.
12:38 p.m.: I put the finishing touches on my inspo board, which is how we’re displaying the jewelry. All the things that inspired this collection—photos of ancestors I’ve never met, doodles, magazine cutouts, recipes, etc., etc.—are pinned up, alongside necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and mezuzahs from our Judaica collection. While pinning these pieces, I feel like I’m channeling my grandmother. Seriously. My hands are moving, but my mind is completely somewhere else.