The true meaning of creativity is not what you can do with a huge budget but what you do with what you have. That has been my cornerstone or at times, I thought, a tombstone – to have an idea, develop a need, then figure out how to do it. I have always known my strength is my ideas. I started my company in 1980 before it was fashionable to be women-owned or work out of your home.

I started my company, Susan Martin / Creative Displays & Services in 1980 before it was fashionable to be woman-owned or work out of your home. I have always had my name front and center to remind me and let others know I am willing to stand behind what I sell or believe. Then, too I was ahead of my time in the market. I saw a need and offered a prop search, set styling and wardrobe service for photographers, film production companies and did visual merchandising for local merchants and wholesale vendors who would come to regional shows in Charlotte. I became known by designing, producing and installing holiday décor for some of the largest banks and office buildings in my area. I was asked by a party planner if I decorated windows and sets, could I decorate for some of her themed parties. This was before they were called Special Events. It took a while but I was graced (and tormented) with creativity and that is what I used. Susan Martin, conceptual designer for 24 years, aspires to banish beige and invite clients to add color and creativity to their events, holiday décor, interiors, shopping centers, trade shows and visual merchandising through theme development and intentional continuity of their image.

Attempting to help others change after experiencing many life altering changes herself, Susan developed CoCoCheznaynay® SecretAgent of Truth & Style™ as a branding vehicle and a truth-seeking character who disperses CoCoCourage, wit and wisdom. CoCo’s about owning all of who you are and facing your fears – Then scuba lessons and overwhelming performance anxiety fear and Coco started teaching Susan, who stuck with it, and while on all of these boats, saw a need for product to contain the hair – voila! ScubaDoRags™, a patent-pending product!

Once again, the idea precedes the how. I was not a manufacturer or a distributor but had to figure it out to get my idea, ScubaDoRag™, to market because my testing was so favorable and I believed in my product. I was in transition in my design business, now Susan Martin, Inc. with the registered trademark of EyeCandy and was already in development of my now registered trademark character, CoCoCheznaynay® SecretAgent of Truth & Style© a whimsical way to learn about owning all of who you are and facing your fears.

Actually the market came to me while I was in Mexico on holiday. Before my trip, I called the magazines I submitted editorial copy and asked if they would be publishing my press release. They didn’t know but it became apparent by the emails and phone messages I was receiving from hungry customers. You know how wonderful our excited, ravenous customers can be about new gear. Our website was under construction. I called my WebGuy, Benjie Westafer . He worked thirty straight hours and we were live. We had incredible beginner’s luck although I had some industry professionals telling me I could not sell at that price point but I knew what the fabric was costing and the labor. I made the first ten myself then searched for a quality place. I was in five different plants with “experts” telling me how simple my product is to make – they all offered excellent samples then freaked on the cut. Anything is easy if you have enough money to throw at it – my numbers were too small to command attention. More editorial copy followed in business publications and Charlotte Magazine. Tony read about me. He was interested in investing and was a diver, a gentle man with a nice family – someone who believed in me, CoCoCheznaynay® and my potential. We met several times and with attorneys. This was promising and it was going to work. By this time I had to pay for the patent work and advertising bills I instigated before my would-have-been investor was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor.

This story reads like a story and I have learned to respect a character you create for they will surely reflect and teach you.