Teamwork Makes The Dreamwork!
Patrick Hoy here – and I know I’ve said it before, but Angel and I get to work with the BEST team in the whole world! We are so lucky to have a Quack-Tastic team that we work with every single day! Jeanne Bice really knew what she was doing when she brought us all together – especially with this months Meet-The-Team member!
Jeanne REALLY believed in DREAMS – and she always said, “You have to dream big”! She even told us in her book ‘Pull Yourself Up by Your Bra Straps’ that one of her biggest dreams was to be on QVC.
How wonderful that my next Meet-The-Team member – Susan Bramley – had a dream that would lead her to working full time right beside Jeanne Bice & Quacker Factory!
Meet Susan Bramley!
I love our entire team – but I have a very special place in my heart for Susan. Here we are at the Philadelphia Zoo. I get told all of the time by people that they think I look like Robin Williams – well, I think Susan gets told just as often that she looks like Debra Messing – the beautiful actress who played Grace in the sitcom ‘Will & Grace’ – what do you think?! Susan is the Head of the Quacker Factory Design Team – without her and her talented team, you wouldn’t be able to decorate yourselves month after month with all of the beautiful clothes Angel and I show you every time we’re on QVC! Susan has so much passion and love for what she does – and do you know what – she’s one of the most wonderful people I’ve ever had the pleasure to know – and to work with!
I recently spent time with her in her studio to ask her a few questions about herself so that you could all get to know her better. As I sat with Susan and listened to her share her memories and stories of working with Jeanne, it was obvious to me how much she loved and admired her mentor, Jeanne Bice. It was also clear to me how much of a special bond – and more importantly – friendship – they had with each other. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I enjoyed putting it together for you!
Patrick: Susan, what did you do before you started working with Quacker Factory?
Susan: I was so fortunate because I worked for QVC from the year they started in 1986! I started in the Accounting area working on the Customer Service team – and then became a Supervisor – which I loved – but what I really wanted to do from the beginning was be a part of the Merchandising & Planning group. This is one of the parts of the business that works directly with the incredible people, like Jeanne Bice, who have products on QVC. I had always wanted to be involved in the Product & Design/Development team – and that wish finally came true when I became a Planner – which I did for 7 exciting years!
Patrick: Wow! Planners at QVC have a great job – they get to work directly with the Vendors – and they are responsible for helping select what Product goes on air – and how much of it is ordered – that must have been fun! So how did you start working with Jeanne?!
Susan: Yes, it really was great fun! When Jeanne was discovered on the 50/50 Tour, you might remember Patrick that her product sold out even before she came on air! Because it did so well, QVC decided that they needed to allocate additional resources to bring Jeanne back. And guess what?! I was the lucky one to become the Planner for Jeanne and the Quacker Factory brand! What people might not remember Patrick is that for the first 4 or 5 years Jeanne was on QVC, she didn’t have any full-hour shows. She only had a few items throughout a typical day that would be shown in mixed-product shows like AM Style, PM Style, etc. Soooooo, on Jeanne’s 2nd appearance on QVC, I was one of the people in charge of her product for the day. We had ordered what we thought was more than enough product to last the entire day – and low and behold – it was all sold out before sunrise! Everyone was pleasantly shocked! If we didn’t know before that moment that Jeanne was going to be on QVC for a long time coming, we certainly did when we all walked into the office that morning!
Patrick: What was one of your first memories of working with Jeanne?
Susan: After Jeanne’s first visit – and before the 2nd visit I just described – I remember arranging a meeting with Jeanne at QVC so that she could show me some of her product – so that we could choose what was going to be shown on air for that 2nd day of shows. Jeanne had arrived early to QVC (she was ALWAYS early!) and had set up one of the conference rooms with all of her designs. The walls were covered from floor to ceiling with product ideas and samples. I remember walking in and noticing that there wasn’t an inch of bare space on the walls! The clothes were fun, exciting and full of bling – I loved everything! I also remember that this woman in a headband with a big smile greeted me – and it was that very moment that I instantly fell in love with her – and her brand! And for the next 4 years, Jeanne and I worked together to plan out every single show that she did.
Patrick: I said earlier that you had a dream that led you to working fulltime for Quacker Factory. Tell us about that dream.
Susan: Just like Jeanne, I’ve always been a big believer in the power of dreams. One night Jeanne and I were on the phone talking and I told her that I had had a real dream the night before – and in that dream, I saw that she and I would be working together –I saw that I would be helping her develop and design her product even more. Jeanne said that she had had similar dreams – and she told me that we would talk more about it in the morning – and voila – since then, I’ve been working for Quacker Factory fulltime! I really didn’t want to leave QVC because I LOVED working there – and with the incredible people at The Q – but the opportunity to work with Jeanne Bice & Quacker Factory was just too good to miss out on! So, in 1999, I started working with/for Jeanne fulltime on product development – and shortly after, Jeanne had her first full-hour show in September of that year. Oh my gosh Patrick – it all sold out before the hour was even over – Jeanne was over the moon – and so was I! One of my best friends, Leslie Barham had also left QVC – and she started working with us as well – Jeanne, Susan & Leslie – like 3 best friends working together to create fun, exciting and sparkly clothing for women – clothing that had never been designed like that before! And because the shows were doing so well and women all across America were loving what Jeanne and our team were coming up with , QVC kept adding more Quacker Factory hours – so Jeanne’s daughter Lee became more involved in designing as well. Can you imagine how much fun it was for the 4 of us to get together and design every day?!
Patrick: AMAZING – that just proves how important it is for all of us to dream big!! Here’s a picture of you and Leslie – I can only imagine how much fun the two of you had working every day with Jeanne & Lee!
Patrick: Tell us what you do now for Quacker Factory?
Susan: As you mentioned earlier, I am now the Head of The Design Team – I’m the keeper of the integrity of the brand – Jeanne trained and mentored me through the years to be the gatekeeper of this wonderful brand. As you know, we are not a large team. Leslie and I have 2 incredibly talented artists/designers who work with us – John & Diane – and we have Colleen on our team who gives us tremendous support. My husband Jack also works with us and ensures that our production partners are able to produce all of our wonderful designs – and that it all makes it to QVC – and eventually our customers – when it’s supposed to be there.
Patrick: Here’s a picture of you with Jeanne and your husband Jack – look at how fancy you all look!
Patrick: Tell us what a typical day was like working with Jeanne.
Susan: I live outside Philadelphia near the QVC offices and studios – and of course Jeanne lived in Florida. We spoke EVERY day at 8:30 in the morning – this was before her team would come in. In the morning we would chat about what was going to happen that day. We would speak several other times throughout the day – we were constantly on the phone with each other. And every day at 5pm after her team would leave, we would talk again. Jeanne would go into her office that overlooked her beautiful pool and garden and call me. We did a recap of the day to see if all of our goals were met.
Patrick: What do you remember most about those calls?
Susan: I’m going to get a little teary eyed Patrick remembering this…EVERY day Jeanne would start off asking me how my children were doing – she treated my children like they were her own grandchildren. Before we did ANY work, she wanted to know what my children were doing for the day, how they were doing in school – she wanted to know that they were okay and that they were happy. And after I gave her an update about my family, she would always say, “I love you and your family so much Susan” – and then we would start our work. I also remember that Jeanne called her customers ‘her girls’ – and she would ask me every day – “What are we doing for my girls today?!” I also remember that she always pushed me for new designs – she said we could never have too many new designs for ‘my girls’!
Patrick: What design advice did she give you?
Susan: Ha – that’s easy! She taught me to NEVER make the embellishments even, organized and samey, samey – meaning that rhinestones and embellishments don’t always have to be evenly placed – rather, she loved when they were scattered across a top – when they were an explosion of color and design. Jeanne didn’t want it all to look ‘perfect’ – instead she wanted spontaneity in the designs. I remember her saying one time when we were designing a top with candy corn type embellishments on it that they shouldn’t be placed evenly – instead they should look like they’ve been thrown on like fireworks going off in a beautiful sky. As she used to say, she loved ‘organized chaos’ – embellishments should have energy, movement and FUN in them! One of her favorite words was Catywompas – it’s actually a word in the dictionary – and it means ‘not lined up or not arranged correctly’. She always said “I want my girls to be surprised!” Jeanne made it her mission over the 16 years we worked together for me to be a mini-Jeanne when it came to designing. She mentored me and shared her design philosophy and tips and secrets. To this very day Patrick, when I’m with my team and we’re working on new designs, we always ask ‘WWJD’ – What Would Jeanne Do?!
Patrick: Do you think of Jeanne every day?
Susan: I definitely do. When she passed away, I was given her headband. I still have it in my drawer next to my bed – and I think of her every night before I go to bed.
Patrick: Can you tell us something that we don’t know about Jeanne?
Susan: After every show, she would walk down the long hall outside the studios by herself. She asked us to walk in front of her or behind her – but she wanted to walk down that very long hallway on her own. She told me it was the time when she would go into her head and reflect about every show and she would offer up her thanks to everyone and every element that helped make the show a success. In her head she would say ‘thank you’s’ to everyone – the director, the Host, the person on the floor who put the clothes on the racks – EVERYONE. She was a very thankful person – she took NOTHING for granted. She was a very spiritual person – and a very thankful person. She would call the hosts after every show and thank them. She would call the team and thank them. She never said ‘Thank you’ just once – she always said it three times – Thank you, thank you, thank you! She did this after EVERY appearance on QVC.
Patrick: What was something special that Jeanne did for you?
Susan: She always sent me flowers – tulips – my favorite. She did this at least 10 times EVERY year. They would be sprayed and covered with glitter – they always sparkled – just like her. She would send them for no reason at all – she just sent them – it was amazing Patrick!
Patrick: What’s your favorite food?
Susan: Filet – with béarnaise sauce – YUM!
Patrick: Do you like to cook?
Susan: No – thank goodness my husband does!
Patrick: Tell us about your beautiful family!
Susan: I have 3 wonderful kids. Jack is 23 and is getting his Masters in Finance at Purdue. I love his personality – he’s very funny! Austin is 19 and he’s a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh. He’s funny too. He’s my sensitive caring one – and Jeanne loved him – heck, Jeanne loved all of my kids! And then there is my little princess Sophia – she’ll be 11 in November – she was the long-awaited girl. I’m an older mother with her – she keeps me young and on my toes – that’s for sure! My husband is Jack – and he’s my business partner as well – and he’s my best friend. We’ve been married almost 30 years.
Patrick: I understand that when Sophia was born, Jeanne and Lee designed and decorated her nursery!
Susan: Yes, that’s true! And what a gorgeous nursery it was! They did it in pink bunny rabbit toile. They also picked out an extravagant black four-poster crib. They bought the art for the room as well – and since Sophia was born in November, Jeanne gave her her first Christmas tree that year – and it was in her nursery – it was pink as well – and I STILL put that tree up for Sophia every year!
Patrick: What’s your favorite holiday?
Susan: I absolutely love Christmas – but Halloween is where it’s happening at the Bramley household! Like Jeanne did, I LOVE decorating my house for Halloween! Jeanne loved collecting witches – and we used to give each other witches every Halloween. When Jeanne passed away, Tim gave me most of the witches I had given to Jeanne – and he also gave me several of the ones she had collected on her own – so now a lot of them are all together again – and I know that Jeanne is smiling down from heaven knowing that.
Patrick: Here are some pictures that I took of Susan’s beautiful home all decorated for Halloween – along with some of the many witches. How much fun is this?!
Patrick: What’s your favorite joke?
Susan: Every day at 2:30, my husband asks me what time it is? And before I can answer – he says “It’s 2:30 – time for the dentist!” (Tooth-Hurty!)
Patrick: Urggggg – that’s so corny – but it’s a good one! If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing in the world, what would it be?
Susan: I would wipe out ‘hate’ in our world. I want to fill the world and everyone in it with so much love. At Quacker Factory we’re all about love – so I would take a magic wand and fill the world with even more love.
Patrick: That is beautiful Susan – and I would want to borrow your magic wand and do the same thing! If you won the Lottery, what would you do with some of your winnings?
Susan: Like Jeanne, I would help with charities that support children. Jeanne’s favorite charity was Feed The Children. Jeanne and I both loved seeing children being able to smile – we were lit up by children’s smiles – so I would also help with specialized charities that help restore clefts in children so that they can smile again.
Patrick: What did you want to be when you were a little girl?
Susan: I Dream of Jeannie!! That was my favorite show!
Patrick: I tell Susan that it’s an amazing coincidence that she grew up to work with another magical woman named Jeanne! Here’s a picture of Susan dressed up for Halloween one year as I Dream of Jeannie – how adorable is she?!
Patrick: And finally Susan, I know our readers would love to know what your favorite QVC product is.
Susan: The IT Brow Power Pencil – I LOVE it!! It’s all about the brows Patrick! I have this product on auto-delivery – that’s how much I love it – and how important it is for me!
Patrick: Thank you so much Susan for sitting down with me – I think you are the bees knees – and Angle and I – and the entire Quacker Factory team – are so lucky to have you on the team! As Jeanne herself would have said: Thank you, thank you, thank you for being YOU!!
One Team – One Dream!
I hope you all enjoyed getting to know Susan! I can’t wait to introduce you to another Quacker Factory team member very soon!!
Quacker Hugs & Love From Across the Duck Pond!
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