We had the pleasure of meeting Suzette L. Bussey, the creator of Norton + Hodges, at an event hosted by The Poppy Caravan in front of Ala Von Auesperg, inside Via Mario on Palm Beach Island. We were captivated by her gorgeous designs, and I even had the pleasure of modeling one of the lovely hats from her collection. It was so fun chatting with her and getting to know more about the inspiration behind her brand, that we decided to give her the spotlight with an Inspired Living Feature!
We hope you enjoy learning more about Norton + Hodges and are inspired by this fun, behind-the-scenes peek into how this amazing brand based in Charleston, South Carolina, came to be.
Q: What inspired you to create Norton and Hodges?
A: Africa took a piece of my heart. When I arrived in Namibia for our six week honeymoon, I
had this strong sense that I was home. I felt at home. I was so moved by the experience that I
wanted to have a piece of that memory, of that feeling of the wildness of African nature, the
spirit of the people we met, with me every day once we got back to the US.
Q: What is the Mission?
A: Our mission: The mission behind Norton and Hodges is to create a company that redefines
conscious luxury and responsible sourcing. We want to use our products, and their stories, to connect
people back to nature, empower women both by being seen in our bold designs and through economic
independence and to support conservation efforts that help people, land and animals thrive.
Q: What are a few of your personal favorites that Norton and Hodges has to offer?
A: Every piece captures a place, a person, a memory for me so it’s difficult to choose. My
favorite right now is the Artemis necklace. It this beautiful piece that brings together West
Africa and Namibian influences in a bold way. I designed it when I was going through treatment
for breast cancer and I saw it as almost a piece of armor for me to wear when I finished nine
months of chemotherapy.
Q: What inspired the name Norton and Hodges?
A: We wanted to honor women in our families who influenced my husband and I, so it is named
after an influential grandmother on each side of the family.
My Grammy Norton was stylish and encouraged me to pursue painting and drawing. We would
sit together for hours and paint or draw. She always had an incredible collection of vintage
jewelry that always had me mesmerized and that was fun to explore.
Q: Where are some of the places that you've traveled to, and how have they inspired you?
A: We enjoy exploring new cities and places all across Africa. We tend to get in the bakkie and drive, always visiting at least two new places every trip. I don’t think that we have visited a place, whether in Ghana, Togo, Namibia, South Africa or Botswana that hasn’t captured me or inspired me in some way. Each new city or village is so unique and has a such a sense of place or personality. The land varies so widely, as do the cultures, that it is constant discovery and absorption of new elements and experiences. It’s wonderfully magical way to see the world.
Tsodillo Hills is a world heritage site that was the most deserted place that I have ever visited,
yet it was so powerful. Seeing the original cave paintings from the San people in person was
moving. The San people believed it was a special place and it is widely regarded as the site of the
first recorded religious ritual. You could almost sense that it was hallowed ground. Being led on
a walking tour up the same paths they walked and seeing where they gathered was almost other
worldly. Thinking about this tribe thriving in the harsh conditions in Southern Africa thousands
of years ago and coming to this rock formation that juts out of the Earth, really puts things into
Q: Do you have a health regiment? If so, what is it and how do you stay consistent?
A: I have to have fresh air, connect with nature and participate in outside activities to feel my
best, so that is consistent. Walking and breathing in the air, noticing what’s blooming and
meditating are all consistent parts of my day but they might not all happen at the same time every
Q: What are some of your favorite foods to eat, and do you enjoy cooking?
A: I absolutely dislike cooking. I never chose to learn to do it, plus my husband is fantastic at
cooking (among so many other things). Lightly roasted or grilled broccolini, a fresh burrata or
whipped ricotta are always delicious. However, nothing beats fresh seafood or an Eland steak
fresh off the braai.
Q: What is your favorite color, and what does it make you think of?
A: Navy blue. It reminds me of water and the ocean. It reminds me of the deep hues of blue in
the sky as the sun sets and the stars become visible.
Q: Do you have a favorite designer, if so, whom?
A: I don’t have a favorite designer but admire so many. I love what Gabriela Hearst is offering
with showcasing artisans in her collections. I love Tongoro Studio for their incredible
voluminous designs and their celebration of Africa. Warrick Gautier and Zuhair Murad for their
couture dresses. Sergio Hudson for his saturated color palettes and design that make women feel
Q: If you could dine anywhere in the world, where would it be and who would you take with
A: Sharing a meal with someone (or new friends) is such a special experience that I can’t really
think of one particular place. Anything fresh from a well-loved farm or ranch to the table,
prepared by the hands of someone who is passionate about cooking and sharing food is the best.
Sitting around a table or a fire, sharing food and stories is in our DNA. It’s what our ancestors
did. It’s part of who we are and it’s important to recognize its important place in our daily lives.
Q: Did you always know you would be an entrepreneur?
A: I always wanted to own my own business after deciding that being an attorney wasn’t the
lifestyle I wanted. It has been an interesting, meandering journey but I am glad I started Norton
Q: What are some of your hobbies that you do in your spare time?
A: I love playing tennis, reading non-fiction, spending item on the water, exploring new places,
tasting delicious wines, enjoying culinary delights, and meeting new people.
Q: What do you envision as the future for Norton and Hodges?
A: I see Norton and Hodges growing into a lifestyle brand that expands into all the categories,
including branded trips and clothing in order to inspire more people to connect with nature and
travel to Africa. I want my clients to feel beautiful and confident, while knowing that we use
natural materials and are responsibly and sustainably sourced.
Q: What is your favorite aroma, and what memories does it bring to mind?
A: There are two that I love so much. There is a small window in the spring in Charleston where
you can smell a mix of the jasmine and tea olive. It is an intoxicating smell that represents
spring to me.
The other is the smell in Namibia after a sunny, hot day in the bush. It’s an earthy, dusty, dry
and deeply rich aroma that grounds me and is the smell of the land in Namibia to me.
Q: What impact do you think fashion + style have on us and the world?
A: I was just discussing this with a friend. The difference between fashion and style is very
interesting. To me fashion is a wearable art form. It changes, it morphs. It pushes boundaries and
definitions. It captures a moment in time, a thought process from a creative.
Style to me is an outward expression and extension of who someone is or how they want to be
perceived. It’s more like an authentic expression or out-picturing of something from the inside.
There is a gravitas to style. You can feel when someone owns their style. Both are expressions or statements of who one is or how they are feeling. They are very important and it’s part of how we communicate with other people.
Q: If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be and why?
A: I wish every day that we could connect more people with nature. Nature is my biggest
teacher and there is so much to learn. But the biggest reason is when someone is connected to
nature, they value it more. Our souls need to be connected to nature. By being truly connected to
it, it would allow the collective us to make better decisions that are more in harmony with nature.
Q: Who is a person you have always admired, and why do you admire them?
A: I admire so many people for different reasons. I admire women and men who pursue their
passion because it’s not necessarily an easy path. To do what you love and are passionate about
often takes you on a challenging personal journey of growth, along with a constant path of
learning new skills and pushing the limits of your own beliefs and abilities.
Q: Where do you live, and in what ways does it inspire you?
A: I live in downtown Charleston, South Carolina which is beautiful walkable city on the coast.
The history, the energy there, the expansive marsh views and the sense of place does inspire me.
There is a mix of so many cultures that made it is the place today. It is (and always has been) a
port town which brings in so many influences for a town its size. The lifestyle of living outside
most of the year is truly incredible. For a city it’s size, the most incredible people come to visit
or live. And the characters in this town are pretty fantastic too!
Q: If you could offer any advice to someone who wants to follow in your footsteps what would it
A: Be bold. Be authentic. And know that life is going to be an adventure that will push you to
your limits. Follow your heart and even in the darkest moment know the journey you are on is
Q: Is there anything else you would like to say or share with us?
A: How much I appreciate the opportunity to share about Norton and Hodges. Thank you!
Thank you so much for inspiring us!
Please check out the Norton + Hodges Collection and see why we are so thrilled
to share the beauty and unique elegance with you!
* Enjoy 20% Off Your Purchase w/Code: VIBES20 *