As Chief Investment Officer for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Susan Manske has achieved great acclaim in business but, like so many women, recognizes the challenge of finding time to be successful both at work and as a mother.
"Being a mom takes precedence over every other aspect of life and provides a context for your life’s direction,” she says. “Time flies by and you find yourself marveling at your grown daughter who is kind, creative, talented, ambitious, and your best friend. I am blessed and grateful to have been on this journey. Nothing else in life comes close."
Susan and her daughter Jennifer, Director of Operations for Lakeshore Wealth Strategies and a musician, share a love for fashion, and for years have bonded over mother-daughter shopping trips. But Susan’s fashion calling began years before that, when she taught herself how to sew and designed her own clothes, a talent that paid off later when she was raising her own kids.
“I sincerely could not imagine a more kind, eloquent, generous, and selfless person than my mom,” Jennifer says. “Although most people know her for her incredible successes in her career in finance, what most people do not know is that she is also an incredibly skilled seamstress and a brilliant mother."
Jennifer explained how her mother's boundless energy and skill with a needle inspired her while she was growing up:
“When I was a very young child, I distinctly remember how extraordinarily hard she worked to take care of my brother and me while working full-time. Even though she never had any time for herself (I’m pretty positive she had some sort of time-stopping device, because I truthfully have no idea how she could have possibly done it), she STILL found time to sew for us: handmade Halloween costumes; my dress, apron, and bonnet for Prairie Day at elementary school; my very first poodle skirt for 50’s day…the list goes on and on.
“That was when I learned one of the most beautiful things about my mom. Growing up, she was never able to afford the clothing she really wanted with her impeccable taste. So instead, she decided to learn to sew the clothing she wanted to wear for herself. She began working in a fabric store where they would put her work on display for all customers to see. She even sewed her own prom dress."
“We started to go on mother-daughter shopping days as I began my career in music and was in need of some dresses to perform in. Every time we would go shopping, I would urge her to try things on, but she never would, preferring to focus on me—shopping was another errand on her forever-long to-do list, and all of the clothing she loved was simply “not suitable for work”—at the time only formal business attire was acceptable. However, I finally got her into the fitting room. That was the day I saw her face light up as she tried on a fabulous black dress that fit like a glove. It was the very same spark that I saw when I watched her pattern out my poodle skirt costume for our elementary school dance in the 4th grade.
“Since then, our favorite mother-daughter time has always been seeking out and exploring incredible fashion. One of the greatest gifts she had ever given me as a child was my love of fashion, and it was incredible to help her rediscover her passion and re-give that gift to her as I grew into her adult daughter.
“As my mom always reminds me, 'Always dress to who you aspire to be.' She is living proof that It IS possible to be strong, confident, fearless, intelligent, classy, and badass in the business world and in life, all while looking fabulous at the same time.”
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