This April, Suzanne Zahr Art & Architecture celebrates two years of working, creating, and building together with our clients. As a team, we're really coming into our own; our first-year anniversary celebrated the launch, systems, processes, and branding that we put into place. Now with two years under our belt, we're taking time to celebrate but also reflect on what's worked, what hasn't worked, and how we can learn from both our shortcomings and our successes.
As Brené Brown said in her TED Talk in 2010, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change." At SZ, we've learned how to be vulnerable and how to rise after the occasional fall. Through all of that, we've had wins and opportunities to do what we do best, and what a joy that's been.
Through these opportunities, we've discovered what the true SZ identity is: We show up to challenges in projects with consistency and integrity. We've established our own standards while still coming from a place of creativity, curiosity, and respect, always in the spirit of figuring things out in close collaboration with our clients and colleagues.
While we address a wide range of disciplines, we're now honing in on where we're most effective, especially as our passions and opportunities come together. It's a sign of maturity to know who you are as a company, and we are beginning to trust our instincts more and more, better understanding when our methodology is most optimal for those we serve.
In these two years, I've even noticed that the business is taking on a life of its own. It makes me so happy to see that I've created a space for something wonderful to happen on its accord. Having an invested, energetic team in place has allowed us to grow so much together. I've even had the chance to see where it leads me and other team members individually. For example, since we began working together three years ago, I've watched our designer Lara Tedrow grow in her own career along with the company. I feel proud about the fact that I can offer her experiences and continuing education that allow for her professional development.
My role has evolved into one where I spend my time strengthening relationships: with clients, through community outreach, within the industry, or even becoming involved locally as a Design Commissioner on Mercer Island. Since the business is at a point where opportunities are more complex and forward thinking (and even at times more daunting), I'm not only leading the business but seeing where it leads me. My own interests have even taken me back to real estate, returning to this after completing my Runstad Commercial Real Estate certificate at UW several years ago. With a self-sufficient team, I'm now looking for ways to curate opportunities, especially on the development side.
The practice of growing my own business has personally taught me so much. It's not just about having a brand identity; it's much more personal than that. Running my business has grounded me, and has helped me get to know who I am and how I can express my own values.
My goal going into our third year is simple: Keep trusting my gut instinct, because as the last two years have proven, it hasn't led me astray.
I'm so grateful for how much my business has taught me about team dynamics and client relationships, and it's been incredible to open our doors to the community for various events and fundraisers. In doing so, I've been able to grow roots and build a life for me and my daughter on Mercer Island, and I'm so thankful.