The Skerries-native spoke exclusively to STELLAR Magazine.
Suzanne Jackson-O’Connor speaks exclusively to Vicki Notaro about her whirlwind 2017, growing her beauty business around the world, calling out trolls and life as a new wife
It’s fair to say that Suzanne Jackson-O’Connor had an exciting 2017. She was once again declared the top Irish influencer in the world by SERMO, was voted Ireland’s most stylish woman at the VIP Style Awards, saw her beauty brand SOSU by SJ reach new heights and her website sosueme.ie continue to grow, and of course, she married her long-term love Dylan in one of the most-talked about weddings of the year. So when we thought about which cover star we’d love to round out the year, Suzanne was a no-brainer. Who else epitomises festive glamour more so than the beauty guru thousands of Irish women look to for aesthetic inspiration?
But of course, we all want to know about the wedding. Over the August bank holiday weekend, Suzanne became Mrs Jackson-O’Connor in an event that grabbed column inches all over the country – something she was pretty unprepared for, despite knowing that the official pictures would appear in VIP Magazine.
“First of all I didn’t think people would be any way interested,” she tells me. “But then there were lots of people outside my parents’ house and that was the first inkling, but I was taken aback when I came outside and saw the paparazzi and lots of people with phones taking pictures. I was nervous enough already with the whole day, your heart is in your mouth you know? Wondering do I look okay, thinking ‘I can’t wait to see Dylan’, wondering is he okay…. [having an audience] was hard because I was already emotional and I was vulnerable, my walls are down. Then the church was bedlam again, all I could hear was cameras going off, and I couldn’t help but think ‘I’m only a blogger, leave me alone!’” she laughs. “It was all very surreal, I don’t really remember the whole part outside the church, I just remember thinking that I knew the opinions were coming now. But once they opened up the doors of the church, I walked in and I saw Dylan, everything was okay. We had an absolutely amazing day.”
Her new husband then surprised her with a helicopter ride to their reception venue, there were not one but two amazing dress changes, and the couple partied the night away before jetting off to Santorini for a luxury honeymoon. “The question on everyone’s lips since then is asking me if I feel any different, and the truth is that nothing really changes but it is a lovely complete feeling you get being married. You know you’re in it for the long haul, you’re building a life and a future together. Calling him my husband is still so weird, my god, I feel 90! But look, married life is fantastic.” And another question being asked of Suzanne is when they’re going to start a family, something that started right after they said their I dos. “Do you know, that can be quite an insensitive question to ask anyone, people could be having problems or not even want children! We absolutely do want to have children down the line, but we’re focused on SOSU by SJ right now.”
Suzanne, 33, and Dylan, 28, work on the beauty brand together. What started with nail polishes has now turned in to a mini empire of face, nail and lash products, with lots more to come in the new year. “People looking in will always say it’s doing really well and it’s so successful and of course it is, but to me, it’s not big enough,” she tells me. “I want more, I’m constantly challenging myself so I want more products and my brand in more countries. I’m satisfied, don’t get me wrong, but I always challenge myself. We’re in Primark in the UK and France, which is amazing.”
She’s also constantly developing new releases. “This side of Christmas we’ll have refills of our contour palette, one of our biggest sellers, and we’ll also have the same consistency and tones in stick versions you can pop in your handbag. Then after Christmas, we’ve been working on my tan range and also a foundation since November 2016, so please God it’s going to get bigger. People who love it believe in me and my followers guide me. It’s doing really well, Dylan and I are a really good team, and we have a wider team that’s amazing as well.”
This time last year, Suzanne was promoting her debut fashion line but it was reported not long after that it didn’t work out. “I found it very hard,” she admits. “Beauty is hard, but in a different way and I just enjoy it more. People thought the fashion line failed; it actually sold very well, but I just wasn’t enjoying it. I love wearing clothes and blogging about clothes, but buying and selling is a different thing entirely. Will I revisit it? Absolutely I’m still asked every day, but I’ll need to assemble a team. My focus is on beauty, sometimes you have to choose a focus and my background is in the beauty business. But I’m heavily involved in everything I do.”
Of course, it was SoSueMe.ie that made Suzanne famous, but does she still love it? “Blogging is fantastic, it got me to whee I am today, but there is a lifespan with it and I realised that about four years ago. I was four years in to it then, and I thought ‘this is not going to be for ever,’ I knew I needed to develop something for our long-term future, our family’s future. So while SoSueMe is still there and I will always have my finger in it, I am very much Suzanne the businesswoman these days and my goal was always to make a big brand out of blogging.”
And of course, the internet has a dark side. The week of our shoot, Suzanne garnered a bit of attention for posting about online hypocrisy on her Facebook and Snapchat. “After all the lovely posts about mental health awareness yesterday, I feel strongly about something and I’m gonna say it!” she wrote. “I feel very sorry for those who spend their days bitching constantly in online groups on Facebook about everyone and anyone! You are the cause for someone’s misery with your nasty words! YOU are adding to their anxiety, depression, their self doubt! You!! How does that feel? So instead of posting your nice caption and picture yesterday pretending you care about mental health…. Why don’t you think twice before you spew your hate online and really affect someone’s day/week/month.”
I ask her about being the subject of nastiness on social media. “Look, the way I see it is, I put myself out there, so I expect some level of criticism and as one of the first bloggers that earned from it and created a brand, I do get it in the neck. But when it’s turned in to a hate campaign, or bullying member of my family, I get very upset. Say what you want about me, but don’t bring other people in to it. It’s rife online, sure there’s freedom of speech there but if you’re being an asshole, you’re going to get blocked or deleted and called out as a bully. But look, you have to rise above it and get on with it as well. I have to remember that for everyone that doesn’t like me, there are several people that do.”
She’s also wary of her husband’s feelings. “I have had a lot of the same followers for eight years, they’ve grown with me and they’re amazing, they pop up all the time. I’ve built all of this on being open and sharing everything, but the older you get, the more you want to be a bit more private. It’s getting that I want to keep some things just for me and Dylan, he hates the public eye and the limelight so I have to respect him. That’s why I’m taking my foot off the pedal and making the conscious decision to step back a bit, focussing on business. I have a lot to do, I want to truly crack the UK and the States with SOSU, and I don’t want people to be just buying the products because I say they’re good, I want them to buy them because they ARE good. I want to take ‘Suzanne’ away from the brand a bit and let it stand alone as a great brand.”
But we’ll never NOT want to know Suzanne’s glam secrets. Unfortunately for us, a lot of how amazing she looks beyond hair and makeup comes down to having great genes, like her fabulous figure. “Ah look, it’s swings and roundabouts with me, one week I’m all about the gym, and then the next I can’t be arsed, I’m not in the mood. I am lucky in the sense that my mum is still a size 10 after four kids so a lot of it is genes, but I walk my dogs every single day and I’m a pescatarian now. I love fish, getting loads of veg in. But I do love an oul pizza, I love a Dominos! My secret is that I order the ultra thin and crispy base. People always think I have deal with Dominos or that I’m a spokesperson for them, nope, I wish I was!” she laughs.
Talk inevitably turns to Christmas, and I enquire as to where she an Dylan are spending their first one as newlyweds. “In our home! The plan is, on Christmas Eve, we will go to Skerries and have dinner with my parents. Then we will head home to our doggies and spend the night of Christmas Eve in our own place. On Christmas morning, we cook breakfast together and exchange gifts, then later that day we will go to my parents house for Christmas dinner before then heading over to Dylan’s family and spending some time with them. On Christmas night, we always have our friends over and enjoy some nibbles and drinks. It’s of my favourite times of the the year and it’s extra special this year.”
When I ask what’s on her wish list for Santa, I’m surprised at how low-key her answer is. “
I would love a good pair of wireless headphones. Dylan usually falls asleep first at night whereas I’d be more of a night owl and love staying up watching a good box set, so I’m on the hunt for wireless headphones so I don’t have to keep the TV volume low!” I guess this answers the age old question of what you get the girl that has everything.
And that’s the thing about Suzanne. Despite the millions of page impressions on her social media every week, all the followers and the fame here at home, she is actually pretty low key and all about her family. It’s not every day she’s glammed up to the nines, and she works feckin’ hard. That’s why I like her, and I’m sure that’s why a lot of you do too. So don’t go changing, Sue. And we hope you get your wireless headphones from Santa.
Photography by Lili Forberg
Styled by Linda Conway
Hair by Gerard McLoughlin of Preen
Makeup by Michelle Montgomery
This article first appeared in the December issue of STELLAR Magazine. Our January issue is on shelves now.
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