The presence of illness in the family can definitely change our perspective in life. In this episode, host Greta Gasparian interviews Suzy Sogoyan, the Cofounder of the jewelry brand IceLink, about her startup struggles and challenges in caring for her son battling leukemia. Suzy shares the amazing moments she had with people who supported her and her son towards healing. With what she has been through, it was normal for Suzy to question God. As she shares how her faith was lost and how prayer gave her the strength for her son, she offers her advice to other moms who are going through the same situation as she is.
Listen to the podcast here:
Suzy Sogoyan- IceLink Co-Founder Shares Startup Struggles + Son’s Leukemia Battle
I’d like to introduce you to Suzy Sogoyan, the Cofounder behind the incredible jewelry brand, IceLink. Welcome, Suzy.
I’ve known Suzy for quite some time. We started following each other on social media several years ago. It turns out our husbands are friends. Then we started seeing each other in social settings. That’s the best part of social media. I tell you that every single time we meet because it’s incredible how many great relationships I’ve personally formed with people through social media. I’m sure you can relate. It’s a blessing and a curse in some way. I know people who follow you feel like they know you. I know this because I’ve talked to many people who follow you and I feel the same way when I follow you. You’re a huge inspiration to Armenian women in general. I want to pick your brain a little bit. I want to talk to you, get to know you. Tell me how you got your start at IceLink.
I was a senior in high school. I went to Bell–Jeff. My dad has been in jewelry for several years, mass production, jewelry, chains, 14 karat gold, like in the gold market business. I remember he came up to me once and he was like, “You’re about to graduate high school, what are you going to major in? What‘s your goal? What do you want to do? Business, right?” That’s what he told me, “Marketing, right?” Nudging me in that direction. I did see myself always doing something in marketing. At that time, we didn’t have social media and all these things. I can’t remember when Myspace came about, but it was more like journalism.
I knew I wanted to be in that field. I’m telling my dad, “I’m going to go to Woodbury. I’m going to major in Business, minor in Marketing.” He’s like, “I have this idea. I feel like I can mix jewelry and watches into one and make him like cool.” At that time, 2003 or 2002, it was when all the bling–bling was going on. Those on bling–bling in every song. He’s like, “I can make watches for those guys. I can do all of that. I want to put diamonds in them. I want to put floating diamonds in them. I can do so many crazy things.” My dad is a doer. He’s one of those not afraid to try new things. He was like, “I want to start a brand. It’s going to be called IceLink. You can come work here.” The rest is history. It happened and I started going there after school. It started off with me organizing and me tagging products. We had a whole team of people. I’m this little sixteen–year–old and I’m only going there after school. I worked all of the summer before I started Woodbury. I started Woodbury and I had classes. I would take classes like three days and the other two to three days, I would go to downtown. We were at downtown at that time.
I watched my dad take nothing and build a brand. It was at a time when there was no social media. You had PR companies. You had cheesy gifting sweets. You gifted 100 celebrities at the same time. They took pictures in easy little ways and it worked. It was so easy and not that it was easy, he hustled. He opened up 400 retail doors in the US within one year. It was a great time. From 2003 to 2006, it was a beautiful time, money-making time. IceLink was flourishing. We were everywhere on every celebrity’s wrists, on every red carpet, Paris Hilton. It was that good time and then the crash, the recession. When I’m finally graduating Woodbury, ready to take on the reins, then there’s no business, everything is slowing down.
We had made these marketing efforts to go more high–end in luxury because when we first started, we had mid-range watches. We were in the doors. We got the 6 Time Zone watch and all these retailers in Dubai and Ukraine, these high–end retailers wanted to carry our line. We spent all this money to brand and go luxury and the market crushed. I was graduating Woodbury and I was about to take on the reins. It’s like there’s nothing. It’s a crazy stop to everything. Long story short, I was able to rebrand the business. I was pregnant with Christian when I did all of that. I was pregnant with Christian when I was working on the relaunch of the 6 Time Zone in the Affordable Collection, the Gen 6TZ line, which was me taking my dad’s super $20,000 line and making it $700 to $900. That was going to be a huge rebranding thing for us. New imagery, new website, bringing eCommerce into the game, which changed obviously everything and social media content. My belly was growing as all of that was happening. Christian was born in 2015 June and we launched in October. It was a crazy time in my life.
I don’t know how you did it. I was nested all my pregnancy.
I didn’t and I feel like that’s why Christian is so hyper because I was nonstop while I was pregnant.
I was so Zen. I was like, “I don’t want to work.” I didn’t work at all. I was psycho–nauseous for the first four months and I couldn’t keep my head out of the toilet. Something in me said, “Don’t do anything.” I also had the luxury to do that. I followed my gut and I was very Zen about it. You’re amazing. I can’t even imagine doing that.
I had the energy, it’s weird. I was good and I had to do it. It was like, “Do this or close IceLink because we’re not going to sell $20,000 watches right now.”
What gave you the idea to rebrand or what gave you the idea to specifically do the 6 Time Zone watch and rebrand that?
The 6 Time Zone watch, my dad created that a long time ago. It started off with diamonds $20,000 and up. I was like, “I either come up with brand new collections, brand it from scratch or I can take something that works for us and that people are loving and wanting so badly.” I would wear the watch because I couldn’t afford it, but I could wear it because it’s my dad’s line. My peers would see it and they would be like, “How much does that cost?” I’m like, “$7,000.” I was thinking, “Why not take something that people have been wanting for so long and make it accessible because it’s super unique?” I feel like it’s not just us, like Gucci did that, all the luxury brands started coming out with $400 shoes and all these things. Back in the day, you couldn’t get anything for less than $10,000. I feel like we’re still a luxury brand, but obviously more accessible and bringing cool new products.
If you follow IceLink, she’s always coming out with nice dainty designs and stuff that us women are attracted to and love.
Dainty yet strong and still unique, I try to come out with things that not flooded in the market.
Talking about Christian, tell me how it was like when he was born. How did motherhood change you?
It so completely changed everything. He was the light of our lives, the first grandchild on both sides. Was that for you too?
No, not for me but definitely I can relate.
Having a child makes you want to work harder because people are like, “How are we going to do all of this when you have a child?” It’s weird. It gives you a boost. You’re doing it for someone else. It’s not just about you.
I had a little bit of postpartum depression for a few months and that was the hardest thing for me to go through. The minute I came out of that, it was like, “What are you doing now for the rest of your life?” It put my entire life into perspective. All these years, all these ideas I had, I wanted to do but never did, completely everything I thought about put into perspective. Honestly, he gave me the push to start Plan Chicly. I have to dedicate that business to him because he gave me that strength. Here’s a fun fact. Before I got pregnant, I had a whole other concept of a business, which I was going to call Chicly, oddly enough. The minute I found out I was pregnant, I dropped it. I had samples and everything ready and I dropped it. I’m good at listening to my gut and something inside of me was like, “It’s not the time.” It wasn’t because now, here I am on a whole other path. For those of you who don’t follow Suzy, it’s a little bit of a tough subject for anybody to talk about. Thank you so much for even being open to talking about it. Her son was diagnosed with leukemia when he was fifteen months. Tell us how you found out.
It was September 14 of 2016. It was a little bit after his first birthday and all. I don’t want to get into the signs and all of that because I explained to you that. I want all parents to know that getting blood work is the most important thing. If something is off, get blood work, ask for blood work. I don’t like to get into signs because I don’t want to freak anyone out and say like, “He was weak.” Every time you see your child is weak, you’re going to think like, “Something is terribly wrong.” I’ve had a couple of DMs like that and it’s like, “No, just go get checked.“ I was getting ready to go to the Beyoncé concert. He kept holding his ears, so I think he has an ear infection. Something in my gut told me not to go to the concert. It’s weird how that happens when they say that mother instinct and all of that. Long story short, something in my gut told me to take him to the doctors. He got blood work done. They sent us to the ER and all of that happened that day. He was confirmed two days later with a biopsy. Our lives turned upside down and inside out. It was the craziest thing ever. I’ll never be the same person again after that. I blocked that time out.
We all do that with trauma. We don’t want to remember any of that because it’s too hard.
I knew I was going to talk about this, so I started thinking about it. I was like, “We went through a lot.” When you look back, you’re like, “How did I climb out of that?”
You don’t have a choice and it’s your kid’s life on the line. After that initial shock of, “What?” it’s like, “What’s next?”
It’s weird because we were at the hospital from that day that we were there, the day of the concert. I had to go to a Beyoncé concert lately and it brought back so many memories. I was like, “I’m going to try to go and conquer this fear,“ because you know how you remember things. I’m like, “Do I want to go to a Beyoncé concert?” It reminds me of that time again. It was 60 days that we were at the hospital before we could even go home. I literally had a calendar and whoever followed me on Snapchat knows I was crossing off the days of that calendar. In that calendar I received were lists of surgeries and treatments that my little child had to get. I’m like, “What the heck?” He’s a strong boy.If something is off, just get a blood work. Click To Tweet
First of all, I heard through the grapevine. For some reason my instincts said, “Can you ask your husband?” which is my husband, because he knows everybody, “He has to know her husband somehow.” I don’t think I even knew that they knew each other back then. I was like, “I heard Suzy, I don’t know if you know her. She’s the cofounder of IceLink. I heard her son has leukemia.“ I was scrambling and I had only known you through social media. We had never met. I didn’t even have your number. Once it was confirmed, I vividly remember the picture you posted of his little finger wrapped around yours and you said, “We got this.” The minute I saw that picture, I ran to church and I lit a candle for him.
That time it taught me that there’s good in life. I had Snapchat and I had a lot of followers. My good amount are close people that I share things with and the prayers were flooding in. Everyone was going to church. I don’t think I’ve felt that much worry from people like. It was crazy to me that so many people and strangers could do this. Everyone tells you like, “How are you going to handle it?” You get into mom mode and you figure things out. They say that about sleepless nights and all these things but no one warns you about like, “Trauma can come anytime.” It’s weird that those days that I was in the hospital, I didn’t have a moment where I broke. I was in full survival instinct mode, “Get it done. What’s next? Learn every medical phrase that I need to learn, learn about the side effects, learn about what I can do to make it better and learn about his diet.” I after I left is when I crushed. That came later. You know when there’s a death and you don’t feel it until later? They tell you, “You don’t feel it yet. You haven’t processed it yet.” You’re like, “I’ll process this later.“ It was the same like that. I didn‘t process it then.
I can’t be sad, cry, sleep and get depressed. I have so many things to do. I need to watch him every second while the nurses are coming in and out. I need to be aware of every single thing that is going inside of his body. I need to know everything. I need to be alert 100%. I was so on it and I didn’t let anyone get in my way. You know how Armenians are. In the Armenian culture, people are dramatic as hell and they are invasive and negative. I’m the one going through it and I’m giving you hope that everything is going to be okay. Anyone who would come and had that negative thing, I was like, “Please leave.” I didn’t care that I was going to hurt anyone because I couldn’t have that negativity around me, my husband and my child. He needed to see me in positive spirits. Believe me when I say that there were times that I would want to cry and break down and I would literally run out of the room and go to the public bathroom, not the bathroom in our room because I did not want him to see me like that because he vibe off of me. It was crazy.
We went through a lot and so many treatments for such a little body. One thing that I learned is one, Armenians can be invasive. Not everyone was truly coming there to visit us for the right reasons. Some people are nosy. The rest of my family were bringing Christian organic soups because he was on a strict diet. Everyone would come over like my mom, my sisters-in-law, my brother’s wife’s mom, my aunt, everyone would come and take the diet piece of paper, take it home, come back with so much food. My mom would come with the sweeper and a mop and make sure that the room is clean, dusted and sanitized until the end. I don’t know what I would do without my mom. My mom, my aunt and my grandma were there every single day. They would come and I would literally go have my Starbucks, watch an episode of something on Netflix and come back after an hour. At least I could go away for an hour. That’s still something.
That hour keeps you a little sane and gets your mind off of what you’re going through. That one hour is important.
The support from my family and I would see the other patients and no one had that. I not only had like the physical support, but I had everyone on Snapchat and Instagram praying and giving me all that positive energy and push that we’re going to get through this.
Did it help you?
Beyond and I know social media has a lot of negative that comes with it, all the pressure, all the competitiveness. The good thing that it brings is in times like this, there’s massive support and the fact that I was able to start Christian’s Toy Drive and raise money for kids in Armenia who can’t afford.
Suzy is doing something incredibly amazing with the journey. I’m so inspired that you found that strength within yourself because as any mom who can close their eyes and imagine, you can’t hold back your tears imagining something like that happening to your child, especially a child so young like that.
People always send me messages like, “You’re so strong. You’re positive.” It’s not always. I’ve gone through much stuff with Chris. It’s hard. He’s my kid. It’s life. He’s not the only child going through it. There are many kids who are going through it. As a mom, you’ve got to do what you got to do.
What do you think is the one thing that helped you get through it? Was it positivity, God?
I almost lost my faith.
You’re questioning, “Why me? Why my kid?”
One of the moms helped me so much. Her son was diagnosed. My father-in-law knew them and some of my cousins’ cousins knew her. She had gone through it. She was still in the middle of it, but she had gone through most of the hard times because it’s a three-and-a-half-year treatment for boys. I remember it was two weeks in and I spoke to her. I started talking to her continuously. I was like, “They brought me this piece of paper and they told me that he’s going to start a new chemo. I’m reading the list of side effects. The side effects say this and this.” Literally the side effects are telling you the worst things ever. She’s like, “Read it, pray, throw it away, everything will be fine. They come in and they tell you all those things. You pray and believe it, believe everything is going to be okay and it will.” That’s what I would do and it was so weird how the prayer would calm me. There’s a church at Cedars. I would go there every single day. There’s a universal for all religions. It’s crazy that we’re all in there. It doesn’t matter, we’re all fighting for the same thing, health.
I can’t believe we have to fight for something like that.
I would go there every single morning and there was a man who would sit there and the little journal and he would literally write. He wouldn’t give that book to anyone. It’s where you write your wishes to God. I would go on there and read after he left. It was wishes for his wife to be well. That man would be sitting there at the same time I was there. In general, during this process I met so many different people, breast cancer, different things with children and adults. It doesn’t matter. The people that I was connecting with were the positive ones because the negative ones were in their room, not wanting to communicate with anyone else, which is understandable. You’re going through so many things.
That’s when I realized, “I could be miserable and complain all the time and keep asking why did this happen or I can be like everyone else who’s trying to make the best of it. They’re trying to make the best of their time here so that they can get out and continue with their life.” I found strength through God. Once I started praying again, I started connecting with the nurses. Everything started flowing better. I needed the faith back. I feel like when I lost the faith a little bit at the beginning days, I fell apart and when I started praying again, it called me enough for me to slow down and be calm with the nurses, be calm with the other patients there and connect. The connection helped me.
What was it like to work? Were you working during this time?
It was a hot mess. People don’t see that stuff. Thank God I had the best assistant at the time. I still keep in touch with her. She was running errands for me like no tomorrow and everything. It’s your business and you’re not there. It’s tough. I’ll never forget this, two weeks in and I was in the parents’ lounge and getting tea. My dad walked in. He was like, “You’re here.” He gave me a hug. He was like, “What can I do for you? What can I do to make it better?” He doesn’t talk about emotions and things like this. He’s like, “Pay your bills,” or something. He’s like, “Tell me.” I’m like, “I can use my laptop.” He’s like, “You don’t have to work. You don’t have to. I got it. Don’t worry.” He’s thinking I’m saying it for him. All these tasks are left about. I’m like, “No. I want to do so work emails, Excels. I need it. I want it.”
Did it feel like an escape for you in a way?
I noticed then how much I love work. It’s not only an escape, I love it. It‘s a huge part of my life. Even through that I’m like, “I want it. I crave it. I need it.”
What is your work on? Were you designing things?
It took me a while to get creative again. I lost my creative mojo for a little bit. I first started getting back into emails, getting back into clerical things and stuff like that. Once we got home and once I started going back to work, I started to get a little bit my mojo back.
How do you feel like this whole experience has changed you for the better and for the worse?
On my Stories, I asked, “What is your purpose?” I think we don’t really think about that. Everyone says that we want to help people. I feel like the way in which I help people, judging from my DMs and stuff like that, is I’m very open about my mistakes, my vulnerabilities, bad things in my life, not so perfect things in my life. Every time I am, I feel like I give courage to those to do the same.Connecting with people around you gives you a better flow in life. Click To Tweet
I felt that same thing. I know exactly what you’re talking about. It could be so small as I’m struggling with losing weight. You get so many DMs. I’m very open with it.
I don’t think you realize how open you are until you get the DMs and you’re like, “I didn’t realize I’m being so open.“
I tell myself every time, this all happened after Levon and I don’t know, something shifted in me. I feel like that happens a lot with moms that something shifts in you. I became very vulnerable and I was like, “I’m fat. I have a double chin. What do you want me to do?“ I can either be real about it and tell people and share it and it might help somebody or inspire somebody, or I could sit at home and be self-conscious and not want to take pictures. I did do that for a while. I let myself live through that traumatic time or that self-conscious time. People probably noticed that when I go MIA because I’m dealing with something. I come back stronger and I’m opening. I opened up about it and people go, “I’ve been going through the same things and I haven’t had anyone to talk to.” “Talk to me. Tell me, let me help you. This helped me or this didn’t help me. Don’t bother with this.“
People crave that connection. When you are vulnerable and you’ve shared this entire process with Christian and you talk about so many amazing things and so many bad things that you’ve gone through and how you’ve came out of it and people connect with you like that. You have to be vulnerable because we’re all human. I don’t care if you’re black, Asian or white. We all go through the same struggles and we all have different perspectives. Three different people can say something right the same way, but it’s the way you might word it that might catch me. I might listen to you even though I’ve heard it three other times and that’s important.
If you have a platform and you want to do good and you want to be vulnerable and you’re scared, don’t be. There might be some people who might roll their eyes or whatever, that’s a given in life. I’m happy that you’re that person. It’s important especially because you have a platform and especially because it’s helpful. You don’t know how many women you’ve helped. You don’t know how many moms who have gone through this who have went and checked their kid and maybe they had another issue. I applaud you for that because it takes bravery to do that.
In general, I can only speak for the Armenian culture because I am Armenian. We like to hide problems, not just us but I can only speak for ourselves. It’s crazy. I was talking about something that I purchased for Christian like the Dome. I started talking about how we’re building his fingers strength and feet strength because chemo knocks out your joints. When I started talking about it, many moms DM-ed me that their child has sensory delays, developmental delays that affect their fingers and here are the toys. You don’t need to be open about everything. Many people DM-ed me like, “Thank you for talking about this because no one ever talks about that. Everyone talks the posts of like the milestones, “My child is walking. My child is speaking.” No one ever says like, “My child is delayed.” That’s so true.
It’s a tough pill to swallow as a parent. You don’t want to admit that your kid is behind on something.
I don’t have a problem with that. I feel like maybe I would have, but because Christian has gone through so much and his life was at risk. The fact that his life was at risk, everything else seems so small that I’m like, “He’s a child.”
I‘m also very logical. No two children are made the same. No two children will talk at one or walk at one. I’m logical in the sense that, “It’s okay that Levon spoke a little later or he did this later. He had his teeth later.” Parents should stop judging themselves or their children for stuff like that because it makes your life worse.
It’s hard not to judge yourself when you go on social and everyone’s raving and not talking truthfully about things.
It’s hard to filter that out. How do you think it has changed you for the better or for the worse?
For the better, they say cancer is bittersweet. It puts life into perspective. It makes you appreciate every single moment. I swear I’m not being cheesy. I wake up every morning like, “Thank you, Lord. I woke up now. I have a job. I can go to work. My child is smiling. I have a sitter. I can afford it.” I’m literally grateful for every breath that I take and for every single moment. I’m human. I get annoyed sometimes I get this, but I truly live in the present. I enjoy every little thing. I’m happy to be alive. I’m happy to be living after all that stuff that’s happened.
That happens after any trauma you go through. That happened to me after my dad passed away. When girlfriends would complain about something, I’m like, “Are you joking? Be grateful you have a husband, he’s alive, healthy and you’re healthy.” When you go through trauma, whether it’s life or death, it’s a huge game changer. It changes you to your core. You’ll never ever be the same person.
As far as the worst goes, I’m more paranoid. Every little cough sneeze, I’m like, “What’s going on?” My husband is annoyed at that, “You’re psychotic. You’re crazy.” I’m extremely alert. Sometimes I let it get the best of me and I know that and I’m aware of that and I have to apologize after. I have to literally be like, “I’m sorry, but I have PTSD.“ I have to see someone for it. I’ve gotten therapy, but I feel like I need to see a PTSD specialist because I visualize bad things.
I have that same problem. It makes me wake up at the middle of the night.
I’m sure all moms have that.
I would assume most people do, but mine is like insane. I can visually see it happening and that terrifies me. Birth for me was traumatic. For a long time, until now, I‘m scared to get pregnant again. I can only imagine what that feels like for you. It was traumatic. Seeking a therapist for that specifically would be definitely helpful. The paranoia, most moms have it, but I’m sure it’s worse for you. I can only imagine. If Levon has a fever, I’m like, “Why does he have a fever?” I‘ll literally take him to Urgent Care. My husband is like, “He’s teething.” I’m like, “I need to make sure he’s teething.” I took him to the doctor three times for an ear infection. My husband was like, “I’m not coming with you. I know he’s fine.” I’m like, “You don’t have to. I’m still taking him to Urgent Care.“ I was there three times in one week. The doctors were like, “He has an ear infection.” He dumbed it down. I’m like, “No, but he’s been on antibiotics for three days. It should be better. I feel like he’s worse.” I’m a little too much I feel or people tell me I’m too much. I’d rather be safe than sorry because I just rather. I feel like the next question is, what is one advice you would give to a mom who might be going through such an unfortunate circumstance?
Definitely talk to other moms who are going through the same thing. That helped me tremendously. If you are going through anything like that, my Instagram is @SuzySogoyan, definitely reach out to me. That’s one of the good things that happened. A lot of moms were able to reach out to me. I never thought that when he was diagnosed that I can do what the moms did for me. I was like, “I’m never going to be as strong as them.” You get through it and have faith if that works for you. Definitely talking to someone who’s been through it and can walk you through it because it’s a lot. That helps a lot.
Do you have to teach yourself things? What did you have to teach yourself?
I had to inject at home. He had a PICC line so I had to flush his PICC line every day. I had to know about all the side effects and everything. That’s a lot.
What do you think was the hardest part? Is it his diet?
Watching him get the side effects was the hardest part. Him being nauseated, those were the hardest parts. He’s a tough cookie.
He is, thank you God. I feel like the positivity around you, your family and random people being so positive and praying is a big thing.
He’ll forget, we’ll remember.Cancer makes you appreciate every single moment. Click To Tweet
Thank God, he’s okay. How is he doing now? Tell us that.
He’s good. He started daycare. It’s exciting. He was in isolation for a very long time. He’s obviously delayed because he has not seen kids or been around kids. That is one of the hardest things we went through because I couldn’t go to events. I couldn’t go to anyone’s house. For a while, his immune system was so low from the chemo that he couldn’t be around anyone. Slowly, it was one child at a time and all these things, but now he’s okay. He’s in maintenance. He gets monthly treatments and hopefully by next year we’ll be done, fingers crossed. He’s doing good. He’s feisty. He throws tantrums. He’s energetic.
Does that make you happy? I feel like that would make me happy.
Yes. Since at the hospital he was so quiet and sweet, I would almost want it to be like, “I wish he was a bad kid.” You don’t want them to be so sweet. You don’t want them to be feisty and energetic. Now, I’m paying for that, “Why did I say that?”
My mother-in-law always tells me, “Be grateful your kids running around screaming and pissing you off.” I’m like, “You’re so right.” Because anytime they’re sick, I’m sad when he’s sick, I’m depressed. I go through the same thing. If he has an ear infection, I have an ear infection. I can’t work.
I know, when Christian’s sick, I’m depressed too. I feel you.
Talk to us about the journey and how all that came to be and what we can do to help.
I met Taguhi from the journey before Christian’s diagnosis. When I created that line, the 6 Time Zone, it was the Moscow edition. It always had the New York, Moscow, Tokyo and the home zone. I had this idea, “There’s this girl, Taguhi, she has the journey. She’s helping out the soldier’s families.” We started donating 15% of proceeds from the Yerevan Edition watches which said Yerevan instead of Moscow to the soldiers’ families that at that time was like the war in Armenia and everything. After Christian was diagnosed, it all started because after a month when we went home, they called us and told us that Christian is cancer–free. Kids usually are cancer–free, leukemia–free within a month. The rest is maintenance. It’s still hard but at least it’s gone.
The day that we found that out, my mom’s like, “Let’s make a donation,“ and I said, “Yes, I want to make a donation and help another child in need.” Taguhi is in Armenia. Maybe she can go to like the cancer center for the kids over there and sponsor a child anonymously or something. I called her, “I want to donate some money and how much would it cost to do like a course of chemo for a child?” She said, “Approximately $1,000.” I said, “I’d like to make that donation.” She reached out. She told the child. She posted it. She got flooded with DMs of people who wanted to help children in Armenia. It snowballed into this huge thing. That year we did Christian’s Toy Drive. We collected toys. Taguhi is amazing. She physically took toys to the cancer center in Armenia.
They record all this. You know your money is going where they say it is.
She has to pay for extra luggage. She gets the receipts for those. She sends me receipts of the chemotherapy that is purchased. I speak to all of the parents and I know that the chemo is being delivered. They are being taken care of and that they’re not paying for transportation back and forth because they have to drive to the pharmacy and pick it up themselves. Everything is documented and everything is recorded. All of the parents are beyond thankful that they have this help. Christian‘s Toy Drive year one, we did $8,000 but year three we did $40,000. It was $20,000-something on the second year. We’ve been literally doubling.
Taguhi went to Armenia. She threw a huge party for the children who were done with treatments. They have all the little characters and everything like that and open up their toys there. We had so many toys that she literally went to other hospitals that are not cancer patients. It was to the point where the moms were seeing Taguhi and crying because they thought their child had a cancer. She’s like, “I didn’t think it through,“ but she said, “We had so many toys. We were dropping off toys in the elevator and everything.” That’s how many toys. It was unbelievable. It turned into this huge thing. We’ll do Christian‘s Toy Drive again. We don’t have a date yet but basically, it’s a day where we all get together. We bring toys. We tell everyone to bring one toy, everyone brings twenty toys.
We have amazing raffle items. This is what social media does. I say, “We’re doing Christian’s Toy Drive,” and I get 100 amazing raffle donations. It’s beyond amazing, which helps us raise much money. That’s going to happen. I will announce those things on my Instagram and on Taguhi’s. She has a GoFundMe link for the kids on her page. You can always donate. Right now, she used the money from Christian’s Toy Drive. She sent me the amount to buy a year’s worth of chemo from Germany, which is kept in a huge ice chest, so that they don’t have to go to the pharmacy. They literally go to their office, pick it up and take it to the hospital. That expires in 2020. The chemo is literally one or two kinds. They basically bought a bulk of it, which saved money. We were able to buy a bunch for the kids. It’s accessible because the volunteers are amazing. They literally drive out far and they keep going in and coming.
For those of you who don’t know, Armenia is still a third world country. These things are not accessible to people who can’t afford it.
You have to buy your own chemo. You have to go to the pharmacy yourself. Here, I am so lucky. Even all the crap we went through, I am like, “We’re here. You need blood, they bring blood. You need platelets, they bring platelets.” I was a mom who read all the labels.
Could you imagine that you didn’t have the opportunity or the luxury to save your child’s life with chemo? They don’t. That’s so heartbreaking. That’s why I’m so proud of you for doing something amazing for other people.
Everyone reached out and did it. They did it for me.
Thank you so much for every person who donated. Thank you so much, Suzy. Thank you for coming on. Thank you for sharing your story. Tell everybody where they can follow you.
We’ll talk to you soon.
About Suzy Sogoyan
With a passion for business and a knack for style, Suzy Sogoyan is the epitome of a young, fashionable, businesswoman hungry for success and prestige. Suzy’s industry acumen and appreciation for luxury accessories were developed at an early age, when she persuaded her father to let her work on a developing project of his: luxury gemstone watches.
Suzy’s father, Andy Sogoyen, launched IceLink in 2003 to incorporate his expertise in jewelry into watches and craft pieces that celebrate life without boundaries, luxury without modesty. At just 16 years old, Suzy began taking on responsibilities for the company, which eventually shaped her future education and career choices. After high school she went on to graduate from Woodbury University with a Masters in Business Administration and returned to IceLink to continue to grow the business she and her father started together. Now,, she serves as the company’s creative director and owner.
Having literally grown up with the brand, Suzy has been an integral force in the brand’s direction and identity since day one. As Director of Brand Development, Suzy ensures that the essence of IceLink – pride, beauty, and luxury – is at the forefront of every step the brand takes, including working with press, celebrities, and special events.
Suzy comes from a family of extremely dedicated, hard-working individuals, a trait that was certainly not lost on her. She has distinguished herself as a quick-witted, astute woman within a male-dominated industry, all while wearing stilettos. She understands style and class, but more importantly, how to run a successful business.
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