NJMOMpreneur: Kelli Suozzo, Bowerbird Interior Design, Rumson


New Jersey is home to many ambitious and talented women who juggle family, career, and home. A select few of these women are also extremely busy building their own companies to help better manage the balance of work and family. At NJMOM, we want to highlight these extraordinary women who build businesses in New Jersey, and learn the secret to their success.

Owner of BOWERBIRD & NJMOMpreneur:
Kelli Suozzo

At the start of her journey, Kelli Suozzo didn’t realize that her bustling careers in advertising and public relations would nurture her true entrepreneurial and creative spirit. After finding her passion for interior design, returning back to school, and working under some of the biggest names in the business, Kelli founded BOWERBIRD. Specializing in “sophisticated yet functional” spaces, her taste is modern, clean, and original. When she’s not expanding her brand, consulting with clients, and spending time with her husband and two little ones, Kelli finds the time to give back to her community. Drawing from her family’s own experience with ovarian cancer, Kelli and her sister were inspired and compelled to create the nonprofit organization, Oceans Of Hope. Since then, they have successfully raised over $300,000 towards ovarian cancer research. Kelli’s journey is a story of creative growth, ambition, and proof that putting in hard work can turn a passion into reality.

NJMOM got the scoop on what it took for Kelli to turn her dreams into her own full-fledged interior design business, how her mother’s meaning of “home” became a driving force behind her success, and her own family’s favorite adventures around New Jersey.

Kelli Suozzo, Owner of BOWERBIRD. Photo via Stacy Lyle Photography

NJMOM: What do you offer your clients and how is it different from other professionals in your field?
Kelli: There are so many talented designers in this immediate area and beyond. BOWERBIRD offers a different, and perhaps more urban, perspective and eclectic edge. Our effortless vibe is laid back and livable, but always infused with a sophistication that is timeless. We strongly believe that this mix is what makes things authentic and interesting, and keeps a room from feeling flat. While we obviously design and redo interior rooms, we also love to join our clients at the beginning of construction projects to help visualize the entire space from the early architectural stages right through to the decorating part.

Photo via David Appel Photo

NJMOM: What inspired you to get into your line of work?
Kelli: Ever since I was young, I’ve been inspired by design and beautiful things. I received a Bachelors of Fine Arts from University of Maryland then worked as an account manager in advertising and public relations. I was always watching others do the creating and finally decided that I wanted to roll up my sleeves and be the one creating. Before my children were born, I went back to school at New York School of Interior Design and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made.

NJMOM: What is your favorite part about your business?
Kelli: My favorite part about this job is helping clients transform their house into a home. It’s been amazing to work with so many different people and watch their families grow over the years. I feel grateful for those who have trusted us – clients who feel like family that gave me a chance at my first projects and those who have continued to allow us back into their lives to see their tribe grow with new babies, new houses, teen bedrooms, and new adventures. We love seeing happy clients and their families and friends enjoying the spaces we’ve created for them. Above all, I feel blessed that I get to wake up to an exciting new project every day and be creative doing something I truly love!

NJMOM: What is your background in your business expertise?
Kelli: Starting my career in advertising and PR helped me tremendously in learning how to manage and interact with clients, timelines, scheduling, and budgets. While the common perception is that interior design is all glam, a huge portion of our job is managing these crucial day-to-day details. From my ad days, I also took away the value of building a strong brand and how important that is, no matter what your business.

NJMOM: What are you most proud of in your career?
Kelli: We put 100% of our heart and soul into every project we touch and I am proud of the work the BOWERBIRD team produces on a daily basis. I am also proud of having the courage to leave a successful career in advertising and public relations and make the leap into Interior Design. Then, after working under a few high profile designers, having the courage again to branch out on my own – I love growing our team and watching them develop with the business.

NJMOM: What is something few people know about you?
Kelli: Few people know that I secretly dream about owning a restaurant or hotel. In addition to travel, I am so passionate about the entire food journey – from growing it and cooking it to curating the experience of eating it. The menu, setting, and company all contribute to such wonderful feelings and memorable moments. To design a space able to deliver on these things would be amazing and I can’t think of a better way to have my favorite worlds collide.

NJMOM: What can we expect from you in 2018?
Kelli: Professionally, you will see a continued expansion of the BOWERBIRD brand. With more projects happening in North Jersey and all the way out to Montauk, we’re spreading our wings further and further on the East Coast. I also hope to push the envelope a bit more, to take more risks and venture outside of my (and my clients’) comfort zone. One of the challenges in this business is getting a client to trust you on the crazier ideas. And when you do, wow. That’s where the magic happens!

Personally, I hope to continue to travel with my family. Not only do I love the adventure and family time, but traveling is also a huge source of inspiration I can apply to my work.

NJMOM: What is charity are you most passionate about?
Kelli: The charity that I’m most passionate about is something near and dear to my heart: Oceans of Hope. Eight years ago, my sister and I started OOH to raise money and awareness for ovarian cancer after we lost three aunts to this horrible disease. In that time, we have worked tirelessly to raise almost $300,000 for ovarian cancer. Every year in September, I co-chair the Annual Oceans of Hope Walk in Avon, New Jersey, followed by a family luncheon at Deal Golf and Country Club to raise money and honor the three women who are no longer with us.

NJMOM: Who is your role model?
Kelli: My mother definitely instilled in me the meaning of home. While our home growing up was beautiful, it certainly wasn’t fancy or overly ‘decorated’. She made it a place where love and memories were (and still are) made—a place where people instantly feel welcome and where you just want to be.

Good design should not only look beautiful, but also authentically reflect the people in it and their life well lived.

I’m continually inspired by my sister, as well as my amazing group of friends who are out there making things happen in the worlds of beauty, fashion, for our schools and in PR. Seeing them rocking it pushes me to do more and be better every day.

Photo via McKayla Prestininzi Photography

NJMOM: What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
Kelli: One of the best pieces of work advice that I was given came from my husband, Chris, who told me to figure out what I’m good at and focus on that. You can always hire people to do the rest. It’s the only way you will ever grow. As soon as I took his advice is when BOWERBIRD really started to fly.

NJMOM: Do you have a favorite quote you live by?
Kelli: My favorite quote is, “Be responsible for the energy you bring into the space.” I say this all the time to my children because it is so important each and every second of your day. I truly believe that you can change the vibe of the room, not only with decor but with your energy, too. I also strongly believe that what you put out into the world is what you get back.

NJMOM: What are your favorite things to do in New Jersey with your family?
Kelli: Summer is totally our season! We live within walking distance of the beach and come Memorial Day, we typically stay very close to home. You’ll find us fishing at the end of our street, paddle boarding in the neighborhood pond, riding into Sea Bright to exercise, grabbing dinner at Woody’s Ocean Grille or Angelica’s Restaurant and stopping for ice cream at Gracie and the Dudes. We have found ourselves in a truly magical spot and I feel so grateful that my children get to grow up here.

NJMOM: What is the best part about being a mom?
Kelli: My two little people continue to amaze me each and every day! I love to watch them learn, grow, travel, and discover new things. They are both so adventurous, each in their own special way and it’s mind blowing that we have a role in shaping this. When I’m confused or overwhelmed by some sort of work pressure, I think of both of them and it always helps anchor me back to what really matters.

NJMOM: What are your favorite businesses in New Jersey?
Kelli: I love going down to Asbury Park to shop at Red Moon, eat brunch at Talula’s and have dinner at Barrio Costero. Locally, I ride my bike into Sea Bright for a class at Perspirology or to my friend Ginger’s spin class at AB Fitness. Melonhead is a favorite for a juice or acai bowl. I also love to lunch at the French Market or Seed to Sprout. Of course, Rook is a serious addiction, too!

NJMOM: Where do you reside and vacation in New Jersey?
Kelli: We live in Rumson, right over the bridge from Sea Bright. We feel like we’re on vacation all year long here! When we do venture out, we’ll visit friends down in Mantoloking.

NJMOM: What advice would you give a fellow NJMOMpreneur who is just starting out?
Kelli: My advice to any mom starting a new business is, first and foremost, congratulations! I think one of the best things you can do for your children is to provide a positive role model and example, whether you are busting your butt at home, volunteering at school, or working outside the home. My children respect that I go to work every day and they know they have a mother who loves what she does. With that, the struggle is real. It’s always a challenge juggling a business, family, and a social life. I truly don’t think you can be amazing at everything all at once; everyone has their days where they’re a rockstar at work but not so great at home, or vice versa. It’s all okay – tomorrow’s another day.

To learn more about BOWERBIRD, visit their website and follow along on Instagram.

{cover photo via Christopher James Photography}

About Author

Chelsea is a freelance writer and photographer based in the kid-friendly community of Asbury Park, and she loves sharing tips and news about this cultural beach town with NJMOM readers. When she's not discovering new bike trails, playing in her handbell choir, or reading on the beach, Chelsea works as a Children's Library Associate at a public library. You can catch her out in Asbury Park watching her husband play drums with talented local artists - be sure to come say hello!