Buffalo Boss Babes: Carmina Suzanne
Todays Buffalo Boss Babe is Carmina Suzanne the owner behind MODAL Productions -- a consulting firm proudly located in Buffalo with clients around the world, specializing in personalized, one-on-one fashion and music mentorship, as well as diversity advocacy, life coaching, writing, event management, public speaking and more -- is producing CURVES RISING in October, a boot camp and workshop for aspiring curvy models in WNY! They are having sessions on professional development, runway training, approaching agencies, self-love & health, and more. We chatted with Carmina about modeling and the love for her city!
What made you start or brought you to where you are today? Tell us your story and what makes you a Buffalo Boss Babe.
I’m a freelance opera singer, model, author, small business owner and mentor - born & raised in WNY! I left the area for college & grad school at Harvard, and lived in England, Italy and Chile for quite some time, but have always come back to my hometown and my default setting, the B-Lo. I enjoy philanthropy and charity work too: part of being a Boss Babe is giving back to the community that supported you.
I’ve also suffered pretty extreme health issues my whole life, I currently have 7 major diseases, one of which is Multiple Sclerosis. MS and the other disorders have really affected my modeling and my singing careers; when your body is your instrument and that body has health problems, then it’s that much harder to work with a broken instrument. As a disabled, plus, mature model I have dedicated my career to diversity advocacy and activism; in fact, in the UK I was a professional diversity activist, working with Members of Parliament to demand fair treatment for models (and consumers) of all sizes, shapes, ages, color, religions and ability levels in fashion.
All my health problems have made me strong out of necessity. I’ve had seizures on stage, I’ve had to vomit violently minutes before a major singing debut, I’ve had to be homebound and watch my social life melt away. If you’re not a strong Boss Babe for all that, you wouldn't last one day. But I am not grateful for the health issues in any way, I wish every day that I had none of these diseases. I won’t make you feel better with some pabulum about how it made me stronger, or that I wouldn’t trade my journey for anything. That’s bullshit. Instead I view it as making the best of, and even triumphing over, my body’s betrayal. It nearly broke me on a deep level. As a plus model it took me many years to love myself on the outside, so now I have to reckon my relationship with the inside of my body.
What does being a Buffalo Boss Babe mean to you?
It means taking all the incredible entrepreneurial spirit bubbling up through WNY, joining together with other women for mutual support, and producing something that changes peoples’ lives… all while celebrating what makes Buffalo unique. The tagline for my company MODAL Productions is “Suzanne brings her marketing/ PR, model scouting and event management experience from London to Buffalo, combining European know-how with Queen City friendliness.”
Who are your favorite people to follow?
I love to follow photographer Erica at @buffgrl, and of course @dogsofbuffalo!
What are your favorite things to do in the area (Buffalo and greater WNY)?
The last few years I’ve been exploring the little towns in the area, most along the Erie Canal, that have great old architecture and often beautiful little opera houses. From Arcade to Youngstown, there are such cute hidden gems for exploring, eating, working and shopping.
Tell me about your favorite collaborations or a dream collaboration?
As a classical singer, my dream would be to perform as a soloist on stage with JoAnn Falletta conducting the BPO. I’ve have the pleasure of singing and performing with them many times over the years in various ways, but it’s my own dream to debut as a soloist with the full orchestra under JoAnn’s baton.
In fashion, my favorite collaboration was with a super talented all-Buffalo team that landed the cover of a national print magazine. In addition to being the model and getting one of the top plus designers in North American to dress me, I wrote the script and was Creative Director for this amazing ‘Modern Day Cleopatra’ editorial. Most folks have no idea how collaborative a true photoshoot is, and how little the model is the point of the final product. This shoot was fun and artistically satisfying on every level!
[Editor’s note: photos from this session are attached]
If you could have coffee with anyone in the world who would it be?
Morrissey. It would be a vegan coffee of course! I’ve been blessed to meet, run into, work with and work for some major celebs and personal heroes in my life, but only for Morrissey would I flip out and go all Fan Girl. Moz all the way!
What are your hopes, dreams, goals? Big or Small.
My goals are to be as happy as I can, for as long as I can. I find the current political situation very distressing, and the clock is seriously ticking away on environmental destruction… so I want to do as much good in the world as I can, while still having fun. I honestly feel like I was put on earth with a broken body to help others feel better about and do more with theirs; that is what gets me out of bed in the mornings.
My goal for Buffalo is to watch the fashion scene grow in quality, quantity and professionalism; I’m also developing some top plus talent in the area, my models will be signed and working soon!
And for my own career hopes?! My new mega-agent in NYC is shopping me to Milano as we speak… walking in Milan Fashion Week would be the dream of my life!! I want to model and sing as much as I can and as well as I can, given my health restrictions.
Feel Good Five :)
Fresh figs, polenta, watermelon
I wish I had the superpower of teleportation almost every day. I’d zip over to Berlin to see my best friend, stop in Rome for a sfogliatella, and then off to NYC for a casting! Home in time for supper.
Dogs. I love bears, elephants, pigs and whales too, but I am ALL about the doggies.
Season of the year:
It’s cliché but very true - Autumn. You cannot beat a Fall in WNY!
Favorite thing about Buffalo:
Buffalo has figured out how to celebrate and expand on our former glories, while striving towards more and better. So while there’s this incredible spirit or new energy in the city, Buffalo is still a blue-collar town that loves food and friendliness. I’ve lived in lots of cities in 5 countries around the world, and there’s no doubt Buffalo is the most friendly city! Every single day I have pleasant, nice interactions with perfect strangers. You don’t have to move very far away to see how rare that is.
We loved chatting with Carmina and cant wait to see what the future hold for her! Follow along at …
* Ponderous Whimsy Jewelry shoot
(this is by an all-Buffalo team, never published)
Photographer; Renata Canaday
Hair & MU; Katie Sharun
Jewelry designer; Ponderous Whimsy
Nail Artist, Stylist; Michael Manganiello
* Modern Day Cleopatra editorial
(this is by an all-Buffalo team save the designer, has been published)
Photographer; Doug Hansgate
Hair; Brittany La Bella
MU; SalleyNycole Crews
Head Stylist; Adrian McAdory
Designer; Dede Allure
Queen Size Magazine cover