Catching Up With Suzanne Miranda

This week, we chat with Suzanne Miranda: world traveler, bold adventurer, shopkeeper, and friend of 25+ years. Suzanne began selling jewelry at Chicago street fairs as far back as 2003, and in 2015 opened up the Nomadic Ant store on Western and Wilson Avenues in the Lincoln Square neighborhood. In 2016, Suzanne opened up Esquina, an art/event space in the storefront south of her shop. She travels the world 4-5 months out of the year to explore and gather jewelry and other items for her store.

WS: Why is travel so important?

SM: No matter how far away, how foreign the culture and customs, travel is a great equalizer. You realize that people are just people, trying to get by the best they can and enjoy some of this life along the way. We humans are all pretty similar when it comes down to it, and to witness the human condition around the world really changes your perspective forever, in my opinion.

WS: What’s currently your favorite destination and why?

SM: I can never answer this question with just one place. at different points in time I’ve favored certain countries. It usually is when the country is in those early years of being open for mass travel before Starbucks shows up!  Cuba and Vietnam in the early 90s, Burma in the early 2000’s, and lately I’ve been exploring more of Indonesia and Colombia. Oh and the Sikkim region of India is a favorite…plastic is outlawed there! Rad!

Suzanne MirandaWS: What’s your best travel memory?

SM: Ah another tough question. How about a recent one? Earlier this year Tim and I took a 5 day journey on a boat through the Komodo islands in Indonesia. One day the local crew took us to a place where the manta rays all go, a sort of cleaning station. I’d seen mantas before but usually just a couple in the distance.  This particular place was far out in deep waters. All of the sudden the crew told us to jump and we were snorkeling in a sort of fast moving current. Within minutes, dozens of really large mantas were coming toward us one after the next just a few feet from our masks. There must have been more than 30 and we just drifted past each other like two trains in the night in this kind of silent observation. I don’t know why but that sight made me get all choked up and I learned it’s weird to cry into your mask, but the emotions were just really raw and overwhelming. That’s a memory that still gives me chills.

WS: What’s your favorite part of owning a jewelry shop?

SM: Besides being my own boss and closing up in winter for a few months to go travel?!?! I do love that freedom! I like getting to engage with everyone who walks in the door, hear their stories and see what they gravitate toward and why. There’s a story behind everything in the shop, whether its a hidden market where I found the jewelry in India or a Tuareg nomad who walked into my shop with treasures from Mali. I like connecting people with the details behind each piece with its story. I think it means more to invest in and wear jewelry that is connected to something more than a brand or a fancy marketing campaign.


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