A survivor of cancer and her husband's extramarital affair, Suzy Farbman is no stranger to life’s adversities. Her books, Back From Betrayal (2004) and GodSigns (2012), are memoirs that have been warmly received by readers because they are guides of how to heal and renew one’s life after a crisis. Farbman shared her stories to help other women find their strength and self-worth as she stepped into the role of honorary chair and keynote speaker for “Trade Secrets 2020,” a fundraiser for Jewish Vocational Service's Women to Work program on Thursday, November 19.
Now at 76, Farbman is embarking on a forthcoming photography book with her publisher, David Crumm Media, LLC, that documents the Cass Corridor avant garde art movement in the 1970s and '80s. Back in those days, she was an avid art collector and helped this art scene in Detroit get off the ground.
Throughout her life and career that began as a writer and editor for industry and fashion magazines such as Women’s Wear Daily and Better Homes and Gardens, Farbman said working helped her maintain a positive sense of identity.
“I know that for some women, working out of the home when one’s children are young is not for everyone,” said Farbman from her home in Sarasota, Florida. “But for me and for many, work fulfills and defines us. It was an honor to be selected to be the keynote speaker for the Trade Secrets event.”
Farbman enjoyed a lifelong career as a journalist. A 1966 graduate of the University of Michigan, she began writing and editing with Fairchild publications in trade magazines such as Women’s Wear Daily and Home Furnishings Daily and continued to write about fashion and design for The Detroit News and the many iterations of Detroit Monthly magazine. She had her first child at 27, and continued to work as a contributing editor and writer in Detroit as well as for Better Homes and Gardens while raising her children.
"I worked at a time when women stayed home to raise the children and the husband was the income provider," Farbman said. "But my husband and I agreed, five months after our first child was born, that I was a happier person when I worked outside the home."
Farbman and her husband Burt, who is a retired real estate developer, now spend their winters in Sarasota and summers at their farm and homestead complex outside of Charlevoix, which has become a magnet for their grown children and seven grandchildren, who range in ages from two to 16.
After GodSigns was published, Farbman heard from many readers who shared their own stories of their own battles with cancer or marital problems. The book’s conversations continued with readers in a weekly column she pens for the online magazine Read The Spirit. Her secret desire is that one day, GodSigns will be a clue in a New York Times crossword.
“Then I’ll know I’ve really made it,” said Farbman. “Until then, I look forward to working on the Cass Corridor Book – I was an avid Detroit art collector in the '70s – and listening to people tell me their stories. Now that I spend a lot of my time in a golf community in Sarasota, it keeps me connected to what is happening in the world."