Suzan Lee Paek Inspires MCS Students

For the first time in her career, Newport Beach premier handbag designer Suzan Lee Paek of Suzan Lee Designs has partnered with Mariners Christian School in Costa Mesa to create a one-of-a-kind opportunity for two students to experience the thrill of designing an actual on-the-market designer handbag.  The exotic leather handbags, based on the students’ designs, were auctioned off at our school fundraiser on Friday evening, March 23, at the Balboa Bay Resort in Newport Beach.  A limited number of the purses will also be offered on Suzan’s website for the general public, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting MCS.

As Founder and Creative Director of Suzan Lee Designs, Suzan was inspired to become involved after learning about the school’s growing Maker Education program and integration of design thinking throughout the curriculum.  She is also known for her strong Christian faith.

“When I learned of Mariners’ educational focus on creativity and the design thinking process within a Christian school setting, I felt compelled to create something special that would benefit both the children and the school,” said Lee.

The winning students’ designs were selected by Suzan from a school-wide contest of more than 100 entries from MCS students grades K-8th.  The two winners are Mary Jane Pfaff, whose mother is MCS Maker Education Facilitator, and Kawaii Sanita, whose mother is MCS Fine Arts teacher.

Design artwork by competition grand prize winner MCS 5th grade student Mary Jane Pfaff and new design by Suzan Lee Paek.


Design artwork by competition runner up MCS 6th grade student Kawai Sanita and new design by Suzan Lee Paek.

“I was overwhelmed by the talent I saw in all the entries.  It was difficult to pick! I’m pleased to see that our winners showcase artistic talent running in the family,” said Lee.

When asked how it felt to have her design chosen for production by Lee, 5th grader Mary Jane Pfaff said, “Now I really feel like a true designer.  I always used to draw and create designs, but no one knew about them.  Now I can say that I am a real designer and I have one of my purses in an actual store!”

“We are so honored that Suzan would lend her talent and experience to create such a unique learning opportunity for students.  The fact that the funds raised through the sale of these handbags will help build our Maker Education program is a bonus,” commented MCS Head of School Troy Moore.

“This project warms my heart. I’m going to get my other designer, artist, and manufacturer friends to join me in encouraging our future generation,” said Lee.

Suzan Lee Designs is a worldwide fashion brand that specializes in exotic leather bags and accessories for both women and men.  The student-inspired handbags will be available at, and 20% of the proceeds will be donated back to Mariners Christian School.  More about Suzan Lee designs can be found on her website.