Susan Mathen
Color Chronicler. Brand Maker. Wonder Girl.
Entrepreneur Sui Generis @ Hue & Why.

By the People is an interactive series where we bring you the most prodigious individuals from different walks of life, and their choicest picks from the Unfactory collection.

Susan Mathen - Colour Strategist and Founder Hue & WhyAll right. So you have heard of capoeira dancers, yogic healers, ethical hackers, horticulturists, tattoo designers, feng shui masters, horse breeders, nano technologists, mentalists and body painters. Now, try this. Ever come across a peppy, profound, pretty, pragmatic and avant garde Colour Strategist? In this edition of By The People, we bring you the very atypical, astute, ever-so-understated, free-spirited and chimerical Susan Mathen, Founder & Color Strategist at Hue & Why, a rare breed, exploratory Colour Strategy & Design Firm, making its ripples felt in Cochin, South India.

From the yin and yang of temple wall paints to the poisonous ceruse secrets of fair-skinned Elizabethan women; to all about prakriti, purusha and the panchavarna palettes of India, Susan has a quiver full of exotic colour tales to entice you with. Ask her about colours and she will whisk you away on a fantasmic voyage through mythological alleyways, historic anthologies and ancient sea routes. Go on a colour walk with her, and she will have you spellbound with stories on colour that you have seen all around, but perhaps never pondered about – from church windows to temple hues to heritage buildings, café palettes, nature notes and garden scapes.

Susan Mathen of Hue & Why during Colour Walks.
Susan Mathen, founder Hue & Why interacting with participants during a Colour Walk session.

Consult her on brand personas or packaging, or colour strategies and trends, and be sure to have your eyebrows raised all along in a hypnotizing chat – over a perfectly-brewed café mocha or flat white, or, her current favorite – macchiato.

Susan has been fascinated with colour semiotics and colour meanings in culture for over eight years now, she confides, but we suspect her passion for colour dates way back to lollipop and rainbow parasol days, through a childhood well spent in the Swiss hinterlands of South India…God’s Own country, Kerala. It all came clear when she took a sabbatical from her decade long advertising career and undertook an year-long exploration in Arts Management at a heritage museum in Chennai, where she partook in a creative exhibition on Colour Symbolism in ancient Indian culture. She went on to do her final thesis on Colour and got back to advertising, where she researched and analysed Colour in Branding and Packaging. Today she has a Colour Strategy Certification, is a member of the Colour Marketing Group (CMG) and the Trendspotters Network for South East Asia, participates in Colour Forecasting Workshops, runs Colour Trend Talks and Colour based Heritage Walks, studies Colour in Culture (both ancient and contemporary) and applies the same in branding, packaging, interiors, fashion and wedding decor.

Susan Mathen with members of Colour Marketing Group.
Susan Mathen with fellow participants at a Colour Marketing Group’s workshop.

Prior to her plunge into the world of colours, this wonder girl was the Regional Strategy Lead for Pantene, P&G for the ASEAN markets at Grey Advertising, Singapore. An alumnus of MICA, Ahmedabad and SRCC, Delhi, She has over a decade of Brand Strategy expertise across agencies – Ogilvy, JWT, Leo Burnett, Grey, to name a few.

A self-confessed chocoholic turned coffee aficionado, Susan loves baking, badminton, travelling, reading, and indeed, you guessed right, colour. She believes colours, like words, have meanings, and through her remarkable love child, Hue & Why, she hopes to understand colours, what they connote to different people in different contexts, and help craft compelling stories. To have a peak at Susan’s exceptional colour tales, follow @hueandwhy on Instagram, or do check out

Susan’s Picks:

I have handpicked three different bags from the Unfactory gallery that I feel would be perfect for three different aspects of me.

Ikkat Laptop Bag from Chanchal.
Ikkat Laptop Bag from Chanchal

This Laptop Bag, for the ‘work’ me. I love Ikat and I think this elegant black and white sleeve would be just right for any kind of work meeting. Of course, it will also pair well with any kind of work wear.

Yoga mat bag from Woods & Petals.
Yoga Mat Bag from Woods & Petals

This Yoga Mat Bag, for my Pilates sessions. I have been in to Pilates for a few years now. Though I can’t yet claim to be an expert, I do know that I feel great when I am regular with the workouts. The traditional artwork and block prints of the bag, in contrast to the classic athletic prints of my yoga apparel – that would be striking!

Backpacks from Motifs of the Earth.
Traveler Backpack from Motifs of the Earth
This Traveler Bag, for the ‘traveler’ me. There is a certain ease about this bag, so laid back and comfortable. Just what a travel bag should be for me.

Here are a few more Unfactory faves that I have chosen:

Ziveli's Jewellery Box made with Kauna Reed.
Ziveli’s Oval Jewellery Box
Ziveli's Kauna Reed Tray.
Kauna Reed Tray

Trays, boxes, pouches…always welcome, as I am a sucker for organizing things!

Shoe Bags from Spruce.
Shoe Bags from Spruce

I, especially like the colour of the shoe bag here.

220 V of Love - Succulent / Planter
Succulent Art Project – Dusky Grey

Succulents seem to be the only plants that survive my not-so-green thumb. No complaints, as I love succulents, and I think they have a charm of their own. So this one is an obvious pick!

Earthy Sapo's Lemongrass Freshness Bathing Soap
Earthy Sapo’s Lemongrass Soap

Lemongrass is my go-to scent in aroma oils and skincare, so yes, I dig this!

Now that you have enjoyed going through Susan’s picks, ping back and tell us what’s on your list of favourites from the Unfactory collection.

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