Remembering Susan Neithamer

Alexandria Stylebook really has been one of the greatest professional gifts I have been given. When Angela and I made this idea a reality about seven years ago, we never knew it would become so popular. Nothing has helped my business more, and since I went to journalism school hoping to write for magazines one day, it has been a great outlet for me as a wannabe writer.

But that is not what has been so special. What it has given me and all the other members is strong relationships with the other women-owned businesses.

One of those relationships I am grateful for is with Susan Neithamer, one of the owners of Coco Blanca. The three owners of Coco joined Alexandria Stylebook about a year in, when one of the original stores (Zoe Boutique) closed. From the start, these women were collaborative, supportive, and totally “in” on this endeavor. Especially Susie. For some reason, she was always one of my biggest cheerleaders. No matter what the idea, be it good or bad, she was in my corner.



Not long after Coco Blanco closed, Susie was diagnosed with cancer. I remember thinking I needed to write her a note and tell her how much her support and friendship meant to me. I, of course, didn’t and to this day I regret it. I always wished I knew her more. She was just one of those women to which people were immediately drawn. She was a light and everyone around her was like a moth trying to get close. Her kindness, her smile, her laugh, her positive attitude, just all of it. She was all of those things and more. And damn, was she smart. I would stop in to drop something off and end up spending an hour with her picking her brain for advice on how to run my stores.

This last week, a light went out in Alexandria and Susie lost her battle with cancer. Needless to say, heaven got a really good one. A really good one. We should all aspire to be half as good as Susan Neithamer.

I wanted to share her passing with our readers because I know how much people loved reading her articles. To this day, her cooking pieces are some of the most popular in our archives. I can’t imagine what her close friends and family are feeling. I know this article does not do her justice and I know I only knew her for a short time and there was so much more to her than I will ever know. But I do know she will be deeply missed.


By Madelyn Orfitelli, Former Stylebook Editor

It’s always sort of funny when you build a connection with someone based on emails first and not in person, but that’s what happens when you edit someone’s copy over a sustained period of time. When Susie’s posts popped up on the editorial calendar, I was always delighted, especially when the content was about her cooking and entertaining. The recipes were always elegant yet approachable, and as I got to know Susie in person, I realized this summed up Susie herself. Her energy, enthusiasm, and warmth were matched only by her creativity and business savvy — each of which she shared abundantly in support of Stylebook. Most of all, though, she made me feel valued and appreciated. What else could you want? She will be sorely missed.


  • The latest from Elizabeth
I spent the first part of my career as a copy-writer who helped elected officials brag about their support for entrepreneurs. Then I decided to get off the printed page and do it myself. The Shoe Hive made a splash on the fashion scene in Washington, and was named the region’s best shoe store in its first year. Fourteen years later, I have tripled the store’s size and also opened a sister store, The Hive. At The Hive, we offer clothing lines that are sophisticated and approachable like Rag & Bone, Tibi, Raquel Allegra, Ulla Johnson and Veronica Beard. We have tried to fill our racks with clothing you will want to wear all the time, elevated basics that are worth the investment.

Heard the buzz? The Shoe Hive & The Hive are a pair of luxury boutiques in Old Town Alexandria. Featuring both big name designers like Rag & Bone and Stuart Weitzman and smaller brands like AGL and L'Agence, our unique selection and impeccable service are what set us apart.

The Shoe Hive                         The Hive
127 S. Fairfax Street               301 Cameron Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
              Alexandria, VA 22314

703.548.7105                          703.548.7110


  1. Avatar Marybeth W Dyson says:

    This is absolutely beautiful, a gift to all of us who are missing her desperately.
    Thank you so much.

  2. Avatar Pat Moore says:

    So sorry to hear of Susie’s passing. I was a loyal customer for years. Susie made me feel like a personal friend not just a customer. Always so upbeat and positive!

  3. Avatar Janet says:

    A lovely tribute to this lovely lady. Although I did not know her socially I remember her from the store here in Old Town, her kindness and genuineness. Sending thoughts of comfort to her friends and family.

  4. Avatar Jacky Sher Raker says:

    You couldn’t be more on point Elizabeth, heaven for sure got a good one. I first met Susie before Coco Blanco actually opened their first store at a Junior League holiday pop up shop and among hundreds of women in the ballroom Susie lit up the place! She was so genuine and engaging, and had such a warm spirit. Sometimes I would stop by just because I saw her car in front of the store knowing she would bring joy to my day. We should all meet someone like Susie Neithamer in our lifetime!

  5. Avatar Trish says:

    I met both Susan and her husband and am so saddened to hear this. She was so kind and an amazing and dedicated advocate for her family. We always exchanged style compliments to each other and I just missed getting to her store before it closed. Sending love and light to her family.

  6. Avatar Amy Young says:

    My deepest sympathies and prayers for Susie’s family. Susie would occasionally visit TSALT, she was lovely and so sweet. She truly lit up the room! It was my pleasure to know her albeit briefly.

  7. Avatar Sally says:

    This is a beautiful tribute to a very special person. It was my honor to know Susie Neithamer and even more of an honor to call her a friend. She has left a giant hole where her passion and smile were. And another giant hole in my heart. I will miss her greatly.

  8. Avatar SH McCannell says:

    So sad. She left much too soon. She always was helpful when I popped into Coco Blanco and more than willing to suggest various items be they furniture, gifts, clothing, or jewelry. I was sorry to see them close the Old Town store and move up to MD but I did make it up to that store just to support them there. I am so sorry for her family and dear friends. God took home a wonderful person.

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