I know some of us (collectors) sit at home thinking “if only a collector was working for these card companies…”. Luckily for us, there is at least one, Susan Lulgjuraj. Sooz, as she is known, works for Topps, and is absolutely a collector. She is the collector’s voice on the inside, and she was kind enough to answer some questions for me!
BU: Can we get a little background on you?
SL: I’m the Marketing Communications Manager at Topps. That’s a fancy way of saying I handle the PR and social media for Topps. This wasn’t my first role at Topps. I started as a Sports Editor where one of the main jobs was picking images for cards.
BU: How were you introduced to the trading card hobby?
SL: My brother and older cousins would collect and trade cards. As a kid, I would see them doing it and caught the itch that way. When my mom would send me to the corner store to buy milk or bread, I would use the change to pick up a pack of cards.
BU: What are you currently collecting?
SL: I’m always collecting Derek Jeter cards. But outside of the card world, I collect Pop! Funko of Supernatural characters.
BU: How did you decide to collect Derek Jeter?
SL: He was my favorite player! I was 16 in 1996 when the Yankees won the World Series for the first time in my lifetime. He was just such an exciting, young player. So in my world, to get closer to a player, I collected his cards. And I’m a completest, so I needed to collect them all!
BU: Any favorite pieces from your collection that you would like to share?
SL: There are a few cards I love. There is a Derek Jeter card – while not the prettiest design – is from 2002 Fleer Tradition ‘This Day in History.’ I have the autographed and memorabilia version, but what’s cool is the date is my birthday!
BU: How did you break into working in the hobby?
SL: I started more than 10 years ago writing on A Cardboard Problem with my friend Marie. We just wrote about our adventures in card collecting. I was also a sports journalist, so I had a background in writing. I began freelancing for Beckett and met more people in the hobby. Eventually, when there was a position open I became the magazine editor for Football, Hockey and Basketball.
BU: What is your favorite thing about working for Topps?
SL: The cards! It’s really great seeing the cards ahead of time. While there is something to be said for surprise, I like the idea that I can offer feedback and suggestions that might shape future releases. It makes me feel as though I’m leaving a mark on the hobby.
BU: Being behind the scenes, what are a couple of myths/misconceptions/misunderstandings by the average collector about the trading card business?
SL: There is a lot that happens from inception to release date. It’s roughly a year timeline from when ideas are put to paper to when a product hits the shelves – and there are so many things that happen in between. Suddenly, you see things a little differently and some burning questions you would’ve had as a collector get answered. But I don’t want to reveal too much because learning “how the sausage is made” isn’t always the greatest thing in the world.
BU: What is your opinion of the current hobby landscape?
SL: I’ve been lucky to work at Topps during a boom time. Over the last several years, we have seen more collectors enter the hobby. To me, that’s amazing. For how long did we hear stories about this hobby is dying and I think that couldn’t be farther from the truth. You see it too in the types of stories written about collecting. There are less and less state of the industry articles and more types of stories about what is happening in collecting.
BU: Do you think we will ever get away from exclusive licenses?
SL: Probably not. But, you never know!
BU: What is your favorite part about the hobby?
SL: Being able to share in the joy of collecting with my family and friends.
Susan “Sooz” Lulgjuraj
Marketing Communications Manager, Topps