Having it all isn’t easy, but Lisa Song Sutton, the current Miss Nevada United States, comes pretty close.
So far, Sutton has succeeded in being a model, a lawyer and business executive, a Sotheby’s real estate broker, a volunteer, and an entrepreneur with two thriving businesses.
“I appreciate the diversity of all the different aspects of my life. I’m not doing the same work or dealing with the same topics seven days a week,” Sutton said in an interview with Business Insider. “I can have varied items going on in my schedule, even just in a 24-hour timeframe.”
Sutton’s busy lifestyle began during childhood. She was born in South Korea and moved to Arizona when she was about five. When she was young, she was very involved in extracurriculars ranging from tap dance class to flute lessons. Through these activities, she learned that she loved to perform.
“I’ve always had an outgoing, gregarious personality from a young age. So when I was six or seven, I wanted to be a singer, and an actress, and a model, and do something that incorporated the fine arts and being out in the spotlight,” Sutton said.
However, during high school, she excelled at academics — especially reading and writing. She said her AP English teacher suggested she consider a route that utilized these skills, so she eventually decided to pursue law. She currently holds a degree in political science from the University of Arizona and a degree in law from the University of Miami.
Law, Entrepreneurship, and Charity
After graduation, Sutton moved to Las Vegas and worked as vice president of human resources at Atkinson & Associates P.C., a top law firm in the city. Today, she is vice president of business development for SSK Holdings, Inc.
Despite her busy schedule as a lawyer, Sutton found time to pursue her first entrepreneurial venture: Sin City Cupcakes, a business that sells alcohol-infused cupcakes. Sutton created the business in 2012 with her friend, Dannielle Cole, who was living in Florida at the time. Cole told Sutton that she was making alcohol-infused cupcakes for parties and events.
“She told me about how they’re really popular, and it got the wheels turning, especially because Vegas is a destination city,” Sutton said. “When people come here, it’s for a special occasion; it’s an event, it’s someone’s birthday, it’s someone’s bachelorette party. So I was like, gosh, that would be so perfect for a place like this.”
Sutton asked Cole if she would consider moving to Las Vegas to start Sin City Cupcakes with her. Cole took a leap of faith and moved there to help start the business. Sin City Cupcakes is now the number one alcohol-infused cupcake company in Las Vegas.
“It’s a lot of fun, because think about it: when you’re a consumer purchasing cupcakes, especially alcoholic cupcakes, you’re doing it for some celebratory reason. You’re in a good mood,” Sutton said.
Sutton said there’s been interest in expanding Sin City Cupcakes beyond Las Vegas, but their goal for the next year is to really work on growing the business in the city and make it a flagship location.
Sutton also recently launched Liquid & Lace, a swimsuit company that has partnered with charities to provide donations of goods after a portion of swimsuits are sold.
“It’s almost like a Toms kind of idea, where we’re actually donating tangible goods instead of just a shady portion of proceeds where no one knows how much we’re actually giving,” Sutton said.
One of the charities that partners with Liquid & Lace is the Fundamental Elements Foundation, which Sutton works with on the board of directors. The organisation works to promote women empowerment through mind, body, and spirit. Sutton’s work with the organisation served as her platform in the Miss Nevada United States pageant.
Modelling in Print and Pageants
Sutton began modelling when she was 19, but said the process of landing shoots was different than it is today.
“This was right before Facebook came out, and obviously way before Instagram. So my point with that is, social media — and photos of women on social media — wasn’t at the level that it’s at now,” Sutton said. “I was still part of a generation of models that found more traditional routes of working and of being discovered.”
Sutton’s modelling career really kicked off while she was studying in Miami.
“Living in Miami, I was one of three Asian models. There are so many beautiful girls down in south Florida, but you have the whole spectrum except Asians,” Sutton said. “That’s just how it was at the time. Had I moved to LA to go to school, my modelling career probably would have taken a completely different path.”
Sutton said that with her height and look, she was eligible to do a lot of print work. Most major publications do shoots in southern Florida because of the beautiful scenery and weather, so Sutton had a lot of work. She’s been featured in more than 70 publications, including Sports Illustrated, GQ, MAXIM, and Macy’s swimwear advertisements.
Sutton feels very lucky to have landed such incredible shoots, especially because she is shorter than 5’10, which is unusual for models. “It’s a combination of having sort of lucky genetics with being in the right place at the right time,” she said.
Last November, Sutton was named Miss Las Vegas United States, and this past May she received the title of Miss Nevada United States. In June, she won the Fashion Hero runway competition at the Miss United States pageant.
“I met so many accomplished women. It was really inspiring being around this really great group of ladies who are all obviously beautiful and talented, but who also give back to their communities and are actually really nice people,” Sutton said of the pageant experience.
She said she’s excited to take the efforts she made in the community as Miss Las Vegas and bump them up to a statewide scale.
Along with holding the Miss Nevada United States title, Sutton is also a model with the prestigious Wilhelmina modelling agency.
Dabbling in Real Estate
Sutton’s family has a history in the commercial real estate industry, but she didn’t really take an interest in the business until she moved to Las Vegas. She said she already had her real estate licence, so she decided to interview with Synergy Sotheby’s International Real Estate and was able to secure a job.
Since this is her first job as a real estate agent, she is working with her friend Deven Chase, who has many years of experience in the field. So far, she’s been able to bring in clientele from the networks of people she’s met in both the legal world and the modelling world. Sutton and Chase currently have the listing for the most expensive home on the market in Las Vegas.
“I’m really lucky to be paired up with an agent that has years of experience, and also to have the people at Sotheby’s behind me. Sotheby’s is just a great institution, and I’m here to learn as well as utilise its resources and support my clients,” Sutton said.
Sutton Outside of Work
In what little spare time she has, Sutton says spending time with family and friends is at the top of her to-do list. After all, part of the reason she moved to Las Vegas from Miami was to be closer to her family in Arizona. She also enjoys staying active by playing tennis and golf, and tries to spend a good amount of time outdoors.
She also loves to read. “I’m a big Stephen King fan. I also just got through the Game of Thrones novels, so now I’m jumping on to the TV series,” Sutton said. “You have to read them, they’re so, so good.”
As for advice on how to be as successful as she is? Sutton says she knows it sounds cliche, but you need to believe in yourself first.
“You have to put expectations on yourself and hold yourself to those expectations. Not because your mum said so, or because you have a friend who is doing better than you,” Sutton said. “You have to put those expectations on yourself and believe that you can rise to the occasion, and sometimes you’ll be pleasantly surprised that not only did you perform, but you exceeded your expectations.”
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