On a hot summer morning in July we met with the lovely Serena Guen, Founder of SUITCASE Magazine at her offices in the heart of Mayfair. We talked all things travel and found out all about how this innovative magazine has blossomed and become an award winning destination for explorers and holiday makers.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and how SUITCASE started?
I grew up in London in an international family. School holidays were always spent visiting different family members around the world from Tuscany to Delaware. At university, I chose a course called Global Liberal Studies that took me abroad for two years in Paris and two years in New York. Spending so much time abroad immersed in different cultures made me realise how inaccurate most travel websites and magazines are when it comes to describing what to do. Nothing was catering to the way people are travelling today – it's more about experiencing the best of local life than traditional tourism. In my third year of university I decided that I wanted to create something for the next generation of travellers and thus began the long journey of building SUITCASE. Since we launched, we have become one of the leading travel media companies in the UK. We are now a website and quarterly print magazine with a readership of over one million.
Where does your passion for travel come from?
I think I was born with it – coming from so many different countries, it's literally part of my DNA.
What process do you go through when creating content and where do you draw inspiration from?
We use a mixture of things from data to reports and also our own knowledge as a team. Data is good for the basics – seeing what's trending right now and making sure we have enough content on our website about those places. However, we need to rely on our own knowledge as a team to extrapolate on that data and predict what our readers might like next.
What advice would you give to someone starting up their own business?
Take a look at yourself in the mirror. Make sure you know your strengths and your weaknesses. Build a team around you who will compensate for any blind spots.
Which part of the world is your favourite to travel to and where will you be heading next?
I'm a real foodie so nothing beats Italy for me – the ingredients are so fresh – let alone the most beautiful way of life and scenery. Next I am going to Corsica, Bali, Chiang Mai, Bangkok and Myanmar.
Can you walk us through a day in your life?
If I'm in London, I've started doing a little Pilates regime when I get up to wake me up for the day. Breakfast is normally gluten-free brown toast (I'm allergic to gluten) with eggs or peanut butter and a yoghurt. I read the news on the way to work on the NY Times app to keep up with what's going on in the world. My days are usually made up of a mixture of internal and external meetings, looking at travel trends and optimising the business. Lunch will be something simple at my desk like steamed rice and vegetables and go for a quick 15 minute walk after. I usually have some kind of event in the evening so will work until then and off I go to dinner.
How do you make your clothes work for you and your busy lifestyle?
I haven't quite figured it out yet. I spend so much time in so many different climates that my wardrobe is exploding a little much to my boyfriend's chagrin. I definitely try not to buy anything black anymore so I can wear it more seasonally. I also have lots of mix-and-match basics like nice skirts and t-shirts so that I can wear them at any time of year.
What are your go-to wardrobe staples?
Statement skirts, tailored trousers and simple t-shirts.
If I wasn't running SUITCASE... I'd be spending more time on #CookForSyria, the initiative I started to raise awareness and funds for Unicef's Appeal for the Children of Syria via Next Generation London.
My day isn't complete until... I'm in a good place with my to-do list.
The best thing about my job... Getting to know about so many different cultures.
My ideal breakfast... is the one I had at Hotel Sanders in Copenhagen. Scrambled eggs with, gluten-free toast and jam.
Words to live by... Remember to have fun.
My guilty pleasure... Ice-cream. Don't feel guilty about it though.
My favourite London hangout... Bar Termini or Luca.
|Amerie T-shirt >
|Diane Jeans >
|Sia Earrings >
|Rita Sweater >
|Juliette Jeans >
|Zorina Earrings >