Proof that a dream can take you places… literally.
When Serena Guen was at NYU, she had the simple idea of combining real-life travel advice with beautiful imagery for the modern day traveler. Cutting through much of the noise that exists on the Internet she founded SUITCASE, a quarterly print magazine and digital hub that’s quickly becoming synonymous with discovering cultures near and far — even for helping along the way.
Named the “Mark Zuckerberg of publishing” by Bloomberg and the arguably the youngest magazine proprietor around, we think Serena fits the bill when it comes to hardworking, inspiring and going for the horizon regardless of the grit it takes to get here. Learn more about her story, below.
Darling Mag: We read about how SUITCASE began in your college dorm room! Tell us how it looked to balance school, a quickly-expanding magazine and other college experiences?
Serena: I strongly believe you can do anything that you want to do, but you can’t do everything at the same time. Tools like the Internet and social media are great levelers and amazing sources which enable almost anyone to start a business.
College is all about finding yourself and doing what you love — I loved travel, I loved discovering new things and SUITCASE was my way of sharing this passion with the rest of the world. The first two years were the hardest as I had to learn everything from scratch, although I’m under no illusions — running a business is never meant to be easy ever. Alain du Botton once said: “Work-life balance is a myth. Everything worth fighting for will unbalance your life.”
DM: What are some of the day-to-day challenges you experience at SUITCASE?
Serena: Apart from wanting to cover everywhere and everything in the world immediately (I need to channel my excitement into a well-structured editorial calendar), managing people is probably the hardest. A founder or business is nothing without a good team to execute that idea. As a leader, you need to clearly communicate the vision on a daily basis, keep people motivated and working together as team rather than a group of individuals.
I strongly believe you can do anything that you want to do, but you can’t do everything at the same time.
DM: What are some of the key qualities you possess that have helped you the most as a woman in business?
Serena: I think my ability to adapt.
DM: You have obviously done a lot of traveling; where do you want to make it to next?
DM: What are your thoughts on prioritizing a print magazine in a digital age? (Something we think about here at Darling, too!) Do you think print will stand the test of time? Or will it, should it evolve?
Serena: I don’t prioritize print, I think all platforms are equally important. In fact now, in order to survive, I think there needs to be a synergy between print and digital — the medium is the message.
Print suits certain kinds of information and digital another. Print has evolved, but its format will always work best for long-form or photographic content. Particularly with travel, people want to escape when they’re reading about it and what better format than a print magazine that takes them away from everything?
DM: In an interview with Bloomberg you talked about how quality does not equal quality at SUITCASE. How do your get your readers to see your value in quality over quantity?
Serena: I don’t think the problem of quality vs. quantity lies with our readers, I think it lies with certain advertisers and individuals who see numbers as the be all and end all. I’d choose three loyal readers who stay with SUITCASE for years to come than twenty who visit SUITCASE once to read a ‘viral’ article.
DM: What would we be surprised to know about you?
Serena: Before I started SUITCASE, I wanted to become a doctor.
Learn more about SUITCASE over at https://suitcasemag.com/ and @suitcasemag on Twitter and Instagram.
Images via Matthew K. Firpo