Suzette Hernandez is Intrigued by Luxury
In September, Swiss luxury watchmaker Hublot officially launched its Vancouver boutique on Alberni Street in the famous ‘Luxury Zone,’ with superstar performer and brand ambassador Lang Lang in attendance.
From the invite-only press conference in the private upstairs lounge to the boutique showroom and onto the luxury car-lined street, timepiece aficionados vied for photo opportunities with the newly unveiled Classic Fusion Chronograph Canada. The event was exclusive and deftly produced due in no small part to the vision and skill of Hublot’s brand manager Suzette Hernandez.
Suzette has always been intrigued by luxury brands, most specifically how they differentiate themselves with unique branding and strategic marketing.
“I was driven to this industry because of my passion for business development and drive for challenging experiences. I have always known it to be a very difficult industry to penetrate and naturally, this made it more attractive to me.”
It was after she modelled feature jewellery for an auction at the VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation’s A Night of a Thousand Stars that Suzette was approached by a representative of De Beers Diamond jewellers to model at a live auction for its Time to Shine Gala in 2014.
Since starting with De Beers, followed by Hublot, Suzette’s role in the luxury market has continued to evolve, overseeing multiple areas of the business such as marketing, public relations and events, all of which she is truly passionate about. Being on the other side of the camera, planning and executing photo shoots, instead of walking down the runway, is very satisfying as Suzette taps into her years of experience.
When not busy with the world of luxury goods, Suzette can be found enjoying nature and exploring. Mental and physical health are very important to her.
As a one who loves nature and wide open spaces, she is inspired to channel her experiences to spark creativity. Her favourite place in Vancouver is the Seawall at Stanley Park where she walks, bikes and rollerblades next to the rolling waves, and at Spanish Banks, where she loves playing beach volleyball.
As we speak of growth, development and the ability to make an impact in the lives of others, Suzette acknowledges that these are very important to her. She believes that there must be something meaningful in everything.
“The most important thing in my life right now is to continue on this path where I am making a positive impact with family and friends, the brands I work with, the organizations I support and the girls I mentor.”
Suzette was born in a “barangay” (a village) on the coast of Balayan Bay in the Philippines. Living a simple life with her family, she has many fond memories of being by the water as a child, chasing little crabs by the shore, enjoying barbecues with extended family and watching the sunset with her childhood friends.
She was very young when her family moved to Canada and settled in East Vancouver. Always a dedicated student and hard worker, she held multiple jobs after graduation. At one point, she simultaneously worked part-time for a marketing company and two retail stores, modelled and attended college.
It was her love of travel that taught her about cultural landscapes and the importance of having a deeper understanding of the world to be able to make an impact on a greater scale. This holds true in her career and she says “to market a brand is to know your market. To help a community is to know its needs. The rest is a matter of strategy and implementation.”
In 2009, Suzette lost her father. His burial in the Philippines led to a deeper than normal period of self-reflection. Instead of returning to Canada after the funeral, she chose to stay; she rented an apartment away from friends and family and dedicated herself to reading and meditation.
She began to work on empowering and improving herself as a way to see her academic, career and community goals come to life. She had the ambition but needed the confidence.
Her first pageant competition took place in the Philippines. It was an opportunity that presented itself and at what felt to be the right time. She overcame stage fright and fear of public speaking to become a public advocate for healthy lifestyle and fitness during her candidacy in the country. In that competition, she was first runner up, and over the course of her pageant involvement, won three titles including Miss Canada 2013 — Supranational. It was her last pageant as she had already set her sights on the next big challenge — finishing up her degree at Sauder School of Business.
“I wanted to reach the highest level of competition to represent and promote my country to the world, but the main goal had always been self-development. I was there to work on my social skills, confidence and ability to handle pressure in very public situations.”
In 2013, Suzette applied and was accepted into an executive exchange program with Manchester Business School through UBC Sauder. In the spring of 2014, she graduated with honours, receiving a Bachelor of Commerce Degree, and many doors began opening for her.
Through hard work and diligence, Suzette Hernandez has experienced a remarkable transition from model, pageant winner and student to a career in marketing for two of the world’s top luxury brands.
In today’s cultural atmosphere of “insta-fame” and the pursuit of personal glory, Suzette shares her story of dedication with a message to others who are unsure of where to proceed after the stage lights have faded.
“Pursue your passion, write down your goals, read voraciously and never lose sight of your goals.”
(This article was originally published in Vancouver Boulevard Chinese/English Magazine).