Originally from Spain, Marina Fernandez moved to New York 10 years ago to pursue her dream of working in the Fashion and Beauty Industry, landing a job at fashion consulting firm SGN Group where she spent 8 years launching international brands in North America.
Marina has led the strategy and expansion of more than 20 European brands including Rituals Cosmetics, Moleskine and Mango, and has opened and managed over 70 free-standing stores.
Marina is now the Global Marketing Director for skincare brand Makari de Suisse: a pioneer in skincare inclusivity which has been serving the needs of diverse skin tones for more than 25 years offering gentle yet effective products for women of color.
Led by Marina’s vision, the brand continues to explore the many ways in which they can support and lift the Black community.
Besides regular donations to organizations such as Black Lives Matter, Color of Change, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Marina is developing a mentorship program that will allow her and other Makari executives to share their expertise and business acumen with black small business owners. This program will also allow businesses to leverage Makari’s platform and connections in order to drive traffic and awareness to their own companies.
Marina is a proud stepmother to her husband’s children and she loves hosting the whole family at their New York house – she especially enjoys her mother-in-law’s delicious Haitian recipes!
Describe a typical day for you?
I always start my morning with a large coffee followed by a shower and my morning skincare routine (working in skincare I have no excuses to skip it!). As things are now getting back to normal, I am able to work from the office a few days a week which has been great. I usually take the Subway and I either listen to a podcast or read the news during my commute. I try to catch up with my team every morning as soon as we get in and share any updates, new projects or upcoming deadlines. We are currently launching 3 new products while preparing for our Fall Press Event which will be different from previous events due to the strict social distancing guidelines. We are definitely up for the challenge!
I always have dinner with my husband in the evenings but due to the crisis, have traded outdoor dining for homemade meals or takeout.
We talk about our days and before watching the news or a movie before bed. If the kids are visiting, our routine completely changes and they become our priority. Pre Covid-19 we would take them out to explore the city, watch an NBA game or try different cuisines but now we mainly hang out on the rooftop, and my husband grills for us all.
What do you feel are your greatest achievements?
Probably having moved to New York City with no plan, very little cash and no connections and making it to where I am today. I’ve dreamed of living in New York since the age of 10 and was finally able to move to the Big Apple after finishing college, working several jobs simultaneously to make ends meet. After a few months, I found an amazing opportunity to develop my career in the fashion industry which had always been my dream despite the fact I studied Law and Business, and my work evolved from there.
Right now, I’m extremely proud of the work we are doing at Makari de Suisse and the many ways in which we are trying to support and lift the Black community. I know there is still so much more to do but we are committed.
What’s in your handbag/ satchel?
I carry so much unnecessary stuff…My friends used to call me Mary Poppins because it’s always so full! I’ll mention a few of my key items so as not to bore your readers: Hand sanitizer (I was never a fan but now I don’t leave the house without it), hand cream, tissues, house keys, my phone, phone charger and headphones, my wallet, makeup bag, mirror, a granola bar in case I get too busy to stop for lunch, water bottle, Ibuprofen and a pack of chewing gum.
What are your ambitions in life?
I want to inspire people and brands to make a difference in the world. My goal is to continue to help brands find their voice and grow their presence in North America. I’d also like to create an even bigger family and travel the world together, making sure that my children are exposed to different cultures and have a strong respect for them.
What do you wish you’d known at the start of your career you now know?
I wish I’d relied more on my peers and known the importance of building a strong team around me. I have overworked myself for many years trying to make it all happen by myself when instead I could have empowered more people close to me to help me reach our company goals together.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
I would like to continue helping brands grow their businesses and connect with their target audience. I feel lucky to be doing what I love and to be working with incredible brands I admire so I hope I am able to do this for many more years.
What advice would you give a budding Director of Marketing?
Identify your company’s mission and vision and always stay true to your brand’s values. Make sure your connection with your customers goes beyond the product or service you offer, build emotional connections and a real sense of community around your brand.
Finally, happiness is…
First and foremost happiness is accepting and loving yourself while striving to be better every day. Finding the (not so easy) balance between your professional and personal life… Surrounding yourself with the people you love, traveling around the world and stepping out of your confirm zone. Lastly, making the world a better place starting with those closest to you.