Serena Guen, a senior in the Global Liberal Studies Program, always wanted to start her own travel magazine. She just didn’t think it could happen so quickly.
Guen is the co-founder and director of Suitcase Magazine, a thick, glossy quarterly publication launched last spring that is now circulating 10,000 copies in 30 countries worldwide.
Suitcase presents a fusion of fashion and travel, including photo shoots, travel guides highlighting interesting cuisines, advice on hot spots to visit and profiles of emerging creative talents. The magazine has also featured rising celebrities, like the second issue’s cover girl, fashion blogger Bip Ling.
The publication’s co-founder, Charlotte Summers, a student at London College of Fashion, started a blog last year called Suitcase. Summers knew Guen through a friend and invited her to contribute a piece about Mykonos and New York. After a few articles, Guen was promoted to co-editor of the blog. Eventually the two girls decided to move the blog offline and onto paper.
Guen and Summers registered the company as Suitcase Magazine Ltd. last November. When the magazine was launched in May, the two college undergraduates became the youngest owners of an international magazine. The next step was to build a staff, so they spread the word to everyone they knew.
“Everyone knows someone who’s a good writer, … photographer [and] illustrator, so eventually you’ll get there,” Guen said.
Even though she is working on the magazine, Guen still manages to pursue her double major in GLS and French at NYU, which she chose because of the travel opportunities. Guen entered GLS in 2009 and spent her first year studying in Paris.
Her travel experience and education have proven beneficial to developing the magazine. In the most recent issue of Suitcase, Guen wrote an introduction on Japan for the travel section.
“For my Japan introduction, I wanted to write about Japan but in a way that wasn’t cliché,” Guen said. “So I used in my essay something that I studied in my first-year writing class.”
This year Guen is working on a senior thesis about whether haute couture has a place in art museums. GLS professor Nancy Reale is advising Guen’s project.
“Serena is clearly extremely busy, yet she manages to maintain a control over her schedule and to think deeply about her academic work,” Reale said.
Guen has recruited her friends and classmates to work on the magazine. GLS senior Mielle Gerard is a contributing writer.
“As an editor, Guen is unconcerned with the superficiality of the fashion world and rather seeks the authentic, artistic and creative potentialities within the fashion and art worlds that are too often neglected,” Gerard said.
Guen’s ambition is limitless. In addition to the print version, the magazine has an iPad app, a regularly updated website and pop-up events. Guen said her focus in the next few years is to make the magazine an even bigger enterprise.
“For me, everything is in the magazine,” Guen said. “I’ve never loved doing something so much.”
A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Oct. 4 print edition. Cici Chen is a contributing writer. Email her at email@example.com.
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