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2013-10-17 11:00

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Running a successful international brand and giving back to society can be tricky, but Carolina Herrera de Baez proves it can be done

Think Carolina Herrera and you’ll no doubt conjure up images of high-class fashion and fabulous perfumes – and Carolina Herrera de Baez, the daughter of the founder of the empire, has followed in her mom’s footsteps as a fragrance designer.

Yet she is much more than a businesswoman: she’s a passionate breast cancer activist too.

To coincide with Breast Cancer Month, Carolina was recently in South Africa to endorse Support With a Smile, an initiative in partnership with the Breast Health Foundation aimed at providing palliative care for breast cancer patients.

So, why the involvement in breast cancer?

It’s the only cause we support as the Carolina Herrera brand and we’ve been doing so since 2008 – I believe it’s important to concentrate on one thing and do it well.

We choose different foundations in each country we operate in so we don’t just come up with fragrances; we give back as well. Support With a Smile was already doing good work and we are able to add to that.

I love that they are giving all kinds of support to women with breast cancer – emotional, practical, physical and spiritual. They provide whatever women need, even if it’s just someone to hold your hand.

Do you have a medical background?

I’ve always been interested in the sciences and I did a pre-med degree at Vassar College in New York State. From there I worked at a lab doing Aids research at Rockefeller University – and then I became sidetracked by another passion of mine: film.

I worked all sorts of jobs in the industry – from assistant producer to assisting a photographer. I was happy to learn as much as possible, no matter what the role or title, and that kept me going for years.

How did you get into fragrance then?

Quite by chance – over one summer my mother asked me to help her with a fragrance she wanted to launch, and here I am.

What’s it like, working in your mom’s company?

Initially my main concern was that I needed to prove myself. I didn’t want people to think I got there because my mother owns the company. While I’m sure a lot of people initially thought that at the beginning,

I worked hard and proved I deserved to be there. Once you do that in a family business, you’re able to focus on the work and less on how it may look from the outside.

What’s the best thing about your job?

I know the brand really well – I live it so I am never confused about what the business is about and who I am creating perfumes for. I know my mother so well I immediately know if she will love something or not.

3 Things i’ve learnt in my career

1. Find something you love in what you do. Sometimes you have to do work you don’t like but I believe you can always discover one lovely thing in anything.

2. Not everything is about you. A career is often a group effort and sometimes things can’t be done your way. When that happens, find ways to be creative and reinterpret your vision in a feasible way.

3. Every little achievement is worth celebrating because it’s different. I celebrate every little victory because it takes a lot of work to get the results you desire.

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