Suki Mulberg Altamirano is the founder of Lexington Public Relations, a Nashville headquartered firm that specializes in creating breakthrough campaigns for consumer products and services across multiple industries like retail, beauty and fashion, food and beverage, education and healthcare. Suki grew up in Seattle, studied Communications at New York University, and handled public relations activities in-house for Williams-Sonoma, Elizabeth Arden and KENZO Parfums, part of the LVMH Group (Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton) prior to founding Lexington Public Relations in late 2010.
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I spent five years training as a competitive figure skater and ice dancer at an early age, which taught me a lot about performing under pressure, discipline, self-confidence and the benefits of persevering through learning curves. In competitive sports you have to learn to take both wins and losses in stride with grace and a tough skin.
I've called everywhere from Seattle to New York City, San Francisco, Louisville and now Nashville home. Living all over has helped me understand a lot of perspectives and grow a diverse network of contacts for support, advice and friendship on both a personal and professional level. Learning to comfortably rebuild your home network in a new city is a good skill to have. It teaches you how to feel confident and jump head first into new things.
How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at Lexington PR?
I started in public relations at KENZO Parfums, a niche French fragrance brand that is part of the LVMH Group. It was small office in New York and a very close-nit and international team. It taught me what it takes to translate and launch an international brand in the US market and the hurdles sometimes associated with that. The team at KENZO always incorporates creativity, artistry and storytelling into the creation and launch of a product. These are all qualities I keep in mind when building PR campaigns today.
Elizabeth Arden gave me an agency-like experience of balancing a diverse array of clients given the wide array of brands and lines under their corporate umbrella. This is where I honed my skills at running large media events, press launches and working with celebrity spokespeople.
Handling PR for Williams-Sonoma put me on the side of a retailer verses a brand, a perspective I'm able to share with clients. My work on celebrity chef book signing tours expanded my event experience from media previews to consumer events. At the time this jump was to a new sector and a good lesson in confidence that the PR skills I had honed were transferrable across industries.
What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Lexington PR?
I love the diversity of my day, having the opportunity to work with all kinds of business owners and brands as they grow their presence and the satisfaction of seeing that come to fruition. It was a big jump from working in-house at large brands to going solo and launching an independent agency. Seeing that grow into what it is today has been rewarding.
The same dynamic, fast-paced energy that makes public relations an exciting field to work in can also make it feel frenetic at times. You often complete a successful event or secure a great placement just to ask, "Great. So what's next?" The challenging nature of this always keeps me pushing forward but it's also important to insert downtime in and enjoy success for a moment before moving on to the next item.
What advice can you offer to women who want to start their own business?
Don't let fear of failure stop you from ever starting.
What is the most important lesson you've learned in your career to date?
Taking risks and moving out of your comfort zone are uncomfortable but absolutely essential to one's growth.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I don't have the perfect solution! I focus on keeping weekends for personal time and frequently leave my telephone on silent when I first wake up in the morning to enjoy some quiet space and coffee without the stress of the day beginning. I enjoy getting out to meet new people and as a break from work I recently started a women's networking group with a friend of mine called Mod Nashville. We meet once a month and it's a fun escape with an inspiring group of women. My husband and I love cooking together, something that makes a great separation from work at the end of a busy day.
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
I can't speak for all women in the workplace, but on a personal level I think we are frequently our own toughest critics. It's good to be reflective and self-critical but important to recognize your strengths, successes and achievements. We all know perfect isn't possible but sometimes need a reminder.
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
My favorite mentors are the ones that have come in unexpected forms over the years. They're the people who've inspired me with their drive, ideas, creativity, work ethic, attitude, originality and belief in me.
Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
There are a lot of female leaders I've looked up to and who have inspired me in different ways. The largest one would be my mother - a strong willed, intelligent and graceful woman who taught me to speak up, believe in myself and strive for my biggest dreams.
What do you want Lexington PR to accomplish in the next year?
I'm excited to keep growing the Lexington Public Relations footprint in the next year, expand our network, meet new clients, grow our team, share more stories and keep supporting entrepreneurs!
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