Candice Fernandez, Marketing Director for La Prairie Group in Australia and New Zealand, possesses a remarkable and diverse professional background. Throughout her career, she has held key positions in marketing and leadership across a spectrum of beauty multinationals including Glasshouse Fragrances, Unilever, Elizabeth Arden, LVMH, and more. Retail Beauty had the opportunity to interview this mother of three to delve into her inspiring career journey.

What sparked your interest in beauty, and how has your passion evolved?

I’ve always had a deep fascination with fashion and beauty magazines since my early years, often attempting to recreate the latest trends in hair and makeup, even though I was probably too young to be doing so. It was evident to me from a young age that I was destined for a career in marketing. When I relocated to London at the age of 20 and secured a temporary position at Estée Lauder, followed by a move to Chanel, it felt like a dream come true. Over time, my passion for the industry continued to grow, prompting me to actively seek opportunities to work with both prestige and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) beauty and personal care brands. I was driven by a desire to gain insights from both segments of the industry. Eventually, I expanded my horizons into the broader lifestyle sector, where I had the privilege of working with local businesses. Throughout my journey, I’ve had the chance to experience a diverse range of business types, varying in size and scale, which has proven to be an incredibly fulfilling and enriching experience.

What are your key responsibilities as Marketing Director at La Prairie?

I am very fortunate to work for La Prairie, a true luxury skincare house. My role is to bring to life the brand vision of La Prairie in ANZ via the products and innovation, client experiences and client events, instore experience and physical spaces, and through our media, online and digital strategies.  While I host and attend beautiful events, do some travel and of course experience the beautiful products – what makes the role most fulfilling are the people. And by this, I mean the La Prairie team and also our valued clients. They are warm and passionate and genuinely love to be part of the La Prairie family.

How has your leadership style evolved?

I try to stay curious for longer and help people bring their ideas to the surface by asking more questions vs giving answers and directions too quickly. I think it’s important to slow down and look for every opportunity to create more simplicity and clarity within the business. I think this improves the conditions for people to invest their time in the things that make a difference and having the tools and process to support this. I try to be more considerate and inclusive of people’s individual circumstances and life stages and trying to cater the way I/we work together so we collectively get the most out of work. People have different needs depending on life stage and personal circumstances and it’s critical to understand this in order to get the best out of talent and retaining people. 

How do you foster innovation and collaboration in your teams?

Innovation: Create space and the right conditions for creativity – get offsite, be in new spaces, bringing diverse groups of experts from different categories and consumer groups for fresh perspectives.

Collaboration: people need to be invested in each other’s success and have a personal connection to collaborate effectively. Knowing each other’s personality types, working styles, objectives is critical to create the glue that binds teams together. Structurally, things like business process and reward need to be built to support collaboration to achieve outcomes too.

Can you highlight career-defining moments?

Dove Campaign for Real Beauty – working on the local development and execution of the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty. This was not only a career defining moment, but also category defining moment. Fat or Fit? Grey or Gorgeous? Wrinkled or Wonderful? The global campaign aimed to debunk beauty stereotypes and present a real, attainable (and yet still aspirational) type of beauty. Real Beauty. This was an incredible experience to work on the Australian version of this global campaign.

Toni & Guy – working on the launch of a supermarket range of Toni & Guy Haircare. Australia was the first market to launch outside of the UK, and the launch strategy was rolled out globally. We developed a coffee table book and online book called Fashion Blogged and Bound – one of the earlier influencer campaigns (way back before that term existed). It was a fun experience working in the haircare and fashion space, bringing to life the relationship Toni & Guy has with London Fashion Week.  

Three Bird Renovations – spending four years as the CEO was a thrill! Working with a super talented team to grow the business and shape what is a truly a unique business model was a very special experience.

How do you achieve work-life balance?

This is always a tough one for people – I would say it’s a fluid thing. Some years, months, and weeks the balance is right, other times it can be more challenging – especially when you have a family as balance is a collective thing. It’s about communication both within your family and with your organisation to enable as much flexibility as possible when its needed, and understanding that sometimes when you are on, you are on.  

Beyond work, what personal interests or hobbies are you passionate about?

Travel and having memorable experiences with my family and friends is at the top of my list. I also love being in my home – decorating, styling, gardening. I love fashion, not so much trends but rather curating my own personal style and finding things I love that are classic and feel like “me”.  I like connecting with people over simple things (like a backyard BBQ) and getting beneath the surface with people.

Any influential mentors or role models in your career journey?

Julia King stands out for me. She was my mentor when I was working at Glasshouse Fragrances. Julia headed up Louis Vuitton for many years, is a wealth of wisdom. When she spoke, you listened, and gosh you learnt a lot. She helped me to evolve my mindset in how to operate in a local Founder led business, coming from a global organisation.

What life lesson would you tell your younger self?

Don’t sweat the small stuff! Sometimes done is actually better than perfect! We can’t do it all, all the time.

Advice for women seeking career success while raising a family?

There is no formula and parent guilt is a real thing. The children’s life stages require different levels of involvement and support that constantly evolve.  With your partner – work out when each of you are going to push and when to hold consistent. It doesn’t work if everyone is trying to push at the same time, for a long period of time. It’s like training as a corporate athlete – sometimes you are at your peak going for your personal best, other times it’s about maintenance and training for consistency to prepare for the future….and the part we forget about most is REST! Athletes know the value of this and ruthlessly prioritise this or risk injury. We need to think of our careers as interval training not marathons!

Candice’s career:

  • Mar 2023 – present: Marketing Director at La Prairie Group Australia and New Zealand
  • Jan 2022 – Present: Founder and Director of The Lifestyle Brand Collective
  • Aug 2017 – Oct 2021: Chief Executive Officer at Three Birds Renovations
  • Apr 2014 – Jan 2017: Marketing Director at Glasshouse Fragrances
  • Nov 2006  – Mar 2014: Positions at Unilever, including Marketing Manager for Skin Care Portfolio, Marketing Manager for Hair.
  • Sep 2004 – Oct 2006: Marketing Manager at Elizabeth Arden
  • Feb 2000 – Aug 2004: Senior Product Manager at LVMH

This article was first published in the Summer issue of Retail Beauty:

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