This month we recognize Laura Suarez's dedication and outstanding work as an S&P Brand Champion!
**This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.**
Tell us a little bit about yourself! Where are you from, what is your background?
I was born in beautiful Southern California. I am currently pursuing a bachelors in International Business. My fiancé and I recently purchased our first home in La Mirada, CA and are loving our lovely neighborhood! I have a passion for travel and love encouraging others to travel the world. My fiancé and I have been blessed with the opportunity to visit Europe in the past few years, as well as visit Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympics. We also traveled to Paris and London last year, and my fiancé proposed to me in my favorite city in the whole world. I was the first in my family to travel abroad and London was the first city I ever visited, now it holds an even more special place in my heart.
What is one thing on your bucket list you can’t wait to cross off and why?
It has been a dream of mine to visit Egypt! I was always fascinated with the culture and history while growing up. I always wanted to learn as much as I could.
What would be your theme song?
I Lived - by One Republic. The song holds such beautiful memories of all of my travels and the wonderful friends I've made throughout the years. It also reminds me to try and live my best life everyday, as well as encourage others to do the same.
Who would you love to interview and why?
If she were alive, I'd interview Selena Quintanilla. She was such a huge influence in the music industry during her time with us and even after. I think it would be interesting to ask what type of music she'd be writing now, and about what and with whom she’d be interested in collaborating with.
Do you work another job other than being a Brand Champion? Tell us about that position.
At the moment I'm attending school and working as a Brand Champion.
How do you navigate being a Brand Champion with the other responsibilities you have in your daily life?
With moving, wedding planning and school, I try to incorporate talking about Sword & Plough via various social media platforms and conversations whenever possible. I love using my Blue Signature Tote on a daily basis and love starting conversations about the tote. While traveling I enjoy taking my Green Weekender bag and love taking pictures of them anywhere I go!
What inspired you to become a Brand Champion?
Ever since the first day I heard about it from COO Betsy Núñez, whom I'd met at a previous travel company we worked at together, I fell in love with the idea. Each of these products has a beautiful story and wonderful meaning. It’s a great feeling to know you are making a difference in the world by supporting a company that supports veteran employment, reduces waste, and not to mention, gives back 10% of profits to military initiatives.
Who are the veterans in your life? Why do they inspire you?
My cousin Alex Gutierrez recently became a Marine last year and our family is incredibly proud. He is such an inspiration for becoming the first ever member of our family to join the military.
What were your impressions of the military community before becoming a Brand Champion? How has that changed or evolved for you?
I wasn't really involved in the military community before I was a Brand Champion. Sword & Plough has strengthened my civil-military understanding, and I now know what the power of a purchase can do, and the importance of supporting small local businesses. I've also become more interested in talking to veterans about their stories while on duty, their life after serving in the military, and the challenges they face.
What motivates you?
I'm constantly motivated by my wonderful fiancé, friends, and family, who are always so uplifting and inspire me to be a better version of myself. My fiancé is definitely my biggest motivator and inspiration. He not only wishes to be better himself but loves those around him to be better versions of themselves as well. There is nothing more selfless and beautiful in life than succeeding and wanting those around you to succeed as well. It's important to surround ourselves with positive people who reciprocate love and support. I'm blessed to be surrounded by kind and loving souls.
What have you learned from being a Brand Champion?
I've learned so much since becoming one of the first Brand Champions for the company. The most important lesson is the power of your purchase. We all buy things on a daily basis without sometimes even knowing the impact we have on the world with what we buy. I love being a part of a company that supports our veterans and is making a difference to reduce waste. Every time I buy a product from S&P, I know it's going towards making a difference in more than one way. The bags are also so stylish and durable; each bag is beautiful and unique in its own way.
What is your favorite Brand Champion giving partner and why?
My favorite giving partner is Purple Hearts Reunited, which has also been our newest with the launch of our Burgundy Wool Crossbody bag on Valentine's Day. Purple Hearts Reunited is a non-profit organization that returns lost or stolen military medals to veterans and military families at no cost. Through their work, Purple Hearts Reunited returns what is often the last tangible piece of a veteran to his or her family. With your purchase, you help fund the Purple Hearts Reunited service medal return ceremonies, which are an opportunity to share veterans' stories and honor their legacies.
What is your favorite Sword & Plough product?
This is a tough one...I have a couple of favorites. My favorite travel bag is The Weekender, I use it on every single trip whether domestic or international.
While exploring new cities, I use my Brown Wool Crossbody bag because it's light and stylish.
At home I use my Blue Signature Tote on a daily basis. It has so many pockets and holds so much. I'm usually that friend that carries band aids, tissues, cough drops or anything others might need in an emergency!