This week's Nails of New York features Babba Canales, director of brand marketing for luxury luggage brand Away. In addition to her extremely-impressive background (she launched Uber in Stockholm, Sweden, and was recognized as one of Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2016), she is passionate about strategic partnerships that connect brands with consumers. Proof: Babba and her team at Away have planned viral community events, experiential installations, and collaborations with brands like Pop + Suki and Charity Water.
Rarely seen without her sweet adopted pup Blue, Babba has an energetic, kind spirit, and her positivity is contagious. Her main advice: surround yourself with people and companies you admire–that's ultimately how you'll succeed. Read more about how her travels spark creativity, her go-to color combos, and the power of her mani as a key component of her style.
Why do you paint your nails?
It makes me feel and look put together every day, while requiring minimal effort—I actually find it relaxing to regularly set aside time every 2-3 weeks to get my nails done.
When did getting manicures become important to you?
When I was 15 years old, I had a horrible nail biting habit so manicures became the solution. Having pretty nails was enough to keep me from destroying them. Over time my nails started to regain their strength, which is when I truly started to appreciate my hands. Now I can't go a day without having my nails done—its more important to me than what I wear or what my hair looks like.
You tend to gravitate towards graphic designs in shades of red and pinks. Would you say this has always been your nail style?
I used to wear only red nails until I discovered Paintbox! That's when I discovered the world of nail art and started experimenting with my nails more—love mixing red and pink.
Gel or polish?
Gel manicures are amazing because they last so long and add to your overall appearance. I find beautiful hands to be a reflection of me.
A manicure makes you feel: Polished!
What does a day-in-the-life look like to you?
I'm usually up for 7AM boxing every morning-then I walk to work with my dog, Blue, and pick up a coffee at La Colombe. Then it's meeting on meetings until 6PM, followed my two hours of focused work with my Bose headphones on.
How do you and your team strategically think of new approaches to brand content?
We're constantly setting aside time to brainstorm together not just among our team, but with other teams as well, to come up with future partnerships and activations. We love hosting-store events–it allows us to connect with our customers and community on a personal level.
Congrats on all the incredible suitcase collaborations you've launched lately. How do you come up with these partnerships?
It's truly a team effort! We love partnerships with like-minded brands and we have a unique approach to each partnership. Sometimes the ideas are born out of an internal brainstorm, but more often they come to life very organically through personal connections. Sometimes when being introduced to another brand, it's as if the stars align and you just have to make something beautiful together.
Can you tell us a little bit about your past role at Uber and your transition to director of brand marketing at Away?
I joined Uber when I was 22–I was recruited to help market the launch of Uber in Sweden. Stockholm quickly became the service's fastest growing market and allowed me to take on a mentorship role across Europe, the Middle East, and South Africa. When I was relocated to Uber's NYC office, I pitched my dream role to my boss at the time–this lead me to leading the partnerships team and creating a fashion and lifestyle strategy from the group up. After about four years at Uber, I felt ready to move on to a new role. I immediately fell in love with the Away story upon hearing about it from our co-founder, Jen. So when the opportunity came along I couldn't say no.
When do you get your best ideas?
When I'm traveling–my creativity typically flourishes by the third day of a trip and I love to use the flight home to write down all my ideas.
Where is your favorite place you've been?
LA is my favorite for work trips. There's no better way to start the morning than with a hike or walk on the beach–before heading straight to a work meeting and catching up on emails in the back of an Uber of course.
Best feature of an Away suitcase?
The USB charger, 100%. Such a lifesaver!
Favorite thing about NYC?
All the incredible markets the city has to offer. Tictail is my ultimate favorite–I'm always discovering new Swedish designers there and love to support whenever I can!