Suzy Buckley bucks the stereotype of the female magazine editor as a cold-hearted bitch who finds it criminal to crack a smile.
The current editor in chief of Ocean Drive, the ultimate luxury city guide for jet-setters and local socialites, Buckley has no problem commanding respect, but she never seems unapproachable.
"The magazine is a recognizable brand all over the U.S., because the Miami lifestyle is something that's marketable to the whole country and world," Buckley tells us over dinner. "Because we started when the city was going through a rebirth, our magazine became synonymous with this area. Everyone thought the whole of Miami was like the pages of Ocean Drive."
Did Miami make Ocean Drive, or did Ocean Drive make Miami? Buckley says the city and the magazine came into their own at the same time.
Founded by Jason Binn and Jerry Powers in 1993, the glossy coincided with a South Beach renaissance spurred by Gianni Versace, whose mansion was located on the magazine's namesake. Buckley got on board early, interning at Ocean Drive in 1994 under then-editor Lori Capullo.
For Buckley, her journalism career came by accident. While attending the University of Miami, she took an assignment covering a Bon Jovi concert at The Hurricane, the student-run newspaper, because she wanted to see the band.
After graduation, she began writing for dot-com businesses on the hunt for content providers. "When I graduated from college, Internet companies were throwing money at graduates because real journalists working in print wouldn't touch the Internet."
Meanwhile, Buckley continued writing for Ocean Drive, later becoming its people editor and eventually the lifestyle editor. When she assumed control of the magazine as editor in chief in January 2010, Miami was still in the midst of a recession and rumors were swirling of Powers's return to print media.
"It wasn't a good economic moment for any publication. A year or two before I took over, the magazine wasn't really reflective of what it's always been about. What I've focused on is providing a lot of information on Miami."
For a woman whose job it is to hawk Miami's expensive goods and services, Buckley is surprisingly humble and aware there is life on the other side of the causeway. Our dinner at a modest Greek eatery in the Design District was her idea.
"I don't really go to nightclubs, because I have to wake up at 5 a.m. to go to Core Fusion," she says when pressed to name some favorite hangouts after dusk. "I like the karaoke at Casa Tua."
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Buckley is comfortable with expanding Ocean Drive's beat beyond the barrier island into neighborhoods such as downtown, Wynwood, and the Design District. And she has the staff and work ethic to do it.
"It's fun, but we work hard. It's not that people who come in and say, 'I like fashion!' who get a job. It's people who like fashion, work hard, and have paid their dues."
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