Sandra García-Sanjuán, co-founder of Starlite, opens up personally and professionally

Pure vitamin. Sandra García-Sanjuán (Tenerife, 1972) has become a true guru when it comes to creating a large business group and she does so without losing her eternal smile or that Canarian sweetness that she extends in each of her words. The thing about the co-founder of Starlite festival With the world of artists it comes almost from birth. Since she was a child, she saw many singers pass by her house and from there she dedicated herself to traveling to the capitals of international fashion, rubbing shoulders with the top stars of the 90s.

What started as a hobby became a job when he created his representation agency in which he had in Spain Brad Pitt y Angelina Jolie when they were still lovebirds without children. From those first steps traveling halfway around the world came his meeting with Antonio Banderas to organize a charity evening together to raise money for the two foundations they promote: Children in Joy (Sandra) and Lágrimas y Favores (Antonio). What began with a gala in a hotel in Marbella has become a piece of international festival that grows every year and has other venues such as Mexico and Madrid. Starlite is already the dream that Sandra can touch with her hands.

Once upon a time… your thing with Starlite, if it’s not a fairy tale story, is very similar.

SG: We are going to celebrate the XIII edition of the festival and the XV of the gala. And we already knew each other! It’s incredible how far we’ve walked. Whenever we bet on something we do it in a big way and that is why we had the vision of something important and leaving a legacy. The start of everything was not the festival but the galas he did with Antonio Banderas and Eva Longoria even came as an international guest. I had my representation agency (Avory) for years and my husband, Ignacio Moguer, He had an engineering company (EIS), since he was the inventor of the little lights that are in many parking lots. When he decided to sell his company, he chose to support me to do the Festival and it was my great injection.

I managed very well among the famous people I knew from many jobs and my husband was the one who had the vision of creating the festival after seeing the success of the charity galas. After two years I understood that I was dedicated almost all year to organizing that event. Ignacio turned everything around and we agreed that the concerts were the best. We contacted many artists to come to the gala and, given the incredible response from everyone saying yes, what was going to be a two-day festival turned into much longer. To be exact, I had 13 artists coming to perform and there was no other option than to create a festival to accommodate them. Ignacio looked for the perfect place for that celebration and there appeared the quarry that is today the headquarters. It was a landfill and we cleaned and fixed it because we saw the possibility of having one hectare to be able to propose a broader offer. We created a new concept of concerts where before and after the performances you could go for a drink or dinner.

They have been able to grow up without having to marry any politician. And in Marbella the word corruption is part of the landscape.

SG: We have always tried to stay on the sidelines and be correct with the ruler of the moment by inviting him to the opening press conference, but I think that business projects cannot depend on politics. Furthermore, I do not believe in institutional aid that should be used for projects that do not exist and are necessary but never to compete with businessmen. Starlite leaves a lot in terms of both jobs and the capital it generates during those days, revitalizing the economy of the area and that can be rewarded with sponsorship. Governments have to support those projects where private companies cannot reach because they are not profitable, but they are necessary.

They were innovative with the auctions of experiences that always arise at galas. From a kiss from Santiago Segura to a weekend at someone famous’s house. Have you been wanting to bid on something?

SG: I always bid and even if there is a lack of funds for the projects that are committed, I am there.

What would you like to have this year?

SG: My dream is always to surprise everyone with something new. I want them to say “wow.” This year we have many new things. We have the largest festival stage in the world, an expanded gastronomic offer with five restaurants, and an amazing lighting display.

This year they are going to have Luis Miguel and there is a legend that Isabel Pantoja has told them no because she does not want to set foot in Marbella.

SG: I admit that I love Isabel Pantoja as an artist, but I assure you that that is not true because nothing has been proposed so nothing can be rejected. It will be somewhere else, but in Starlite I assure you it won’t.

Antonio Banderas is the best partner anyone could dream of.

SG: He is an extraordinary ally and has helped us a lot. It is not part of the festival, but it comes a lot and the gala does support it to the fullest to the point that the large funding for its foundation comes precisely from that night. He is a very creative man and a visionary as well as generous and a good friend. He has his feet on the ground and that makes him very approachable.

Has anyone told you no?

SG: He is not just temporary. That’s why I don’t believe in absolute no. Then it becomes yes.

Do El Turronero and its parties compete with Starlite?

SG: Quite the opposite. He has come to Starlite a lot and is also a partner in a project we have for another festival in Benicassim. He is a great businessman and I assure you that we like to surround ourselves with people we respect and admire.

A life with her husband Ignacio and fully involved in these projects. They have not had children but they have had an overwhelming professional life.

SG: I would have loved to have children and I assure you that it was not a decision made because we tried very hard. I had sixteen inseminations and that’s why I gained so much weight, since I was taking hormones all day and I was obsessed with getting pregnant. But it couldn’t be done. There I understood that man proposes and God disposes. My grandmother used to say “if you want God to laugh, tell him your plans.” When you look back you realize that life is like that and that everything has a reason.

And you didn’t think about adopting?

SG: I spent so much time trying to get pregnant that I missed the deadlines for adoption, since until four years ago I was undergoing treatment. I also know that if we had had our children the time would not have been so absolute to create these projects. Our children are the 75,000 who have already passed through our foundation.

How do you manage to work with your husband and not end up breaking up?

SG: The most important thing in a relationship is love and admiration. As long as that lasts you can be happy. I admire Ignacio so much that even when we argue I usually give up because I know that later he will surely be right.

Have they become rich with this project?

SG: We are millionaires in experiences, in friendships and in having created a very important group. We do not think about the money that comes in but about creating a legacy that makes history. We use the money we have to continue growing and our luck is that we have partners who are doing very well and do not demand distribution of dividends every year but rather continue reinvesting. We all agree on that and it is a joy to be able to grow like this.

What will be the future of Starlite when you are gone?

SG: There is a solid structure with a general director and I assure you that the group is running perfectly without having to be fully involved as was the case in the first years. Today I was in charge of the magic committee looking for ideas that surprise, but I don’t keep up with the day. That is already perfectly organized. Starlite is a business group with the music part, the production company, the clothing and accessories brand, the foundation, the artistic recruitment agency, the marketing and communication agency… everything feeds off each other.

I suppose she must have had many boyfriends to stay with her brand.

SG: All the time. But when you continue to grow and have financial support with the partners, we continue there because we believe there is much left to do. We would not like to sell our share because we think there are things to do, but we are always willing to listen to whoever believes in our project and wants to continue along this line and maintain our vision. We see this as a Disney, our mission is to make many people happy and bring out the best version of everyone.

That Luis Miguel performs three nights at Starlite I suppose has a lot to do with Paloma Cuevas.

SG: Of course. Paloma is a very good friend of Starlite and has been there since the beginning. She thinks that Luis Miguel is going to be on the smallest stage of his tour since he performs in stadiums, but that’s why he will be there three days in a row.

Have you had a wedding at Starlite?

SG: Well, look, to date, no. But I think it’s a great idea.