Sure, Good Times isn’t Vogue, but we do take the fashion issue very seriously. In fact, this is my favorite issue to work on every year. This is my fifth time compiling this gorgeous display of locally sold clothing and accessories, stylish outfits, fashion inspiration to readers and stories about locals who are doing remarkable work in the fashion world.
This year is by far GT’s best fashion issue (in my opinion) in the 11 years that I have worked for the paper. We snatched up model Anju Lewis before she hits it big in the modeling industry, we were blessed to use the fashion styling services of Missy Schnaps, and a slew of other talented professionals came on board and offered their help (read more below). This year, the photography, styling and clothing were all taken to a new level—worthy of any major fashion magazine.
This is how a fashion issue happens: I start conceptualizing the issue in late spring, usually in April sometime. What is it I want readers to learn about this year? What local clothes do I want them to have access to? While people complain that Santa Cruz has no fashion sense, that’s actually nonsense. You can walk around this town anywhere and see women who have put together New York-worthy outfits. And that’s what we were going for—inspired fashion that’s accessible to our readers. This year, one of my top requirements was to work with the best of the best in Santa Cruz—the best stylist I could find, the best hair and makeup, the best clothing, the best photography, the best location, the best stories.
I started with the photographer. The obvious choice was Keana Parker, a Brooks Institute trained photog whose portfolio is exquisite. For the last year, Parker has been working as a GT photographer, so she’s who I wanted to work with. She “gets” fashion photography and was thrilled to collaborate on this issue. We teamed up—editor and photographer, to put together the next two integral components: a model and a fashion stylist.
The model: My usual go-to model was pregnant this year and unavailable so we needed a new face. I sent out lots of emails asking for recommendations, and I received back an intriguing reply from Suna Lock, the owner of Stripe. Lock had met a young woman, Anju Lewis, at the local farmer’s market one day and asked Lewis to do some shots for Stripe. The photos had turned out beautifully. Parker and I set up an interview with Lewis and were instantly charmed by her—beautiful face and body, but with a Santa Cruz spirit and outlook. She was the perfect choice, and a sweetheart to boot.
This entire process, from the original concept to bringing on the fashion issue staff, to shooting the cover story images, to researching stories and interviewing people, assigning photos and exchanging literally several hundred emails, takes four months. I start in April and finish at the end of July. That’s how important I think this issue is.
Some people pooh-pooh fashion and think it’s frivolous, but if you think about it, it’s an artistic way of expressing yourself. It’s something you might create (sewing your own clothes or making your own accessories), or maybe it’s a way to be a walking piece of art—you invest time and money into creating a new outfit every day. In any case, I invest four months of my work life into making sure this fashion issue will please readers.
Next up after booking a model? Secure one of the other most important people—the fashion stylist. In this case, I was referred to Missy Schnaps who does hair for L’Atelier. She and I had a long talk and she really understood the concept of fashion styling for a newspaper. She was also dressed in a sharp, fashion-forward outfit, so it was clear she was qualified for the job. With a big thanks to Schnaps, I have to acknowledge the hard work that she did. She was responsible for piecing together my request—eight looks that represent “fall,” are of exquisite taste, can be inspiring to locals and take into account the stock of Santa Cruz stores. Schnaps did just this, plus she booked Ruth Gonzalez for makeup (from L’Atelier), hair stylist Laina Welsh (also from L’Atelier) and Stephanie Baptista (from L’Atelier) to give our model a fresh manicure. On top of this, Schnaps took our model’s hair from ombré to a dark, and beautiful chestnut brown which accentuated the features of our model, Lewis. And on top of all that, she dialogued with local retailers, borrowed a slew of clothing, accessories and more, and conceptualized hair and makeup for every look. Keep an eye out for a surely booming fashion styling career for Schnaps. She’s brilliant.
And then we had to book our location. Parker, the photographer scouted Sand Rock Farm in Aptos, a bed and breakfast with breathtaking views.
After all this was done, we secured the shoot date in mid-July at Sand Rock Farm for a Monday evening during the best summertime light. The only catch, I couldn’t make it until the shoot was half over, due to another commitment. But that wasn’t a concern. This remarkable crew of fashion focused women put together a stunning photo shoot. From the edited selection of beautiful garments and more, to Parker’s mom who kept an eye on the light, and made sure each shot was accomplished, to the dynamic work of Schnaps and her team from L’Atelier, and of course the beauty of Lewis and the talent of Parker—this is our best fashion issue yet.
Thank you to Anju Lewis for her beauty, perfect posing, and equally lovely attitude; thank you to Keana Parker, the best photographer in Santa Cruz (as far as I’m concerned); thank you to Missy Schnaps—none of this could have happened without your hard work, determination and fashionable eye; thank you to Laina Welsh and Ruth Gonzalez of L’Atelier for stunning makeup and hair, as well as Stephanie Baptista from L’Atelier for a natural manicure. And thank you to the retailers for supplying clothing and accessories: Oakandco.com, Stripe, Jade, Cameron Marks, Beklina.com, Lina Rennell, Idle Hands, Blank Verse. Cheers to fashion.