African Americano

In 2019 while earning my MA in Fashion Journalism online at the Academy Of Art University I was enrolled in Danielle Wallis’s Fashion Styling class. After enduring weeks of preliminary lessons where we learned how to style for a client, photograph accessories, and analyze magazine editorial layouts, we finally reached the final project.

Since one of my goals, as an African American fashion/feature writer is to incorporate my culture into my writing, I wanted to choose a final project concept that reflected that. Compiling various ideas from five influences, representing art, literature, music, dance, and fashion I came up with a cohesive story that I called African Americano.

In homage to my paternal grandmother, who was half Italian and half African American, I cautiously presented it to Professor Wallis. Once I further explained, in my bubble map and mood board, that I was also going to represent the 1960s and 1970s, and my muse was going to be Tish Rivers from James Baldwin’s novel If Beale Street Could Talk she became excited as well.

Two of her requirements that almost halted the project before it began, however, was that I look for clothes and accessories within my zip code and the outfits had to be realistic. So anything with an African American flair had to be thoroughly incorporated and make sartorial sense. In the film, based on the book, Tish Rivers worked in a department store, but in my fashion story I widened her scope and gave her a wardrobe that would be just as appropriate if worn at school, in an office, or a bank.

Within my zip code, 90008, the shops I chose were within the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza and the surrounding areas. What I couldn’t find there I found in my closets. Edited down to five outfits, which I also modeled and photographed, the African American touches-a multicolored cloth bag from Malik Books, two African necklaces from the Pan African Film and Arts Festival, a Notorious BIG t-shirt from Ross Dress For Less and a black and white Black Panther tote from the Soul of a Nation exhibit at the Broad Museum-embued my styling with a uniquely ethnic flavor.

Now as I look back at African Americano, and put it into context with the other projects I completed at the Academy Of Art University before receiving my degree last December, I have to say it was definitely the one that made me proudest to be an African American.

Quartz: Getting Your News the Friendly Way

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When I think of my daily news, the computer and cell phones, I usually think efficiency and convenience, never friendly and accessible. Quartz, the news app that delivers current events with an online smile, is the technological app I’m most excited about these days. Highly visual and easily digestible it sends the user news in text formats then allows a response with adorable little emojis.

By adding a touch of humanity and freshness, Quartz is a great prototype for today’s social and mobile reporters who are trying to reach millennials and creative individuals who don’t like reading the news in classically worded text.

I Never Met a Shop I Didn’t Like

Century City Plaza

The reason I like writing store profiles so much is they include everything I love about fashion, retail and writing in one package. Creatively there’s the colorful, adjective-laden prose, photos, and illustrations that visually make it appealing. Economically there’s the thrill of discovery and journalistically there’s the joy of flexing my brainstorming, researching and interviewing techniques.

My first exposure to writing store profiles happened when I was taking a Retailing class as part of my Fashion Merchandising program at CSULA. I had to write a three-store profile for my Mid-term paper, so for the assignment, I chose three furniture businesses,  Civilization for the high end, Plummer’s for the mid-range, and a discount store for the low end. Throughout my writing career, I’ve duplicated the process I was taught to use, in this class, of researching a company before interviewing the owner or owners and sales staff, describing the interiors and exteriors of the site, describing the merchandise and displays, and explaining how they fit into the current retail climate.

Fabulous L.A. Store Displays

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FIDM Student Store-Bolts of fabric for sale

David's Bridal window display 2








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Lasta Icelandic Fashion Shop

While working as a fashion columnist for Culver City News, in 2014, I wrote a store profile about Lasta Icelandic Fashion Shop (Lasta Icelandic Fashion Shop is a wonderful source for an individualist. It remains one of my favorite experiences as a writer.

Iceland was really “trending” in 2014, and the co-founder and major proponent of Icelandic and Nordic fashion, Helga Olaffsson, was a fascinating interviewee and businesswoman. Besides being a big fan of mystery writers Steig Larsson, Henning Mankell, Jo Nesbo and Karin Folsum, the other pop culture element that influenced my decision to write about Lasta were the T.V. shows, The Killing, Wallander, and Borgen. Finally, the reason this profile really stood out for me is the individuality of the designs represented and the lovely way they were displayed.

Ethics Challenge: Should Journalists Be More Responsible Today Because of the Internet?

After reading How Tragedy Strikes When Journalism and Social Media Lack Ethics and Humanity ( for my FSH 628: Mobile & Social Media class at Academy of Art University on April 8, 2018, I wasn’t shocked by the irresponsibility of the “social media organizations” I was shocked by the “Reddit user” who started the whole scenario. The fact that they were merely an internet visitor who lacked empathy and common sense is apparent, and in my opinion, should’ve ended there. Unfortunately, in the haste to ride in on a hot story while it was still trending, the journalists working for these organizations didn’t verify the source by doing the proper research.

They never seemed to question why Sunil Tripathi was in the news or why someone would “post” his photo beside Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokar Tsarnaev. It was just assumed they both looked Middle Eastern and a bias ensued causing Tripathi’s tragic demise. Due to their negligence, and inability to do the background research required for stories with an internet source, I definitely believe these journalists contributed to Tripathi’s death. By putting information, on the internet, that wasn’t responsibly written they endangered his life by alerting users whose personal prejudices, and lack of an intellectual filter put him in harm’s way.

If I were their editor, I would tell them to first give the public background information on the “clinical depression” Tripathi suffered from, then explain that he’s missing and his family is looking for him. I would simultaneously also advise the journalists to talk about the prejudice that might now exist because of the Boston Marathon bombing and how crucial it is to separate these feelings from the real crisis of Tripathi’s disappearance. Finally, I would ask them to provide the public with resources that could help him if they did locate him safely.

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