Who's That Gal Vol. 2

Asha Isabella | Tosser Mag | Just Us Gals
Asha Isabella | Tosser Mag | Just Us Gals

Hi Asha! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some interview questions from JUGs today! You must be very busy these days as you are a

fashion blogger

, editor-in-chief of your own magazine,

Tosser Magazine

, and a fashion designer for your own label

Asha Isabella US

. How do you do it all? How do these three jobs influence each other?

I basically just consider myself a storyteller with different medium. I also write and publish fiction under a different name (random bit there). Unfortunately, I’ve been neglecting my blogging lately but I never considered myself a fashion blogger. It was more of a personal journey for me - I just shared photos with interesting people I met, behind the scenes things with the magazine and the collection, and a DIY post here and there.

Anywho... to actually answer your question... it is very important for me to manage my time extremely well. It can be very overbearing to figure out which priorities are the most important and not overwhelming myself with tasks so i get to the point where i don’t get anything done. Especially because we’re at that point where I am doing a lot on the business side. That’s actually been my biggest challenge lately and now I have someone that helps me with my time management. They’re not in this crazy jumbled up mind of mine so I figure out the millions of things i need done within a day and when all of the deadlines are and they literally put me on a schedule. It’s brand new, we’ll see how it works.

And all of my jobs are influenced by whatever world I’m living in within my dreams. I do think there are very close similarities between

Tosser

and the clothing line but its all about energy and what message... or impression we leave. Both of them are very edgy and just so reflective of my style. I like to be a bit loud, a bit daring and that is what my goals are with the both of them. And in terms of the business side, I like to market us in the same manner. It really says something when you’re holding

Tosser

Magazine

or wearing an AI garment or even reading my writing. It’s really all about me bringing you into the world of my dreams. And that’s just what I love about all of it. It’s a really interesting place there.

We noticed that your fashion line and magazine are both very bold, not shying away from addressing cultural topics and pushing people past their comfort levels. Is there any style of fashion statement that you would say is too bold for you?

No, I don’t think there are any boundaries on how bold I can be. It is really about whatever runs through my mind whenever I decide to dress or when I’m pitched a person to interview, etc. I really think it’s important for people to identify what their individual styles are and just do whatever they want. And in terms of writing asking the questions your reader really wants the answer to.

I also don’t dress for other people, I dress for my mood so I’m never concerned with what anyone else will think of my ensemble. I mean... I’m not going to walk around with meat on my body (I don’t consume meat anyway) but if I want a purple bob and a dress inspired by Zenon, Girl of the 21st Century, I’m sure as hell going to do it. And that’s just what my personal style is. I think some people have the impression me or my friends work hard at grabbing the attention of others. No, we don’t. I’ll roll out of bed to go grab a grapefruit from Wholefoods at 7am and I’ll just grab the closest thing to me... the closest thing to me might be a mod dress and a pair of 5 inch heels. It’s just what I have. It’s just what’s in my closet. So, I’m never dressing over the top for the sake of dressing over the top. I fall in love with pieces that are very reflective of my inner self and my thoughts, inspirations, etc and when I end up putting them all together they tend to just make a statement.

And, I promise to shut up about this but as a publication I think it’s very important to push boundaries culturally. We’re getting more into this and as

Tosser

develops you’ll see it a lot more. But we represent a community of people that live and think outside of the box so we need to be the publication that shares that sentiment.

We love upfrontness of Tosser’s voice. What is your goal for Tosser and how do you aim to make it stand out from other fashion magazines?

The goal for

Tosser

is to really relate to the community we’re targeting. We do pay very close to our tone and make sure the voice of the magazine sounds the same throughout, also in our daily content and blog. I personally like reading content that feels a little conversational and that can make me laugh ever so often. You know, how you feel when speaking with a person that says exactly what’s on their mind.

Tosser

wants to be your cool friend next door - with great forward-thinking style, knows the best events, always has some type of cool project going on, and is always introducing you to someone interesting. We characterize

Tosser

as such so when we’re writing that character is in mind. I also tend to mix my interests. I didn’t go to school for journalism (went for writing & literature and economics with a focus in corporate finance - way too loaded of a major) so when I write I tend to just write exactly how I would want to read it. Example - I wrote the cover story on June Haynes, the senior VP of retail at Valentino for the second issue and I wrote it like a short story. I just found it more interesting.

In terms of standing out from other magazines... you can buy and afford everything within our page. We focus a lot on e commerce so everything in our spreads or on our style pages is something you can scan our magazine and purchase. We don’t just want you fantasizing about these styles... we want you to be able to get them.

Tosser features “cultural influencers” and your premier issue for Tosser featured Project Runway’s season 9 winner Anya Ayoung-Chee. We’re curious, what’s in store for the next magazine?

For the next issue - our cover story is about

June Haynes

and how she came from a developing country at the age of 11, already very set in her cultural ways and how she navigated her life in the US to become the senior VP of retail at Valentino. She’s also just such an inspiring person to talk to. So, a lot of this issue is about people that have come to some form of success and figuring out what kind of person it takes to get there. June mentions she never doubted herself because of how spiritual she is and just always felt like she was on a path. We also talk to the young London “it-girl”

Nyane Leboja

who is 5’2 and has been in incredible modeling campaigns, has a massive following, is recognized on the street, she’s been featured on Asos and Nylon Magazine. She just started a clothing line, she’s kicking off her music career - signed to a great label, never went to university and she is building a brand for herself... all at the ripe age of 19. Once again we have our “keep on your radar” feature. I actually had the opportunity to meet a lot of them this time and was just so inspired. We have an interview with the shoe buyer at

Karmaloop

, and a bunch more.

In terms of editorial - we did something a little Warhol inspired and some inspired by Lords of Dogtown, which had to be my favorite shoot for the entire issue. Especially because we shot on the beach in the dead of winter.

Do you have any fashion pet peeves?

Absolutely. I get a little frustrated with the overuse of “fashion” to the point where it’s becoming a little discredited. People will throw a couple of  sequins on a t-shirt and call themselves a fashion designer. Or someone will say they love fashion and know nothing about the industry and have no opinions on what their personal styles are. I think you should know at least one designer before making that claim. Or... anything. Absolutely anything. Saying you love Kohls and wearing a t-shirt and sweatpants everyday but not being able to name even one designer - mainstream or up and coming... you don’t love fashion.

I also hate when people don’t really respect the fashion industry, as if it is not one of the most culturally and economically influential industries. We learn so much about everything from history to the economic status of our country through the decades based on the clothing they wear. It’s also another art form and I think, more so in the States, it’s not entirely respected as such by the majority of the population. I was speaking with a friend from Spain a couple months back and he remembers sitting in bars  with couture shows on the tele screens. But we live in a place that takes chasing a ball and pounding each other into the ground more seriously than an industry that also raises billions in revenue and influences our daily lives. And I don’t think it’s just fashion honestly. People just don’t value the arts enough here. If someone were to tell someone they were an artist as a career choice people  automatically think they’re unsuccessful. We really can’t survive without it. I mean, picture a world with no art.

Fashion must have? Favorite outfit? (see drawing below)

Err, right now. Black & gold and slinky heels. I can’t promise I’d say the same next week.

We have to ask. Boston often gets rated as one of the worst dressed cities in America (which we personally hate), how do you feel about that? Is there any particular reason why your businesses are headquartered in Boston?

Oh my goodness... that damn GQ article. I mean, people are so narrow-minded. We live in the largest college town in the country.. (world?). So, if you are an outsider looking in you are absolutely only going to see students. Most in their runners or school gear - sweatshirts and such. There are a lot of “bro dudes” going to bars but that is only a part of our city. I fell into the art scene in Boston when I came here and over the past few years I’ve even watched the fashion scene develop as Bostonians passionate about style emerge.

The unfortunate thing here in Boston is that the main fashion scene in Boston is dominated by conservatives and the truly creative and out-of-the-box thinkers are “underground.” That’s what the point of The Boston Bazaar is... to bring all of these creatives from word-of-mouth to being the completely fuel and focus of our publications. I think being fashionable is about far more than being able to afford Celine or Louboutins and if you are not really involved in the - let’s call it the “style scene” - here then you either see sweaty college kids or wealthy “fashion-branded” people... then lurking about are the rest of the individuals being style stalked by plenty of magazines and newspapers in actual fashion capitals.

I like Boston and we’re not going anywhere. We have felt resistance from the fashion community here because we don’t do things the exact same way. Having a million dollars and a humdrum collection doesn’t peek our fancy (unless you’re advertising... don’t be silly now). We also don’t care to cover the same exact “fashion” scene that our major publications cover (Globe, metro, etc), we want the “

Tosser

Community.”

There’s just so many incredible trendy people being overlooked here. I also really think blogging is changing the way people think about style in Boston as well. The blogging commuity is huge and I feel like we’re all apart of the same movement - making sure the style of our city is truly represented by those who do it best.

Most stylish neighborhood in Boston?

I want to say Back Bay because yes, there are always stylish people hanging around but if you really want unique, expressive styles... the type of style i would want to put in a magazine trot on over to Allston. It’s almost cheeky and it’s great. You’ll always see someone you just want to snap a photo of.

Favorite place to shop in Boston?  

I love thrifting. I consider myself a nostalgist so I got ape-shit if I can find an awesome piece from the past. I love it all from the gross grungy places to the really cute vintage shops. I’m such a fan of refurbishing something and turning a fugly 80s dress into something really cool. In terms of normal stores - I don’t have any favorites. I’m going to put things together for my style no matter where I shop... whether I’m at Saks or Walmart for goodness sakes... is there a walmart in Boston? Well, you get the point.

What advice would you give to someone starting their own business?  Advice for those entering the field of fashion?

Get the right people. They need to understand your concept and become excited about it. You should also find people that can represent the target you're going after. And be creative - unless you’re coming in heavily financed you’ll need some creativity. Don’t involve yourself with anyone that cannot come up with a creative way to promote your company. Yes, it takes money to make money but don’t rely on that because you’re too lazy to come up with a creative idea.

If you’re going into fashion know the damn industry. Know the influencers, know a bit of its history, have an understanding of how it all works, but really learn to express yourself and your style.

What cures a bad/stressed mood for you?

My mommy. Haha, but yoga usually puts me in a good place. I am a spiritual person so I’ll pray, drink a cup of tea (or glass (bottle...just kidding) of wine depending on the hour). I listen to a lot of Bach, Sinatra, Lana Del Ray. And I also think people would be happier if they just danced really hard for about two minutes each day. So sometimes i’ll blast some ridiculous song and jump around... then back to business.

Looking ahead, what do you see next for Bostonians and/or Boston fashion?

I think you’ll see a lot more people wanting to stay in Boston versus heading out the moment they get their diploma and going to New York, LA or London. There is a lot more going on with the fashion community than there was a few years ago. There are a lot more people starting projects and hosting events so there is much more to do... a lot more to get dressed up for. And I think people are getting more expressive in their style rather than just wearing designer labels and feeling special because they do. I see so many more trendy people on the street than I used to and it’s small but that’s exciting. I used to always hear people say things like “I don’t need to get dressed up, it’s Boston.” Are you kidding me? Well, guess what, now

Tosser

is on the streets with cameras so yes, you do.

{ photos by: Ginny Anderson }