Letter from the Editor: Hola mi gente! If you’re a long-time fan of my site, or if curiosity has led you here due to my impressive Instagram feed, then in the words of Jay-Z, “allow me to re-introduce myself.” This is the new and improved Roz Baron and the City site featuring the same Latina”Carrie Bradshaw” flavor, but now with tons of Achote! This project has taken months in the making, working with an incredible team of artists ready to provide an ingenious spin to storytelling. So, with that said, let’s jump into the backstory for this new project I’ve cleverly named “Roz Baron and the City’s – Visionarios (Visionaries)”
Inception for my project started with a bit of nostalgia. When thinking of innovative ideas, I always revert back to my childhood. I’ve always wanted to tell compelling stories, but always with an emphasis on creativity. As I sifted through possible ideas, for some odd reason I kept seeing in my mind’s eye Maria (played by Sonia Manzano) from the popular children’s series Sesame Street. On that show she was an incredible storyteller, and I thought wouldn’t it be a great idea to emulate that for my own site. At this point I knew I had a concept, but now what do I call it? From this brainstorming session the word “Visionaries” emerged. I felt it complemented perfectly the individuals who I’ve encountered as of late: ambitious go-getters with passion projects in the works and/or entrepreneurs with established businesses. And in the back of my mind, I’ve always believed some outside influence paves the way to our career choices. I don’t shy away from admitting that my storytelling abilities comes from my mother’s influence, but I also feel Maria’s character and the likes of Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw (played by Sarah Jessica Parker) would go on to help define my career path.
Excited to flesh out this project, I consulted my friends, creative power players in their own respective fields. And what would blossom is the creative endeavor you see here: #RBATCsVisionarios (Visionaries). Now that you lovely readers have an understanding as to where my site is heading, allow me to introduce my incredible team:
June was when our initial project took place, and just in time to pay homage to those influential men who paved the way. First model is Lerner Rodriguez, creator and entrepreneur for the accessories line FANCY’D LLC. During our off camera interview, she spoke about her influences and how she’s had an affinity for fashion since she was a child. This drive for success is something that was nurtured by the people closest to her – her family.
“My influences came from a handful of family members. My grandmother made ends meet by making ladies’ garments for the women in her town in Puerto Rico. My mom taught me how to hand-stitch at the age of eight. So for me, it had always been a way of life. My father was a pattern-maker for 15 years in the ‘shmata’ industry along side his brothers.”
FANCY’D LLC has picked up momentum in its first year of launching. Hand beaded purses were the initial product for the brand, and now she’s expanded her line to unisex totes and temporary tattoos/body jewelry.
As we explore Lerner’s background, we discover that her dad had not only served as pillar to herself and sibling, but also to the neighbors in their neighborhood of Brooklyn. “My father was and still is a role model not just for myself but for the young folks he’d encounter. My dad would take on the ‘father role’ to many kids in the neighborhood. He was always the one to ‘take care of a situation.’ From that mindset, I learned about responsibility, compassion, selflessness, to be hardworking, to always be prepared, and to never be afraid to express myself.”
As for the picture selected, Lerner admits there weren’t many pictures of her dad before he became a father – this pic is a reminder of where he came from and his struggle.
What was your dad’s reaction to the photo? “At first he didn’t have his glasses on. He then joked around and asked if the girl in the picture was J.Lo, his usual ‘go to’ joke. When I told him it was me, he laughed joyfully.”
If my readers would like to purchase items and/or get in contact with Mrs. Rodriguez, she can be reached via email at: Info@fancyd.co.
*STYLE ALERT ACCORDING TO CRISTINA:
“For Lerner, I wanted to bring out the joyous soul that is her dad. I really wanted to focus on that undeniable spicy aka Puerto Rican flair.” Key pieces selected: vintage denim bell-bottom jeans, vintage yellow tank, newsboy hat and vintage sunglasses. Each hand-picked item was selected to look reminiscent of the 1970’s era. She consulted a number of thrift shops from Brooklyn to the Lower East Side to get that exact color scheme and style. We here at RBATC think Lerner’s look se ve super chévere (looks groovy), wouldn’t you agree?
Second model is Cristina Pimentel. She’s a fashion stylist and writer with her very own fashionista site called The Fuschia Files. She learned how to tackle styling trends by working as a fashion intern for both NBC and CBS. She’d later build upon her fashion resume by styling busy moms and young professionals though luxury retail. She’s a creative with tons of sass and spunk – attributes she admits to having inherited from her dad.
“My father and I have always had this unspeakable bond. Family relatives have always said that it’s because we are the closest to being the same person. We walk and express ourselves with the same mannerisms. He’s always been my mentor and the strongest presence in my life.”
His strong-willed disposition is something that has manifested into her daily life – and she’s thankful for this character trait as it has propelled her ambitious work ethic. “If I feel passionate about a certain style decision, I’ll push it to the very end. For instance, if I want to walk outside with a knapsack and a neck full of jewels, [regardless of public opinion] I’ll do so, proudly.”
How did you feel during the shoot? “I must say, that aside from getting the subjects ready, the moment I threw on those trousers…I really felt proud. Proud to have my kind of daddy to embody. He’s such an entity in itself and to be able to get into character… made the entire experience so endearing. When posing I wanted to embody his critical eye and meticulous attention to detail. In fact, this picture and signature ‘for once’ pose was selected for that very same reason.”
Best way to describe your dad? “Strong, STUBBORN, passionate, and very detailed.” [Laughs out loud]
What was his reaction to the photo? “His expression said it all. I could see in his eyes that he felt accomplished in knowing he’s instilled those hardcore values onto me.”
*STYLE ALERT ACCORDING TO CRISTINA:
“In choosing my look, I went with my father’s uniform: a pressed shirt, classic black trousers and a pudgy leather belt. I chose these pieces to showcase his appreciation for quality and sophistication.” Pieces selected by Cristina were to mimic the 1980’s era. Trousers, long crisp boyfriend shirt were paired with feminine accessories to accentuate her signature androgynous aesthetic. RBATC gives it a fresh y “este look esta heavy” stamp of approval! For fashion advice and/or consultations, you can contact Ms. Pimentel via email at CptheEditorialist@gmail.com.
Third model is yours truly! I started my blog “Roz Baron and the City” a few years back as record of my online work. Currently, I’m a journalist and commentary writer for web publications like FriendsWeLove.com, Remezcla.com, and Sound Of Art.com. And recently, I’ve been promoted to Editor for the sneaker commerce website Snkrbst.com. My inquisitive and storytelling nature was implanted and nurtured by a number of family members. My mother played a huge role in cultivating that storytelling trait – but on an influential scale, so did my grandfathers. However, since I was born and raised in the States and both grandfathers lived in Colombia, SA, I’ve had to resort to my childhood memories and my mother’s stories to serve me as guidance. I can only hope I’ve done them both justice.
My mother’s description of my grandpa Jose (her dad) had always been of a dreamer, an entrepreneur and provider. He came from humble beginnings – an only child raised by a single parent in a poverty stricken neighborhood. Those early hardships would be the makings of his ambitious nature, and would later help him in raising all ten of his children (yes, you read that correctly, TEN!). And although his job as a building contractor would be time consuming, he’d always find time to show love and support to his children. He provided a home, a pastry shop for my grandmother to run, and always had a guest room handy for those in need. I thank him for having passed down that compassionate nature and entrepreneurial spirit onto his grandchildren. The picture seen here of Grandpa Jose was selected because it’s the only one we have – thank goodness it’s a good one. Phew!
My paternal grandfather was the famous Señor Marcos Baron. My background on him is again based on my mother’s storytelling abilities – but in this instance, there are some childhood memories I can account for (although very few). Of what I can remember, my grandpa was a stern and serious man. He hated to be photographed. The picture selected for this post is of one I snapped when he wasn’t looking at the precocious age of eight. Before this pic was snapped, there had been numerous attempts to get him to pose, but he’d always refuse. However, when he wasn’t looking, I got him! This picture is also a reminder of the first time we had ever visited Colombia as a family. I can remember my grandpa had just retired from the political scene. He had served as mayor and headmaster for a private school in the small town of Arjona (a providence of Cartagena. Colombia). He had less than a year out of office and yet was still very much esteemed by the townspeople for having helped overturn their economic situation. I can also remember that no matter where we went in the town, folks would greet him with a smile and a warm handshake. There was also a point in his professional career where he had also served as a journalist for El Universal, a prestigious newspaper in Colombia equivalent to the New York Times. Sometimes I sit and think what he would’ve thought of his granddaughter pursuing the same career path. And sometimes I wish he could’ve gotten to know the adult me – I feel as if our shared love for journalism would’ve meshed perfectly – but oh well. Sadly, both grandfathers passed before I even reached adulthood – but I like to think that their legacy lives on in their shared grandchildren and great grandchildren. Now taking all these elements into account, I felt I needed to highlight all these qualities mentioned above. Thankfully for me, my team really pulled these extraordinary efforts to make these qualities visible. I can only hope that wherever my grandfathers are, I’ve made them both proud.
*STYLE ALERT ACCORDING TO CRISTINA:
“I really wanted to embody Roz’s journalistic roots as well as the mood of the era.” The items selected for me were a collaborative effort. We went with a “Boardwalk Empire” theme to best represent Señor Marcos journalistic days (ala 1920s), with hints of my grandpa Jose accentuated with the hat and props (ala 1950’s). Of course, feminine touches were added with a bit of makeup. We here at RBATC looooooved the vibrant fuchsia lipstick! It gets the “Cat’s Meow” seal of approval.
Last but certainly not least, is our photographer Kerwin Flores aka KerwinFlo. His work speaks for itself as he did an exceptional job in capturing the essence and storyline of each model. His thoughts about the “Ode to Papa” photo shoot: “I found the concept really interesting because I’ve always had a love for vintage style photos. As for my subjects, I didn’t know what I was going to capture until I was literally behind the lens. I took a few test shots and then got a sense of the vibe. I worked off of the energy you guys provided – and then, it was pure magic.”
When did this passion for photography begin? “My love for photography started as a kid. First attempts at photography started with a point and shoot camera, (low end quality) because that’s all I had at my disposal at the time. As I developed my craft, I eventually got my hands on a higher end camera and photo editing programs. As technology kept advancing, so did my interests. Those interests would eventually branch into graphic design and editing.”
Kerwin’s career has seen three cameras total that he has cleverly named his “stairs.” “Every camera was better than the last. I wouldn’t allow myself to purchase a new camera unless I felt I had peaked with that particular model. The first camera is long gone but my second camera…I love dearly.”
Motivation behind his profession: “For years, I’d constantly get praise for my work, but what really encouraged me to go pro was seeing my capabilities develop and strengthen.”
Bueno mi gente, this was a huge labor of love and a leap into the creative unknown. The aim for this ongoing project will be to encapsulate the experience and the lives of all its participants. I thank those who wish to accompany me on this creative ride. Please feel free to frequent my site and this new tab #RBATC’s Visionarios as often as you’d like. Up next, we are ready to feature the confectionary delights of Sassy’s Sweet NYC! And I promise it’ll be a delectable visual treat, so please stay tuned for that. Also, to all those Visionarios and/or future Visionarios who would love to be featured on my site, I can be reached via email at the following address: RozBaron24@gmail.com. Thanks again mi gente for reading me and until next time, los veo.