PEPPER Magazine / November 2022

Page 1


SA / TX / US

shake things up.

N o v emb e r 6 Editor’s Note : Shake Things Up

arts. 7 BE3K

13 Art of Margo 21 And Roses 27 “Ground Control to Mav Pascal!” 34 OJOBI


42 Birthright : Mellissa Hughes 46 Charm School Vintage


52 The Eye Am Collection 60 Fall Fashion Showcase : featuring Fashion Week San Francisco, Alec Cosing, Sherrale Allen, Yulyia Vakhromeeva 71 Style Diaries with Charity

habitat. 76 Dunnswood

82 The High Life / Highlight : 84 NO RULES! • with Becky Witte-Marsh


88 Life on Mars : The Cookie Jar Bar


94 Vulnerability x Power : Sinenkosi Msomi 96 Changing the Narrative • with Miss San Antonio 99 Humans of Peru by Samuel Ciudad 103 Humans of Austin by Corey Davenport

passport. 21

110 Tales of Tuscany, Italy by Seigar

120 Ukraine • A Dream Within a Dream

Rx. 125 Her Story : Nurture Massage 130 Fit to a T.


133 A Modern Mystic 135 Positively Crystal 138 Only the Dead : Christopher Denmon


no.6 prodigy. 149 Learning the Notes


157 The Watch 158 Pink Shoes 160 Torn Knees 161 Words Are Medicine

get involved.

164 Srow Zar Children organization



disquiet. 173 Flowers 2 184 That’s Mine 191 Thanksgiving 194 Union of the Impossible : Night


196 ICON : Billie Holiday 201 Cover Artist : BE3K Acknowledgments Staff Bios

PEPPER Magazine Est. 2022 SA / TX / US arts • culture • business web directory website email available on MagCloud Issuu copyright K. Day Gomez San Antonio, Texas 78209 PEPPER Magazine



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Editor in Chief K. Day Gomez San Antonio, Texas

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” - John Stuart Mill For the soft theme of this month’s issue, we posed the question : Have you ever reached your breaking point, ever had enough, ever been brave enough to stand up and say something about it? When systems and institutions don’t feel right, when is the point that going with the flow equals agreeing with those things which are adverse to basic human rights and our very nature? One could say this was the question in the beginning for which PEPPER Magazine was my answer. By 2020 during the thick of the pandemic, like most everyone else, I had plenty of time to reflect on exactly what was wrong for me, what was out of place or moreover what made me FEEL so out of place. I began a series of difficult self portrait projects addressing mental health from a sociological standpoint. ‘Cry Baby’ ended up being the one that called out the hypocrisy I witnessed the most.

“We’re told to go within and work out what hurts, then demonized for pointing out what we find. It’s all very reminiscent of the 50’s mentality of introducing the myriad of emotions in school and then telling the students to go deal with it on their own. And the more I try to understand this mentality, the more angry and confused I become.” —Cry Baby : Anatomy of Societal Repression —a hard look at the ‘new’ bullying. I was on to something even if my voice was a disillusioned one. This is the place for it. This issue is a manifesto, a safe space for kicking and screaming and echoing through the rafters that “WE’VE HAD ENOUGH!” For every individual who’s been made to feel small, told to sit down, told they’re too much, told to “suck it up” and “put on a happy face” while the ones who impose control and rule by manipulation gain favor and prosper…for those who’ve been made to feel so small they’ve almost faded away. And for those who saw injustice and lost their lives standing up to do something about it. This is just as much a memorial to the brave ones. It’s not for the faint of heart; and this time, we’re not pulling any punches.

“Though she be but little, she is fierce.” — William Shakespeare



BE3K, born Anthony Badon in McComb, Mississippi, is a 28 year old oil painter and musician. Though he’s indulged in different artistic mediums his entire life, it was in college BE3K discovered his love for painting. His work is realistic, photographic in quality, so much so that at times it’s even hard to tell you’re looking at a painting. Though portraits and pop culture icons are a strong suit for BE3K, he also has a unique ability to make powerful statements by painting carefully chosen objects of common use. Highlighting this still life in a way that tells a modern story. “I’ve been in love with art since I was old enough to discover an orange crayon. I’d say maybe the age of 6? My elders say I’ve always been fascinated with putting colors together.” You’ll notice, orange is in the base or forefront of every oil painting Anthony produces. It’s a defining signature for his work. “My family has always been supportive when it comes to my love of art. My mom kept a giant folder in the attic with all of my grade school drawings. I’m not sure if they ever thought I would 8

pursue art as a career since I went down so many career paths prior. But they are most definitely my biggest supporters now!” Growing up in the American south and having a strong connection with his roots has set the tone and theme for the story BE3K tells with his art. As for his influences, “I’m not inspired by a person as much as I am inspired by experiences. The black experience and culture is why I do what I do. The way we talk, our hair, our music. I love us. I do my best to show that in my work.” That’s what makes BE3K’s creative voice particularly important. We asked what kinds of change he’s hoping to see in the art industry, local and global social climate over time, and what he plans to do in order to help ignite that change? “I just spoke the other day about how grateful I am to be able to witness what’s taking place right now in the art world. To see so many talented black artists and curators come together and create spaces for our art to be celebrated and displayed without having to ask someone else for acceptance is truly amazing. Also with the grace of social media, we are able to interact with those who support us and build relationships without the need for galleries that


would have turned us away, anyways.” Galleries are notorious for not seeing artists for their truest impact in the moment, and then regretting passing talent up in retrospect. He has developed a way of sticking it to the outdated social conditioning of being seen and not heard through the iconography he highlights in his art. The result feels less like that first piercing electric sound of a choir as the beginning notes break the silence in a room with a high ceiling. Magnetic. Inarguable. And in this flurry of commotion, he’s not even taken a moment to envision what’s next for his career. “I’m still in disbelief that my art has taken me THIS far.” He could not have imagined how relevant (and welcome and needed) his work is. Be that as it may, BE3K does have a gem of priceless advice for other creatives out there. “As cliché as it sounds, PLEASE don’t stop pouring into your passions. Even if you think no one sees you.” Because those who need what you make WILL see you, and they’ll grow to love you for it. For now, Anthony Badon is perfectly content taking things one moment at a time. “I’m currently working on my first solo exhibit. I’m super excited and nervous for that.” You can find and support his art easiest online via Instagram @be3k_ and TikTok @artistbe3k —we strongly encourage you to check out his extensive portfolio. I’m happy to have stumbled upon BE3K and I think it’s worth acknowledging that on many levels he is a man of the moment, a voice of our time and a cultural pioneer even if it’s somewhat by accident. He approaches everything he does with intention and deep focus, and that’s what makes him truly one of the greats.

ART OF MARGO Painter and mixed media artist Margo Lunsford Houston, Texas journalist K. Day Gomez

“The works of Margo reach from the canvas and grip your gut. That visceral pulse then races up the spine in a fount of conflicting emotions, finally settling in the heart, resolved and redeemed.” —So opens the ‘About’ statement regarding the work of Houston mixed media artist Margo Lunsford. And rightfully so…just see for yourself. Margo begins by sharing her favorite mediums and walking us through her creative process. “As much as I love oils and spent much of my earlier years in that medium, I've converted to acrylics. Paint technology has come a long way, and I prefer the less toxic type now that I am older. I also love experimenting with mixed media such as foils, pressed flowers, and pearls. I love the texture it adds to my work and that ‘boujee’ vibe. My work focuses on themes that expose our deepest inner dialogs, battles with mental health, and conflicts with identity. It's taken me the majority of my artistic career to be able to say that. Living as a biracial, panic-disordered woman in a world like the one we live in gives me plenty to say, and I try to communicate those narratives in a surrealistic style. A typical painting usually starts with a vision, flashback, or emotion. Then, I'll attempt to capture that through concept sketches. Once I feel good about the concept and message, I either leverage existing references or take photos of a subject (aka myself). I'll get digitally messy at this point, really refining the composition. Then transfer onto canvas, panel, or linen. From there, I let color and pattern happen on a whim. I never really know how the final piece will look until its done.” She comes upon these themes honestly, not having the easiest childhood and young adulthood. It’s a topic Margo is not afraid to open up about publicly. More artists are coming forth and being unabashedly honest about the hardships they overcome or struggle against in a way that has been historically frowned upon. Now, authenticity is more championed, and those like Margo are to thank. As for realizing she wanted to be an artist, Margo shares, “I think the first time I 'knew', if you can know anything at that age, was sometime around kindergarten. At the time, I was obsessed with drawing horses. It was less about the concept of art and more so the actual act of exploring my 14

imagination through drawing and painting. It was therapeutic for me, and a means to channel all of my daydreams. Only when I got older and attended art school did I understand that art could be a mechanism to communicate abstract ideas. While in art school, I connected with surrealist artists like Rene Magritte, Max Ernst, and Salvador Dali. The movement made sense to me as an artist, and all the shit they were doing felt real and raw. I was also doing a lot of wild things in art school (surprised?), so I leaned into that.” She acknowledges the role her family played in her formative years. “I would say my father was the most supportive throughout my life. I come from a big Hispanic family, and my mother was usually preoccupied with my other siblings. My sister and I both inspired each other and took classes together, so I never felt alone growing up. When we got older, she decided to move from Houston to Los Angeles, where the movies and entertainment industries were. I didn't realize how that separation would affect me, but it did. At that time, I went into a spiral and lost my way a bit.” What she touches on here is actually quite common

in twins, specifically when they are separated after growing up close to one another. “I quit my studies in painting and decided to focus my energy on getting a degree in graphic design. It just felt like the right thing to do at the time. I don't regret that pivot in my life. My design studies and the self-appointed mentors along the way have helped me mature my eye in different ways. I established myself within the design community here in Houston, though I always wanted to get back into my art all the while. So in 2020, I reunited with the canvas. With my background, I like to align myself more closely with Magritte or Picasso than with Dali. I'm excited to continue my work as I get into my adult life, and I couldn't do it without my loving husband and best friend, Jose. He truly inspires me every day and keeps me motivated.” These important relationships and the support she receives from those close to her helps keep Margo 16

grounded, as is evident in her prolific work. “I've been lucky to have had countless people enter my life at different stages, influencing and supporting me throughout my artistic journey. But if I could shout out to a select few, I would say my twin sister Desiree and my father played a huge role. My sister and I both grew up with art in our lives due to my father. He supported us early on and exposed us to so much of it. From fine art to motion pictures, he wanted us to explore our imagination and storytelling in every way. It's funny how my sister and I started and ended up in similar places but different industries. She's now in VFX for an agency based out of Montreal.” Lunsford has a worldly sense about her which translates through her art in various ways. This is a result of a semi-nomadic early life. “I was born in Orlando. My family bounced around, but we settled here in Houston. For whatever reason, I cannot get my ass out of here! I desired to travel to San Francisco or New York when I first started my artistic studies, but

that's changed now. We plan to have a separate studio space someday. Currently, my studio is a space in my home. We haven't pinned down where that could be, but Austin looks very attractive!” Thus far, she’s lived a remarkable life as a creative, full of memories worth keeping. “I have so many great stories! I wish I could tell them all, but that would take so much time. If I could tell one that sticks around with me, it would take place when I was in high school. Growing up, I surrounded myself with the art department kids. You know the group—A hot mix of individuals trying to express themselves in every way while their classmates considered them weird. Yea, they are my heroes. I was desperately trying to understand my identity at the time. Every week I would try to be like someone else through how I dressed, talked, and even did my art. Then one day, while skipping class to hang out in art class, one of those friends told me something that stuck out. I was sharing some watercolor work where I attempted to mimic another classmate's techniques when he told me, "Stop trying to be someone you're not. It's boring. There are plenty of people that need to do that. It's not you, and you are way more interesting than that." I swear that changed my life forever.” There is no question that Margo did in fact find herself. Her identity is evident through the storytelling of her art. She may be touching on concepts that are experienced by many, but her signature ‘look’ is undeniable. Even though I am more new to this artist, I can now easily look at a painting and say, “that looks like a Margo Lunsford.”

As a parting sentiment, she has a few words of encouragement for those pursuing their art as a career, or considering doing so. “Give yourself grace. We live in a digitally content-pushing world that can, more often than not, be discouraging within ourselves. Give yourself time. Great artists have their journey; it takes grit, patience, and LOTS of practice. Lastly, feed your imagination in ways that do not involve your laptop or phone. Great stories come from within us through experiences that are felt with real emotions— not from scrolling a feed!” Advice that I too hope to remember as I move forward in my own journey. Thank you for that, Margo.

The work of collage artist Mar Vilella Barcelona, Spain journalist K. Day Gomez

And Roses is the name of an ongoing creative project developed by visual artist Mar Vilella. It’s an adventure that began in Barcelona in early 2018 which was born out of illusion and desire to create an inspiring space where she could express herself with total freedom. Collage is the perfect medium for what Mar seeks to convey. It relaxes her as much as it brings her joy. This energy is carried through to her finished outcomes. Soft, feminine, dreamy and inquisitive… Mar finds the inspiration to create this inner world in her daily life and traveling adventures, turning And Roses into a reflection of intimate aesthetics full of strength and sensitivity. There is a sense of psychology behind it as well, or it can be said to have a psychological effect upon the viewer. Like a looking glass, leaving the interpretation entirely up to the beholder, just as art should. Taking us back to the beginning, Mar explains, “I’ve always been attracted to art and the creative world, but my love for art has grown during the years. When I was little I was a very imaginative kid. I really enjoyed doing crafts and playing in my imaginary world. It wasn't until I was 18 years old though, when I started having a real interest in developing my art skills and discovered new artists and their artworks. The type of art that inspired me the most during those early years of my life were street art, contemporary artists and fashion photography.” These styles would inspire her own

aesthetic as she developed her own tailored methods of doing things over time. “My collages started like a game of self discovery. I love to create compositions using images from fashion magazines and digital images I find doing intense research on image stocks. To create the compositions, I use Photoshop as my main tool. I trust the process and I end up with reimagined images where photography and poetry meet. My main inspirations are women and the human body. Elements such as nature, feelings and textures are also key in my artworks as I love to explore with human senses. My essentials when it comes to creating are: good music, my notebook full of quotes and poems, fashion magazines and my beloved laptop where I store the images and create the pieces.” There are deeper meanings than what meets the eye at surface level. Mar’s art is more than just pretty or comforting to look at. “I find art is a very unique way of communication. Each person can express in such different ways, as well as the meaning you can get from looking at art—it’s up to your own interpretation. My collages are a matter of perspective and I encourage the public to make their own interpretations. And Roses celebrates freedom, being oneself and the uniqueness of being different.” Her environment and lifestyle has played its own part in influencing her work. “I was born and raised in a very nice town close to Barcelona called La Garriga. I studied in Barcelona and I wanted to move to the city for a while, so I decided to move to Barcelona four years ago. I love the city. There are always nice plans to make and things to do. But I


have to confess, I really need weekends in my town as well, to relax and enjoy time with family and friends.” Vilella is close to her family, so it’s important to her to make time. “My family has always been by my side and has been a very important driving force for me to develop my creativity. Always, they have encouraged me to follow my dreams and fight for my future, a future I will enjoy. I consider myself very lucky as they are always pushing me to be a better person. I can always talk to them about my artistic projects and they always give me their best advice. We have traveled a lot as a family and this has been the greatest gift. I’ve been able to see the world from different points of view. Traveling is one of my main sources of inspiration. My friends have always been very supportive as well. I consider them a very big pillar in my life. We are a very entrepreneurial group of friends and we are always there for each other.” It’s all about embracing the beauty and uplifting elements in life, for Mar. These are the things she highlights in her work. “What I like the most about the creative journey is challenging myself to always learn new things. I‘ve always been an entrepreneurial person, so I really enjoy multitasking and experiencing new fields. The best stories I take with me are the people I’m meeting along the journey and the learnings I would have never imagined experiencing otherwise.” To other creatives and free spirits out there, Mar adds, “I will say to them that pursuing a dream is a challenging path full of rewards. If you have an idea in your mind, go for it. The worthwhile feeling starts with a ‘what if’. Believe in yourself. If other people have been able to achieve this goal, you are able to as well—there is no difference between you and them. You will need time, patience and effort, but satisfaction will arrive.”

GROUND CONTROL TO MAV PASCAL Visual artist Maverick Pascal San Antonio, Texas journalist K. Day Gomez

the same way as you. A connection on at least one common frequency.” His inspiration comes from different parts of his trauma, lessons from his healing, or learning from others’ journeys. His work's geometrical fragments and broken pieces draw inspiration from the ancient Japanese art of Kintsugi, where broken objects are mended with gold to become more beautiful. His designs are also influenced by sounds. “Whether or not I know what I want to express, the frequencies from the songs I listen to influence the storytelling of the colors, lines, and shapes.”

DEFINING MAV “I was born on the Island of Dominica (formerly known as the Commonwealth of Dominica and often confused for the Dominican Republic).

ARTIST’S STATEMENT After 13 years of not creating, Maverick declared that “no matter what” he would sketch something every day for 365 days—even if it meant “drawing on a napkin.” He started with sketches and then expanded back into charcoal on paper, acrylic paint on canvas, and digital works. Mav’s favorite go-to medium is metallic acrylic on gallery-wrapped canvas. His art is known mainly for his signature line work or painted fragments on canvas. In 2020, on his 365 journey, he committed to creating from feeling and what was in his head. On this journey, he came upon the realization that he was progressively connecting with his inner child. He found a passion for selfdevelopment, healing, and sharing with other people on the same journey to highlight selfreflection and mental health. “That’s what art is, right? Healing. Or knowing someone else feels


I think I was always an artist, but the first thing I wanted to be when I grew up was an astronaut. I was always distracted sketching in the margins of my notebooks or on the middle of the worksheet itself instead of finishing my math problems. ​Before high school, art class was really my refuge. I was passionate about the creative projects I was involved in as a kid. In middle school, one of my art pieces made it into the education building of the city, but it was hard to be proud of that when I couldn’t get it right in other classes. I couldn’t focus and I didn’t know why. I was too timid to raise my hand, but I still got in trouble for talking too much or just being “disruptive”. Home wasn’t a permanent place, and my father was non-existent. When I was about 12, I stopped pursuing art after I got accepted into a couple of art programs. There was no parental support in me going. I still sketched and made random patterns in places for self-soothing, but imposter syndrome and lack of self-esteem kept it as just that. At 17, I joined the Marines, but I knew doing 20 years wasn’t for me. Met some impactful people there. One of my best friends, Jammy, had a huge impact on my life. A Buddhist from Georgia who drives a lifted truck with 10-inch subs. I didn’t realize it but he kept me out of a lot of trouble. While a lot of Marines had setbacks with alcoholism and other mental health issues, he was always there to talk and taught me how to be an active friend and an advocate for

others. At the age of 26, I learned that I had ADHD. Which was one of the major triggers for my anxiety and possibly my seasonal depression. My nephew kept me living though. In 2019, my grandma passed and my father tried to come back into my life after 18 years. I forgave him the first day we met again, but he was only really available for father’s day and his birthday. At 32 years old, I felt my inner child looking for him. But that made me realize that there was heavy shame in that. That’s when I knew that my foundational trauma was abandonment. That’s the place that I create from. To my inner child mainly, and I realized that a lot of other people connect on that frequency. Being better about therapy, journaling, daily meditation and reading has helped me understand all of this better. In Dominica, I was raised by my Grandma, Dadda, who was not my biological grandmother. She wasn’t blood but that’s who I called mom up until I was 7 years old. She really raised me and instilled a lot in me for the first 8 years of my life. The strongest and most graceful woman I’ve ever known. In Dominica, Dadda is the name given to the family matriarch, but the whole town called

her that. She treated people like family and they gave her that energy back. She died of sound mind running her corner store at the age of 96. I finished my bachelors degree for her before I got back into the creative ventures. She never doubted anything I told her I wanted to do, even if I was doubting myself. I think the art is in the obstacles. Most of us are on healing journeys—they just look different. I figured putting my work out there kept me accountable, but it turned out to be a lot more meaningful than that. One form of resistance is people who are bothered by you healing out loud, or just being you. I can’t let anyone put me back in the dark like that. I despise people who try to put out the light of others for no reason. It’s about time I advocate for myself too.” Though Mav was given love and support from some role models, the lack of it being shown from his blood family proved devastating “I had art teachers who tried to tell my mother to get me into art school. I was even accepted on the spot after a private audition. After the professor told my mom in person that I got in, she still wouldn’t buy it. I think


that’s where I stopped pursuing being a creative. I held a lot more resentment than I thought. To credit my mother though, immigrant parents usually don’t have time to think about their kids going the unconventional career routes. Especially with her having to work 2-3 jobs while I moved around to friends’ and relatives’ houses. They go by what they know.”

I still honor him as an ancestor. I read an article that said he didn’t live to see his last exhibit. I realized that he knew he was going to leave something behind and he might have been ok with that. I think a lot of us want to see things come to fruition at a certain time, but knowing that you’re building something that you may not live to see brings more peace to me.

He did, however, have extended family to look up to. “My cousin / Godbrother Marvin Fabian…Most of my aunts are teachers, and he was the first relative I knew that intentionally went into the field of arts. He traveled a lot and collaborated with different artists around the world. Aside from creating visual art, he pieced together audio soundscapes with sounds studied from the ancestors of the Caribbean. Thankfully, he was able to see my work when I was working on my 365. It was assuring to me that there was a synesthetic influence in both of our works. Marvin passed in November of 2020 from pancreatic cancer (he kept it a secret) in France while he was finishing his PhD. I take it as he wanted us to remember him as an artist.”

Shawn “Swerv” Ervin is a visual artist I met in Statistics class at Texas A&M San Antonio. Our conversations started when I would pull up in the parking lot with Kaytranada blasting from my ride. He was already an active artist in SA. He also had his own studio on Woodlawn for a while. As a black man it was inspiring to see the work that he was putting in, which made me advocate for his work even more. He saw the creative in me and was one of the people who saw me as a creative before I even showed him any of my work. One of the best pieces of advice I remember him giving me after I showed him a piece was a question :


My nephew—He created an Instagram just to look at my daily pieces in 2020. Jessica, My Creative Director—She has always been instrumental in helping me put the pieces together to show a theme. I work one piece at a time, but she’s instrumental in helping me tell the story in gallery spaces. And DJ Kick It (My Favorite DJ)—her passion for hip hop and her purpose in the work she puts into her skill and creativity is something that has always kept me accountable as well. I have many other friends who not only encourage me but hold me accountable to being my authentic self. I could write a book about them. Im truly blessed for that.”

VISIONARY Mav is vocal about the things he notices around him that need to change. “We’re already in a recession and in times like these, one of the first things to do is return to the arts. We’re seeing it in businesses and in schools. No matter what my occupation is, I still see myself as an artist. I want STEM to truly evolve to STEAM. As for the social climate, I want more of us to take priority on our mental health. As technology evolves, there has been a lot more sensory overload. There are so many social shifts that we’ve had, especially since the pandemic. Shifts that have affected human rights, physically and mentally. For example, I think there is a huge call to action for men to heal. To really go address our trauma and the things that trigger us adversely. As a black man with mental health conditions, I find that I must be my authentic self while healing. The “ing” is the most important part of all this. I also want to create and be part of safe spaces for others to heal through their journey as well. Seeing people step out and heal through their work while encouraging others to do the same has helped me with my growth.”

WISDOM “The work is enough, so just make something. Then do it again. I set out to do 365 pieces a day for one year, even if I was sketching on a napkin. I created well over 400 pieces that year. And I realized I was

healing for my nephew and my inner child. The passion eventually shaped into purpose.


Other examples : One of my best friends, Berto the VO was curious about doing voiceover work. Now he’s doing voiceover work for major companies. The Readi team, where Damien, Ale and Jacqueline are building a social community / app that brings creatives and friends together. When you start to focus on the work, the results fall into place.”

As for where to go to experience his work first hand… “My second solo show, “We can be astronauts too” is at the Carver Community Cultural Center running from January 5 to February 17, 2023. You can find and connect with Mav Pascal online via Instagram @mavp365 and his websites, / . photographers Raeann Alcorta, Simply Sefra photography & Christopher Ferguson

The story of multidisciplinary mixed media artist Ojobi. Suleja, Nigeria journalist K. Day Gomez


jobi is unlike any artist you’ll find in the world. A wondersmith with graphite and charcoals, he is also a master sculptor and fabricator. And he’s on a mission to prove to others that you truly can grow and flourish where you are by using what you have. “From a very young age my love for art started in the church were I worship, as a Catholic. There are always works to be admired. As a kid, when others were praying, I was busy feeling, touching and admiring every work of art I saw around me. My first drawing as a child was a drawing of Jesus Christ I found in our living room. My Dad was a guide for me on this part—he was very supportive, God bless his soul.” Being raised and living in a remote region has not made it easy for Ojobi in his entrepreneurial pursuits of turning his incredible art into profit by which to survive. “It is believed that the location of a business should be put into great consideration before establishing any form of business. This I suffer a great deal negatively. I get very low patronage due to my business location. My only form of exposure is the internet.” In Nigeria, waste tires are found in abundance and often prove invaluable to makers. “My inspiration toward the use of waste objects comes as a result of research I‘ve conducted online. I saw various uses for different waste materials—and waste tires was one of them. So I learned how to use this medium to achieve beautiful works of art while educating the public in the environment I find myself.” He’s teaching sustainability and environmental concern with every statue he erects. His work is not only well thought out and masterfully honed, it also carries deep symbolism; messages to his community. “I make sure my work portrays meanings that educate the public about ongoing cultural beliefs and noms in our region. These beliefs can be negative or positive to humanity. With my art, I try to expose and show how it can be corrected.” Activism through art. “Some time back, I made a work and titled it GAZE OF VIRGINITY. With this work, I made an


explanation of what goes on in the mind of a virgin. I feel pity for women who lack proper knowledge and exposure before getting married, so during the marriage preparation I ask myself, ‘is she afraid of what is about to come? Is she prepared for this new face of life?’ I believe the world of a women is so stressful and they deserve every support from their partner. I made another work titled the WATER GIRL. With this work, I was able to narrate the ongoing hardships some mothers and young girls face in order to get water for the family. In some rural and undeveloped regions of Nigeria, mothers walk long distances in search of water. So with my art I believe I am able to bring to the notice of the public what many people in some locations go through in search of water.” Ojobi is a father figure to many in his community, especially the young. Once (and I’ll never forget this) he caught a little boy stealing parts from his work yard / studio space. Rather than

punish the child or make him feel terrible, he instead made it a point to educate him on the folly of going down a dark path, explaining that the young man has much light and worth inside of himself. And reassuring him that if he comes back each day, Ojobi would teach him the art trade and give him lessons for free to empower him to earn money as he grows, the legitimate way. It is for reasons such as this that I am proud to call Ojobi one of my dearest friends. He comes by it as a result of the strong family upbringing he had. “Every story I have begins with my family. My dad especially was a strong supporter of what I do. I believe I wouldn’t have gone this far without their support and love for what I do. Also during my school, days there are people whose assistance made it possible for me to grow.” These strong role models helped Ojobi to become one himself. “My Head of Department in the school I graduated from was a blessing to me. He helped me when I lost dad. He paid my school fees—I will always remain grateful to him. Also some friends assisted me and I am hoping to grow so as to appreciate them one day soon.” These such companionships have since bred the foundation for great efforts. “I belong to a group. We come together and pull our resources together to help people in desperate need. We visit hospitals and give out whatever support we can, such as food items, clothes, sanitary pads to females and so on. We are not much yet, but this we do to help and contribute to humanity. I founded this three years back as part of my community development service during my NYSC SCHEME. I pray it grows and with that, we can spread love to the less privileged.” An inspiration to so many, Ojobi also has a few people in his own life who have inspired him along the way, and continue to. “As I mentioned earlier, my late dad was an inspiration for me. I can remember clearly every work of art I created that made him happy. He would introduce me to some of his friends and I made drawings for them. This single act made me grow stronger, and that is why I feel happy and connected to parents who support the dreams of their children—just like you’re doing with Aiden, your son. God bless you Kat Day Gomez.” You see why I love him so much!? He truly sees me, as he truly sees each of the humans he meets and works with along the way. He is far from done and there is much work to do in order to continue building something of value for his people. “One of my major challenges is getting the necessary tools and machines for working. I make use of crude tools often and this makes it difficult for me to work smoothly and fast.” Becoming a patron of Ojobi’s works means he will be able to accumulate the proper tools sooner, and eventually relocate as needed. “As I mentioned how location of a business determines the growth of a business, I wish to be where my works will be more appreciated and loved. I have dreams of working and living in a civilized country like the USA, Paris in France, or Germany. I just wish for a place where I can be seen. With that, I believe I will grow rapidly.”

Regardless of where his journey leads, the world is made a more beautiful place with Ojobi’s loving touch as he adds to it.

“The process of my journey has thought me patience and hard work. Life is struggle and the moment you accept that fact, then you are fully grown. Nothing good comes easy, so we must learn to understand the concept of hard work and belief.”

Vanessa Solis Realtor #788710 (210)860-3496 Servicing San Antonio, Texas & surrounding areas.

POUT MedSpa PA-C & Certified Injector • Bilingual Clinician “I help enhance your natural beauty.” -Itxia Lee


Servicing San Antonio, TX

BIRTH RIGHT Best selling author, business coach & speaker, Melissa Hughes Detroit, Michigan

journalist K. Day Gomez

MEET MELISSA HUGHES —a woman on a mission to empower those around her…

Melissa Hughes, a Master Business & Success Coach, Philanthropist, best-selling author, international speaker, and advocate for women's business— she's all about shifting your abundance energy to own what is our birthright: abundance in its highest form.

A self-made millionaire by 31, Melissa Hughes is the founder of the Live Rich. Spread Wealth. Global Movement, which is changing the lives of businesspeople worldwide. She is a master business coach, best-selling author, international speaker, and consultant. Her mission is to help entrepreneurs and individuals in corporate America accomplish their business goals, (including massive profits), while staying connected to their authentic selves, transforming the world, and creating lives of limitless abundance. Known as The Guru of Implementation®, Melissa’s success, and that of her clients, is a result of her practical, proven systems for business and life success. Her clients include companies like Microsoft, Motorola, ESPN, and globally recognized speaker Lisa Nichols, star of the hit film, The Secret, as well as small start-ups and individuals. Large corporations around the world hire Melissa to advise them on multimillion dollar projects and initiatives and she specializes in helping to ensure culture, communication, project scope, and implementation are successful across divisions, departments, and business units. But more than a business woman, Melissa is an exemplary human being whose wealth lies in her life experience, which began as a child of immigration. “My family is originally from Jamaica. I'm the first generation born in the United States. My parents came to the US full of hope and were big believers in the American

dream. Unfortunately, their dream fell apart pretty quickly. We learned that my father was unfaithful in his international travels and that was the end of my parents’ marriage. My mom then raised three girls on her own. I learned as a child that a woman can be left “holding the bag” in what seemed like an instant. I wanted more for my mom and I really wanted more for myself, so I got serious about creating opportunities for myself. I committed to giving myself options. I committed to being the best student in my class, the best this, the best that—I just wanted to always be the best at whatever I did so that no one would ever have the power to upend my life.” What she touches on here is systematic here in the US, as I’m sure in many parts of the world. As a once unexpectedly single mother myself, I can attest to the hardships after such a fallout and see the value in getting proactive to prevent it. “I was the oldest, so mom would sometimes send me to the grocery store with a shopping list and some money. Sometimes the money wasn’t enough. That's when I decided that no matter where I went, I wanted abundance. Not money for the sake of money, but abundance. My mom was always working and she always had great ideas for what to do next. She tried interior decorating, worked a corporate job, and everywhere she went, she'd have these wonderful ideas that had her on to the next thing. I was always so excited to hear what she thought of next. When Mom tried to put her ideas into action, she was often disappointed with the results. And so was I… 43

I started to think, “I'm going to be an implementer of ideas”. That's when that seed was planted. Those are some of the things I took from childhood that started me on the road to what I am today.” From her roots, Melissa was already enriched with the self-defining spirit of entrepreneurship. However, it would take time in the corporate sector, learning the ropes and how that world operates in order to develop a firm working knowledge that would later mold her into the coach she would be. “I worked at a Fortune 500 company for years and I got to a point where I really wanted to be a manager. I had the experience, the skills, and the wisdom but I faced a lot of skepticism. People didn’t think twice about saying “Well, they don’t really hire minorities as managers.” So I focused on the way I presented myself on paper and made sure that my resume truly reflected what I’d been able to accomplish and the value I could bring to the company as a manager.” Instead of being deterred by the systemic racism she was met with, Hughes pressed forward, refusing to take no for an answer, knowing that if things were going to change it would have to start with her. “I was at peace with my credentials and then I set out to do my part to make my qualifications known. I didn’t wait for anyone to assume anything about me, good or bad. I took responsibility for myself and I showed people what they could expect from me. I got the job. I remember going to my first meeting in the Csuite. It had its own elevator and all the glass doors and windows made it difficult to find the right meeting room. While I made my way to the meeting, a secretary approached me and asked if she could help me. I know that I looked a bit lost because I was. Everybody got lost on their first trip to that floor. I later learned it was a little “inside joke”. But that secretary really seemed to think I wasn’t supposed to be there in the first place. By the time I found the right room, the meeting had already started. When I spoke, nobody acknowledged me. But they definitely heard me: I’d say something, and someone else would say the exact same thing a few moments later. I wasn’t happy with the way people seemed to be claiming my ideas as their own, but at least 44

they valued my ideas in the first place. Maybe they just had a strange way of showing it. I stayed patient, and by the fifth meeting, things had changed. The rest of the room wanted to know what I had to say and they wanted to hear it directly from me. If I’d been intimidated by that environment, or too insulted by the way the first few meetings went, I’d have taken my focus off my desire to make a difference. But I never put my ego on the line in those early days—I just leaned into finding solutions to the problems we were facing. That’s always been my top priority. Be a part of the solution, establish your reputation, and people will support you. I leveled up again when Microsoft recruited me for a management position. Before long, I started to question, “I’m at the acme of my career, I’m making great money…wait a minute, is this real or is this virtual reality? Can I do this on my own? Can I create my own wealth?” And that’s when I decided to branch out and launch my own business. I had some good ideas of what that would look like and I thought I was ready to make it happen. When you’re in a corporation you tend to stay in your lane. When you run your own business you’re everywhere and responsible for everything. You wear all the hats. Being my own boss really stretched and exhausted me. I was working harder than I’d ever worked before, but I was also more fulfilled because all of my work correlated

directly to the success of my business. I felt proud and accomplished. My business grew—not smoothly and not all at once, but pretty significantly once I really got things moving—and I was a millionaire by 31.” Hughes is honest about the hard work. Notice that at no point does she promise it will be easy. What she does do is illustrate the feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction that comes from building your own empire, making your own way, whatever that means to you. Her focus was more on what she wanted her outcomes to be and the mechanics of daily implementation, rather than her bank account. And yet, her bank account grew as a result of that focus and her perseverance. “Mindset is so important when you’re looking to navigate life, especially when you see yourself as a trailblazer like I did. My mindset at the time was that success meant being alone. I was very isolated. I woke up, worked on my business, went to sleep, and hit repeat. It felt like success but it didn’t feel like freedom. Eventually I burned out as a result of working so much. I lost my edge for a while and the business slipped to a point where I needed to declare bankruptcy. So I failed it. I failed the business. And it failed me. I went back to corporate work, but not with a lot of confidence. I didn’t even know if I’d be hirable after owning my own business. When recruiters looked at my resume, would they see someone who could work well with others or my superiors? Could I actually be humble enough to fit in with a team? Could I still be productive if I didn’t own the company? I wondered about these things myself! What I found was that it made me an even better team member, because I understood things from an owner’s perspective. When I looked at problems and opportunities as an employee, I was able to see value more clearly than before. If you’ve never run your own business, you really don’t know what it’s like to be responsible for profit and loss and all of the things that make it possible to run a successful company. After quite some time, I realized I wanted to spend more time with my family. I wanted to have more control over my time and create my own life of true abundance. I’ve had some of those things at various times, but now I want

them all. So what is the career that will allow me to use my skills and contribute the way I need to, that will actually support the lifestyle that I want to create? It was time for me to use my corporate experience and apply it to my own business, my future, my legacy. That meant becoming a CEO. And I’ve been a CEO for 20 years.” Melissa is a dynamic, transformative speaker who has presented to companies and at entrepreneurial events, conferences, universities, and associations throughout the U.S. and in Ukraine, Dubai, Costa Rica, Canada, Bali, Tokyo, and Amsterdam, to name a few. Thanks to her highaccountability and firm-love coaching style, thousands of Melissa’s coaching clients have created massive results in their business and personal lives. Melissa, a wife and the mom of a seven-yearold global citizen (who has already been to 15 countries), serves as a board member on the Detroit Chapter of the Entrepreneur Organization. She is also a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She has worked with leaders, trailblazers, sleeping G.I.A.N.T.S. and entrepreneurs worldwide, helping them live their divine purpose and a full life.

…And all of that is only the beginning. Learn more from Melissa Hughes in the upcoming January issue of PEPPER Magazine as we bring you part 2. Our soft theme is DO BIG THINGS—and you want to hear what she has to share.


Charm School Vintage has been an Austin staple for a long time. When PEPPER journalist Robert Dean suggested covering the groovy little shop, it had already been on our radar. I was happy to learn he was good friends with the owner, Mika Spence. Mika tells us, “I bought Charm School Vintage in March of 2021 from Shari Gesternberger, and we both feel strongly that the universe brought us together to make our deepest desires reality. My first interest in fashion was learning about dressmaking and sewing from my Grandmother, Marvis Bond. She could make any clothing idea a reality and she taught me the basics of sewing as well as an eye for color and style. I went on to study fashion in the 90's, thinking that I would make a career out of it, but life took me in another direction. I was a stay at home Mom for many years and then entered the workforce specializing in cybersecurity startups—marketing and sales strategy. I became very dissillusioned by the corporate world and knew that I would be happiest working for myself in a creative capacity. I dug down deep and really assessed where my heart was and started looking for a vintage clothing business that was for sale. Shari and I were a perfect match and my background in marketing and love of vintage fashion were the perfect fit for what Charm School needed.” Her family welcomed the change, recognizing what this could mean for Mika. “Thankfully, my family is so supportive and didn't hestiate or question me at all when I stated my intentions to take over Charm School.” In fact, as mentioned, family is the source from which she draws the most inspiration. “My grandmother, Marvis Marie Lavender Bond, was born in 1925 to sharecroppers in East Texas. She put herself through college and earned a Masters degree in education and had a long career in teaching. She had to make due with what she had and sewed all of her clothes. She always looked impeccable and had her own flair. She accomplished everything that she put her mind to in a time when there weren't may opportunites for women.” What a trailblazer! Mika comes by it naturally, and has her own opinions and hopes in 48

regard to how things are. We asked what kinds of change she’d like to see in the retail and fashion industry, local and global social climate over time. “I'd like it to slow down. Consumerism is smothering self expression and our planet. We take our clothing for granted and there is a loss of story and culture in the way we clothe ourselves in modern society. I try not to take part in scarcity marketing and try to promote finding your own personal style instead of buying into the hype that you need to look like everyone else "on trend." Knowing who you are and expressing that through your clothing is such a confidence builder, and that is sexy. There is no shortage of vintage clothing and I love curating my store to offer the best of every decade so that anyone can come in and find something that they love at a reasonable price—so often people shop fast fashion because it is cheap.” Her way of combating that can be seen in every inch of the shop. From near mint condition garments to authentic vintage shoes, belts and accessories. What’s more, she curates handdesigned jewelry pieces and even print stationary and natural based beauty and skin care goods by Austin makers. Which means she’s supporting other small businesses and infusing funds back into her local creative and entrepreneurial community. It’s also the perfect one-stop-shop for gifts for any occasion—to include an amazing assortment of real stones and crystals (that I could’t help but purchase from, post interview). Charm School Vintage will undoubtedly continue to be a great place to find an eclectic mix of truly rad clothing and life goods for decades to come. “At this point I'm still in love with what I do every day. I have no lofty goals other than to enjoy my daily work, have passion for what I do and share that with my customers.”




Designer & Textile Artist ‘The Stuttering Diva’ Washington, D.C. photojournalist K. Day Gomez

Diagnosed with bipolar depression and PTSD amid other things, her inner battle is something she’s had to overcome through time and her art is the byproduct of that. “Crocheting is where I found my home. The beauty of making a one of a kind piece by hand excites me. Something that I started as medication—which it still is, because I never ‘really’ learned how to do it.” She’s speaking in the traditional technical sense. “No patterns, no drawings… just my thoughts and the yarn—that's it. Because of that, I can't make the same thing twice.” What she creates, she does so organically, in the truest sense. “To the naked eye, one may think that the pieces don't go together, but in reality they do. I am an abstract storyteller, seeing the world in color and not just in black and white. My mind works like a big giant mood ring that can be a little ‘much’. But someone has to paint this mix-matched world. I guess it just had to be me. Tell me of a world that matches and all colors are the same with story lines of similarities and I will be sure to ask you what world are you from?”

Meet Oluwa-shayie Izegwire, affectionately known to the world and creative community as The Stuttering Diva— founder and CEO of The Eye Am Collection, a sustainable urban couture line specializing in crochet and upcycling. As Shay tells it, her slogan is, “everyone wants to be different in a world full of the same.” The intricate wearable art pieces she designs are each one of a kind, full of texture and color, and have their own architecture which contends with the shapes and silhouettes found in modern couture. Her decision to teach herself the art of crochet was in part a mental health strategy. Shay needed an outlet which kept her hands and mind busy while weening herself off of pharmaceuticals that were causing distress at the time. She opens up, telling us, “they weren’t doing anything for me personally. They were causing more harm than good. Everyone betted against my choices, telling me to ‘keep trying until you find one that fits’, but who has that type of life to waste? So against all wishes, I stopped taking them and created my own medication substitute in the form of art from abstract painting, to buying a camera and taking pictures, to now crocheting.” 53

The wild vibrant mixing of colors and patterns is a cornerstone of her design work, making The Eye Am collection easily distinguishable. “I am different. I get that we are in the market of mass production, but what in that makes one stand out from the rest of America? Yeah, you may cut the shirt up but the base of the shirt is still the same. I believe the slower the fashion the more timeless it is, the more of a lifetime it has. I don't make trends—I make lifetime investments the way I belive fashion should be, an investment into telling your story your way.” There is something so powerful about that mindset which makes her work all the more important. The Stuttering Diva lives and operates in Washington, D.C. “I am from the city where bills that are passed can make or break lives. The city where Go Go music be heart beat and we put extra Mumbo sauce on our three wings and fries. The city where art may be underground but still beats louder than any state dinner speech. Where we don't just dance—if you about life you beat your feet in these streets. I am

from a melting pot of cultures, but we still hold our own. The city where we go hard in the paint and mad love is always shown. Yeah, like any city we have our ups and downs, but Washington DC be my city from Up to Downtown. DC has been my creative teacher since the beginning of time. No need to pay money for school with a professor like DC—the teachings will truly blow your mind.” The city has influenced Shay’s brand identity as much as her own. To her bones, it’s who she is. “I was drawn to fashion at and early age. I remember going to school in a tie. Fashion and I have a long standing relationship and it's been one of those relationships of trial and error for the most part. Because of the rules and regulations that society put on fashion, I was trying to fit into their normatives—which worked

sometimes. But for the most part it didn't because their color combinations and them telling you ‘what's in style / what's out of style’. To me it seemed like it was taking away the storytelling of what each individual person should tell with there fashion.” These stifling social dynamics and stipulations around fashion proved too overbearing for Shay’s taste. “I said fuck their rules and went back to being that 4 year old who wore Denim on Denim with a gold and red tie and her tan Oxfords, hair parted in four ponytails with matching berets.” Through this trial and error Oluwa-shayie not only became The Stuttering Diva—she built from the ground up a brand whose aesthetic mirrored that same philosophy of doing things her own way, casting off the shackles of societal expectation to forge her own art and fashion story.

The journey has yielded many lessons she finds important to share with others. “Whatever they teach you in school when it comes to the artist storytelling of Fashion, Fuck that shit. To be real you shouldn't try to be the next global brand —you should try to be the next Timeless one. Instead of trying to focus on how the world views your art, start by sitting down and thinking about how YOU view your art. What story and message do you want the world to get from your brand? And how do you want them to feel after they put a piece on? For example, my brand is for Kool Kidz, the ones who want that one storytelling piece that will last a lifetime, not just a season. That piece that they can wear and pass on to their kids for generations to come. We have enough of the Louis’ and Gucci’s of the world, the Tommy Hilfiger’s and Kate Spade’s… So don't try to be global like them. But sit back and think of your ‘Why’ for doing what you're doing, and just do you. I have been doing this for 12 years and it’s just now picking up traction slowly. I never lost who I was as an artist and the ‘Why’ behind why I do what I do. Mental health made me do this and it will not let me stop. I’m telling you it may not happen over night cause mine damn sure didn't, but the right global group will find you and be attracted to you. JUST DO YOU!” As for what comes next, or at least what the Diva has envisioned for herself and Eye Am, “I would love to move to the carefree city of NYC. The art and the different people telling their story through their own individual styles always pushes me to want to push my own artistic boundaries. I would just love to hit EVERY Fashion Week in America leading me up to Paris Fashion Week. Paris Fashion Week is always my goal. To get my clothing to the stage of the fashion capital of the world is going to be amazing.” Notice how she said “is going to be” instead of ‘would be’—the power of intentional thought and speech is something Shay takes extremely seriously. “I just want to keep telling the story of the artistic side of mental health and showing the beauty in freeflowing asymmetrical styles, because that's how the world is. My abstract artistic storytelling will be what I do for a long time and it's a classic story. Mental health is sometimes scary, but 57

artistic in nature, and that side of it should be celebrated for decades if not centuries to come.” This is an integral part of what she’s built. “The Eye Am Collection LLC is a brand whose purpose is to put a light on mental health and the creativity that stems from that. Mental health doesn't just mean putting one on medication and being done with them, but actually seeing them—ALL of them. The Eye Am Collection allows one to be seen and feel comfortable with being seen. Express one's self outside of the boxes the world makes, but rather the truest freedom of oneself. The Eye Am Collection is a brand daring you to do you, be you at all times, no matter what. Because being you should NEVER go out of style!” She coins it perfectly by her motto—"I want to be as secure as a safety pin and as limitless as measuring tape." (A nice little Easter


egg there, since Shay uses spare bits of old measuring tape woven into the clothing instead of a tag with the company label. It’s her signature.) Shay leaves us with a final heartwarming message. “If you battle with any part of mental health and you feel like you’re alone, like you’re an outcast or you have a disability that people still don't understand in 2022, just know that's what makes you a Kool Kid forever and always. The world is still learning how to not be judgmental jerks, so it's still something wrong with them. But you’re perfectly flawed because we are supposed to be. So it's their mistake for not seeing the beauty in being different. But that has nothing to do with you, so keep doing you and I swear your right group will find you and there is not time limit on it. The world needs to change, not you. Always and forever in love, The Stuttering Diva


Photographer Alec Shpuntov Cosing captures model, Gia Reston, Virginia



Photojournalist Calista Hatter captures model, Sherrale Allen Chesapeake, Virginia



Sherrale Allen, AKA "The Curvy Vogue Model", is a 30 year old model from Chesapeake, Virginia. She has been happily married for 3 years to a wonderful supporting husband, Kinde’l. Currently she is an educator and a graduate of Longwood University. Sherrale has always been creative, including but not limited to a love of singing and history. Often she attends art museums and most recently broke into the fashion and modeling world. Styling and modeling looks has been a dream come true. She started modeling journey two and a half years ago. Next to modeling, she has been working with different designers to assist in their fashion design process. Her favorite designer is Love by Allie. She has also worked with Ms. Hiari, the designer at the Time Reid Fashion and most recently in NYC For New York Fashion Week. Ms. Hiari's designs represent women empowerment. “Her designs give me chills every time I see them. I was so honored to witness them first hand. Her designs make women feel like queens.” Sherrale aspires one day to create her own plus size line. "I call myself “The Curvy Vogue Model” because I consider myself an artistic, bold, editorial and high fashion model. I believe in realizing my worth and understanding that I‘m good at what I do. But I also want to inspire plus size women that they too can become a model. Im trying to make a statement that it’s not about size or height. It’s about believing in yourself and realizing the power you have to change the perspective. In the next 5 years, I hope to grow my business : “The Curvy Vogue Experience”. I’m hoping to have created my own high fashion plus size clothing line. I’m hoping to work with more designers as well as grow my connections throughout the fashion industry. And I would love to host workshops and speaking engagements on women’s empowerment and modeling."




Photographer Yulia Vakhromeeva captures model, Sonya Sviridova in BE PRESENT clothing brand Saint Petersburg, Russia



Style Consultant Charity Stewart San Antonio, Texas

POLARIZED SUNNIES Are the most trending sunglasses today called polarized glasses or ‘Gas Station Dad Glasses’? We hear all the time that fashion trends always repeat themselves but I believe this is one of the fashion trends that wasn't cool a few years ago that now has become an accessory that all people add to their outfit. Today you don't have to make a trip to the gas station to get these shades. Luxury brands like Balenciaga all the way to brands on Amazon are making these at a fast rate. So I believe we should give flowers to all gas stations around the world on creating such an iconic piece.



SILVER I called this look the modern day cowgirl.

As I look at the fashion trends and our fashion influencers today, I see that a hint of y2k/l / 2000s is being put in every outfit. Destiny’s Child, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears were people who influenced a whole generation to wear low rise pants and sequins. Which is why I chose to pair the sequin shirt with low rise jeans. These are originally high waisted jeans but fashion is about making one piece of clothing do multiple things. So I just unbuttoned the jeans and made them low rise. And since we are ‘modern day’ cowgirl, I chose a shiny black cowgirl bootie instead of a traditional cowgirl boot.

BLACK Here is an edgy boss woman. Sweater season has approached us! I didn’t want to put a plain color underneath the sweater vest because that's the safe option. To make this combo more unique / edgy I picked a completely different pattern. Keeping the color the same for the undershirt brings cohesiveness. I chose blue for this whole outfit which has been a trending thing here recently. We see people now with all denim looks or all neutral color looks. I remember when people used to call it “too matchy matchy”, but now the fashion community has accepted it and is more free when it comes to fashion rules. The mini skirt with frayed ends loosens up the boss women aesthetic. To finish up the look, instead of wearing long socks, I found a trend on Pinterest, where the bottom half of pants replaces thigh highs.


Kim Kardashion rocked these shades on the Vanity Fair Red Carpet, 2022.

Cut a pair of bell bottom jeans and turn them inside out and upside down. Then put a hair tie or a rubber band on the knee covering 1 inch of jean and then pull the jean outside in and there you have your jean thigh highs.

RED This is what we call “Night on the town girl”. Even though this photo is shot in Texas, I was inspired by the New York women going for drinks. Red is a classic night out color, and a color that everyone wears when trying to make their outfit pop. These reflective sunglasses are the classic gas station shades that have turned into an iconic accessory worn from award shows to fashion shows to everyday people. I chose this red corset because corsets are such a flattering piece to wear for all body types. While a corset can be restricting, I picked a stretchy black skirt and brown platform heels to give me more comfort. To some, a corset and mini skirt might be too revealing—so I threw an oversized vegan leather fur coat to help bring balance to the outfit.

Slick Woods Fenty x Puma Spring 2018 Fashion Show This is the year that polarized glasses were making their move to celebrities, and now to everyday people.

WRAP UP Although Sunglasses are originally made for when out in the sun, this new fashion era has made sunglasses for anytime and for anywhere. They are worn to concerts, lunches, award shows, dinners, walks in the park, walks on the runway, etc… Freedom has become the new motto for the fashion world and I love it. 73

Who is Seigar? Meet the pop and conceptual artist behind My Plastic People. Find him on IG: @jseigar



Wood Craftsman & Artisan Darryl Dunn San Antonio, Texas photojournalist K. Day Gomez

habitat. When it comes to carpentry and artisanal woodworking, Darryl Dunn is probably the last guy you’d picture in your mind. He’s still young, hip, eclectic, soft spoken and has intense style—not an old lumberjack type by any means. And yet, he’s a highly skilled artisan with discerning taste. A wizard when it comes to all things wood. It wasn’t always this way for Darryl. “My Dad was in the Air force and we moved around a lot. The only thing crafty to do back then was refurbishing and repairing furniture after a move. I didn't find my creative calling until my mid 30's. When I decided woodworking was my craft, it began with obstacles. For example, I never worked with wood and could not find black woodworkers that I could relate to. Those were the initial obstacles.” Before you discount what he says here, imagine for a moment coming into a trade as an outsider with no one relatable ready to guide you. This is why inclusion and representation matters. So much, in fact, that it’s become part of Darryl’s personal and professional mission. As such, he’s made it a point to draw close to those who share this mission. “I'm inspired by Maria Williams. She is the founder of the Art of Four initiative and owner of the In the Eye of the Beholder gallery and studio. I'm inspired by her drive to bring light and attention to Black Art. We both share that same fighting spirit. I'm inspired by the Black Arts movement. I feel a wave of Black creativity globally and It pushes me to do more for San Antonio.” Though SA, TX has a considerable POC population, the city is still sleeping on much of the talent it houses. You’ll find Latin or white western art everywhere in the tourist saturated areas, and contemporary art is finally building a stronger presence. But all too often Black artists go unnoticed or uninvited. That is a stigma that has slowly been changing since 2020. “I believe you'll see more Black Creatives get recognition, here in San Antonio. You'll see that in every city, that creative spirit. I think other galleries will understand that Black Art is necessity. As for me, I'm going to continue to build. I'm got to use my unique set of skills to help other Black artists and black businesses grow. I will advocate for their survival and get them ready for the next wave to come.” You’ll hear the word pioneer a lot in our publication, and that‘s because we cover so many innovative thinkers, like Darryl Dunn, who is himself a pioneer for change in our region. One who actively seeks ways to bring his vision to the forefront. The days of sitting in the back are done. “My goal in the near future is to make an Impact starting locally. I won't give away my ideas but part of it will be artistic events to get the community engaged. Large partnerships with local businesses as well as merchandise will be launching soon. I'll continue woodworking because it centers me.” Dunn’s mission has expanded and is taking more of a priority position as he moves forward. “My big goal will be Artist Advocacy. I'm looking into ways I can help the artists’ needs to pursue their goals. I'm thinking nonprofit. —But if you publish 77

that, then I have to make it happen.” We’re holding you to it, Darryl, and we’re behind you. In every way, Darryl is building a family through his good works and service to the community, by engaging and developing new strategies that offer real results. Simultaneously, his own family has played a part in cultivating the confidence he has to press forward in such a way. “‘This is the most consistent thing you have ever done.’—My father's words when he saw what I was creating out of my sister's garage. My family members have been my biggest supporters. It would have been impossible to have come this far.” And equally important, the new ties he’s made along the way. “Key people have joined my team to help me fuse my artistic pursuits and business together.” Everything Darryl is setting in motion is laying the groundwork for what San Antonio will look like in the years to come. The new face and feel will be more blended, more representative of the global scene, less stereotyped to a few select genres as it has been for too long. It’s our artists and those in the creative and tech sector who stand the greatest chance of making this new future our reality. In regard to Dunnswood, the tangible artisanal furniture and functional art Darryl crafts, we’re excited to have learned he’s trying his hand at new methods to come. His work has always leaned more natural—lightly stained and unvarnished as he finds that wood is beautiful as it is and should be left close to its natural colors and textures. Now, he’s focusing on creating more contemporary statement pieces that stay as raw as possible, while being carved and forged into practical design works, whether lighting or coffee tables or compartments… You just have to see it for yourself to get how incredible it is. Darryl shows occasionally in town and is always open to collaborations and custom work, both privately and commercially. “I'm very easy to find. I'm everywhere— @dunnswood on Instagram or is a good place to find me as well.” Recently, he’s gained the attention of Chef Joe A. Gomez III of NOVEM, who after falling in love with his cutting boards will now be working with Darryl exclusively to create functional and beautiful culinary serving boards and other functional pieces. There truly is no limit to the application of Dunnswood. Give Darryl a shout and see what you can come up with together.








WITH LIFESTYLE CONTRIBUTOR JOE A. GOMEZ III Who we define as the “movers and shakers” are those who have forever changed the paradigms in their perspective fields.



This terminology is no longer reserved for ‘corporate overlords’ who hold monopoly over power in economy. The figures who put in the blood, sweat and tears, made the mistakes and got back up, endured a thousand “no”s before getting the one “yes” that would change the course of their lives—and consequently, history—these are the individuals we’re taking a look at. And these are just some of the key reasons I feel they truly shook things up.

MICHAEL JEFFREY JORDAN Michael Jordan was fined $5,000 by the NBA every time he wore his iconic whips during their debut in 1984 because their colors broke the league's uniform rules. At the time, the NBA only allowed white shoes. The league even wrote an infamous letter to Nike in February 1985 explaining that the black and red shoes were prohibited. L Nike capitalized on this, Nike reportedly paying the fines for Jordan and creating an ad campaign that would revolutionize the NBA forever. THANK YOU MJ.



Coppola's reputation as a filmmaker was permanently solidified with the theatrical release of The Godfather in 1972,

which changed the gangster era of filmmaking & catapulted the careers of many new actors {Al Pacino/Robert Duvall/ James Cann} while receiving strong commercial & critical reception. Godfather won 3 Academy Awards —later, Part II (1974) became the first sequel to win the Academy

habitat. Award for Best Picture. Highly regarded by critics, the film gained Coppola 3 more Academy Awards, making him the second director (after Billy Wilder) to win these awards for the same film. Not to mention, Coppola makes a great wine.

HENRY FORD II Henry Ford was the shaker of all shakers. Not only changing the way the world moved from place to place, but the way we built our world mechanically and financially. With the introduction of the the Model T, came the in introduction of the production line and the industrial economy. The Ford Model T was named the most influential car of the 20th century in the 1999 Car of the Century competition, ahead of the BMC Mini, Citroën DS, and Volkswagen Beetle.

Virgin Records

SIR RICHARD CHARLES NICHOLAS BRANSON Charles Branson expressed his desire to become an entrepreneur at a young age. In 1968, Branson established his first business venture—a magazine called Student. The magazine was to be the platform in which to promote recording artists & new albums. In 1970, he set up a mail-order record business intending to capitalize on his magazine audience. He opened a chain of record stores called Virgin Records and the rest is HISTORY.

Ford's Model T was successful not only because it provided inexpensive transportation on a massive scale, but also because the car signified innovation for the rising middle class and became a powerful symbol of the United States' age of modernization.With 15 million sold, it was the most sold car in history

“Shake things up. Shake up the world!” - Muhammad Ali

The Godfather

Ford Inn ovation

re is befo story of the e just l r e a r w o y e The m ere & nts, th out th ere gia they w So get . e m u & like yo g. buildin get to

sustainable fashion & decor

Sustainable fashion & lifestyle expert Becky Witte-Marsh

I stumbled upon the “Slice of Life” tableware at the Round Rock Antique Mall last year right before the holidays. For those of you who don’t know me well, it may surprise you to find that I have only been married to Dan for five years. We found each other —believe it or not—on, and have been together, blissfully in love ever since. I’ll save more details for another day. However, as is common when you marry (again) later in life, you don’t need a lot of stuff. You may want a lot of stuff – which I do – and have A LOT of stuff – which I definitely do! With that said, Dan and I did not register for gifts or china. When I saw the “Slice of Life” series, I knew we had to have it! Rocket ships, vintage cars, all things New York City (where we were engaged), aliens, airstreams, a compass, the moon. It told our whole story in plates! Another thing you may not know about me is that I have a “thing” for plates and tableware and many other doo-dads that find their way onto my tables throughout the year. So, I invite you to my table(s) to share a bit of my thought process in creating tablescapes and to encourage you to live by the motto that Dan and I follow : No Rules! Forget them all as I walk you through tables – Becky Witte-Marsh style! STORY TELLING – I cannot emphasize this enough! Your table should tell a story, not just match. Not just be serviceable or what current magazines tell you your table should look like. This is personal. This is another creative form of artistic, story telling about you, your life, your thoughts, your style.

5. As I share my process, it is a mere attempt to spark your table-scaping fire! So here we go! I usually think about the food, the people, the event and my mood before I get started. Then I scour my home for any elements which I think will work with the thoughts I am getting motivation from. A table cloth or the china are good jumping off points. Let’s take a moment to talk about cloths. I have a huge, old library table that many premade table cloths just do not fit. To cover my table, I turn to upholstery fabric sold by the yard and just have it cut to fit my table. The width is wider than clothing fabric and comes in tremendous variety allowing your imagination to run wild! Hem it if you will, but I don’t usually do that – again – No Rules! So, getting back to the “Slice of Life” plates. I used these as my jumping off place to select the cloth [1] and other key elements of this black and white table. Many of the “Slice of Life” plates that I have in my collection have something to do with space and flight [2] which led me to birds – on the cloth, and feathers –well everywhere! [3] I “framed” the plates with black placemats. [4] Cloth and placemats together you say? I say “No Rules!” I use my hotel silver collection of mix and match pieces everyday and pick up additional pieces on my junking trips every now and then.








If you have seen any of the fashion shoots and shows I’ve done, you’ll know it’s all about the details! I dug through my drawers and found glass electrical insulators from Paris, which I am using here as knife rests. [5] I encourage you to use knife rests – it saves your cloths, placemats and gets the knife out of your guests’ way. I also found these clear, molded plastic floral pieces with a very 40’s vibe that I placed under the forks. [6] They reflect light and add depth and character. I love a good place card – sometimes with a name, sometimes with just a picture as shown. [7] The “piece de resistance” are my antique black string holders used as butter pat cages next to the bread plate, accented with vintage silver cheese knives instead of butter knives. [8] Now you’re getting the “No Rules” hang of it! A feather donning the top of each cage, brings a little bit of the centerpiece of the table to each individual setting. Let’s talk about the centerpiece for a minute. Flowers are great, but they are not the only way to bring color and texture to your table. By always including something natural in your table design, it will never seem boring or soulless. Here the feathers are the natural element. I spotted this celestial

finder (armillary sphere) in Seguin and had to have it. It pulls that space and flight idea in again. I have added my brass column candle holders from the 50’s to for the twinkle that every table needs. A touch a Goth Glam comes from the cheetah napkins wrapped inside burgundy velvet with rhinestone buckles for napkin rings set at the top of the plate – again – unexpected. And last but not least, another interactive element (the other being the butter cages), I’ve brought cider to the table with a brass key opener, so guests can serve themselves. A moment about this “Hye + Mighty” cider from Hye Cider Co. located just north of San Antonio in the Hill Country. Dan and I tasted this at a Texas Wino Fest event recently. ( We love the hint of rosemary, it seems like the perfect match for turkey or chicken. This cider is delicious and light – a perfect accompaniment to a fall meal.

Get Inspired I’ve added a few other table inspirations for your viewing pleasure! Note how I use the same things in different ways…

…like the string holders as votive holders, as well as organ support brackets and sheet music in a musical inspired table. Use paper to cover your table and write special messages around the plate.

Eat outside! Use a vintage curtain as a cloth and mix and match your china. Let the view be the something natural.

Throw down a charcuterie board and yummy treats on your coffee table. Use old platters and wooden boards. Add cool cheese knives that you pick up at estate sales. Move out onto the front porch. Hang twinkle lights and décor from the ceiling. Cut tangerine branches bearing fruit and use Crystal Hot Sauce to write names on for place cards.

These are just a few of my ideas to get you started. This is your table, your style, your story. Enjoy the process!

NOVEM Cuisine




Life on

Recording artist Milli Mars on his vegan confectionery brand, THE COOKIE JAR BAR San Antonio, Texas

Milli Mars is a household name in the American south when it comes to indie rap music. But when he came out with his own line of vegan cookies a couple years ago, he took everyone by surprise.

The cookie jar bar Though he’s rebranded, the original cookie recipes remain the same. Delicious, better than traditional non-vegan options, and tasting is believing.

photojournalist K. Day Gomez

About his veganism, Mars tells us, “I’ve always felt connected with nature and thought animals were easy to understand. It’s humans that confuse me. If attacked by an animal, you comprehend where you went wrong—with humans, you may never know. How can I consume something that moves with purpose and can love? I’ve been vegan for about 8 years now and I love it. It made dating complicated for awhile but that’s not an issue anymore. The benefits of a vegan diet is something you will feel and never let go of if you 89

give it a try.” Despite his rocky childhood, Milli was a natural entrepreneur. In fact, sweets were part of his earliest business endeavors. “I been a boss sense I was a kid, selling candy in school and having other students work with me. No fame was involved, but it came with money. Growing up with that mindset won’t let you be a employee.” He knew from the beginning that he would want to own and operate his own company in whatever line of business he ended up in. “I was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. I’m now in Austin, but where this gift will take me I probably don’t even know the name of, because this gift is going to take me and a lot of others further than we imagined.” He acknowledges the trials and tribulations he’s faced from the time he was a young man. But through his determination and renewed compassion, he turned his troubled youth into the motivation to make a better way for himself and those he loves. “What I endured most never will. I take that as a true sign of what God thinks of me. My only advice is keep proving them wrong because you’re the author of your own story.” Turning things around has often proven challenging, especially when it comes to shaking toxic people from that former life. “I’ve been harassed at a level that’s unbearable and sad to say, but this is America and the pain of a black man is laughed at until we are victorious.” He’s not afraid to point out where racism has clearly played a part in being gaslit by the authorities and his outcries going undocumented. From false allegations to vicious stalking, Mars has dealt with and risen above it all. So much so that he has been showcased on local television a few times for his vegan cookie brand. “Guilty until proven innocent—and I’m here to show them what God can do for you.”

What’s next for the cookie jar bar? “Everyone has experienced a cookie, but it’s rare for a cookie to give you an experience! We are here to show you that we don’t sacrifice taste for health, and neither will you. If we can change your mind on a dessert we can change it on breakfast, lunch and dinner as well.” It’s not just a cookie, it’s a movement. As for where to find them, “We are now in Sangria On The Burg and Reggie & Dro in Stone Oak. Plus, we’re about to be on KSAT 12 News again and growing every day. We ship anywhere and deliver. And we are located on Fredericksburg at Sangria.” You can also follow @thecookiejarbar on Instagram and inquire. 90

Corey Layne Photography Austin, TX • @coreylaynephoto


SINENKOSI MSOMI Mbabane, Mpolonjeni

@sinenkosi_msomii @afrikanizm_art

Vulnerability x Power SINENKOSI MSOMI Mbabane, Mpolonjeni


Former Miss San Antonio Elaina McCoulskey On mental health, the holidays & making lasting change. Darkhorse Photography journalist K. Day Gomez

PEPPER Magazine asked Elaina McCoulskey 3 important questions.


What did you most hope to accomplish with your role as Miss San Antonio? What has been your core message?

“During my reign as Miss San Antonio, from September 2021 to September 2022, my main goal was to raise awareness and lower the stigma surrounding mental health. I accomplished this through my platform "Talk Through the Taboo". Utilizing my platform, I showed the people of San Antonio the real me. I didn't want to be seen as a perfect princess—I wanted to be seen as a queen who was unapologetically herself. I accomplished this in partnership with Pineapple House Platforms. They have been so kind as to manage me and schedule me for various projects to continue spreading my message even through the completion of my reign and into this new chapter of my life.”


The world is (finally) catching up and holding accountability for outdated traditions built upon genocide and prejudice. That said, what would you suggest as ways to properly honor indigenous peoples and encourage community unity during what is traditionally coined as the ‘Thanksgiving’ holiday?

“As I am not indigenous, I don't feel my opinion is valid in this situation. However, I don't think honoring indiginous people should only be reserved for the Thanksgiving holiday, but instead should be a year round effort. A simple yet effective building block towards inclusion and equality is representation. I would love to see more indigenous people represented in media, modeling, and other forms of art, entertainment, and everyday life.” 97



The soft theme for this current issue is "shake things up"...Can you name some things you've done or plan to do that are unexpected and what kinds of changes you'd like to see in our local community, the US and worldwide? “People are often averse to the idea of discussing difficult topics because they are uncomfortable. This is why mental health has been such a taboo subject to cover. When individuals do have the courage to speak about their mental health, they're often seen as either "crazy" or told they are "so brave". I want to live in a world where you don't need to be brave to speak about mental health, where it is perfectly acceptable to talk about one's everyday struggles without feeling judged or objectified. I've begun my mission by speaking about my mental illness and trauma. I am proud to say that I have mental illness and trauma and despite all odds I am still standing.” We thank Elaina for making the time to share her thoughts and mission with us. As far as role models go, she has proven one that individuals of any gender or age can look up to. If you or a loved one deals with issues of mental health, please don’t hesitate to ask for help.



CIUDAD DE HUAMACHUCO PERÚ A fly on the wall view of the Peruvian city of Huamachuco as told through the lens of photographer Samuel Ciudad. 99



AUSTIN, TEXAS An authentic visual essay as told through the lens of photographer Corey Davenport. 103

From Corey’s perspective… Ask your average traveler about Austin, and you will hear things about the nightlife, music scene, and breweries they've heard about, but when you speak with the long-standing residents, you start to better understand why we continue to call this city our home. Behind the bright lights, loud instruments, and sponsored events, you need to sweep away a layer of dirt. It reveals the actual movers and shakers of Austin. The downtrodden artists want to continue displaying their work for those who appreciate the craft. The people who are working four jobs in the service industry for the love of providing for people. The families that open their doors to those less fortunate or help provide for their neighborhoods while they still stand. There is still a charm in this city. While I cannot describe it to anyone, I can comfortably say that this city made me who I am today, and I'm proud to call it home."

PEPPER no. 6 | NOVEMBER 2022



TRAVEL This travel photo narrative was taken in Tuscany, Italy, in the summer of 2021. This series shows the beautiful and stunning personality of Tuscany, its quietness, and the traditions surrounding the towns. Lifestyle, habits, and religion revolve around its brown and orange tones. Every year, tourists get amazed by the pedestrian and historic old parts, and their visits to Florence, San Giminiano, Volterra, Monteriggioni, Siena, Certaldo...

Traveling has been and is still my main inspiration to create. Street photography represented my first contact with art, since I started traveling and taking photos during my trips, these series have been evolving to more conceptual approaches because of the repetitions of the motives, almost becoming my fetishes (My Plastic People, reflections, and so on), and also due to my interest in expressing ideas and concepts. Lately, I have been using other forms of art to express myself: collage, video art, and also writing, however, I never quit street photography, and I have used "Tales of" as the title for these traveling series, because of my intention of telling stories creating a continuous line of my trips, finds and encounters. My last focus on arts is to spread the message of the Latin phrase Carpe Diem, which I think is the right moment in time to remember its meaning. Enjoy Life! Where am I as an artist? This is a question I like to ask myself every now and then. These days, I’m very influenced by ideas I need to expose about current issues. I’m into questions, and defending what I consider are valuable human rights we should not lose. I feel collage and video art are the art forms that can convey this concern. And I would like to start exploring 112

passport. conceptual artist & photojournalist Seigar

TRAVEL installation too for these matters. I’m also into transmitting the message of the Latin phrase Carpe Diem. How? Showing my travel and street photo narrative. I have been to 39 countries, and I have a long wishlist! Visiting new places opens so many possibilities. And it enriches my views as a person and as an artist. The main lesson that I have learned during these trips is that there is not a unique way, there are so many different lifestyles and options to live your life. However, at the same time, I have also realized we have more things that connect us rather than what makes us different. First, the best path to live life can be something for someone and a totally different one for another person. Every day I value more and more the local, the regional, and the differences between what I find new or exotic in these trips and what I’m used to or what I know

back home. I feel the western vision of happiness is a closed concept that we should reconsider. During my trips, I have also seen that even though we are different the most important things in life connect us. I have realized most human beings are beautiful souls with so many good things to share with the world, and in fact, this picture I got through experiences is quite far from the image I get from the media about the world and its citizens. It makes me question "why?". So this is where I am as a person and as an artist right now.

SEIGAR is a passionate travel, street, social-documentary, conceptual, and pop visual artist based in Tenerife, Spain. He feels obsessed with the pop culture that he shows in his works. He has explored photography, video art, writing, and collage. He writes for some media. His main inspirations are traveling and people. Seigar’s aim as an artist is to tell tales with his camera, creating a continuous storyline from his trips and encounters. He is

a philologist and works as a secondary school teacher. He is a selftaught visual artist, though he has done a two years course in advanced photography and one in cinema and television.


He has participated in several international exhibitions, festivals, and cultural events. His works have been featured in numerous publications worldwide. His latest interests are documenting identity and spreading the message of the Latin phrase: Carpe Diem. Recently, he received the Rafael Ramos García International Photography Award. He shares art and culture in his blog: Pop Sonality.



Visions of Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine captured by photographer Anna Gordaya, told through Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem. In this time of war—these simple joys and the treasure of a lazy dreamy day in a city park, now overshadowed by falling bombs and civilian blood. Now rendered but a dream within a dream. The photographs are what we’re left with.

Take this kiss upon the brow! And, in parting from you now, Thus much let me avow — 120

You are not wrong, who deem That my days have been a dream; Yet if hope has flown away

In a night, or in a day, In a vision, or in none, Is it therefore the less gone? All that we see or seem Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar Of a surf-tormented shore, And I hold within my hand Grains of the golden sand — How few! yet how they creep Through my fingers to the deep,


While I weep — while I weep! O God! Can I not grasp Them with a tighter clasp? O God! can I not save One from the pitiless wave? Is all that we see or seem


Tina Sena

Whole Heart Foods


Have you heard? Nutritionist & Fitness Expert Tina Sena has her own line of health snacks…

e r ’ y e h t d an ! s u o i c i l de

HER STORY Nichole Alarcon Nurture Massage Therapy San Antonio, Texas

photojournalist Stacey Olivares-Garcia


Nichole Alarcon is not your ordinary massage therapist. She is a believer in bringing healing to the body from a repositioning of oneself. I got to ask Nichole a few questions on what she does. It was an interesting and moving pattern of words she shared, but it was information I believe we all need to know.

What is different about Nurture Massage Therapy? “Nurture Massage Therapy is quite unlike your run of the mill massage practice. We have a unique mission to help nurture the physical and emotional wellbeing of mothers and their families. Not only are we supporting this with therapeutic bodywork and education for our clients, but we know that community in motherhood is powerful too, which is why we strive to provide various avenues to cultivate community within the San Antonio area.”

How do you connect with your clientele? “Connecting with clients in an honest and genuine way is so important because I am working with them in such an intimate setting. Not only are these moms laying on the massage table, partially, if not completely undressed, but some are also expressing vulnerabilities, fears and frustrations about birth, motherhood, child rearing, pain they are experiencing and more. Giving them the time to release all of this and holding space for these mamas is a unique part of my job that I wasn’t expecting but am honored to take on. While I make sure to stay within my scope of practice, it’s a very beautiful thing to hold that space for someone who is experiencing the amazing and difficult times in motherhood. Additionally, taking the time to have a thorough pre-consultation and postconsultation is an important part of my job. Connecting with them about the reason they

are seeking a massage and asking questions to find out why something might be hurting is so critical to the work I can provide. Providing education about what was worked on and what the client can do after, or in-between sessions is another important touch point. I have quite a few educational blog posts on our website that I often send as reference, so my client is empowered to manage their own self-care. I’ve also worked to cultivate an amazing community of professionals that specialize in perinatal and women’s health concerns, so if a referral is needed, I have a list of trusted professionals that I can direct the client to. I mentioned in another question that community also plays a big role in our massage practice. One way I try to cultivate community to connect is through our Yomassage classes. These are essentially group massage classes, where I combine breath, stretch and massage. I guide women through meditation and breathwork to help calm and relax the nervous system, then show them how to get into restorative stretch positions, and while resting in these positions, I provide massage to various parts of the body. After this we have an opportunity to reflect and converse over some warm tea in my office. It’s a great way to connect with other moms and women who may be going through similar experiences. In a more literal sense of

connecting with our clients, there is a bi-weekly email that is sent which provides educational content, availability, and any community events clients may want to partake in. I am also fairly active on Instagram where I share things like self-massage, stretching techniques and more.”

What is something that sets you apart? “Though we work with mothers in any stage of motherhood, I specialize in prenatal and postpartum massage, and am a certified pediatric massage therapist. This means that I have specialized training specific to mothers who are pregnant as well as those who have just given birth, and I have special training to help their little ones too. Prenatal massage is a wonderful addition to a soon to be mama’s prenatal care. In prenatal massage, I can work with mothers in a few different ways. I have a support system that allows them to lay on their side, as well as a support system that allows the mother to lay comfortably face down. We work to address common aches and pains associated with pregnancy such as muscular tension, continuous postural shifts, pelvic pain and more. Postpartum massage can be key in a mama’s recovery from pregnancy, labor, and birth. With


postpartum massage, in most cases, I can work with moms as early as 24 hours to week of giving birth. These sessions tend to focus on relieving any residual body aches from birth, muscular tension from breastfeeding and newborn childcare, postpartum hormone regulation and more. I also like to let moms know that a baby is welcome in their session as well. It can be tough leaving your newborn, especially if they need to nurse, so I can even accommodate nursing on the table, by simply putting the mom in a side lying position. In pediatric massage, I support children aged 217. People often wonder why a child might need massage, but there are so many benefits. Massage in a professional setting is a safe and effective way to teach children about safe touch, allows the child the ability to practice autonomy

over their own body, not to mention the physical and emotional benefits. Massage can help ease anxiety, improve sleep, relieve constipation, reduce hypersensitivity and more. It can also look very different than massage for an adult. Especially when working with younger children, I work with them while they sit on the floor, on a chair, or if they are comfortable on the table. To help with engagement we can use toys or stories as I massage certain areas, and I also include parents’ education on how to massage their child at home. On my website, I provide a resource page for each of these specialties, that dive more into what to expect from each session and to help answer any questions. I want people to feel comfortable and empowered when they come into my office.”

How did you get into this type of therapy? “In 2014, as a brand new massage therapist, I started a completely mobile massage practice called Massage Móvil. At the time, this was something that I was only supposed to be doing part time, because I had a full time career working in the corporate office of a major massage franchise. As my experience grew in the massage franchising field, so did my love for working one on one with clients. In 2017, I decided to leave the stability of an office job to pursue my massage practice full time. Three months into full time self employment, I found out that I was expecting a sweet little boy. I was so excited, but also terrified, especially as a mobile massage therapist, because I wasn’t certain how my body would hold up under the physical nature of massage. I started searching for a massage therapist for myself, because I knew to continue to work through my pregnancy, self-care was going to be essential. The search for the right massage therapist seemed to take forever! Most LMTs that I saw didn’t have the confidence or training or both to provide a good therapeutic massage for me—that is until I found someone who specialized in it. She was so amazing, and I attribute having her on my birth team allowed

This journey through my own pregnancy coupled with massage showed me just how much birthing people need this work. As I grew in my motherhood and in my mobile massage practice, I began to realize that a gap needed to be filled. Mothers, who tend to everyone and everything, needed a supportive space where they could renourish their own needs. And as my own son started growing, I realized the role that safe and nurturing touch could play not only in our relationship, but in his own development. I wanted to fill this gap for families just like mine, for women just like me. I fell in love with working in the perinatal and family community and wanted to create a nurturing space for those who needed it. So, in June 2022, I decided to completely rebrand and change the direction of my massage practice, to do just that. Though it’s only been a few months since the rebranding from Massage Móvil to Nurture Massage Therapy, I am so excited and happy to be on this journey with other women and families and so honored to be able to serve them in the best way that I know how.”

Nichole has a passion to give back to the community a service that is desperately needed. She is filled with hope and a desire to change the perception of massage therapy. She is ready to listen and lean in. 129


Expert Health Advice Nutrition at any age, the best foods for all bodies.

Lifestyle Tips & Resources Links, great products and places to try.

Fitness Techniques Things you can try at home or at the gym.


Fit to a T.


Things Up Nutritionist & fitness expert Tina Sena

priority, then how can we ever expect to feel our best?

As we rapidly approach this holiday season, I’m daring you to shake it up! Make the changes that you have been thinking and talking about.

One of the biggest reasons people come to me for personal training is because they are feeling stuck where they are. They are not losing weight. They are not gaining muscle. They have no energy. They can’t get a handle on their daily food intake. Here’s where I tell them and now you, that it’s time to shake things up! You must “change” your daily habits that are NOT getting you to your goals. If you want something to change, you have to change something! Start by making a schedule for yourself. Plan your days! What time are you getting up? When and what will you be eating throughout the day? When are you getting your exercise in? What time will you get to bed to rest? I know we are busy with work and family, kids’ activities and other obligations— but if we’re not making taking care of ourselves a

Take action! I’m here to help you get started. Health and happiness,

a n i T

Find Tina online at or Instagram at @tinasenaofficial

Tina works hands-on with clients in San Antonio, New Braunfels and surrounding areas.






Authenticity Healing Practitioner Romy Nava

How many of us out there have friends that "keep it real"? Are they really presenting themselves in the most authentic way? How do they act when people are not looking? These questions can easily turn to questions of reflection. Do you yourself exhibit these behaviors? Being your authentic self means that your thoughts, words, and actions are in alignment. You are true to yourself and those around you. It is who you are at the deepest core. Many people-pleasers present a representation of themselves on social media apps, dating apps, etc. Society has driven this behavior and has trained many of us to easily give the public a false representation of ourselves. It is an easy road to go down and if travelled too far, it can lead to losing oneself and never fulfilling a divine purpose. Learning to be your authentic self is a journey and can be taken in steps. Here are a few exercises to practice as we make changes to be more authentic:

• Next time someone asks you how you are doing, stop and think about how you really are doing in the day instead of the instant response—the subconscious response that you give. • Journal and track how you feel when you make a certain change in behavior to be more authentic. What feelings came up? What kind of impressions did you have and how did you move through it? How did it feel versus presenting the public image? • Begin to pay attention to whether you feel like you should do something or whether you want to do something. When you feel like you should do something else as a result of some sort of societal pressure, it can easily trigger your people-pleasing behaviors. When you want something, that is your soul speaking to you, telling you what it needs. Simply being more mindful and aware of authenticity will certainly bring on the change. The idea is to take steps to be a better version of yourself every day and in every moment. Being in your authentic self will ultimately bring you in alignment with your purpose in life, which in turn will bring on absolute and lasting happiness.


Motivational Mindset Coach Crystal Lopez-Crebs

G R A T I T U D E Gratitude and forgiveness are two of the most powerful things in the world that make a transformational impact. This month in America we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday and it’s a time of giving thanks. It’s the part of the holiday season that begins to remind us of all of our blessings and what we should be thankful for. If you woke up today and have as roof over your head, air to breathe, and food to eat, you are incredibly blessed. Even just having air to breathe, which most everyone on this planet has, is something to be grateful for. Gratitude is scientifically proven to change your state, begin to change your environment, and shift the way you actually see things in life. It can help with your relationships, improve your health – mentally and physically, reduce aggression, help you sleep better, and improve your self-esteem. When I started my gratitude practice, I noticed things differently as I went through my day. Things around me stood out more, and more blessings were coming to me. My heart was full of more happiness and excitement as each day progressed. When you can live in that blissful state day in and day out, you realize what true love is. Yes, there are days where things aren’t perfect, as is life, however; I am quick to forgive and get back into a better energy. I also know I am supported by a higher power, a higher self, and have immense gratitude for my blessings. Why would you not want to see things with gratitude every single day?! In today’s ridiculous mental climate, having a gratitude practice daily can set your mind and your day up for success. With all the busyness of your day, adding something like this may seem daunting, but if you start with a small step, it will make the biggest difference to your emotional well-being and how you start to live life day to day. One of the simplest ways to have a gratitude practice is to have a gratitude journal. In the morning, you can start by writing 3-5 things you are grateful for. You can even up the number to 10 things if you want. Once you have those things

written, take 1 minute to reflect upon each of them and feel the feeling of being grateful for whatever it is. This could take up 3 minutes if you have 3 things written, 5 minutes if you have 5 things, or 10 minutes if you have 10 things written. Still not a lot of time in the whole of it. You can take it a step further by repeating the process at the end of each day, right before bed. Falling asleep to your daily blessings prompts your subconscious to prepare you to see and have more things to be grateful for. If you want to make the biggest transformational shift in your life, the key to that is forgiveness. Forgiveness is the ultimate power and one of the highest acts of love, and it can also be one of the hardest & easiest things to do. Forgiveness can seem like an impossible act when something seems extremely unforgiveable. The number one thing to think about forgiveness is that it releases you from that energy, you don’t have to forget about it, it doesn’t condone it—you free yourself from it. There is so much anger in the world right now. Many people want to be angry and unforgiving, but that is just causing more negativity and unhappiness inside. You can fight for things you believe in, but if you are coming from an angry, ungrateful and unforgiving heart, you are adding to the problem and low energies and they will eat you up. And, you will have no solution to what you are angry about. You will be miserable and become bitter, and fail to create the change. You have to begin with forgiveness. One way to begin forgiving is to mentally imagine the person or situation, or write it down on a piece of paper, and verbally or mentally say, (Name) I forgive you for ____. I now release and let you go with love. I release myself from you, and leave the rest to God / Source / The Universe (however you feel). I am now complete. Do that at least 3 times, you can



repeat that as many times as you feel necessary. You might go through many emotions— crying, laughing, sadness —and it may take many times of repeating the process to finally have it forgiven, and that is okay. The more you forgive, the easier it gets. If there is a big problem you see in the world, you still need to do this type of process. That is one of the best ways to fight. And, you also have to have enough faith that it’s working and making the shift. We are incredibly supported by things unseen. Do you realize you have so much power within to intentionally create your best life? We have so many blessings around us every day, and yet they are easily missed when you are not viewing the world through the eyes of gratitude and forgiveness. When you start your day with gratitude, you see the day through that lens. When you forgive someone, or a situation, you create space for true love to fill your heart. Why would you ever want to live your life through an unhappy view? You can truly change the world, starting with the world inside of you.





This story is particularly intimate and I’m honored to have been trusted to present it with the dignity and compassion it deserves. Christopher Denmon is more than a veteran, a photographer and conceptual artist—he’s my friend. His life has not been an easy one, though it has been a journey worth the telling. “I am from Texas, but moved around a great deal. I’ve always been interested in art and was drawing before I can remember. It’s all kind of been omnipresent in my life, but it really started to interest me around third grade. I started reading a lot of books about artists and photographers, and I was fascinated by them. Being myself was the biggest obstacle I had as a young person trying to grow into art. I moved a lot, and kept to myself because of it. Finding my style and voice became a challenge because I never wanted to express myself to people I would be moving away from. So I didn’t put myself out 140

there more than I needed to.” Christopher’s family believed in his abilities early on, even if they had trouble making sense of his vision. “I can say while I did have support, I also had a lack of understanding. People close to me didn’t understand the kind of work I was doing, and often would give me “advice” on the kind of work I should be doing. Due to the highly stressful life I had as a young person, I developed a much darker style of work early and a lot of people misinterpreted it as a warning sign or cry for help. In fact, I was just wired that way and my style has persisted since I discovered my own confidence in what I was creating.” There was always a wealth of creative visionaries for him to soak up, be it through books or other media. “Numerous individuals inspired me to push towards being a professional working artist.

journalist K. Day Gomez

The more I read about people the more I was drawn to the idea of making a living from selling fragments of my soul that I’d poured out onto paper or film. I gravitated towards those individuals that were darker such as Gieger, Bacon, Goya, Beksiński, and many others who had control of their darker inner self. I was also deeply moved and inspired by an array of black and white photographers, as they seemed to capture the deepest essence of a person or moment. Robert Mapplethorpe did this spectacularly, and could put a person’s soul on display through the photos he’d taken of them.” Denmon’s art reflects the PTSD and traumas he incurred during deployment. His prominent chest tattoo for example, just below his collar bone reads “Only the dead have seen the end of war,” a quote by 19th century essayist George Santayana. Christopher had it tattooed backward so that every time he looks in the mirror he may be reminded of the cost he and his fellow soldiers paid, and the parts of themselves they left behind.

“I’ve always had a darker style of art. This development occurred in my preteen years as a result of the traumatic lifestyle I was exposed to. When I left my service, and returned to San Antonio I felt despondent and lost. I was having a very difficult time processing the last seven years of deployments and war fighting. The loss of many friends, including my best friend, were weighing very heavily on me. I was self destructive and spiraling into nothing very rapidly. After an intense series of poor decisions I ended up in a forced coma, and after that homeless. I found myself at the edge of oblivion, and needed a lifeline. That’s when I was given a disability rating by the VA, and paid some compensation for my issues. This was just barely enough for me to step away from the labor force, and start focusing on my art. When I had that time, I found more of the pent up issues started to pour out—whether on paper or a photo, it didn’t matter. Almost all the work I was doing was somehow tied to these deeply personal traumas I had no way of describing to anyone. I became rather obsessed with exploring this side of

myself, and decided that I was going to push my works as far as I could…safely. That’s how my dark photography took off and expanded. I would take an image, and the act of creating would be a cathartic release. It all just worked, and so I accepted the side of me I had been running from for a few years. I’m grateful to have that. An intimate dive into my own self through art. It’s been quite the experience.” And one that has surely saved his life. As part of this deep-diving shadow work, Christopher has been very open about responsibility using psilocybin for healing purposes and self discovery journeys which yield understanding. We asked him about this process. “After my time in service I had an overwhelming desire to take mushrooms. It came from a deep primal place, like my DNA was telling me to get them. I started taking them, and took it very seriously from the onset. I knew this had to be done with positive intentions. As far as potential advice goes, read. Read

as much literature as you can find, and then read more. If you choose to walk that path, take it very seriously and go in with an open mind. Always remember that you aren’t particularly in charge of what bubbles up to the surface during the introspective situation, and you should address each scenario as it arises. Trying to avoid anything the psilocybin has brought up is running from the opportunity to heal.” Denmon is reasonably vocal about the kinds of changes he’d like to see in drug reform laws, and what we categorize as “drugs” to begin with. But he’s also vocal about the changes he’d like to see in the professional community in relation to how creatives are treated. “A few notable changes I would like to see is artists being paid what they are worth, and from the onset of their careers. I have never understood the idea that an artist should use their time, supplies, and equipment to produce unpaid works so the industry might accept them. I have little respect for, and move quickly from, anyone who asks me to create a drawing, make a print, or do a photo shoot for free. Exposure doesn’t 143

feed me, pay my bills, or replace the supplies or equipment I’ve used to create a piece. As far as igniting change, that will have to come when more artists are willing to say no. There isn’t much I can accomplish by myself other than beating on a tattered drum that many artists have beat on before me. It will also take the consumer of the arts to stop differentiation between the arts, and respect all forms of creativity the same as a movie or music.” He has strong advice for those in the creative field. “Don’t let social media instill self doubt. Try your hardest to not expect a quick response to your work, or a positive turnaround for your efforts. While some people obviously explode on the scene and make huge waves, the majority of us have to generate small ripples that create a momentum. Most importantly, don’t quit. You might have to slow down or alter your trajectory, but always reassess your situation as honestly as possible before quitting. Quitting is usually done in a heat of the moment situation when doubt hits hardest. Accept those moments of self doubt as part of your process and find a way to move forward.” As for wherehe’s been, where he is and what he hopes is coming next, Christopher shares, “I was born in Orange, Texas in 1981. I am currently residing in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I hope that my art can take me on a journey around the world really. Travel is my biggest goal in life, and taking my cameras with me every step of the way is a deeply embedded part of that goal.” He adds earnestly, “The only big plans I have in the near future are prints and possible books or a publication of some kind. I have grown exceedingly tired of the social media paradigm, and have been working on some ideas that could better suit me and my personal goals for growth and expansion. South Florida has a near endless precession of events I can attend and cover, so I’ll have to map out the incoming year and try to devise a plan for those events I’d enjoy working most.” 146

You can find Christopher Denmon, inquire and become a patron easily online from anywhere in the world. “I am currently on Instagram, and on Twitter @C_Denmon_Photo. I can also be reached via email at . There is a Christopher Denmon YouTube channel, and I am working out how to utilize that in the coming months.” Beyond the darkness of his work, Christopher is one of the most kind, genuine and compassionate human beings I have had the privilege of coming to know over the years. A loving father and life partner to an equally talented photographer, student of life and mentor to those who’ve lost their way. He makes a solid effort to be of help when and where he can. And he understands that medicine doesn’t only come from a bottle, but can come from the stroke of a pen on paper or grounding one’s self in nature or hours on end of conversation with a good friend who truly wishes to see you succeed. For all the horrors he’s faced in war, the horrors that live inside the waking dream, he works through the fog of confusion and confronts his demons head on. He never runs from a fight and has learned when to rest, rather than to quit. He has accumulated priceless life experience from the darkest of places which has given him a deeper appreciation for the light. And he never hesitates to share that light with others in need. Thank you, Christopher, for being such a friend to me.



Autistic child artist Aiden Gamez is raising money for STEM learning toys, equipment, art supplies and other tools he needs as he pursues engineering sciences and art.

Please consider supporting his endeavor by purchasing his original artwork, signed prints or postcards.








G I N Z B U R G - M A L Y

L O N D O N ,


photographer & mother Galina Ginzburg journalist K. Day Gomez

Eight year old Lucas Ginzbur-Maly is an above-average gifted musician and artist who lives with his parents and two sisters in London, UK. He was happy to share his personal journey with us. “My mom tells me that I did my first drawing when I was just 9 months old. There’s photographic evidence of it too, it looks like scribbles of course. There are lots of pictures of me making art (and getting very messy in the process) from when I was a baby and a toddler. So, looks like I’ve always wanted to create, even though I don’t remember myself that young. I do remember being fascinated by the marks pencils make on paper. My first real memory of being drawn to art is from the first lockdown when I was 6. We spent so much time at home and all I wanted to do was draw and paint, and do junk-modeling. The artists I find inspiring change all the time. Every time I am introduced to someone new, I get some inspiration from them. My most recent inspiration was Cornelia Parker. Her exhibition at Tate Britain blew my mind. My mom said that I am a bit like Cornelia Parker in the way I see art everywhere—in a spill of tea, in pavement patterns, in pasta sauce stains. Mom doesn’t see art in pasta sauce stains; she still gets annoyed.” Lucas is limitless when it comes to sourcing materials and mingling mediums. “I use anything 150

I can get my hands on. From plain pencils to my mom’s watercolors, to my little sister’s paint sticks. I love collaging, and I love creating art from anything I found in the recycling bin. I don’t think my creative process is ever the same—inspiration could come from anywhere and then it just depends on what I have nearby. I suppose with collage work, it’s more of the same process. We have a binder at home where we save any cool patterns or magazine images, bits of packaging and wrapping paper. When I feel like working on one of my collages, I go through that binder to find the right pieces. Very often I get an urge to create something but I don’t know what the end piece is going to be. So I start drawing or sculpting or sticking cardboard pieces together with tape, and then I observe what happens. Something starts to take shape, and then I just follow that form and add to it until I am happy with what I’ve made.”

Lucas and his family are travelers, and though he loves all the adventures, he does have his favorites. “If we are talking about art, then I would say definitely New York. I’ve spent hours at the Met Museum exploring Egyptian and Medieval art. I’ve seen a giant marble retainer on the High Line. I’ve danced in Carl Craig’s installation Party / After Party at Dia, Beacon… It’s mind blowing how many types of art there are and there is still so much more to discover and explore! I find New York very inspiring and just the right amount of crazy for me.”


FAMILY To say that the Ginzburg-Maly clan is a family of artists is no exaggeration. “Everyone in my family is into art. Mom always drew and painted with us from when my sisters and I were babies. She likes to draw and always makes us hand-drawn cards for our birthdays and Valentine’s Day. My dad loves art history and always takes us to museums when we travel. He will always know which church to visit for that famous fresco. Dad has come up with a clever way of teaching us 152

about different things. He incorporates interesting facts into Chicky stories—bedtime stories about the adventures of two chickens, Chicky and Julietta. That way it doesn’t feel like we are sitting through an art history lesson, but we always end up learning something new in the process.” With such a wellrounded life, Lucas has lots of ideas for the future. “I was born and still live in London. I love London and everything it has to offer, but I hope to travel around and live in different countries like my parents did. I definitely would like to spend some time living and making art in New York, it just looks like the coolest place to me. I would also like to spend some time in Europe, especially Austria, and do what artists used to do back in the day—spend a year in a small picturesque village and paint the scenery in different seasons. This sounds like a great way

to learn to paint nature and one’s own impressions of nature.” Dreaming aside, he already has some really great memories behind him. “My sisters and I have made quite a few things more beautiful with the help of permanent markers in our lives— walls in our old rental apartment, brand new wallpaper in our nursery, a table at a restaurant. Mom finally learned her lesson and now keeps the permanent markers in her office. That’s probably the only medium we don’t use much in our house. Once, I was chased in my dreams by Louise Bourgeois’ giant spider. I will most definitely always remember that artwork. For my 8th birthday last year, my parents let my friends and I paint every surface of a room in our house before remodeling it. We started with the walls, but paint ended up on the floor and ceiling as well. It was so much fun and we all ended up covered in paint head to toe. At some point we were just squirting paint out of cans all over. There should be a venue like that for birthday parties. There was some very cool

abstract art all over the room as a result.” Lucas’ life is full of creativity, in so many forms. Whether it be music as he learns to play various instruments alongside his siblings, to sculpting to painting to learning art history. And the best part about it is that he never grows tired of it and is always eager to learn and make more. We asked if he has any good advice for other children and young adults about pursuing their art? “Do art often and don’t get discouraged if things are going wrong. There is no wrong in art, and that’s one of the best parts about it. You can always turn an ‘oops’ into something else. Don’t get frustrated if you think you’ve ruined a painting or a drawing. I recently saw a work by Cezanne in the museum that he slashed with a knife and crumpled, he hated it so much—and now we are admiring it in a museum! This just shows you that art is very subjective. (Subjective? I always mix them up) Someone out there will find your “ruined” art beautiful.” Life can be as charmed as you choose to make it. As Lucas has taught us, it’s as simple as starting where you are, and using what you have.

L I N K T R . E E / D A B L U E K I D D I E


If James didn’t start now, then his family wouldn’t have fire to last through the cold nights ahead. The sun was at its peak and the wood still needed to be chopped. He picked up the hatchet he had bought many years ago and as he knelt over to reach for the last piece an old watch fell out of his shirt pocket. It was his grandfather's watch and it was the old timer's most prized possession back then. James used to wake up before the sunrise to meet downstairs and from the kitchen his grandfather stared at him and then his watch. His grandfather would smile, pleased with James whom was always ahead of schedule. They would spend much of their time in the backyard where they chopped wood to build porches and balconies. The young James hated every second. Waking up early. The heat. The sweat. The hunger that would rise after a while from exerting so much energy. He was relieved only when his brother would wake up late in the afternoon, sometimes closer to the evening if his brother decided to blow off the labor. This went on for many years and one day he noticed his brother was wearing his grandfather's watch. It was a gift. He clutched the rusted watch longingly in his hand and continued to chop. Those days are long gone. All he had now was the luxury of his memories and the means to chop wood. There are trees where buildings used to be.



POET LAUREATE ANDREA ’VOCAB' SANDERSON / SAN ANTONIO TX PHOTOGRAPHER DICKENS SIKAZWE / ZAMBIA Stapled to the floor at every door there are two shoes neatly lined. We confine the owners of each pair. There are big black numbers painted where just below windows show the enclosed children—some lay weeping. Others pace the floor seeking attention because nervous jitters lick their feet like thirsty kittens. I am smitten tonight, bitten by fright,


folding my heart under florescent light. Incessant rattling and a fight before midnight, because this one came in drunk. The officers said she stunk the funk of no showers and desolation. Prostitution her means of preservation destination unknown. She ran away from home intoxicated by the cologne of death and destruction. Functioning marginally, fifteen, pregnant, and HIV positive doing whatever she can to live. Diabetic and sick as an infirmary with nothing to give the world, but grief. All alone, I only hear suffering when she speaks. Her shoes are pink. They lay prostrate under door number eight as she waits for processing. You see, I work the third shift at Juvenile Detention Center. Every time I enter that building, I get the distinct feeling of childhood burdens peeling away the

weightlessness of my personal life.

I thought I knew strife and hard times, until I saw these teenagers facing hard time for the crimes of delinquency. The frequency of their screams disturb my dreams, but I cannot nod off on my shift—responding to routine checks as officers inspect rooms one by one. Our job isn't done until someone comes to relieve us. So I just sit all night, fight the sleep that astounds me, search the silence around me, trying to not feel as caged and enraged as the youths we supervise.

Mostly the girls cry, the boys seldom do, but the agony and desperation in their faces always holds true. You've never seen hopelessness, until it is reflected through the soul of a child. You've never seen ruthlessness and tragedy gone wild, until you've seen the faces attached to the files on these hardship cases. And while I sit in Main Control, and Juvenile Officers patrol, and I see soles stack up two by two.

I want to take these shoes and throw them back in the face of every dilemma that brought them here. This Center is like a Noah's Arch of dejection and fear. Herding them in 2 by 2. We try to provide protection from the storm outside. But sometimes we merely help them survive. Is there really safety inside when their minds torture them with guilt and circumstance? Rehabilitation is a luxury. Can they be afforded a second chance?

Some do a dance with fate, like the girl sitting behind door number eight—inflating demons’ egos fate just stepped on her toes. Her future will be lethal like the HIV that she passes to her unborn. Those pink shoes know the scorn of innocence torn.

She just: sits, and waits, mourns and suffers, but I can't help wonder: Will she finally drown when she is released from this arch without us to cover her-- from the rain and pain that stains those two pink shoes?

PEPPER’s own Andrea Vocab Sanderson, Poet Laureate of SA, performed this poignant piece live at The Little Carver theatre alongside indie recording artist Jed Craddock for his show which was part of The Little Carver Intimate series. They were joined by Danielle Campbell Steans, Founder of San Antonio Ballet School who performed with them as well. 159



Everything of mine shapeless as my world is like a scorched earth,

I feel so deserted and that’s only because of my torn knees. Will I ever get out of this misery, pain and chains that tie me down? I pray to God, but he doesn’t want to answer my prayers Shift the blame to the paper but still my jagged torn knees are on my case.

Torn Knees! Torn knees! How Am I supposed to kneel down? Knowing that I have to pray in order for God to provide me with inner peace. Just to ease the anguish I am going through. Jagged edges on my cloth, I feel so hurt Having a not-healing sore deep-inside thy heart I try to separate myself from the rest, just to stay apart I can feel the pain like I have been beaten with a quirt. The mind and heart racing just to spurt The infliction in my heart. Look at my scars with so much interest. They represent my lacerate, With my heart distorted.


It is not like I’m in need of your food, I just need to feed the inner me. Heal the wounds deep inside me. I’m thirsty but please keep your water, If I was that thirsty, I would finish all the water in the ocean. Let me walk tall like I have achieved so much in life. But these torn knees keep pulling me back, Back to the saddening and lousy life, Back to where I originate, Back to where my family tree lies, That is where my roots are.

WORDS ARE MEDICINE LITERARY AUTHOR DR. PAULA O.M. OTUKILE / BOTSWANA, AFRICA X JOURNALIST K. DAY GOMEZ Meet Dr. Paula O.M. Otukile from Mahalapye in Botswana. She is founder of Mulher Forte African Literature Awards and the author of more than 26 books. This includes “Thato Wishes to be a Butterfly!” Translated into Spanish, Portuguese, Swahili, Setswana and English, “it is a children’s book to sensitize kids on gender based violence and sexual abuse.” The book just won an international Global AfriCAN Authors Honoree award in Johannesburg, South Africa. Paula is a gender based violence activist who recently won Best Advocate of the Year in November 2021 in Lagos, Nigeria. She followed that by being named Best Advocate of the Year in Monrovia, Liberia in December 2021. This year in February, she won the Most Inspiring Woman on Earth award, India. Followed by gaining a Best Book of the Year nomination in Zambia, and Best Author of the Year Africa, last month. She isn’t only an advocate and activist—she also devotes much of her time to philanthropy as well. “I support local schools—we have adopted Camp Primary as our adopt-a-school initiative.” In doing so, Dr. Otukile hopes to help children just like herself to realize their potential and overcome adversity. “I’ve always been a writer. I kept a diary and wrote about all events I saw and things that happened. My interest became greater after I finished school and I got immense on writing.”

Initially, her family wasn’t quite sure what to make of her fixation with writing. “At the start, my family thought it was a hobby. However, my aunt Lapo supported me and all the others followed suit when they saw it’s something serious.” They just needed to see it was a passion that wouldn’t burn out over time. One such individual who helped that process along is someone she mentions as a great source of inspiration. “Professor Melamu from the University of Botswana is my inspiration. Also Mr. Seboni, the literature lecturer, the late Dr. Fani Kayode Omoregie, the late professor Kezilhabi…as well as Eddie Iroh, the Nigerian author, and Chinua Achebe.” We asked Paula what kinds of change she’s hoping to see in the world? “I do love to see Africans buy books more, and the arts being supported here. I would love to see zero cases of abuse and bullying.” That is something we can all agree with. Her dreams for the future of her career came as a bit of a surprise, though entirely thrilling. “I want to be on BBC World, reporting the news—or The New York Times! Even if it were for a month, I would be fulfilled.” Those big hopes are not far-fetched at all for Paula, considering the social and political strides she’s been making lately. “I just met a UNICEF representative in Botswana—the First Lady of Botswana who won Best Author of the Year award (Africa) Zambia.” 161

Dr. Otukile shares more about the ways she helps to bring awareness to gender based violence as well as other causes she is vocal about and how she serves the community. “I go to schools and move from town to town, and villages. I approach school leaders, village leaders, and give talks.” For those seeking a career in writing and public relations, she offers, “my advice is do not come into it seeking money or livelihood. Not right away. It takes time, so do something else while writing and perfect your craft always.” To find Paula’s books and become a patron, “you can purchase my books on Amazon by typing in ‘Paula O.M. Otukile‘. I’m on Facebook as Pequeno Paulihna. And you can follow Mulher Forte African Literature Pty, Ltd on Facebook.” Some of her available titles include : Overcoming Failure Botswana Because I love Him Poetry Soup Anthology The Rose of Lekoba Snatched in Mahalapye Lost in Bobcity Folklore Collaboration with Paula On Becoming Donna Paula Kagiso Lost His Mask Daniel Goes to Botswana Love and Mental Health Amazing Culture… and others. She leaves us with a final sentiment. “Be you and do what you do best, the rest shall follow.”





DRY BONES Kindness is the Breath of Life

THE STORY OF SROW ZAR CHILDREN Charity and Public Benevolence Institution, Afghanistan • journalist K. Day Gomez 165

“OVER 20MILLION CHILDREN ARE GOING TO SLEEP HUNGRY…” Words that should be impactful, but instead it seems we’ve all grown desensitized to it. Words that too often feel like ‘just words’, though it‘s a very real living nightmare for so many. “A young girl we ran into started crying because they haven’t had proper food to eat from the past 3 days. Children are going through emotional and physical abuse for either not bringing enough food back home 166

or by the people on the streets. Your urgent help is desperately needed towards our emergency food packages.” Notice they were clear about exactly what your donations are being used for. Srow Zar Children is a Charity and Public Benevolence Institution (PBI) dedicated to assisting the needy in Afghanistan, and is endorsed as a Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR). “Our principal purpose as an organization is to provide services in Afghanistan to relieve poverty, respond to the needs of the aged, disabled, widowed women and the empowerment of women and girls through skills and education for self-sustainability programs and to build clean water facilities.” There are so many important endeavors SZC PERRER MAGAZINE

engages and assists in, but that last point means the difference between life and death—clean water. In June, they announced, “Our next location for a water well is on a mountain. Over 300 families will have access to water since the majority of these families can’t afford to feed themselves, let alone having a water tap at their door step. We’re very excited for this project because we are going to help a big number of children to relieve them from fetching water all the way from the bottom of the mountain or knocking on people’s doors with water taps if they are alllowed to get some water.” The goal is not

only to provide relief, but to promote independence. These are things we all too often take for granted. Those of us who are accustomed to access all the time, whose biggest question is what restaurant we may like to dine at on our work break today or if our gift packages will make it here in time from Amazon for the holidays—we can’t put ourselves in these children’s worn out shoes. “Learning this made me realize how lucky we are to have fridges filled with food, have that $5 to buy a coffee to keep us awake for a few hours, seeing shoes we like we buy, having the choice of eating different foods everyday, buy that pretty dress you see on a model you want…”


“We forget there are thousands of children on the streets of Afghanistan begging for food who are kicked and slapped and being asked to never come back. Why are we turning our backs towards our most vulnerable demographic? Toward humans and most importantly those who have NOTHING…” The volunteers who have firsthand perspective feel it full on as they venture out to record, document, report and provide aid daily. And then return home to their comfortable beds only to feel the heaviness of their privilege in juxtaposition to the suffering of those they selflessly help. “We are currently running two design schools and sponsoring orphans on a monthly basis.” They also teach sewing and other useful trades to children and women who are old enough to learn. There is a vast difference between empowering their people in this way and the idea of ‘child labor’ in sweat shops. In these scenarios, the students are provided valuable education at no cost to learn to support themselves in instances where they are either entirely orphaned or are caring for elderly or disabled guardians. “Some of these kids do attend schools before or after work. Did you know the majority of the schools in Afghanistan are only teaching children for 2-3 hours? Did you know every school has 3-4 sessions a day? This is because we don’t have enough schools available for the majority of the child populous to attend for a full day. Our main focus should be to push for more children to attend schools for their own future and for the country.” As if these factors were not bad enough, Afghanistan suffered yet another devastating natural disaster in November. “Another deadly earthquake hit Kalafgan. The Kalafgan District is a district of Takhar Province, Afghanistan. The district is well governed, with selfgovernance in parts of Kalafgan because

of how remote they are. 42 villages are located in the district. The majority of the families who had saved up towards their upcoming winter will now be using their savings toward the damage caused by the earthquake.”


Then just this month, more unpredictable strife. “‘Recent heavy rainfall and flash flooding in Afghanistan has led to nearly 200 deaths nationwide. Winter is arriving soon and these affected families that include women and children do not have shelter to live under,’ the official told our outlet. ‘All their agricultural farms and orchards have either been completely destroyed or their harvest has been damaged. Families are currently in fear as to what will happen since winter is just around the corner and they won’t have a safe place to move into.‘ These families (who were otherwise doing fine) have now lost EVERYTHING! Life savings, gold, animals, farms 170

and their beautiful homes.” The urgency to provide even the most basic necessities is now on full rise. “Before winter approaches, we are raising funds for warm jumpers to keep the working children (and adults) warm while at work as they rebuild.” SZC also partners with local clinics to keep their medical supplies stocked and provide free services to as much of the community as they can sustain. “We continue to support Abasin Welfare Clinic in Jalalabad. Hundreds of people are being checked in and are provided with medicine free of charge. None of this is possible without your support.” Donations are open worldwid.


“Our objective for next year is maximizing the assistance we are providing and creating projects that will have the greatest impact. We are directly involved in the projects that we undertake and transparent with what the money is utilized for. It is through the kindness of donors that we have been able to aid in this humanitarian crisis and change lives. We are looking forward to the wonderful things we can achieve together. Our principal purpose for Afghanistan is to relieve poverty and educate those at most risk.” Srow Zar Children organization’s principal objectives are : Supporting the Aged, Disabled and Widowed. Focusing on Women’s Empowerment Supporting Kids at most risk Building Clean Water facilities

Reach out to Srow Zar Children to help. Email : Telephone : +61 422 725 154 Instagram : @srowzarchildren Donate : Website :


journalist K. Day Gomez


KIARA (she/her) Co-founder, Warriors in the Garden March & Rally for Black Foster Youth Brooklyn Bridge / September 2020

ANONYMOUS The Stonewall Protests Christopher Street March 2021

FLOWERS S T A S G I N Z B U RG New York / 2020 - 2022 PART 2 / interviewed by journalist K. Day Gomez

A R T I ST ’ S S T AT EM E N T “Youth is leading the revolution. Since the murder of George Floyd, the resurgence of street activism from Black Lives Matter to Stop Asian Hate, Free Palestine and advocacy for trans, immigrant and sex workers rights has filled the streets of New York City. Black queer and Black trans voices have come to the forefront of the fight. Their photographs make up most of this portfolio–portraits of people I have met at marches and rallies as well as actions that center and uplift marginalized communities. I started thinking of these young activists as flowers, full of beauty and life at the dawn of a new era.”

O U R I N T E R V I E W W I TH T H E A RTI S T To fully understand Stas Ginzburg‘s beautiful project, we wanted to learn about where Stas comes from, who he is as a person and an artist.

IBRAHIM Washington Square Park / July 2020

“My whole family immigrated to the U.S. in the Summer of 1999. We came as Jewish refugees, fleeing the ever rising anti-Semetic wave in Russia. I was 15 at the time and still in the closet. My parents did not speak a word of English. We settled in Kensington, a central part of Brooklyn, and collected some furniture from the garbage– things people put out on the street they no longer needed. I remember being shocked seeing a VHS player in the dumpster; something I would have never seen in Russia back in the day. That Fall I entered Edward R. Murrow High School and realized, even though I studied English back home, I could not do my algebra homework because I did not know a single mathematical term in English. I cried over my failing grades, having gotten used to being a straight-A student in all the sciences back home.


It was a period of adjustment for all of us. An image of my father sitting at his desk late into the night, an English dictionary by his side, trying to decipher heaps of immigration papers, school applications and job classifieds is forever burnt into my mind. 175

JULES (they/them) • George Floyd Remembrance March Foley Square / May 2021

PA R T T W O In 2019, I made a soft sculpture where I deconstructed the bags that we used to bring all of our belongings from Russia and sewed them back together, with the help of my mother, into an American flag. These were black nondescript polyester bags my parents bought at an agency in Moscow that handled our immigration paperwork. We were allowed two of these bags per person, that’s it. Miraculously for me, my aunt kept them in her garage all this time. It was an emotional process to work on this piece for a variety of reasons. It was a process of healing but also of anger and frustration because in 2019, under Trump, this was an entirely different America than the one I entered twenty years prior.” The brevity of creating something like this must have triggered many past and present traumas for Stas. Yet he pushed past the pain to create something meaningful.

KENN The Stonewall Protests Christopher Park / June 2021

That brings us to the present day. “I have been living in Brooklyn for over 23 years now. It is my home and I have built my life here. I actually have not been back to Russia once in all this time and I often think about how different my life would have turned out if my parents did not take this giant leap of faith. My relationship with New York is like a marriage. You have your good days and you have your bad days but it is until death do us apart. My absolute favorite thing about New York is its diversity. I often photograph at Washington Square Park, which for me is the center of the city, and I can never get over how different everyone is—a multitude of cultures and ethnicities, styles and fashion statements, economic and social backgrounds. It creates an energy like no other and this is what I miss the most when I travel outside of New York. This diversity became amplified during the latest social justice protests when New Yorkers from all walks of life spilled out into the streets to fight for Black liberation. It inspired me to capture faces of this young generation fighting for change.” We asked if he has a less than favorite aspect of living in New York. “The question is a no brainer–my least favorite thing about New York is its subway. It is easier to chew off your own arm than to try to get anywhere in the city on the weekend. If I ever decide to move out of New York it will be because I cannot waste one more second of my life waiting for the F train to show up.” When the marches began, and the events leading up to them, Stas was affected in his own way, which spurred him into action. “I remember feeling incredibly anxious back in May of 2020 leading up to the events that reignited the Black Lives Matter protests. The news cycle was the end of the world. We were at the height of the pandemic tracking the numbers of infected and dead every single day. I could see one of those big white refrigerator trucks outside my window parked at a nearby hospital. Trump was taking no responsibility for any of it and making no attempts to provide comfort to a nation already on edge. And then the news about George Floyd hit... I had to get out of my house. I had to see for myself what was happening on the streets and be a part of it—part of this rage, part of this fight, part of the revolution. I wanted to feel close to people again after months of being isolated in my studio apartment.

MARCH AGAINST LGBTQ HATE Bushwick, Brooklyn / September 2021

JADE & DONOVAN The Stonewall Protests Christopher Street / April 2021

SIGNS & GRAFFITI Abolition Park (City Hall) / July 2020

At first, I didn't even bring my camera. I marched and I chanted but most importantly I 177

ISAIAH • Washington Square Park / June 2021

PAULIE (he/they) • The Stonewall Protests Christopher Street / June 2021

BOOGIE (they/them) • The Stonewall Protests Pride March Washington Square Park / June 2021

JEM (she/her) • March Against TLGBQ Hate Bushwick, Brooklyn / September 2021

listened to the Black voices and the stories they told. I don’t know firsthand what it’s like to be Black in America. I don’t know what it’s like to be a Black queer or a Black trans person growing up in the Bronx. But I do know what it feels like to be an outsider and to feel like you don’t belong in a place. In June of 2020 I came across a community of queer and trans folx that went by the name ‘The Stonewall Protests’. This space was created by a Black trans woman, Joela Rivera, who saw a lack of representation of Black queer and trans voices within the Black Lives Matter movement. For a whole year she led these marches with Qween Jean every single Thursday, no matter rain or shine or snow with a wind chill factor of 20°F. These marches with their improvised weekly runway balls in the middle of the New York City streets became known as Church Thursdays. They’ve created a safe space for the community to share experiences and to come together in grief but also in celebration of all things Black and queer, allowing everyone to flourish and to experess themselves free of judgement and constraints of white heteronormatiove society.

THE PEOPLE MARCH The Oculus, Downtown NYC / November 2020

It is in this community, led and championed by Black trans women, that I have learned the true meaning of radical love and mutual aid, the power of holding space, the importance of chosen family, and that none of us are free until a Black trans woman is liberated.” We asked what Stas most hopes to achieve by capturing and showing these images to the world? “The first portrait I took was of Ace at Abolition Park during Occupy City Hall. They looked so fierce with an army bandana around their head, headphones, goggles and a Tupac t-shirt. A group of friends they were with at the time said: This is Ace, they are our 17-year-old leader. The goggles, Ace explained, were for the protection against pepper spray that the police were using a few hours earlier. I went on to meet many young organizers ACE (he/they) Photographer Cancel 4th of July Abolition Park (City Hall) / July 2020 and activists, always in awe of their maturity and dedication to the cause. It felt like such a historic moment, something that would shape and define these young lives forever. Now that the wave of protests has subsided and the fight for Black liberation has evolved into other forms of activism, we are left with these pictures to look at. I hope my portraits can do justice to the community they represent and that people in my photographs continue to hold space in all their glory for Black men and women, for Black queer and trans lives. I also hope that young people from all walks of life can see themselves in these images and can connect to the faces looking back at them. These people did the work, they showed up. They came out into the streets and fought for their right to live freely and unapologetically and for this they should be celebrated.” For those considering pursuing journalism or photography, Ginzburg has a bit of advice which comes from the experiences he has cultivated. “If you can see yourself pursuing anything else rather than art or photography, go do that other thing. It is an extremely saturated field and the amount of rejection can really grind you down. However, if you wake up thinking about photography and you

fall asleep thinking about your work, if it runs through your veins and takes over your personal and social life, then dedicate yourself fully and you will never regret it.” The culmination of this extensive project is a timecapsule worthy collection of portraits and photographs that reflect and define one of the most pivotal moments in our modern history. This was a time when America stood up and said “NO MORE”, they did it as one family, and New York in every way was once again the center of it all. 179

JAKOB (they/them) • Coney Island, Brooklyn / August 2021

ROHAN (they/siya) • Founder, Blasian March • Blasian March Book Fair, Chinatown / April 2021

RELLY (he/him) • Founder, We the People • The Blasian March Trans Power Rally Cadman Plaza, Brooklyn / October 2021

QWEEN JEAN (she/her) • Founder, Black Trans Liberation The Stonewall Protests / September 2020

THE B.R.E.A.T.H.E. BILL MARCH • Washington Bridge, the Bronx / September 2020



It's my body, It's my vagina, it's my uterus…

It's my freedom, it's my life. Nobody can tear them off.

I do not consent.

THANKSGIVING THE CRUELTY & MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT THE HOLIDAY Written by James Hunter photographer Joe A. Gomez III Designs by Amanda Alarcón-Hunter for UNTAMABLE — Indigenous : The Individual Warrior Within

OUTDATED AND SENSITIVE HOLIDAY There are always two sides to any story. Unfortunately, when it comes to history and in particular Thanksgiving, Americans have been force-fed a one-sided history. This dominant one-sided perspective has been told from the point of view of the white colonist who landed in Plymouth in 1620. In this perspective, which is largely untrue, Thanksgiving commemorates a peaceful and friendly gathering of English colonists and The Wampanoag tribe for days of feasting in 1620. Many Americans do not know the cruelty associated with Thanksgiving. After reaching a treaty with the Plymouth Settlers, the Wampanog tribe had taught them how to successfully farm, navigate, and hunt the rugged Massachusetts land, only to be killed later in a massive genocide committed by these same Plymouth settlers. As Smithsonian Magazine puts it, this concocted history positions the Pilgrims as the protagonists, when in actuality the Pilgrims were the antagonists as they butchered the Native Wampanoag people in cold

blood (McVay, 2017). However, to many Indigeous people in America, Thanksgiving is a time to mourn. Why? The idea that somehow Plymouth Settlers and Indigenous people broke bread peacefully is a myth. Unfortunately, many teaching materials give a biased and inaccurate picture of what happened in Plymouth in 1621. This Thanksgiving holiday is viewed by many to be nothing more than a grotesque celebration of the brutal conquest of Native Americans by colonists who embraced the “narrative of Pilgrims and Natives looking past their differences to break bread” (Ritschell, 2021). In fact, who tried to broker peace before this date was none other than The Wampanoag chief Massasoit, who negotiated a treaty between Plymouth settlers and the Wampanoag tribe in 1620. This treaty stated “that no one from either group would harm anyone from the other (Schumer, 2012). The Plymouth settlers murder of Wampanog tribe was the first of many raging 191

disquiet. wars to come as colonization efforts by the settlers were in full swing thereafter. HOW DO NATIVE AMERICANS VIEW THANKSGIVING? For many Indigenous people in America, Thanksgiving is a day of mourning. Some Indigenous people actually fast all day long out of respect for their ancestors who were brutally beaten and murdered by the Pilgrims. Also, this is a day for many to reflect and remember their ancestral history. Actually, since 1970, some have protested this day by gathering at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts to commemorate this national day of mourning (What does Thanksgiving mean to indigenous peoples?, 2022). Accordingly, the Participants in National Day of Mourning honor native ancestors and the struggles of indigenous people today by remembering the following: “Thanksgiving day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of Native people, the theft of Native lands, and the relentless assault of Native culture. It is a day of remembrance and spiritual connection as well as a protest of the racism and oppression which Native Americans continue to experience” (Hope, 2021). HOW SHOULD WE CELEBRATE THANKSGIVING 2.0? Thanksgiving as we celebrate it currently in America is based on a lie. With revisionist historical practices, we have discovered that Native people experienced a genocide and we should honor this day as a day of mourning and of giving thanks. The Native people give thanks everyday. They give thanks to nature, their ancestors, their families, and ultimately their community. As such, this should be a day of volunteerism, a day to help family, neighbors, and friends through communityservice driven projects. Moreover, this should not be a day of gluttony, but a day of fasting. This fasting is the least people could do to honor all the Native people who died during this genocide during 1621. In Buddhist thought, one of the main noble truths is that there is suffering in this world. As such, not only should we reflect on this suffering during Thanksgiving, but we should seek to create ways to broker peace with all beings. This includes a desire for peace and resistance to inflict suffering on people and animals alike. Secondly, we should do everything in our power not to add to this suffering, but rather to acknowledge it and help one another surpass it. This is what some Buddhist call the Bodhisattva principle; the idea that if you cannot help someone, at least do not harm them. With this in mind, fasting or the consumption of healthy vegetarian or vegan meals 192

should replace the current Thanksgiving menu. Vegetarian or vegan protein options could include the inclusion of tofu, nuts, veggies, and grains. Moreover, there are a plethora of protein options for turkey that are quite tasty, such as Field Roast, Celebration Roast, Quorn Meatless Roast,

365 Meatless Plant-Based Roast, Gardein Plantbased Turk’Y Roast. There are also amazing vegetable recipes specifically for Thanksgiving, which can be found at bon appetit magazine Thanksgiving recipes. Considering all this, only when this happens, will true progress be made in the remembrance of all those Native people who were killed in 1621. Only when this happens will we fully supplant suffering with compassion. Works Cited : Schumer, L. (2022, September 19). Thanksgiving has a bloody history – here's what really went down. Good Housekeeping. Retrieved September 27, 2022. McVay, L. (2017, November 22). “Everyone’s history matters: The Wampanoag Indian Thanksgiving story deserves to be known.” Smithsonian Magazine. American Indian Perspectives on Thanksgiving. Retrieved from nksgiving_poster.pdf Hope, N. (2021, November 21). “The History of Thanksgiving from the Native American Perspective.” Retrieved from Ritschel, C. (2021, November 25). “Why some Americans don’t celebrate Thanksgiving?” Independent. What does Thanksgiving mean to indigenous peoples? Indianapolis Public Library. (2022, October 4). Retrieved October 4, 2022, from




The protagonist of the painting is on a crowded plane with passengers packed like sardines. There is no doubt that it depicts our time: the medical mask adds credibility to the premise, and besides, the man is wearing a sleeping mask. Everything is quite ordinary: the traveler is suffering from light pollution and braves the dangers of contracting the virus. But one detail makes the situation absurd: on top of his plane ‘uniform’ he is also wearing spectacles. The expression that springs to mind is to the effect of ‘the net of the sleeper catches fish’. 194

2020, Oil on canvas. 50 cm. X 50 cm



One immediately imagines the artist as a casual witness that secretly captured a fellow traveler on camera and posted the shot on Instagram. Again, it is hinted at by the white frame that features in all the works in this series. The title, Night, can be interpreted in two ways: as a privately organized ‘darkness’ and as an epochmaking ‘darkness’, the doom and gloom that has enveloped all of humanity during the pandemic.


Union of the Impossible The group of anonymous artists self-titled Union of the Impossible was established in 2020, amidst the raging pandemic and socio-political unrest. Its members are not fixed and their number keeps expanding. The artists’ staple is the traditional medium of painting on canvas. They poke fun at everyday life that has undergone a drastic change toward the bizarre. They come up with new means of protection, creating ‘visual shields’ against blandness, boredom, indifference, logic, and consistency.

resemble Polaroid shots. This is both a hint at exclusivity because Polaroids are one-of-a-kind and an act of opposition to the replicated Internet memes.

Not in our wildest dreams could we imagine that we would get to face a time of ‘great trials and tribulations’. The new normal (and, possibly, the irrevocable) has changed our lives, and we are slowly starting to grow used to it. Irony is an indispensable aid in situations such as this. This is how the Dada farce took root, first causing the viewer to go numb and begging the questions, ’What is this, exactly?’ and ‘Why this, precisely?’ and ‘What on earth?’ The outcome is the new generation of memes, occasionally dark and often straight to the point. Memes have been dubbed ‘the virus of the mind’. When all is said and done, only something apt and incisive will not fail to grab one’s attention in the influx of information that is today’s life. In troubled times, people use different avenues to protect their sanity, with artists, predictably, resorting to art. Union of the Impossible was formed during the lockdown with the mission to create works that were uncharacteristic of each individual member, and the ‘new memes’ swiftly became one of their directions. At one point over a century ago, Dada sprang up as a response to WWI with its unjustified cruelties. In 2020, artists are bringing the Dada principles back to life, repurposing them for the new circumstances: the pandemic that has the entire world under siege. Whilst Dadaists propelled anti-aesthetics, Union of the Impossible provokes and baffles the audience with its memes.

“The Union of the Impossible is an artistic association that arose in 2020 in the era of pandemic and sociopolitical shocks.” @union_of_impossible

Most of these ‘new memes’ are presented in white frames that are part of each picture and 195


B I L L I E When I think of a true rebel, Billie Holiday was the first icon to come to mind. We don’t curate our icons lightly. Every one of them represent something significant. To me, Billie represents refusing to bend when you’re told to ‘shut up and sit down.’

“Billie was one of the first to express fearlessly when this was not the norm, and this fearless attitude and bravery went beyond her singing.” —Beth Roars

H O L I D A Y Born Eleanora Fagan to teenage musicians who weren’t ready to have a child, being tossed aside into strict Catholic reform school, her mother later turned to sex work resulting in sex trafficking, and eventually labor prison… Through this living nightmare, Eleanora (Billie) found her escape through the mournful electric and unfettered sounds of jazz. You can hear and surely feel her suffering through her voice, the raspy trauma-stricken tones. And yet, she somehow soothes listeners (even to this day) as much as through singing, she was able to soothe herself. She lost her father in 1937 to lung failure—the result of having been exposed to mustard gas during his

journalist & illustrator K. Day Gomez


up. There are many different reports on how Billie first heard the song, but she decided to sing it because the dark imagery reminded her of her father’s death. If you haven’t listened to this song before, it is provocative, grotesque, dark, but I think it is a song that everyone should hear. It is still shocking to this day, so I can only imagine how shocking it must have been at the time. Although this was a massive political statement, Billie didn’t see herself as an activist but just wanted to do the right thing.

service in World War 1. This was spurred forward after being refused treatment from the hospital on account of his race. Though her relationship with her father was strained, this was a devistating blow to Billie, understandably. The cruelty of the whole thing further opened her eyes to the way the world worked. And it was ugly. Armed with her grief and the anger boiling inside of her, she channeled every ounce of that pain into her art, which would land her a gig with Count Basie for a time. Later, when she later refused to change her style to suit the band, she was dropped. She’d later challenge the whole system by singing a requiem to the lynching history of the deep South, titled Strange Fruit (take a moment to listen if you haven’t). Now here’s where I rely on Beth Roars once again to illuminate this important bit of history. “Strange Fruit was originally a poem written by Abel Meeropol as a protest after seeing a picture of a lynching that occurred in the South of America. As an amateur musician, he set it to music. I could make an entire video on him—I recommend you look him


As she got older, her performance changed a lot. Billie had been through a lot by the end of her life, and in the later version, she is not limited by any musical rules. If it gets in the way of expression, she throws it out. The songs moved from unsettling to something more in your face. I can only describe it as ugly and disgusting, not as a slight on Billie but because that is what she wanted it to be. And this is the reason it is such an important song. As someone who has never had to deal with racial injustice, I will never fully know what it feels like to live with. Hearing Billie's delivery of Strange Fruit takes me beyond intellectual understanding into the realm of feeling. It makes me uncomfortable, but progress doesn’t come from comfort and apathy. It embodies a terrible history and helps us understand the pain inflicted, and reminds us that we still have far to go.” [‘What Makes Billie Holiday



N O W ?

Great?’] A solid recommendation for our time is to make it a point to check out the biopic about her life currently available for viewing on Netflix—The United States vs. Billie Holiday. “In this biopic, Billie Holliday navigates addiction, love and deception as the FBI launches a sting operation to

ensnare the singer on drug charges.” That’s putting it mildly. “On May 16, 1947 Holiday was arrested for possession of narcotics in her New York apartment. On May 27 she was in court. "It was called 'The United States of America versus Billie Holiday'. And that's just the way it felt", she recalled.” [Wikipedia] She was 44 years old when she died with .70 cents in the bank.

“She was beyond her time in her vocals and civil rights and stood up bravely against injustice while honestly bearing her soul. Now and again, a trailblazer comes along and changes the space for everyone, and Billie was one of those people. She allowed the ugly and the pain to show, and in fact, made a point of it, moving the aim of singing from perfection to humanity. She showed us that our flaws can be our beauty and that we might need some uncomfortable truths to provoke change. Her gift leaves a legacy beyond her, paving the way for many of our great artists, giving new generations permission to innovate their own forms of expression and stand up against the injustices they face.”—Beth Roars

“The difficult I will do right now. The impossible will take a little while.” —Billie Holiday

PEPPER Magazine



cover artist.

B E 3 K


The master painter took on the task of painting this gorgeous Billie Holiday portrait exclusively for the PEPPER Magazine cover to represent our soft theme, “SHAKE THINGS UP”.

p. 201

he great American South is well known for having produced some of the most impactful and gifted creatives in the world…and you can now add BE3K to the list.

November 2022

BE3K is a highly prolific artist with the spirit of a true entrepreneur. From prints to offering commissions for portraits, to producing merchandise featuring his artwork, he knows the importance of marketing oneself in order to do what you love for a living. And right now, it’s safe to say he’s living his best life. His work is being recognized in bigger ways. Like back in February, for instance, as he tells it, “So I teamed up with Whataburger for their Museum of Art ( @thewmoa ) for Black History Month to produce a painting titled, “WhataFriendship.” It was my take on black history —a few beautiful black friends enjoying a delicious Whataburger meal!” You’ll want to follow his journey—he’s about to blow up. @be3k_ on Instagram


directory. 34 Ojobi / Suleja, Nigeria / Instagram @ojobi_art / YouTube 428 / journalist K. Day Gomez

Credits, Locations & Contact 6

Introduction by editor in

chief K. Day Gomez / San Antonio, Texas / Instagram @creative.consultant.kday / email / web directory

7 / photo Cry Baby self portrait series 2020 7

BE3K / New Orleans, 46 Charm School Vintage : Mika Spence/ Austin, Texas

Louisiana / Instagram @be3k_ / website / journalist K. Day Gomez 13

Art of Margo : Margo

Lunsford / Houston, Texas /


website / @artof_margo / journalist K. Day

And Roses : artist Mar Viella

/ Barcelona, Spain / Instagram @and_roses / website / journalist K. Day Gomez 27

Ground Control to Mav

Pascal! / San Antonio, Texas /


Instagram @mavp365 / web

A26shg4jkYfIp_gmGvq7fQ / models from Meshaun Model Management @meshaunmodelsllc : Curtis ‘Chitown’ Lewis @chitown_the_model Cassius Gray @cassiusgray68 Jessica Meshaun @jessicameshaun Lisa Renee @lr24_lisarenee

directory / photographers Raeann Alcorta, Simply Sefra photography & Christopher Ferguson / journalist K. Day Gomez

ON THE COVER BE3K / New Orleans, Louisiana / Instagram @be3k_ / website

/ Instagram @charmschoolvintage / website / photojournalist K. Day Gomez 53 The Eye Am Collection : The Stuttering Diva / Washington, D.C. / Instagram @the_eye_am_collection / YouTube

Gomez 21

42 Birthright : Melissa Hughes / Detroit, Michigan / Instagram @iammelissahughes / website / for inquiries / journalist K. Day Gomez


60 FALL FASHION SHOWCASE x 3 features : 1. GIA - Reston, Virginia / photographer Alec Shpuntov Cosing @the_real_cosing /

directory. Instagram @beckywittemarsh / all images of Becky’s authentic home & decor, styled & taken by Becky Witte-Marsh

wardrobe stylist & model Gia @gialater_ 2. SHERRALE / Chesapeake, Virginia / photographer Calista Hatter @artisanscreation / model

88 Life on Mars : The Cookie Jar Bar with Milli Mars / San Antonio, Texas / Instagram @thecookiejarbar & @millimars / website / photojournalist K. Day Gomez

Sherrale Allen @sherrale_michelle 3. SONYA / Saint Petersburg, Russia / photographer Yuliya Vakhromeeva @lsen.s / model Sonya Sviridova @sviridovasss / wardrobe BPresent @bpresent_store /


94 Vulnerability x Power : Sinenkosi Msomi / Mbabane, Mpolonjeni Swaziland, Africa / Instagram @sinenkosi_msomii / web portfolio nkosi_msomi


96 Former Miss San Antonio, Elaina McCoulskey / San Antonio, Texas / Instagram @cradella / photographer Michael Avila Christman @darkhorsephotographysa / hmua Stephanie Eiland @pineapplehouse_beauty / styling Mia Isabella @just.miabelle / A Pineapple House Platforms Group production @pineapplehouse_platform s / journalist K. Day Gomez

mua Violetta Shirokova @vi.shirokova_makeup 71

Style Diaries with Charity

Stewart / San Antonio, Texas / Instagram @_nunnab / reference images sourced from public domain via Google 76

Dunnswood / San

Antonio , Texas / Instagram @dunnswood / website / photojournalist K. Day Gomez 82

The High Life /

Highlight with Joe A. Gomez III / San Antonio, Texas / Instagram / reference images sourced from public domain via Google. 84

NO RULES! with

sustainable fashion & lifestyle expert Becky Witte-Marsh / San Antonio, Texas /


99 Humans of Peru : Samuel Ciudad / Huamachuco, Peru / Instagram @samuelciudad / YouTube ty6972


directory. 103

@romynava247 / website / photographers Good Faces Agency - Montreal, Quebec + Brett Jordan - London, UK @instabrettjordan

Humans of Austin :

Corey Davenport / Austin, Texas / Instagram @coreylaynephoto / web directory 110

PASSPORT : Tales of

135 Positively Crystal : Grattitude with Motivational mindset coach Crystal Lopez-Crebs / San Antonio, Texas / web directory / Instagram @crystalmagic777

Tuscany by Seigar / Tuscany, Italy / Instagram @jseigar / website 120

A Dream Within a

Dream / Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine / photographer Anna Gordaya / Instagram @anna.gordaya_photo / original poem by Edgar Allan Poe / as curated by K. Day


Gomez 125

Her Story : Nurture

Massage with Nichole Alarcon / San Antonio, Texas / Instagram @nurturemassage_satx / website / photojournalist Stacey Rae Olivares-Garcia @staceyraeofficial 130


fitness expert Tina Sena / New Braunfels, Texas / website / Instagram @tinasenaofficial A Modern Mystic :

Authenticity with Healing Practitioner Romy Nava / San Antonio, Texas / Instagram

149 Learning the Notes : Lucas Ginzburg-Maly / London, UK / Instagram / photographer & mother Galina Ginzburg-Maly / journalist K. Day Gomez 157 The Watch by Flash fiction author Jonathan Darren Garcia / San Antonio, Texas / Instagram @jupiterjazz27 / photographer Taha Mazandarani

Fit to a T. : Shake

Things Up with Nutritionist &


138 Only the Dead Have Seen the End of War : Christopher Denmon / Ft. Lauderdale, Florida / Instagram & @c.denmon_bw_photo_art


158 Pink Shoes by poet laureate Andrea ‘Vocab’ Sanderson / San Antonio,

directory. Paulihna. And you can follow Mulher Forte African Literature Pty, Ltd on Facebook.

Texas / Instagram @vocabulous / web directory / photographers Dickens Sikazwe - Zambia @designwdickens & K. Day Gomez - San Antonio, Texas @creative.consultant.kday * Featuring her images of


Vocab performing this poignant piece live at The Little Carver theatre @thecarversa alongside indie recording artist Jed Craddock @jedcraddock_music for his show which was part of The Little Carver Intimate series— they were joined by Danielle Campbell Steans @dcampbellsteans Founder of San Antonio Ballet School


@saballetschool who

173 Flowers by Stas Ginzburg / New York, New York / Instagram @stas.ginzburg / credits as captioned in article / on view at South Campus Art Gallery in Florida @bcsouthcampusart

performed with them as well. 160

From the Roots by

author Njabulo Nkambule / Swaziland, South Africa / Instagram @dablue_kiddie / web directory / photographer Sam Burriss Vermont @burriss



Words are Medicine :

Literary Author Dr. Paula O.M. OTUKILE / Botswana, Africa / journalist K. Day Gomez / To find Paula’s books and become a patron, “you can purchase my books on Amazon by typing in ‘Paula O.M. Otukile‘. I’m on Facebook as Pequeno

164 In the Valley of Dry Bones, Kindness is the Breath of Life : The Story of Srow Zar Children Charity and Public Benevolence Institution / Afghanistan / Instagram @srowzarchildren / Website / Email : u Telephone : +61 422 725 154 Donate : ate / journalist K. Day Gomez


184 That’s Mine : Conceptual project from photographer Deva Barone / Milan, Italy / Instagram @deva_barone / Team credits : Costume designer: Corinne Giugni (IG @corinne_giugni) Models: Lilia Yashchuk (IG from The One models (IG @theonemodelsmanagem ent) and Lscout Model (IG @lscoutmodel) & Mariana Bevilacqua ( IG


directory. @maari_bevilacqua) from Women Management Milano (IG @women_milano) Makeup: Arianna Amato (IG @_yiunesia) 191

Thanksgiving : The Cruelty

& Misconceptions About the Holiday Written by James Hunter / San Antonio, Texas / photographer


Joe A. Gomez III / Designs by Amanda Alarcón-Hunter @minxandonyx for UNTAMABLE — Indigenous : The Individual Warrior Within @untamable.satx with @beckywittemarsh / models James Vincent Dean @jamesvincentdean Rynda De La Garza Dominique Ruffin @dominique_ruffin 194

Union of the Impossible :

Night / Instagram @union_of_impossible 196

ICON : Billie Holiday /

journalist & illustrator K. Day Gomez / San Antonio, Texas / works cited : Beth Roars, “What Makes Billie Holiday Great?” & Wikipedia / with additional


reference images sourced from

40 Realtor Vanessa Solis / Realtor #788710 / (210)8603496 / / Servicing San Antonio, Texas & surrounding areas.

public domain via Google.


Horoscopes by Queer

Ukranian conceptual collage artist Olexandra Kulikovska /

41 Clinician Itxia Lee Acevedo of POUT MedSpa /San Antonio, Texas /

Dresden, Germany / Instagram @littlecoolart


5 Clear Light Coffee Co. @clearlightcoffeeco / Clear Light Coffee Co. is a privately owned shop focused on fine quality food, organic ingredients, amazing coffee & teas. / “We want to provide an amazing experience for anyone looking to break away from the stressors of the day. Forward focus plans will include a wine bar extension, seasonally chef prepared lunch/dinner menus menus. Continuing to be a place that supports charity events & great causes across San Antonio.” -Angelique Britt Founder / Located across from the historical Heritage Walker Ranch Park at 12656 west ave, bldg 3. in San Antonio, Texas, 78216 / phone : (210)272-0039 website : email : clearlightcoffeeco@gmail.c om / ad created by K. Day Gomez


directory. /

Joe A. Gomez III / serving

/ Instagram @pout_itxialee /

South Texas [available for

ad created by K. Day Gomez

national & international travel] / website


The Magical Unicorn 11:11

/ Instagram

/ holistician Amanda


Hardman / web directory /



Corey Layne

Photography / Austin,

@magicalunicorn1111 / Bath,

Texas / Instagram

body, remedies • all natural •

@coreylaynephoto / web

small batch • vegan • woman


owned • small business /

photographer & ad designer 93

K. Day Gomez

Photographer &

Conceptual Artist


Sinenkosi Msomi /

Conceptual Artist

Mbabane, Mpolonjeni -

Seigar / Tenerife, Spain /

Swaziland, Africa / web

Instagram @jseigar & @popsonality / website /


portfolio nkosi_msomi /

ongoing photographic


conceptual art series My Plastic People / author of the


blog Popsonality

X Level Inc. Creative

& Talent Agency / San

Antonio, Texas / Instagram @xlevelinc / web directory


Melanie Allison Art

Gallery / artist Melanie Allison / Austin, Texas / Instagram


@melanieallisongallery / web

by Tina Sena / Tina Sena



Fitness / New Braunfels, Texas / Instagram @tinasenaofficial /

y / ad design K. Day Gomez 81

Whole Heart Foods

Darkhorse Photography


/ Michael Avila Christman /

Stacey Rae

Photography / San Antonio


/ website

@darkhorsephotographysa &

@heliosmediatx / media

m / Instagram


@staceyraeofficial 87

NOVEM Cuisine / chef



The Twig Bookshop /

San Antonio, Texas /


directory. readers to do the same.

Instagram @thetwigbookshop / website / Located at The Historic Pearl

Please take a moment to

306 Pearl Parkway, Suite 106,

look them up, follow, learn,

San Antonio, Texas 78215 /

volunteer or donate.

phone (210) 826-6411

• Srow Zar Children 147

The Blooming Social -

Social media marketing and


organization, Afghanistan

management agency / San

• Kearing Foundation for

Antonio, Texas / founder Alyse

Orphans living with HIV,

Deanda / Instagram


@the.bloomingsocial /

• Bamunanika Children’s


Home, Uganda


• We Care Wildlife Sanctuar,

Neurodivergent child

Lakehills, Texas

artist Aiden Gamez / San Antonio, Texas / Instagram / web directory / You


• Alora Farm nonprofit for Neurodivergent teens &

can purchase Aiden’s artwork

adults on the Autism

direct from the official

spectrum, Lakehills, Texas

PEPPER Magazine online shop. 163

Stylist Becky Witte-

Marsh / San Antonio, Texas / Instagram @beckywittemarsh / ad design & photographer K. Day Gomez @creative.consultant.kday


NONPROFITS — PEPPER Magazine proudly supports the following nonprofit organizations & community efforts, and we strongly encourage our



PEPPER STAFF K. DAY GOMEZ CEO & EDITOR IN CHIEF Hello, my name is Kathleen. I am a neurodivegent mother, wife and wearer of many hats. I’m an internationally published artist, author, creative consultant and intuitive life coach. I also sit on the Advisory Board of the Alora Farm nonprofit for adult autists. I’ve been a photojournalist, art illustrator and content writer for various publications and blogs for over two decades. I formerly held a modeling career for over 17 years that led to acting and directing, which I still may pursue in the future. I always seek to be of the most help to our community and global humanitarian issues any way I can. It was with this intention that I founded PEPPER Magazine. As a creative, and member of the LGBTQ community, it is also my intent that the publication be inclusive, diverse and support marginalized communities and those with varied abilities / disabilities by creating a safe space for all to be heard. Thank you for taking the time to learn about our mission. I anticipate great things for the future.

JOE A. GOMEZ III CFO & MARKETING DIRECTOR An all-American Texas boy born and raised in

San Antonio, Joe A. Gomez III has been a strong community leader, a humanitarian and a true lover of life. A former city councilman having served on the board of the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce for several years, he's also the founder of JAG Enterprises with over 23 years of management experience. He is now PEPPER Magazine's CFO & Key Lifestyle Contributor. A chef to rival most, despite not having been classically trained, Joe's culinary expertise is impeccable. Enough so that over time he began to develop the ground work for what is now called NOVEM Cuisine. Since the founding of NOVEM, chef Joe's recipes have become more diverse and in turn, the public attention has grown. This has led to multiple international publications, to include London and Manchester, UK. And if you have the luck of tasting his food you'll understand why. There is no detail that escapes him, and the care he puts into the preparation and plating of every meal is nothing shy of five-star dining. The pièce de résistance is having him prepare it right from the comfort of the best restaurant in town; your own home.

ANGELA MICHELLE EMPOWERMENT MAVEN & INTIMACY ALCHEMIST Angela Michelle is a sexologist from The Sexology Institute. She specializes as an intimacy & body image coach and is also an

staff. empowerment photographer. Her portfolio is expansive covering almost two decades. As an inclusive yoga instructor, she also provides modified yoga lessons for those who need it. Angela is a speaker, educator, mentor and advocate who raises awareness on a variety of topics she is passionate about.

known as: Artist Foundation of San Antonio). In May of 2020 she was awarded Best Live Entertainment/Band Musician of the Year by the SEA Awards.

We are honored to have her unique and empowering insight on the PEPPER Magazine board of staff contributors.


ANDREA ‘ VOCAB’ SANDERSON POET LAUREATE Poet Laureate 20202023, performs as “Vocab” in her hometown of San Antonio, Texas. ”Watching her perform, the word “hero” comes to mind. And not “hero” for the sake of just skill, but for her work in her community: Sanderson teaches poetry workshops, mentors, builds up and encourages artists to pursue their art, and gives them platforms to showcase their talent. Sanderson’s interest in other people’s art and artistic development became a passion of hers, and she started curating her own shows and creating platforms for other artists to hone their craft by hosting open mics.” -The San Antonio Current, Jan. 16, 2018 She received awards, Performer of the Year, Influencer of the Year, from Project Forward, and Dream Voice, from the Dream Week Commission. Sanderson is the winner of the 2019 People’s Choice Award, awarded by Luminaria Artist Foundation (formerly

NUTRITIONIST & FITNESS EXPERT Hi, my name is Tina Sena and it has been my passion to motivate, inspire and encourage others to achieve health and wellness physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. For 24 years now I have been doing personal training, nutrition consulting, kids programs, developing a protein line of sweet treats and running my own businesses. I am a spouse and also a real estate business partner with my husband Michael, and we have a beautiful 13 year old daughter named Mia. It is my desire to build a community where we can share with others all the knowledge we have accumulated over the years to help create total health and wellness in their lives. I​ was an only child who grew up in a home with a mentally ill father and a mother who, although very strong, was also riddled with fear and anxiety while working all the time to provide for our family. We had very little so I was terribly ridiculed in school. ​ ​I saw my first therapist at the age of 10. My father passed away at 44 and as a very independent 20 year old I was on a mission to help others to not suffer in all the ways myself and my family did physically, mentally and emotionally.

staff. Ibecame a personal trainer about 24 years ago while I was working as a model and living a completely unhealthy lifestyle. I wanted so much to have lean, sexy muscles which was a no no back then in that world. So I hired my first personal trainer who taught me how to lift weights and eat properly. I never felt better! My body, mind and health completely changed and off I went. I began training for triathlons and fitness competitions with some of the best trainers and decided that was it - I wanted to do for others what they had all done for me. So off to work I went. I am now an upscale fitness facility owner, protein treats line developer and I organize a nonprofit program changing the course for kids! I believe that we all have the power within us to get past the pain we endure in life. We just need the proper guidance and resources to get us there! It means everything to me to help my community to be encouraged and feel love and support through what might be their most challenging journey.....working on ourselves!!!”

ROBERT DEAN JOURNALIST & AUTHOR [In his own words...] Robert Dean is a journalist, raconteur, and ‘enlightened dumbass’. His work has been featured in places like MIC, Eater, Fatherly, Yahoo, Austin AmericanStatesman, Consequence of Sound, Ozy, USA Today, to name a few. He’s appeared on CNN and NPR. He also serves as features writer for Hussy Magazine and is editor in chief for Big Laugh Comedy, Texas’ biggest comedy production company. He lives in Austin and loves ice cream and koalas.

CRYSTAL LOPEZ-CREBS MOTIVATIONAL MINDSET COACH Crystal Lopez-Crebs received her degree in Fashion Design & Marketing from The International Academy of Design & Technology in Tampa, FL. She also interned with designer Tracy Reese in New York learning the ropes of New York Fashion Week (NYFW).

She owned an entertainment company in Tampa where she created costumes, did makeup, and stylized looks for her team. After moving to Texas, she mastered her crafts in the makeup industry working for MAC Cosmetics. She has also done makeup for LA & San Antonio Fashion Week, worked on film sets as both talent and wardrobe & production design, and developed her fashion production skills at Neiman Marcus. Crystal is now the talent coordinator for X Level Inc, a creative agency in San Antonio, TX, where she helps scout and develop talent. She is also the founder of the nonprofit, Fashionable Adoptions, that promotes animal adoption through fun fashion events, most notably her fashion shows that showcase adoptable animals walking the runway. She’s helped many people (and animals) improve their lives with her health & wellness business alongside her husband, especially through her story overcoming a health challenge. She loves to talk about vision and mindset to her audience to empower them to live a bigger life. Her unique style and excitement for living a healthy life can be felt as she shares her passions on social media

staff. and in person. Crystal brings her bright light & energy to inspire everyone to live an abundantly beautiful & healthy life from the inside out.

BECKY WITTEMARSH SUSTAINABLE FASHION & LIFESTYLE EXPERT Becky found her passion for sustainable fashion and home furnishings at an early age when being sustainable was a necessity. A lifetime of creating her own personal style through sustainable sources, got the attention of those around her. Today her innovative creations using vintage, thrift and self-made items will inspire a new way to look at dressing and styling your home. Becky will help you turn style sustainability from an inconvenience into an ADVENTURE!​

NJABULO NKAMBULE AUTHOR & POET Njabulo Nkambule also known as Njabulo N. is a writer, a poet hailing from the Kingdom of Swaziland. “I'm also an author of the soon to be

published anthology, DEEP-ROOTEDWORDS which will include mainly my written poems. I’m a devoted,multipassionate, hardworking poet with a keen eye for detail and an insatiable interest in the use of the written word. I'm one person who is so passionate about poetry having so many written poems under my name (not yet published). My writings (poems) include quite a number of poetic forms including rhymed poetry, narrative poetry, pastoral poetry, elegies poetry, limerick poetry, lyric and soliloquy poetry.” PEPPER is enriched by the presence and liter contributions of this gifted writer and we are excited to see how he helps to shape the overall landscape of our publication over time.

NORMAN RENE AVILA ART HISTORIAN • SAN ANTONIO, TX Artist, painter, musician and writer, Norman Rene Avila wears many hats. Also a former teacher, he has taken on the staff position as our local art and cultural historian. One of the founding members of the SAMOMA nonprofit [San Antonio Museum of Modern Art], as influenced and aided by New York’s MOMA, he is great asset to PEPPER Magazine. Norman has curated an extensive collection of memorabilia, artworks, film footage and photographs which document the SA art

staff. scene from the late 1960’s forward. Over time, we will be sharing these archives which range from obscure to iconic. We are grateful to have Norman as part of our team. Currently, he is engaged in the development process as a key interview subject for our first documentary about the history of SAMOMA. In conjunction with our cinematographer Michael Avila Christman and editor in chief who is key interviewer for the independent filming project, Norman is providing priceless facts and contacts for the film’s creation.

MICHAEL AVILA CHRISTMAN DIRECTOR & CINEMATOGRAPHER Founder of Darkhorse Photography, as well as his media company Helios, San Antonio native creative professional Michael

Avila Christman is a fixture here. His projects range from short film to documentary to commercials to editorial fashion photography. He’s worked with well known models, designers, makeup artists, musicians, local celebrities and other professionals throughout his expansive career. Now, Michael is taking his passion for journalism and theatrical storytelling to new heights by collaborating with PEPPER Magazine and taking on a staff contributor role. He will be responsible for the majority of commercial video content for the

publication through his tenure to come.

STACEY RAE OLIVARESGARCIA PHOTOJOURNALIST Stacey is a San Antonio native, growing up down

the road from Karam's Mexican Restaurant and The Malt House. While residing in Austin, Stacey began to grow her passion for photojournalism by capturing the heart of the person behind the lens. She wanted to bring this fresh outlook with her to San Antonio. Returning to her hometown allowed her to focus on the art in a person's story. Stacey's work has been featured in several magazines such as; Entertainment Tonight Online, Voyage Houston, and S.A. Scene Magazine. She has captured photos for multiple businesses across various industries including Luzianne Tea and August Ink. ​ er creative eye and ability to capture her H subjects’ stories with grace and dignity makes Olivares-Garcia the perfect addition to the PEPPER team.

MELANIE ALLISON NETWORKING LIAISON One day, I decided to take life by the (long)horns and got back to my roots by modeling

staff. and painting again. I wanted to break the fashion industry standards and stigmas by creating a need for a petite and classic model. I started working with local photographers in the Austin area, building a new portfolio. Soon I discovered independent magazines and learned how to submit my work. I was finally published and on the cover of a magazine for the first time in October 2016. Soon after that, I was signed with TL Modeling Agency in Houston, Texas. But things don’t always go as planned. After enduring occasional rejection from magazine editors, I founded my own art & fashion magazine called Bevie in November 2016. My mission with Bevie was to showcase emerging, local and international talent such as artists, models, photographers, designers, and other creatives. By making a sophisticated publication more approachable, I was able to help my fellow colleagues get established or further along in their career. After two years of publishing my bimonthly mag, I decided to go back to work full-time and the last issue was released in December 2018. Bevie still has quite the following today! Today, I am now focused on creating mixed media art, establishing my networking event, turned group called Girl Flock Party, and becoming a part of the local artist community. It has been an amazing journey and I am grateful for every experience along the way!” Melanie is a great asset to the PEPPER team and provides valuable guidance, lead finding and creative / marketing advice from her home base in the Georgetown / Austin area.

ROMY NAVA HEALING PRACTITIONER Romy Nava has been actively developing his gift as a healer since the beginning of 2013. As a Sound Healing and Reiki practitioner, he has formulated a signature holistic protocol.

His clients are comforted and claim to experience a relaxed calming sensation for days following each session he provides. Also a media tech and podcast host, Romy aims to educate and hold space for enlightened thought by way of his platform. He establishes a dialogue that is relatable with the intention of getting to the core of the human psyche, spirit and mind-body connection. He examines the choices we make vs. practical and functional resolution. All of this expertise and experience makes him an incredible asset to PEPPER Magazine. Say hello to Romy and open yourself up to learning something new… maybe even about yourself.

ANDREW BARRAZA MEN’S GROOMING STYLE CONSULTANT Andrew is a graphic novel artist & comic book enthusiast who also happens to be a mustache connoisseur. “Men are always just kinda left out when it comes to

staff. grooming topics. I had to learn all my tricks on the street. I’m and ambassador for a couple of stache grooming brands. It’s been a blast growing it, helping others with tips and making new friends. I still draw when I have the chance. Love comics and art.” He is here to lend PEPPER Magazine his expertise in mens grooming, the subcultural aspect that goes along with this niche and other great products, tips and resources for men. “It’s really funny, without knowing when I got into it, there’s a giant mustache community out there of dudes that are happy to encourage, give tips, even help out with charities and events. One of the companies that I ambassador for donates part of every sale to first responders. Turns out there’s a lot of firemen that make and sell mustache wax also. And seeing people randomly, I ALWAYS get compliments from people. And I’m happy they think it’s cool and get a kick outta it. Even gotten some free beers in the bars. That’s worth it right there alone.”

SINENKOSI MSOMI PHOTOJOURNALIST & CONCEPTUAL ARTIST Sinenkosi Msomi is an exceptional photographer born in Eswatini and currently residing in Mbabane, Mpolonjeni. His work consists of staged and conceptual photography. The themes contained in his

work include addressing mental health issues, the importance of self-expressions and exploring the significance of one's childhood memories. His upbringing plays a major role in how his work eventually plays out. He recollects the different sides of growing up in an African extended family and how that helped shape him. His pictures help him talk about things that he sometimes finds no words to fully express. Msomi is an incredible asset to PEPPER Magazine and will continue to work remotely, bringing impactful documentary through the personal and unique storytelling of his imagery.

ALYSE DEANDA NETWORKING LIAISON & SPECIALIST Alyse Deanda is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Blooming Social, a social media marketing and management agency. She assists small businesses as they navigate the complex world of Digital Marketing for the first time. She has also assisted multi-billion dollar businesses in accomplishing their marketing goals. In 2022, she founded Wild Bloom Vintage, a women’s fashion e-boutique that is focused on sourcing sustainable women’s fashion and nicknacks. Born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley, Alyse now resides in San Antonio, Texas. She is a proud alumna of St. Mary's University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communications. She is a model and

staff. actress with representation in San Antonio, TX, Shreveport, LA and NYC, NY. Alyse has worked in the fashion industry both behind the scenes as well as in the spotlight for almost a decade. In addition, she is proud to serve on the Board of Directors of FerrariKid, a nonprofit organization that is focused on bringing joy to children battling cancer and chronic illness. As a networking liaison for PEPPER Magazine, Alyse will be pulling from her wealth of experience and knowledge to guide networking, gather leads and connect nonprofits and businesses with our publishing firm.


into something that I have excitedly worked on for the last 13+ years. Whether it be going to local venues, traveling for festivals, or touring with bands on and off over the years. My opportunity to capture the raw emotion of the artists is an experience that will never cease to fill me with joy. With more doors opening, I plan to continue learning about, and expanding my craft, while striving for more new experiences throughout my ever growing life as a photographer.” Corey will be covering various leads and events for PEPPER in Austin and surrounding areas. He’s also working on showcasing some intense and striking documentary imagery from his archives over time.


PHOTOJOURNALIST A Texas native, with a curiosity of the human experience. “Having always been fascinated by the psychology / sociology of people, while also lacking the ability to focus my interests, and thoughts into words, I knew at a young age that photography was my outlet to show the world what I see. With inspiration from some of the classic greats like Elliot Erwitt, Gary Winogrand, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Weegee, my passion for street photography/photojournalism will continue to be the driving force behind what I do with a camera. Living in Austin, TX for the majority of my life, has also given me the best environment to mix my love of music, and photography

STYLE CONSULTANT “My name is Charity Stewart. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas. I am a very family oriented person I grew up with two sisters and a brother. In high school is where I met my now husband, we have been together since 2015 and have been married since 2021. I went to Sam Houston State University to run track and I majored in business. I moved to San Antonio in 2021. I am a licensed disability job coach. One of my passions is helping people and being certified allowed me the opportunity to help people with disabilities from the ages of 17-23 find a job and be equipped for the workforce. Currently I work as a barista at Press Coffee

staff. and also at Mint Vintage. My husband and I are in the process of launching our brand called Team Faithful. We started this because we want to encourage young couples to stay committed and honor each other despite what the culture is saying today. We believe that life is about community and helping others which makes me so happy to be a part of PEPPER Magazine where helping people is in our DNA. Growing up, I have always had a passion for fashion. I remember getting up on Saturdays to put outfits together and giving my family a fashion show in the living room. Now as an adult I am able to make a fashion show for myself every day and also for PEPPER Magazine.” Charity will be sharing her favorite fashion and beauty tips, hacks and trends (old and new) as well as the brands and entrepreneurs she recommends in her own column.

old (when I was published in an international magazine) and picked up photography over a decade ago, always pushing myself and my equipment as far as I could, developing my style to show people how vibrant, beautiful, and varied the world is. I have sold prints of my photography, as well as being published in periodicals. Pepper will be the first publication where I will be contributing regularly as I've spent several years focusing on horse training and more recently, being a single mom to a very bright and busy toddler. I am so excited to be part of Pepper, and I hope we'll be seeing each other for a long time to come!"


SEFRA SCHWAB PHOTOJOURNALIST “I'm Sefra, and while I have a lot of interests that I feel deeply about, the most important things to me are my faith, my daughter, and my deep-seated love for animals and the people who love them (especially horses). As a recently diagnosed autistic following several years of misdiagnoses, I have an intense interest in philosophy and all the different ways that humans are. I have been writing - mostly poetry, and short stories - since I was about 10 years

Jonathan Darren Garcia is a San Antonio based writer. He was a featured poet in That Gray Zine: San Antonio's Collective Carefest. He has been published in multiple literary magazines including Crepe & Penn (Now known as C&P Quarterly), Scum Gentry Alternative Arts, Beyond The Veil, From Whisper To Roars, Royal Rose, etc. Notable works include "You Both Need To Leave Right now!", "The Energy Of A Stone" and "Samson". He dreams of a story worth telling. On his off time he enjoys a good cup of coffee from one of the many local spots in San Antonio. With his compelling handle on the flash fiction genre, Jonathan will maintain a gripping monthly column in PEPPER Magazine.

staff. SEIGAR PHOTOJOURNALIST & CONCEPTUAL ARTIST Seigar is a passionate travel, street, socialdocumentary, conceptual, and pop visual artist based in Tenerife, Spain. He feels obsessed with the pop culture that he shows in his works. He has explored photography, video art, writing, and collage. He writes for some media. His main inspirations are traveling and people. Seigar’s aim as an artist is to tell tales with his camera, creating a continuous storyline from his trips and encounters. He is a philologist and works as a secondary school teacher. He is a self-taught visual artist, though he has done a two years course in advanced photography and one in cinema and television. He has participated in several international exhibitions, festivals, and cultural events. His works have been featured in numerous publications worldwide. His latest interests are documenting identity and spreading the message of the Latin phrase: Carpe Diem. Recently, he received the Rafael Ramos García International Photography Award. He shares art and culture in his blog: Pop Sonality. Currently, Seigar is our travel columnist, heading out the section with his “Tales of” series. We look forward to learning about the world around us through his skillful and artful lens.

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At The Texas Fashion Industry Awards 2022

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