Page 1

Body Love Issue featuring: borris powell designs

SUMMER adventures 2015 1


MUSIC MUSTS Visit Milwaukee

IN EVERY ISSUE Editors Letter 4

Meet the Team




Summer Concerts 86

Meet Etsy Leone 88


Mayoral Race 2015

Hallie Jordan


Local Spotlight


Explore Gary Indiana

Lickity Split


MZ Wallace/Food 52


Summer Sports Recap 56


Summer Albums

Guide to Chicago Events 46


Meet Joe Madden 60 Films to see 62


104 108


Wine Riot 2015 116

GROOMING/HEALTH Summer Roundups 228

Dr. Tzu Interview



Noemi Grupenmager

Looks for Less


Amazing Cosmetics



Meet Stephanie Alexis 132

Angela Morano 134

Menswear Trends 138



Summer Style Hacks 146

FEATURES Borris Powell Designs


Summer Fitness Tips 244

Healthy Seasonal Eating 248

HERB Restaurant


Hometown Heroes

The Global Focus

The Rising of the Phoenix


Michelle Swoons


162 168



Marcellas Reynolds




Candid Candace


Jassmine Parks

Letters to my Fragile Self

194 198



270 272


Body Love 212


Hello readers! I am so excited to share this issue with you all. June marked the official start to summer and there is so much to be happy for. This issue is our largest issue to date. The staff and I put a lot of long hours, blood, sweat and tears into this issue. Halfstack is truly our labor of love.

With the release of this issue, we are leading into an amazing time in history. On Friday, June 26th during our press trip to Milwaukee – The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in


favor of same-sex marriage nationwide. Just writing those words gives me goose bumps. It was an amazing experience to be surrounded by people that weekend who were overjoyed at this announcement. It was even more amazing to see so many people in Milwaukee and back home– young and old, straight or gay celebrating this monumental victory giving much needed civil rights to the LGBTQ community. Just a year ago we released our Equality issue that truly showcased our stance as a media outlet and highlighted that love truly does win. It has been one of my favorite issues to work on and the couples we showcased in it continue to inspire me to love unconditionally and appreciate diversity, day in and day out.

This Summer our issue has a dual theme. As is typical for summer, we explore adventure, but this year we are giving it a retro twist. Our cover shoot features Chicago designer: Borris Powell and was shot on location at Lickity Split Frozen Custard & Sweet shop in the Edgewater Neighborhood. We also went on multiple urban adventures this issue; exploring the ruins of Gary, Indiana and the Midwest gem Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We give you an insiders view to check out all that Milwaukee has to offer including Sum-


merfest and great food. Our writers have a round up of things to do this summer, sports to keep your eyes on and places to visit off the beaten path overseas. To celebrate the diverse cultures that our readers have, Tareq is bringing some global focus into view with articles on Ramadan’s Diva: Sherihan and several other


Middle Eastern cultural icons.

Aside from our adventure theme, this issue is delving into

who is making a name for herself on Youtube.

the topic of self love and body acceptance. We worked with the amazing Laura Lopez from Pickapose Photography

Olivia shares her latest features showcasing local

once again to bring to life these amazing concepts. This

Chicago celebrities including: Candace Jordan and

issue she worked on a deeply moving and personal piece

Marcellas Reynolds. Thom features a new Chicago

highlighting beauty in imperfection. We also shot our Rising

hotspot: HERB and Danielle continues to bring us the

of the Phoenix feature together showcasing work from Eli

latest and greatest in beauty, grooming and lifestyle.

Borrowman of Fermented Fruit Clothing, accessories from CambyCam and True Partners in Craft. This shoot was done

I close out this issue with a beautiful and personal

on location in Gary, Indiana. We featured many historical

letter from our newest writer: Rachael Stewart. As a

landmarks that are now in ruins as the backdrop to show-

young girl, I knew to well the struggle that Rachael

case beautiful empowered women surviving through dark-

has faced with the eating disorder she isn’t allowing

ness. Our models included Karli Butler of

to control her anymore. Her letter to her fragile self is

– we featured her acid attack survival story a year ago and it

heart wrenching and yet so brave. Each day is a bat-

brought things full circle to have her model in this feature.

tle, but each day you overcome is a success. Rachael’s story is a reminder to each of us to love ourselves and

This issue I wanted to focus on finding beauty and strength

to realize that it isn’t just the outside love from others,

from within. The idea of empowerment is so important. We

but the love that you have for yourself that is the most

as a people need to continue to come together to make

powerful, moving and healing.

the changes we want to see. Many are too afraid to step up to the plate and then there are a select few who throw all

I hope the stories in this issue move you and inspire

inhibitions to the wind and fight for what they truly believe

you. Thank you, as always, for your constant support.

in. One of our features highlights a woman who is leading the self-love cause through her #effyourbeautystandards movement. Tess Holliday, is an American plus-size model based in Los Angeles. She self-describes as a “body positive activist” and started her #effyourbeautystandards movement on Instagram in 2013. Jen Oquendo shares


Tess’ journey and more about the #effyourbeautystandards movement. We also showcase Jassmine Parks, a young woman who embodies empowerment. Her rough start in life didn’t hold her back from pursuing her dreams and breaking the cycle of poverty she grew up in. She is a young woman on a mission, leading change and helping her community in the process. We also feature Michelle Landriault, the MUA and plus size blogger behind Michelle Swoons


jennifer veguilla eic/creative director founder @halfstackmag

kate roth founding member

mariana quaranta founding member


aimee elizabeth lead photographer visual stimulus

LAURA LOPEZ lead photographer

Perry Fish lead photographer


meet the

teresa espinoza fashion editor & blogger

cora vasseur bloggr & online digital editor

rob samuelson bloggr & online digital editor

thom olson bloggr & online digital editor

team 6



Creative & Graphics Designer


Creative & Graphics Designer


Creative & Graphics Designer



Creative & Graphics Designer

DANIELLE PULAK Sr. Beauty Editor

Digital Blogger



Creative & Graphics Intern

STELLA QUIMBY Sr. Fashion Editor


DWIGHT BEJEC Social Media Director PEARL SHIN Staff Blogger


DENISE GUEVARA Staff Blogger/Youtuber





TRACI CICARELLI Staff Blogger/Youtuber

TARIQ AL SAUD Staff Blogger

Michael Shayler Staff Blogger

Michelle Landriault Staff Blogger/Youtuber

Rachael Stewart Staff Blogger/Youtuber

Andre Thompson Staff Blogger

Michael White Staff Blogger

Tyronita Bell Staff Blogger

Catie Coscino Staff Blogger

Jennifer Oquendo Staff Blogger

Louis Vasseur Staff Blogger-

ASHLEY PUGA Social Media Intern

STEPHANIE ECK Public Relations Intern

















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CHICAGO SUMMER EVENTS By: Mike Shayler Designed by: Jamie Breeden

The summer season is upon us Chicago. Time for us to put the umbrellas away from the rainy spring and get out and enjoy the experiences that truly make summertime in the Chi unique.


Here are 10 events to look forward to as we propel into the summer months.

Chicago Craft Beer Festival With craft beer and microbreweries becoming very popular, the Chicago Craft Beer Festival will be held on July 18-19th on Seffield Avenue between Webster and Fullerton. From Noon-10pm guests are given the opportunity to try over 80 craft beers from various breweries nationwide. Tickets for sampling on advanced purchases are $40 for 15 tickets. (each ticket is good for (1) 3 ounce sample) and for same day purchases (if available) the rate is $45 for 15 tickets. For list of attending breweries and further ticket information visit http://www.chicagoevents. com/event.cfm?eid=255

Chicago Hot Dog Fest Just outside the Chicago History Museum, The third annual Chicago Hot Dog fest celebrates one of Chicago's known staples, the hotdog. On August 7-9 from 11am-9pm each day, vendors will be serving their spin on the American classic. Admission is free, but ticket cost will vary for each vendor. If I can be frank, enjoy yours with everything.

Clark After Dark A simple $10 donation will go a long way on August 20. On Hubbard street at Clark street that donation gets you into “Clark After Dark� in support of Illinois troops and their families. Join in a night of live music, drinks and a raffle as we salute the over 80,000 troops who have been deployed since 9/11. A great cause for a show of appreciation to those willing to fight for our nation.


Air and Water Show

Chicago Blues Festival Be one of the nearly 500,00 annually attending guests enjoying the worlds largest free blues festival. Over the days of June12 through June 14 the Blues Festival brings it's smooth stylings to Grant Park with a long list of preforming artists including headliners: Syl Johnson on Friday, the amazing Buddy Guy on Saturday and the event closes Sunday with Centennial Tributes to Willie Dixon and Muddy Waters. The festival is open each day 48 11:15am-9:30pm. from

The oldest free show of it's kind in the United States returns for it's 55th edition. On August 15-16 from 10am-3pm the Air & Water show takes off on North Avenue beach. With a yearly attendance of over 2 million people, it's also the largest free show in the country. New this year, is an act performed by Team AeroDynamix, which consists of a 12-plane team. Get there early for the best view possible as North Avenue beach is sure to fill up quickly.

Little Village: Taste of Mexico Authentic Mexican cuisine is the focus in this inaugural event. Held from June 5-7 from Noon-10:30pm daily in Chicago's Little Village, award winning chefs from both the city and region will set up outdoor kitchens to serve up small plates of their finest dishes at bargain prices. Price per dish may vary, but admission is free. Other attractions include a main stage with performances and a culinary stage with recipe demonstrations. Always nice to try something new, be one of the firsts to experience one of Chicago's newest festivals. A first time event: June 5-7 in Chicago's Little Village

Windy City Ribfest

Local and national ribbers come together in Uptown to spotlight their skills in the seventh annual Windy City Ribfest. The event takes place from July 3-5 and is a perfect compliment to the 4th of July weekend. Music lineup will feature local and national

rock/pop and classic indie acts along with local tribute bands. Admission is free and there is event parking available in the Aragon Ballroom lot located one block from festival for $10. July 3rd open from 5pm-10pm, July 4th Noon-10pm and July 5th Noon-9pm

Wicker Park Fest With an average of 70,000 guests, Chicago's Wicker Park and Bucktown districts offer a look at it's diverse neighborhood. July 25th and 26th from Noon-10pm on Milwaukee Avenue from North Avenue to Paulina Street, check out the best Wicker Park has to offer. A $15 donation gains you access and also goes towards the annual costs to develop the fest. Wicker Park Fest July 25-26 on Milwaukee Ave.

Taste of River North The 14th annual Taste of River North will be held on July 17-19. Known for it's world class art and design along with some of the city's best known food, River North shows off its characteristics in an all out

event. Enjoy the great foods of the area along with musical acts, art displays and a kid's zone sponsored by Lurie Children's Hospital and Kohl's. This family friendly event has a suggested $5 donation at entrance and is open from 5pm-10pm on the 17th, Noon-10pm the 18th and 11am-8pm the 19th.

Lollapalooza From July 31-August 2, Lollapalooza makes its yearly return with a solid lineup and a first time performer you may have heard of. Sir Paul McCartney will be making his first appearance at Lollapalooza to close out the opening night on July 31st. It doesn't get much bigger than that ladies and gentleman. Another band you may have heard of Metallica, for the first time since 1996, will be headling the August 1st show. Seasoned headliners Florence and the Machine headline the closing night of August 2. Single day passes and General Admission tickets are sold out but can be found through secondary vendors. For complete list and days of performers visit 49



Chicago has been here before. The second city is slowly returning to the aristocracy that it is accustomed too. After, a never before needed, run-off mayoral election, Rahm Emanuel’s groove begins to cement the thrown.

The respective campaigns of candidates facing off against incumbent Emanuel brought a version of high school student council elections to real life governmental politics. While the captain of the football team always won any election ever, Emanuel faced a tough crowd of candidates promising no homework days, and new french fries in the lunchroom. In the depths of the elementary strives for change in the status-quo exists a Chicago that really has no chance for change. The candidates that forced the first runoff in history were little davids against one goliath. In the game of big money fundraising, and the best little black book in the political game, Rahm’s pure size is crushing. The names on the ballot were moot.



Rahm Emanuel would not be beat. His political career has been holding state and national seats, eventually serving as President Obama’s Chief of Staff. Also, during a break in his political career, Rahm succeeded in roles in the finance industry and ascended to a seat on the board of Freddie Mac. This career has made Rahm poised for the long haul, which left no room for any serious challenge from any contenders. The first Chicago mayoral run-off election was not spawned by a serious disdain for Emanuel’s time at the helm of Chicago. The run-off was a result of a disengaged public to the political climate. The people who voted and initiated the run-off were not the majority as evidenced by Emanuel’s landslide victory in the April election. Every city has the same issues Chicago has. However, ours are greater. Chicago is always greater in the good and in the bad. A change at the helm would only exasperate the key issues further. Education and

crime are not issues the next ‘guy’ could have fixed in less then one term in the driver seat. The problems Chicago face, force Rahm to be the ‘guy’, and he certainly projects the confidence to overcome. As blatant as it sounds, the Chicago mayoral runoff election was not spawned by a need for change, but rather a sign that the majority has become complacent and silent, and that is perfectly okay. Chicago knows a change would not help. Once again, Chicago has gone the way of Daley. While Rahm Emanuel’s tenure as mayor is in it’s infancy, the history of this last election, will be long forgotten 5 consecutive wins from now.

knowledge is free We are anonymous we are legion we do not forgive we do not forget expect us.......

Meet Anonymous By: Michael White

The mask in it’s own, is not it’s own. The china doll smoothness coupled with a grimacing smile creates wonder, and inspires question. Trimmed with dark eyebrows, a precision mustache and small elongated goatee, Guy Fawkes is alive and well as the face of Anonymous. Anonymous, the given name for

the collaborative of computer and internet masterminds, has been operating on the deep web for a better part of 15 years. The internet, while it’s advances have dramatically changed the process in which most go about the everyday, it has also changed the landscape of the greater overall. Anonymous strives for the greater overall.


The internet in our hands allows posts to Facebook, yelp reviews and tweets. The internet in the hands of Anonymous, empowers technological warfare, digital disruptions, religious proclamations and freedom of speech worldwide. The influence and membership of Anonymous caused TIME Magazine to name them one of the top 100 most influential people in the world. There are those that call them ‘hacktivists’, while they are seen as criminals to the corporate world, religious factions, and government institutions. The robin hood comparison is easy make, but at the root of this movement, that comparison it is short sighted. Anonymous is much more than that and their history of self described activism is much more then stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. This group of internet genius’s have attacked websites wold wide, they have influenced war and government operations. They have hacked the Westboro Baptist Church (the group that protests at military funerals), they have shutdown child pornography and copyright websites. They have disrupted major credit card institutions. While much of actions can be summed up to clever pranks and shenanigans, at the root of the movement is a ‘boston tea party’ like mantra. On the almost lawless world wide web, Anonymous strives for a


freedom from a governmental tyranny attempting to police exhibits of self-expressionism and crimes of curiosity. As the computer plays a part in our everyday, Anonymous is conducting court on the wide open web. Liken the internet to the wild west. A vast open frontier in which we are only in the beginning. History tells us that we are quick to tread for years before making something great, safe for all. Automobiles began to be mass produced in 1908, and the seatbelt was not introduced into 1958. The internet is less than 20 years old on a mainstream level will it be another 30 years before the capabilities of the internet are understood? Anonymous strives for freedom from censorship and copyright law. They argue that sharing is not a crime, and actively respond to any entity claiming it to be. Anonymous has also perpetrated actions on behalf of sexual orientation freedom, attacking what it deemed homophobic companies and countries. As with any movement, conflict and war there are always people on the back end fattening their billfolds in the guise of social change, or freedom. The criminal and often-not righteous actions of some ‘hackitivists’ gives the Guy Fawkes mask the sense of harm. However, Anonymous is far from inspiring change the Guy Fawke’s way,

The rank and file of Anonymous is non-existent and that is the way it was designed. Much like the ‘Occupy’ movements, there is no leadership but a self-proclaimed togetherness of equals working together for various purposes. Anonymity is the seedling that flowered the movement in it’s initial inception. That along with not attacking media, and not talking about the group have made Anonymous sustain relevance for well over a decade. The reach and arms of Anonymous stretch worldwide, and it’s agenda is fueled by group members who never share names or locations. This ambiguity has made criminal prosecution hard but not impossible. With no leadership, there can be no coup. Each prosecution has little to zero effect in curbing any hi-jinx, because these ‘hacktivists’ are everywhere and unnumbered. The vulnerabilities of corporate and governmental institutions digital platforms are routinely exposed by Anonymous. These pranks have slowed down government computers, and has affected conflicts in the middle east. The influence of Anonymous transcends all facets of life. There hacktivism, while sometimes criminal is for the greater overall.

As the computer plays a part in our everyday, Anonymous is conducting court on the wide open web. Liken the internet to the wild



Written by: Jen Lezan Photography by: Dwight Bejec Despite the abandoned buildings, Gary is not as much of a Ghost town as it is made out to be. In fact, there is still a thriving community and there are people who believe in fighting to help restore the area. Founded in 1906 by the US Steel Corporation, Gary’s prime spotlight was in the postwar boom of the 1950s when almost 200,000 people lived and worked in the bustling city, 25 miles from Chicago.

Yet, this tear down could include historical landmarks such as the United Methodist Church, a long-abandoned downtown cathedral that skilled craftsmen carved out of Bedford limestone to glorify God in a hardscrabble mill town nearly a century ago. This possibility has caused an influx of urban explorers and photographers to brave the deteriorating buildings to capture history frozen in time.

As the American manufacturing sector moved shrank, Gary’s population fell by over 50 percent. Today, no one uses the once bustling train stations, churches and auditoriums that are now decaying as they have been left to allow the elements to reclaim them as their own.

The end is near for many of the buildings that were once notorious landmarks. The Palace Theatre that was a beacon for the town is decrepit, but it still continues to stand. Gary has now fenced off the church and blocked off many explorers. Yet, the town hasn’t thrown in the towel yet. Life is a cycle. With death comes rebirth. Gary isn’t one to give up. In an article for the Washington Times, Gary Building Commissioner Steven Marcus said. “It’s in the downtown historic district. It’s one of the properties that adds to that district. We want to preserve as much as possible of what’s historical, but also figure out a way to repurpose the property.”

For years Gary has faced economic turmoil, crime and housing problems. Yet, the community hasn’t’ given up. There is still hope despite the abandoned properties that breed crime. How this will be done, has not completely been figured out. Yet, some point to tear downs. In an article on NBC News it was stated that, Lots of Rust Belt cities are making a priority of “urban removal.” In Detroit, a Blight Authority has been set up to speed demolition of abandoned structures. In Flint, Mich., a study found that $3.5 million spent on demolition raised the value of surrounding properties by $112 million.”

The beauty of decay is deceiving, but the air of endurance remains strong in this town. Gary hopes to rebuild their community and hope is the benchmark for purpose. Check out our video featuring Gary on youtube today!


Summer Sports By: Mike Shayler

The baseball teams of Chicago look for continued success as the Major League season enters the summer months where contenders try to separate themselves from the pack to earn a shot at playing in October. Although neither team is without flaws, both teams have the right pieces to contend for a playoff spot come season end. Here is a quick breakdown of wha teach team is looking for in the coming months.


The Cubs seem to be succeeding ahead of schedule and are off to a great start. Joe Maddon has been everything the organization expected when they hired him as manager in the off season. The way he is managing this group of young players is remarkable and it's really showing in the play of Shortstop Starlin Castro. His attitude on the field has done a complete 180 as he's showing a positive attitude and is playing with more hustle then shown in previous seasons. He's been a mainstay in the heart of a lineup that has been very consistent behind early season MVP candidate 1st baseman Anthony Rizzo and top prospect Kris Bryant who was called up in April and has been as good as advertised. The lineup is deep from the top with from Dexter Fowler to the bottom with another top prospect call up in Addison Russell.


Rizzo has put up MVP caliber numbers thus far. New Ace Jon Lester has come into his zone after a rough first couple of starts with his new team. Continuing his success from the 2014 season, Jake Arietta has been good enough to where some may consider him the Ace of the pitching staff. The team's bullpen has been mediocre but the return of Neil Ramirez, who has been on the Disabled list since April 17, will give the pen a nice boost as a few players seemingly are being used at a high rate for this early in the season. Three keys for a successful summer: Compete- From June-August, the Cubs will only play 25 games vs division opponents, including not playing either Milwaukee or Pittsburgh until the end of July. The Cubs will start to play the better teams across the National League and the American League Central division. No need to harp on winning every game, go out and compete on a night to night basis, show that the team is no longer pushovers. Add another Starting Pitcher- After Lester and Arietta, the starting rotation could use a nice jolt. Jason Hammel has been solid as the teams number three starter and Kyle Hendricks is slowly starting to come around but fifth starter is a question. A trade for a top flight pitcher like Cole Hamels may not be necessary as the Cubs could go a cheaper route that wouldn't empty out the team's farm system. Adding a pitcher that may be considered a low end number two or high end number 3 starter would workl out just fine as the Cubs do have Lester and Arietta to carry the rotation. Top pitching prospects Pierce Johnson and CJ Edwards could get a look in the bigs this summer but It would be better to let the young pitchers develop some more before putting them in a situation with a contending team. It's likely that Theo has his options and he will consider every aspect when making a decision to better the team. Focus- With as good as this team has played to start, it may be just as easy for this team to lose focus and fall off track. That's the scary part about relying heavily on younger talent to carry a team, lack of experience may

come around to haunt this team. Joe Maddon must keep his players heads in the game and help them ease the pressure of the long dueling baseball season, especially on the side of town thats in dire need of a World Series victory.

shown signs of improvement. Jose Quintana has been mediocre, but the back of the rotation has been very underwhelming. Top pitching prospect, Carlos Rodon, has been added to the rotation to help and is showing some strong skills, but is having control issues. The bullpen has been good enough, and new closer Robertson has been better than expected dominating late in games. Off season spending has not quite shown in the win column. Three Keys To Success:

The White Sox had a very successful off season. Adding a free agent such as left fielder Melky Cabrera and 1st baseman Adam Laroche to a line up that includes All-Star 1st baseman Jose Abreu, scrappy center fielder Adam Eaton and young talented right fielder Avisil Garcia. Lefty Zach Duke and closer David Robertson were also signed to solidify the bullpen. Acquiring starting pitcher Jeff Samardizja in a trade with the Oakland A's put another power arm in the rotation to go along with Chris Sale.

Add Depth To Lineup- This lineup is very top heavy. After the 1-4 spots in lineup with Eaton, Cabrera, Abreu and Laroche the lineup takes a drastic dip. Young Avisil Garcia does see time in the five spot has produced and should only get better, but then the lineup gets less than threatening. An offensive upgrade at 2nd or 3rd base could be in the works, but with the difficulty of the teams division, the organization must make a move quick before they end up too far back in standings. Add Right Handed Starting Pitcher- The team is very heavy on left handed pitchers in the starting rotation as Sale, Quintana, Rodon and veteran John Danks are all southpaws with Samardizja being the only righty. A right handed starting pitcher would balance rotation and help against teams that features right handed heavy hitting lineups such as Detroit.

Get Better Playing on the RoadTrue contending teams find ways to win on the road. The White Sox have lost twice as many games as they have won on the road. In order for this team to contend they are going to have to start winning on the road. Stealing a victory on the road, especially against a team like Kansas City or Detroit, could be the difference in the White Sox gaining momentum and making the playoffs or The team offense possesses a solid .258 batting average not. as a a group, but the hits have not resulted in runs as the team ranks near the bottom of the entire league in home It may take a move or two from each team in order to truly compete for a playoff spot, but the potential is there and runs and runs scored. A very surprising stat considering this summer is set up to be quite exciting for the city of the White Sox are actually ranked in the top 10 of the league in batting average with runners in scoring position Chicago. As fans it's our duty to go out and support our team. Regardless of which side of town you are loyal to, (BAAPI). instead of focusing whether the jersey says Cubs or White Sox, focus on the city these teams represent. GO The pitching has been disappointing to start, but is CHICAGO! continuing to turn things around. Sale and Samardizja The pieces seemed to all be there for the team to make a serious run at battling the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals for the American League Central title. Things have not quite panned out as the White Sox had planned. Although the team has played better as of late, the season has thus far been a disappointing.

both began the season being knocked around, but have


*Summer reports for Chicago's other major teams:


The team may be looking for a new Head Coach as it's been known for some time that Tom Thibedeau and the front office have had a hard time seeing eye to eye. This may result in the letting go of one of the best coaches in the league. The team may also be looking for a new star to play along side Derrick Rose. The emergence of Jimmy Butler may lead to him signing elsewhere this off season after rumors of Butler and Rose not being able to coexist on the court. Illustration 1: Unfortunately Coach Thibs may be looking for work elsewhere



Yet another victory parade may be taking place at Millennium park as the Hawks look to capture a 3rd Stanley Cup over a six year span. The team may not have to make salary cap relief moves as seen in previous off seasons as the NHL league salary cap is being raised for the 2015-2016 season. Will this allow the Hawks to keep the core together for yet another Stanley Cup run? Only time can tell.


With a new General Manager, comes a new coaching staff. The team will look to adapt to new Head Coach John Fox and Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio, as they bring a new look 3-4 defensive scheme to a franchise always known for 4-3 or even 4-6 defense. This summer will be about adjustments as the Bears look to overcome the Green Bay Packers for NFC North supremacy.


JoeA Hero Maddon is Born Written by: Rob Samuelson

Here I am, standing at the corner of Clark and Waveland, staring at a fenced off area full of dust and chunks of twisted metal. I'm on the lookout for someone special. I've been here, just outside Wrigley Field, all morning, snooping around, hoping to catch a glimpse of my personal Sasquatch-Loch Ness Monster hybrid, Joe Maddon. You see, when the Chicago Cubs hired the eccentric Maddon to be their manager last fall, he made headlines for offering to buy everyone at his introductory press conference a beer and a shot. It was all in good fun and highlighted what made the guy so beloved in baseball writer circles, wholly removed from his progressive Sabermetric views on how to win games. But what stood out to me was an offhand comment he made about wanting to live downtown and bike to the ballpark every day. I also ride my bike and love the idea of batting the pitcher eighth in the order, I squealed to myself. A hero was born. So I've made a few trips to Wrigley this season to catch a glimpse of this guy to see if he wants to ride bikes together or get ice cream or something. But he's a slippery man to find. It hasn't happened yet. What I have found is odd to me. The season remains young, and it comes on the heels of five straight awful years of accruing young prospects and rebuilding from the ground up, sometimes literally in the case of the renovation of the ballpark. But the Cubs are good. They have consistently remained a few games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for first place in the National League Central Division, and atop the Wild Card standings. Long story short, if the season ended as of this writing, the usually lowly Cubs, with their bevy of exciting young stars, would make the playoffs. Yet, very few people seem to be onboard. The Chicago sports scene, in recent years, has found itself wrapped up. Rightfully so, in the dynasty the Blackhawks have built and the near misses of the Bulls' almost championship seasons have held a ton of attention, too.’


That's something that disappoints me further after missing good ol' Joe yet again, as I stop in for a drink at the Gingerman Tavern, a hop, skip, and a jump down Clark. Sure, it's not exactly a sports bar, catering more toward the punk scene than anything, but it's a Wrigleyville establishment with big TVs and craft beer on tap. It's the perfect place to watch a Cubs game when you don't have a ticket for the place down the street. Yet, they have the Blackhawks on the TVs. People are on the edge of their seat. During the intermission, the bartender, Damien, changes the channel to check in on the Cubs rather than listen to NBC Sports Network's Mike Milbury prattle on about “heart” and “determination” being the only things that matter in sports. The guys in blue are winning, yet when a regular stops in with her vomiting dogs – animals' throw-up is a regular occurrence at the G-Man – the first words out of her mouth are, “Oh my god, are you really watching the baseball game right now?” Not exactly a ringing endorsement for where Cubs fandom is these days. This is a sentiment seconded by local ticket scalper Jave, who preferred not to have her last name used for this piece for obvious reasons. A 24-year veteran of selling tickets, Jave has seen the best and worst Cubs teams of the last generation and has witnessed the changing fandom that accompanies these swings in competitiveness. This year she says there has been tepid interest.

“It's not as lively,” she says. She notes it might be partly due to the early season cold and rain, but there's one main thing in the way.“You got all this construction going on, so it's like people don't know where to go,” she says. She's talking about the Wrigley renovations, which began in the offseason and will continue for years to come. But she may as well be referencing the phase the team itself is in. They have promoted likely stars like power hitting third baseman, Kris Bryant, and second baseman Addison Russell, and made key offseason additions like ace pitcher Jon Lester and catcher Miguel Montero, in addition to giving Maddon a huge contract for a manager. But there's a learning curve for these young guys to come, and the other prospects, part of the Cubs' top-ranked farm system, who will soon join them will have to deal with their own rookie struggles, too. It's a transitional year, one in which the team is probably outperforming its true talent level by a bit. Not that I'm complaining. They have a ways to go before they're the year-in, year-out near locks for the playoffs Maddon's Tampa Bay Rays and team president Theo Epstein's Boston Red Sox were, but this is an exciting team people are only now catching a whiff of. As the right field bleachers open in early June and the team hopefully continues to break out throughout the summer, the construction of both ballpark and team will begin to feel more complete, more tangible. The crowds at the local bars will grow, as will attendance at Wrigley itself. Maddon will continue to evade me while offering to buy drinks for other people, but I won't mind because the payoff should be pretty sweet.


By: Rob Samuelson

Breaking down the Establishment

Films that are to inspire a generation Summer 2015 Releases

There is an exhausted story told about how the Velvet Underground's first album, The Velvet Underground and Nico, may have only sold a handful of copies, but it inspired innumerable bands. Speaking of exhaustion, you'll be able to find summer movie previews in every corner of the Internet, detailing every piece of minutia about every release. So, we here at Halfstack are doing things a little differently. We want to take a guess at who this summer's cinematic Velvet Undergrounds will be. It could be sequels, remakes, tiny indie releases, or anything in between. What matters is whether these films stand a chance of growing a movement or solidify a theme resonant with the zeitgeist for whatever reason. And with that preamble, let's take a look, month by month

June Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon Writer: Jesse Andrews Starring: Olivia Cooke, Thomas Mann, Bobb'e J. Thompson, Connie Britton, Nick Offerman Released June 12


Following in Whiplash's – my favorite film of 2014 and contender for best of the decade so far – footsteps, winning both the audience and jury prizes at this year's Sundance festival, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl appears poised to make a lot of critical waves when it gets a limited release this summer. It tells a story about two teenage “coworkers,” played by Mann and Role Models' breakout Thompson, who are conscripted by

their parents to help a recently cancer-diagnosed classmate have an easier time. Their extracurricular activities involve making “stupider” versions of their favorite movies and they decide the only way they can help their newfound friend with her huge problems is to make a movie for her. There's some heartwarming, harrowing stuff going on here, and the meta narrative of learning how to make movies people care about looks like a lot of playful filmmaking will be on display – fingers crossed it's not a staid dramedy.

Jurassic World

Director: Colin Trevorrow Writers: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Colin Trevorrow, Derek Connolly Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D'Onofrio, Jake Johnson Released June 12

Movie two on the list and I've already broken my “influential” rule. I don't think think Jurassic World will go on to inspire legions of the next generation's great filmmakers. But it looks fun. It has some weirdness to it, with newly minted superstar Chris Pratt playing a dino handler with a horde of velociraptor buddies. They come in handy as the corporate honchos of the now-open-to-the-public dinosaur theme park decide to splice some genes to make a mega-dinosaur with some “highly intelligent” ideas about freedom and, of course, retribution. Things don't look so good for the human characters here, and hopefully the madness of a prehistoric attack on an organic Disneyland will provide lots of scares.

Inside Out

Directors: Pete Docter, Ronoaldo Del Carmen Writers: Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley Starring: Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black Released June 19

I'll eat my shoe if Inside Out doesn't mark a return to form for Pixar, after a few years of good, not great output. Pete Docter directed Monsters, Inc. and Up, two of the crown jewels in the Pixar crown, and he's been part of the brain trust that produced the Toy Story movies and WALL-E to boot. The guy knows his storytelling. The movie in question, however, is exciting on its own merits. Inside Out is a look in the brain of a young girl, with some of comedy's finest performers providing the voices of her emotions. So, we have a filmmaker with a great track record, a novel concept ripe with huge story avenues, and a cast of the best of the best. That's a pedigree to bet on.


Director: Rick Famuyiwa Writer: Rick Famuyiwa Starring: Shameik Moore, Zoe Kravitz, Tony Revolori Released June 19 Three friends in a punk-hip-hop hybrid band in Inglewood, California, look for ways out of a world they don't belong in. Theirs is a world of music, dressing funny, and acing standardized tests in order to get into the best colleges in the country. Around them is a messier, druggier situation that they find


themselves linked to despite their best intentions. This sounds like the setup for some dark drama, but Dope is a rollicking comedy, part caper, part hangout movie. Its local flavor and colors pop and its characters have outsized personalities. If I were a betting guy, and if Mad Max: Fury Road didn't already come out, this one might be my pick for movie of the summer

July Ant-Man

Director: Peyton Reed Writers: Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay, Paul Rudd Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Corey Stoll Released July 17 Maybe I'm overly optimistic about things, but the troubled Ant-Man production – original director Edgar Wright, he of Shawn of the Dead and The World's End fame, left the project over some highly publicized creative differences with Marvel – has me in a place of excitement. Wright's and Joe Cornish's script remains at least partially intact, Paul Rudd is perfect for the tone of the Marvel films, and the idea of a superhero with silly powers – he can shrink to the size of an ant, hence the title – makes me think this could belong to the Guardians of the Galaxy wing of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's weird, goofy, and hopefully not too serious for its own good. That's what I look for in summer entertainment, and with Marvel's vaunted quality control operation behind it, the chances of it being outright bad are slim.


The Gallows

Directors: Travis Cluff, Chris Lofing Writers: Travis Cluff, Chris Lofing Starring: Cassidy Gifford, Pfeifer Brown, Ryan Shoos, Reese Mishler Released July 10 Maybe this one will owe too much to the Paranormal Activity movies, but a horror flick set in a high school theatre production 20 years after a tragic accident sounds like a fine time to me. There are so many unknowns in this that it's hard to gauge anything, but the trailers are full of atmosphere and dread, plus a lot of saturated red. I'm sold.


Director: Judd Apatow Writer: Amy Schumer Starring: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, LeBron James Released July 17 Amy Schumer's sketch comedy show and standup are subversive works of genius. She is a woman with an eye for social satire as sharp as anyone's. This is the first feature film she has written or starred in, and it turns the “guy who can't commit” genre into a gender swap. That's simple enough to do, but Schumer has a way of holding up the mirror to society and saying, “You're not okay with this, so I'm going to poke fun at you to make you uncomfortable.” And she makes you laugh while doing it. It's very difficult to do, and with a top comedy director, Judd Apatow, onboard to manage everything, I am optimistic this will nail some difficult things to pull off.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation Director: Christopher McQuarrie Writer: Christopher McQuarrie Starring: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon

Pegg, Ving Rhames, Rebecca Ferguson Released July 31 The Mission: Impossible series is one of surprising film-to-film quality despite rotating directors each time out, with only the second entry really missing the mark. After Ghost Protocol's pure audacity, they seem to have doubled down on the “this is really happening” practical effects, with the much-ballyhooed sequence in the trailer showing Tom Cruise hanging on for dear life from the door of a plane taking off from a runway. He was strapped on somehow, but that's actually him on that plane going hundreds of feet off the ground. That and other sequences should be lots of fun to see with Cruise's Jack Reacher director McQuarrie at the helm. The guy pairs a general visual flair with the ability to make sense of what's happening during action, so I'm plenty jazzed for this.

August Fantastic Four

Director: Josh Trank Writers: Simon Kinberg, Jeremy Slater, Josh Trank Starring: Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Michael B. Jordan Released August 7

Ricki and the Flash

Director: Jonathan Demme Writer: Diablo Cody Starring: Meryl Streep, Mamie Gummer, Sebastian Stan, Ben Platt Released August 7

Diablo Cody (Juno, Young Adult) has written some great movies. Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs, Something Wild) has directed some great movies. They team up with Meryl Streep (Always Nominated for Oscars) for a movie about a singer in a cover band who is better at pursuing her fading dream than connecting with her family. To say there's a pedigree here would be quite accurate. Some other intriguing bits include Streep starring alongside her real daughter, Mamie Gummer, and the Winter Soldier himself, Sebastian Stan, playing their son and brother, respectively. This could easily be a bland weepy about a family coming together despite their differences, but the talent involved has a slyness and penchant for digging deeper than the surface to find something that actually connects beyond platitudes about only needing love and home being where the heart is.


Director: Alejandro Amenábar Writer: Alejandro Amenábar Starring: Emma Watson, Ethan Hawke, David Thewlis Released August 28 Emma Watson witnesses a “black mass” that is connected to her father. She tells a detective, played by Ethan Hawke, about it. There is danger coming for both of them now. Perhaps this will be a standard detective thriller, but the horror of the robed people in the trailer suggests something more menacing being produced by The Others writer-director Alejandro Amenábar. Emma Watson has been careful in choosing her post-Harry Potter projects, to often good effect – The Perks of Being a Wallflower especially – and after his most recent Richard Linklater collaborations, Before Midnight and Boyhood, the always busy Hawke has touched a lot of greatness. There's something happening here.


MILWAUKEE /////////////////////////////////////////////////




WRITTEN BY: JEN LEZAN PHOTOGRAPHY: DWIGHT BEJEC Just over an hour outside of Chicago –Milwaukee is the largest city in the state of Wisconsin. Located on the Southwestern shore of Lake Michigan, this area is the Midwest’s best-kept secret, but not for much longer. It has the big city feel without the traffic, over population or attitude. In fact, one might say, Milwaukee is one of the friendliest big cities out there. Milwaukee is seeing a resurgence of job growth and the area is building for that growth which brings with it more people to the area. Everywhere you turn, the construction is underway, but it’s not nearly as horrible as one might think. The attraction to the area seems to be sparked by the interest in urban living combined with the jobs one can find in those urban centers. Milwaukee has a long tradition within the brewing industry, but that isn’t all that you will find in the area. You’ll find people young and old attracted to the city and it’s no surprise considering the offerings that the area provides.


While it is home to the oldest still functioning major brewery in the United States, there is much more that this city can offer when it comes to music, art and culture. Milwaukee is home to an abundance of themed, season festivals that celebrate the city’s history and diversity. Makes sense with a nickname like the “City of Festivals”. Culture is prominent throughout each of the neighborhoods and young people far and wide are flocking to this Midwest City for the big city life without the big city prices. Whether you visit as a single, young couple or family – there are plenty of activities to match your style and keep you busy. From live music at Summerfest, kayaking on the KK to visiting the Milwaukee

Museum of Art, touring the local breweries or checking out the bars on Brady Street, Milwaukee has something for everyone to enjoy, young or old alike. Most people visit Milwaukee not knowing what to expect and end up pleasantly surprised. Why is that? Could it be the stereotypical mindset most people have when it comes to the Midwest – “boring farm land”? Yet, the reality is that this idea couldn’t be farther from the truth. Milwaukee boasts over 150 state and county parks, 150 plus restaurants in downtown alone and is home to over 30 seasonal festivals including Summerfest; which is the world’s largest music festival. The city is filled to

the brim with art and culture. There are 17 museums in downtown Milwaukee and 25 theatres within the city limits. MKE has a pretty badass biker history to boot. Yes, it is the birthplace of Harley-Davidson. AND – it’s only an hour and a half from Chicago. The perfect distance for a short weekend summer road trip. Milwaukee’s Historical Third Ward is the epitome of cool. Young creatives, business professionals and the like frequent this area. The vibe is downtown cool, but don’t be alarmed if a stranger flashes a smile your way – chalk it up to the Midwest friendliness. The area is a historic warehouse district located in downtown and is home to over 450 businesses that include food, art and fashion brands. The SUMMERFEST FERRIS WHEEL


neighborhood’s renaissance has been in part due to the growth of the many specialty shops, restaurants, art galleries and theatre groups, creative businesses and condos. The area is also home to The Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and it is right next to the Summerfest grounds. You can enjoy shopping and eating at the Milwaukee Public Market in the Third Ward. The market is a foodie paradise that houses 20 local vendors that offer everything from seafood to artisanal baked sweets and more. Also, make sure you stop by Café Benelux for some amazing Cinnamon Streusel French toast. They serve a full menu all day, so you’re set. Milwaukee has 8 key neighborhoods that have their own character and vibe. There’s bohemian Brady Street, the trendy East Side, Entertaining East town, the Historic Third Ward, The college area Marquette/Avenue West, Industrial Menomonee River Valley, LBGTQ hotspot Walker’s Point and West Town that is known for it’s German heritage and MKE’s major sporting arenas. Each area has it’s own flavor and gems to explore. If you’re visiting Milwaukee, we have broken down a visit into 3 categories to help


you plan your trip: Places to see, Places to Eat and Places to Drink. When it comes to a place to stay, make sure you book a room at The Potawatomi Hotel & Casino.

Places to See Potawatomi Hotel & Casino>>>>

One of the Midwest’s premiere entertainment destinations offering the best in bingo, blackjack, craps, roulette, slot gaming and poker. Plus world class dining and live entertainment and it is just mere minutes from downtown Milwaukee. The hotel is an amazing stay with beautifully designed rooms, luxe restaurants and of course a casino for those of you not afraid to play the slots. What is most intriguing about this hotel and casino is that while it is beautifully maintained, well designed and offers an array of amenities, your stay won’t break the bank. A standard room with a king size bed and all the necessities you’ll need during your visit only runs about $219 a night. The staff is friendly and on point and is always willing to lend a helping hand. The Potawatomi hosts an array of restaurants that include Dream Dance Steakhouse and Locavore.


If you’re stopping by Milwaukee during the summer, you need to make sure to get tickets for Summerfest. The World’s Largest Music Festival and Milwaukee’s cornerstone summer celebration. The festival attracts the music industry’s hottest stars, emerging talent and local favorites. The Marcus Amphitheater and 10 additional stages, along with a diverse selection of food and beverage vendors, marketplaces and interactive exhibits, are set against the Lake Michigan and downtown backdrops, creating a festival experience like no other. Summerfest is truly a festival by the people for the people. During a press meeting with Bob Babisch, VP of Entertainment, he shared that Summerfest works incredibly hard to be able to keep costs low in order to offer people a great experience at a great price. What other festival can you go to for under 20 bucks and get access to over 10 stages with multiple acts from a variety of genres performing? The Marcus Amphitheater seats 23,000 and yet it still feels intimate. During the recent Keith Urban show, Keith made it a point to venture out into the audience to croon to his adoring fans. The amazing lighting, sound and video screens made it feel like he


was an arms length away. Keep in mind patrons must purchase separate tickets to Marcus Amphitheatre shows during Summerfest.

landlocked on the third coast.

The MKC offers kayak, canoe and standup paddleboard rentals for the adventurer. The locally owned and community driven company truly offers a fun outMilwaukee Kayak door experience for residents Company>>>> and tourists. Kayaking down the Milwaukee Kayak Company (MKC) was founded in 2013 after main channel offers an urban adventure filled with sightseeing many years of adventures and like you have never done beexploration on the MKW urban fore. For the beginner, the staff water trail, which includes the Milwaukee, Menomonee and KK is helpful in working with you to help you build up your skills and Rivers. Kayaking down the river is an amazing way to experience confidence to make sure you are downtown Milwaukee. You aren’t comfortable on the water.

Harley Davidson Museum>>>>

The Hardley Davidson museum isn’t just for the biker aficionados. This museum is like a time capsule with a colorful backstory. This spectacular one of a kind museum celebrates the rich history of Harley Davidson and the passion of the riders. The museum has become the mecca of Harley riders throughout the world. More than 350 motorcycles are displayed, along with exhibits devoted to engines, racing, customized bikes and the influence of American pop culture.


summerfest grounds



summerfest grounds

a local act performs


bastille live at summerfest

kaskade live at summerfest


74 milwaukee art museum

The experience extends to great photo ops on a variety of bikes, a retail shop, restaurants and outdoor space where visitors can meet to share stories and enjoy the green space adjacent to the river. The guided tours and kid friendly areas are perfect for families coming in to see something outside of the typical art museum excursions.

Historical Third Ward & Milwaukee Public Market>>>>

For more than 100 years, Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward served as a hub for a bustling procession of grocery commission houses. During the early years of Milwaukee, the Third Ward was a relatively flat, swampy area. The land was drained, and eventually houses populated the west side of the Ward, while along the east side of the Milwaukee River, factories and warehouses were built. Irish immigrants were the early settlers of the area. The third ward has stayed true to its historic roots – evident in it’s architecture and preservation of landmarks. At the Milwaukee Public Market, the historical influence is present and the focus is on local Wisconsin products, including decadent, homemade chocolates, artisan cheeses and creamy frozen custard. You’ll also find surprises such as sushi, lobster dinners, a wine bar and flavors of the Mid-

dle East and Mexico and a demonstration kitchen where Milwaukee’s finest chefs share their secrets.

Milwaukee Art Museum>>>>

If you’re looking for art and culture, look no further. The Milwaukee Art Museum, considered Wisconsin’s premier arts institution as well as Milwaukee’s lakefront masterpiece, houses more than 30,000 pieces in its permanent collection. The museum is a work of art in of itself. The museum’s breathtaking moveable brise soleil “wings” soar against the backdrop of Lake Michigan, spanning the width of a Boeing 747 when extended. Burke Brise Soleil is a moveable, wing-like sunscreen that rests on top of the Museum’s vaulted, glass-enclosed Windhover Hall. While the Burke Brise Soleil has a wingspan comparable to that of a Boeing 747-400, its two ultrasonic wind sensors automatically close the wings if the wind speed reaches 23 mph or greater. The museum prefers to stay grounded. The museum collections span antiquity to modern and include works by Monet, Warhol and Picasso, in addition to one of the largest Georgia O’Keeffe collections in the world. The Museum also houses an extensive collection of American and European works, German Expression-

ism, folk art and Haitian art. Feature exhibits are housed in the stunning Quadracci Pavilion, designed by worldrenowned architect Santiago Calatrava. In November 2015, the Milwaukee Art Museum will unveil its newly redesigned and reinstalled galleries, adding 15,000 square feet of additional gallery space to the museum. The project began in 2014 as a partnership with Milwaukee County, and includes a major overhaul of the museum’s two oldest buildings, including new HVAC, new floors, new lighting, new ceilings and a green roof, and a new way to experience the art. The Milwaukee Art Museum renovation also adds an 8,000 square foot east entrance to the Collection. During the renovations, the museum’s permanent collection is off view, but the Santiago Calatrava designed Quadracci Pavilion remains open and active, with art exhibitions, events, and programs for all ages. Currently, patrons can view Van Gogh to Pollock: Modern Rebels Masterworks from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery exhibit. The exhibit focuses on artists whose acts of creative rebellion shaped the course of modern art. The museum is beautifully built and the current exhibition is the perfect size for a family looking to expose little ones to art and culture early on.


milwaukee art museum

The museum’s breathtaking moveable brise soleil “wings” soar against the backdrop of Lake Michigan, spanning the width of a Boeing 747 when extended. Burke Brise Soleil is a moveable, wing-like sunscreen that rests on top of the Museum’s vaulted, glass-enclosed Windhover Hall.





Places to Drink Lakefront Brewery>>>> Trip Advisor voted the Lakefront Brewery tour among the top 4 in the nation. Nestled along the Milwaukee River, Lakefront is home to a slew of award winning brews. What started as two home brewing brothers in 1987 has grown into a micro brewing institution. This is a beer lovers heaven.

The brand has made it a point to cater to niche markets. This has aided in the popularity of its beers across its territory of 37 states, Canada, Israel, Australia and Japan. For instance, all of Lakefront Brewery’s beers are designated Kosher, which has helped them achieve a small presence in Israel. If you’re looking for a brewery tour that is anything but typical, stop by this place and make sure to sign up with Josh the tour guide. You won’t regret it. Just do it, ok?!

Central Standard Craft Distillery>>>>

This local spot in the Walker’s Point neighborhood focuses on small batch craft spirits and is Milwaukee’s newest distillery. The brand launched just under a year ago by three friends who turned a drunken dream into an amazing reality. Despite the wackiness of their initial idea Pat, Mark and Brian have set out to create


some of the best spirits using local ingredient that truly promote Milwaukee. Their tasting room offers a great venue to sample their handmade craft vodka, gin and whiskeys and shop their Spirit gear. Spirits are available for retail at the distillery and soon local supermarkets, bars, restaurants and other retailers.

Brady Street Bar District>>>>

Brady Street is nine blocks running east to west from Lake Michigan to the Milwaukee River that contain some of the city’s finest restaurants, shops, taverns, lounges, salons and cafes. From every day necessities to the extraordinary you’ll find it here, in a neighborhood where the emphasis is on community, with locally owned and operated establishments each with its own unique flavor. This is a great street to sample local food, local brews and people watch.

Places to Eat Dream Dance Steak House>>>>

Dream Dance Steak houses an adventurous menu. It’s not your typical run of the mill steak house. It offers a variety of delicious steaks in addition to succulent seafood options, appetizers, salads and sides. Head Chef: Matt Baier creates an innovative menu by

going off the beaten path and featuring items such as Kangaroo. Dream Dance Steak blends refined innovation with the tradition and comfort of a Wisconsin steakhouse. Chef Baier focuses on regional ingredients, house-made cheeses and fine house-cured charcuterie to complement Dream Dance Steak’s seasonal menu. Offering a selection of more than 600 retail priced wines to perfectly pair with your meal, the restaurant uses the highest quality ingredients while offering dishes at moderate prices in a pleasant smoke-free environment.

Motor Bar & Restaurant>>>>

Motor Bar & Restaurant is the restaurant establishment associated with the Harley Davidson Museum. Come for the museum, stay for the food. Like the Museum, MOTOR Bar & Restaurant serves up the best of Americana culture in an inspiring setting. The Midwest roots are felt here and you’re sure to find some of the best sausage and cheese curds in town.

Story Hill BKC>>>>

Bottle. Kitchen. Cup. A restaurant located in the heart of the Story Hill neighborhood and just a hop skip and a jump away from Wauwatosa. It’s a dining establishment and wine shop serving food with the ever emerging Upper Midwest ingredients inspired

summerfest grounds

by global technique. Breakfast and coffee every day, weekend Brunch and weekday lunch. Dine in the spirit of Taste, Pass, Share try a few things, or curate a feast. Inspired by small plates serving style, but with a very customizable experience. Their bloody mary is top notch! Spicy and loaded with a chaser – the perfect pick me up after a night out at the breweries.

Café Benelux>>>>

Café Benelux is the artists morning haven. Good coffee, great breakfast and in amazing location. Like the grand cafes of Lowland Europe, Cafe Benelux is a place to gather with friends for a great meal any time of the day, a cup of coffee, or a delicious bier. Named after the Benelux region (Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg), Café

Benelux features regional favorites like mussels pannenkoeken and, of course, frites, and so much more. Housed in the Historical Third Ward, this spot is perfect for people watching and enjoying a Sunday brunch. Staff is friendly and always willing to offer suggestions for first timers.

Pizza Man>>>>

Pizza Man originally opened in 1970 to cater to the hippies on the East Side. Unfortunately the original restaurant burned to the ground in January 2010. It took almost three years to find the perfect new location and the owners have gone to great lengths to recreate the familiar, friendly and eclectic old world atmosphere of the original location. Pizza Man serves classic Milwaukee style thin crust pizza and has an


incredible wine selection to boot. The atmosphere is fun with a bit of old world charm and food is filling and hearty. The family style menu is perfect for sharing and samples. The thin crust pizza has an amazing crisp and has a variety of toppings to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. The Rigatoni is a must try for pasta lovers – the vodka sauce is tart and satisfying.

Black Sheep>>>>

Black Sheep is housed in Walker’s Point, Milwaukee’s warehouse district, the newfound foodie neighborhood and LGBTQ central. In August 2013, a turn of the century building on South 2nd Street, originally the Schupert Zoeller Printing Company, became Black Sheep. The restaurant kept the exposed brick walls, the original wood floors and the soaring bead board ceiling. They added original artwork, a big metal top bar and eclectic modern interiors. Developed and fully restored by KPH Construction, Black Sheep joins a growing list of places proud of its Milwaukee history. During the Halfstack press visit, Black Sheep and it’s patrons were celebrating the announcement of the SCOTUS passing the bill to legalize same sex marriage nation-


wide. This had to have been the highlight of the tour of Milwaukee – beautiful eclectic people celebrating and eating good food, drinking good wine and appreciating equality. Black Sheep is as known for its LBTQ friendliness as it is for its wine. The restaurant’s selection focuses on boutique, small-production wines that you can enjoy in three different pour sizes to sample and sip from its 16 unique wine taps, bottle list or house pours. Cocktails and a carefully selected bottle beer list appeal to true enthusiasts. The menu is casual yet inventive, including gourmet “haute” dogs, bar fare, small plates and desserts — all available for late-night dining.


Locavore is Potawatomi Hotel & Casino’s newest restaurant on the first floor of the hotel. Its menu offers bold flavors, composed of local produce, sustainable proteins and even some lesser-known foods. Menu items change according to the seasons and daily harvests. Specialties of the high-energy bar include handcrafted cocktails highlighted by local ingredients, regional and small batch beers and premium, sustainable, biodynamic and organic dishes.

If you’re looking for a quick weekend road trip, Milwaukee is a great city to have an adventure in. You can check out the city’s official travel website: for a list of events and even suggested vacation itineraries. They make it easy for you, what are ya waiting for? Go explore!

harley davidson museum

Storyhill bkc

historic third ward







Darkroom EP Album Review Written by: Pearl Shin Layout by: Annabel Carrillo Esty Leone is a multi-talented new age/ R&B/ alternative soul singer from Providence, Rhode Island. Esty recently debuted her first ever EP on May 11, 2015 and is already considered a powerful, up and coming artist. Her EP, which is titled the Darkroom EP, consists of six songs, (01. 4:44, 02. Killing Your Ills ft. Tyga, 03. Darkroom, 04. We Could Have It All, 05. Good Men, 06. LoveLorn) and was debuted on her SoundCloud page. Only being at the young age of 22-years old, the singer is already very accomplished. In addition to being an incredible singer, Esty is also a producer, guitarist, pianist, and songwriter. Although she has only been working in the music scene for an astonishingly short 18-months, she has already contributed in writing songs for established artists who have long since been in the music business, such as Chris Brown, Tyga, Tinie Tempah, and Gorgon City, to name a few. In her songs, the singer boasts a strong, yet soothing voice which complements her calm and airy music. It’s because her incredibly distinct and alluring vocals that she gets compared to talented singers such as Lana Del Rey and The Weeknd. Her songs find a balance in her R&B and soul influenced vocals, an addictive melody, and experimental beats which make it impossible for people to only listen to her songs once. This

formula varies from song to song, but the core of the elements are present for all of her unique tracks. If you’re wondering where to start listening to Esty, I’d definitely recommend that you check out her song “Killing Your Ills” which features Tyga. In addition to her hit single “Killing Your Ills”, I would also recommend my personal favorite, “We Could Have It All”. The song “We Could Have It All” really showcases the emotional impact that Esty’s voice has. Her voice, combined with the guitar melody and lyrics, truly depict the longing and sorrow that she feels. If you can’t get enough of Esty from her six tracks, you can also check out the songs “Remember Me” and “Lights Out” from Chris Brown’s new album “Fan Of A Fan” and the Tyga’s single “The Letter”. She is featured on all three of the songs. If you want to listen to the Darkness EP, you can listen to her songs on Soundcloud as well as on Youtube. Her music videos are visually stunning. It’s definitely worth checking out! If you really like Esty’s songs and want more of her, you don’t have to worry! A deluxe version as well as a remix package of her Darkroom EP will be available soon. You can follow Esty on Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram, and Youtube.


Changing the System within the System: Julie Fisher’s Importing Democracy: The Role of NGOs in South Africa, Tajikistan and Argentina By Cora Vasseur

While brushing up on world politics may not be on your to do list or something titled Importing Democracy: The Role of NGOs in South Africa, Tajikistan and Argentina may not be what you curl up with in bed or on the beach, here’s why it should be. Julie Fisher’s third book shows a different definition of democracy and shows an overlooked part of society. While protests make headlines, she focuses on a quieter movement led by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). These facets are the flowers trying to bloom through the sidewalk. Her work also creates a greater appreciation for what democracy is and how we have grown up.



Julie Fisher is the person to write this book. She is described as “passionate about democracy”.

“Democracy is a ‘puzzle’ whose various pieces must find their place,” she says in interview with Peak’s Island Press. As a specialist on nongovernmental organizations and microenterprise development, she’s a consultant to many international agencies, including CIVICUS, Technoserve, CARE, and Trickle Up. She’s the author of two other books which have been translated into other languages and taught at universities. She was a Scholar in Residence at the Program on Non-Profit Organizations at Yale Universities as well as a lecturer and member of the Kettering Foundation, a think tank on democracy. She’s one of the go-to people on democracy. In this book, we look at groups who are establishing democracy in societies that have known the opposite for quite some time. She mentions the efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying on “nothing has so discredited the attempt to export democracy militarily as the Iraq and Afghanistan wars…A common response to this failure is to assume that many countries are simply not suited to democracy, at least for the foreseeable future.” She shows how this is not true. This book showcase some citizens that refuse to be so easily dismissed and have initiated the long process of democratization from within. They’re being the change they want to see in the world at the local level, an ultimate grass roots movement.


We meet hope in an area media and people demonize.

“We tried to help,” they say. “But see, they don’t want it.” Change doesn’t happen overnight. Asking an entire people to change their way of life and thinking after knowing generations of fear doesn’t happen overnight. She conducted over 100 interviews and offers several case studies. Through her work, we can see new worlds being created While the title and idea of the book doesn’t sound fun, Fisher’s finds are beautiful and needed. Fisher helps us look at the meaning of democracy. How is it defined? How do we know what it is when we’re looking at it? Some of us may feel it’s the same as defining art, “I know it when I see it.” She shares the definition has been debated for two millennia. One of the qualifying factors scholars look for is if free elections are held. Coming from the Chicago area, we know just because they exist doesn’t mean they’re free or equal. On the international stage, look at Egypt. “Egypt demonstrates that election is only one piece of the democratization puzzle,” Fisher said in an interview with Press Island Press.


As society has evolved, scholars have been forced to re-evaluate the definition. They look to see if democratic processes are being used. Fisher explains the four dimensions she used to explore NGOs. You need to understand how something was evaluated to appreciate and understand the results. She explains Dahl’s “polyarchy” has three parts: political opposition, public participation and law based civil liberty. The fourth dimension is a democratic political culture as defined by March and Olson and its ability to “change and deepen democracy”. This is where the magic happens. She describes this as “the crucial asset in sustaining democracy, once it develops.” Once democracy is introduced, it needs to take hold and keep going. The dimensions and how she applies them is what makes her book unique. She compares “democratic impact as a whole with impact of democratization of NGOs” which has not been done to this extent. She looks at the big picture versus the smaller picture. It’s comparing a full bloomed perennial flower versus a freshly planted flower we hope to be a perennial, hoping the conditions are right. Many would stop there, but Fisher takes the research a step farther when she looks at the effects of NGOs and democracy through civil society, strengthening the loyal opposition. She explains in the interview with press Island Press there’s a triangle of democratization: loyal opposition, which is the opposition to ruling regime’s policies without overthrow; Popular Support, as seen in protests demanding government’s to take responsibility for their actions; and Civil Support, the whole collection of non- governmental organizations, such as churches, nonprofits, and community organizations. Most countries achieve political participation and protests, she explained, but not loyal opposition. She also offers their civil society may be too weak to carry forward the work of protests. People tire out mentally, physically and emotionally.


“People tire of being in the streets,” she said. “They need the non-profit organizations to continue the change.” She calls the NGOs “spear carriers” that help strengthen democratization processes. Saying NGOs are brave is an understatement. Reading her work creates a better appreciation for a landscape we’ve grown up in. That she was allowed to write and publish this book; that I’m allowed to write this article; that you’re conversing with two college educated and independent women and you don’t blink is telling of our society. Yes there are areas of improvement but it’s a pretty good framework, a framework NGOs are dying to create.


ACTRESS & PRODUCER Hallie Jordan Makes Her Own History

By Cora Vasseur 96

When it comes to your dreams and creating your ideal life, you have two options: you can wait for things to happen or you can create opportunities. Multi-talented actress and producer Hallie Jordan is creating her ideal life, doing what she needs to do in order to succeed. In the incredibly competitive world of acting, Jordan is creating work to showcase her talents and creating opportunities to take her where she wants to go. Not only is she living the dream, she’s modeling the dream for others.

Jordan is described as a “relentless

Even with this track record and background, Jordan found it challenging to get work.

next door type with a quick wit and smile compared to Julia Roberts. She was born into an industry family and culture and became aware of the inner workings of the business at an early age. Her grandfather was a RKO Films Publicist who worked with Judy Garland and Debbie Reynolds. Her mother’s work caused them to move around the country and Jordan found her voice acting in school plays and local theatre. It also created a constant in an ever changing landscape, a bit of normal.

“When I was in college, I had signed with a major agency that shelved me within a year of working with them,” she said.

redhead with a free spirit and a determined will”, the quirky girl

She explored different acting methods in college and studied abroad in Austria, Nepal, The University of Paris—Sorbonne, and The Academia Del Arte in Italy. Closer to our neck of the woods, she’s also a graduate of The Comedy Studies Conservatory at the Second City in Chicago. “I was accepted into the Second City of Chicago’s Comedy Studies Conservatory my senior year of college and my school let me go there for a semester of credit,” Jordan told

“I had almost no film credits, minus some short and student films, and was not being called to audition. I was union, working hard, and nobody would give me the time of day.” It’s a frustrating situation for anyone, but she decided to be proactive about her situation. In 2013, she created her production company Little Red Stars. “I was tired of not working, so I started my company in order to produce an hour-long television pilot in which I would star,” she said. “I had put some money away for the project and hired some friends I had worked with previously to help me spearhead it.” Something else that emerged from the production company is her web series, “Miss Glenside,” a mockumentary look at popular pageant culture. She describes it as


“The Office” meets a modern “Drop Dead Gorgeous.” It’s a collaboration of Jordan and four friends. She got inspired by a friend who competed in Miss Long Beach, but also calls upon some personal material. “I remember when I was 14, I did a beauty pageant in Tampa and totally didn’t win or come close to winning at all, but these girls are out of control trying to get this little crown because it will give them their five minutes of fame, at least in their eyes,” she shares. “A couple of girlfriends were into it as well so we all started meeting and getting together and developing these characters.”

By having a finger on the industry’s pulse, it was an organic move to create a web series. “We were thinking, ‘Should we make this a short sketch? Should we make


it a movie? There were so many ideas and so many things to add to this!’” Jordan recalls. “With the way new media is moving forward with the internet, we figured that a web series might be the perfect way to showcase all the ridiculous things these girls go through for a beauty pageant.” The ladies created twelve five- minute episodes shot in Arizona.

“Today’s culture is obsessed with pageants and celebrities who are famous for being talentless,” Jordan says. “We want to raise awareness of the reality of this circus while not forgetting to laugh and satirize this American epidemic.” Jordan knows new media is moving forward on the internet because she has felt it.

“A lot of projects are moving to new media right now. I produced an hourlong pilot last summer and as time has passed, I’m learning more and more that pilots for television shows are all moving online,” she shares. “I don’t even watch TV anymore. I literally stream everything from my computer.” Creating her own work has created a new chapter in her career. She has couple of projects in post production that will be in theatres this year. Her ideal role would be starring in a Judd Apatow movie.

“I love comedy and I’ve been doing a lot of drama and thriller lately, but my background is in comedy,” Jordan says. “Ideally,

anything Emma Stone has ever played: quirky, fun characters.”

With all that’s going on in her life and making sure “the Hallie Jordan business is good”, to paraphrase the Brando quote, Jordan prioritizes mentoring and philanthropy working with several artist outreach programs. “I want to continue to work and make a name for myself,” she says. “I also want to mentor young women,

especially from lower income families or those who don’t have access to the arts or are told they can’t do something. I’m really into creating your life and making your own history…I want to be a voice of inspiration.”

Hallie Jordan’s making great headway as she lets her inner light shine bright.


Sarah Jenks: Stop Waiting on Weight and Have Fun By: Cora Vasseur When I found out I was not only covering the Frankie Ballard concert, but also going to be in the VIP section and possibly meeting him, my first thought was: “I need to lose weight”. Not, “I need to brush up on baseball or Blues music so I have something to talk to the man about”, but looking better in skinny jeans would ensure my success and create an enjoyable evening. I know that’s not true. You know that’s not true. But for so many of us, our default thinking is life will start when I lose weight. I will date more when I’m the ideal weight. I will be confident and life will fall into place when I lose 10 pounds. I discovered Sarah Jenks’ work, Live More Weigh Less, a couple of years ago and she changed my relationship with food, my body and my life. I had already decided to view food as fuel, but she let me in on a secret she had discovered herself: stop waiting on the weight.


“We can get so caught up with the number on the scale and become completely convinced that we need to lose weight more than anything, that losing twenty pounds is the answer to all our problems,” Sarah shared over email. “What most women don’t realize is that they have all these personality traits and quality of life expectations associated with being thin: confidence, feeling carefree, having more fun, being more feminine, being in touch with their sensuality, feeling more adventurous... what I try to get women to see is that you

don’t need to be thin to become all of those things.” The core philosophy of Live More Weigh Less is exactly what the title says: once you begin to live more, you weigh less, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. By creating and living the life you want to have once you’ve lost weight, you address the real reasons why you want to lose weight to begin with. “What’s great is that once they start to work on those qualities, they no longer need food for happiness, they start taking better care of themselves and they easily move to their natural weight,” says Sarah. The idea is so simple it’s easy to be skeptical. It feels counterintuitive compared to the rules and diets we’re bombarded with from all angles. It’s hard

to change when you feel bad, wrong, the problem. One of the first steps in Sarah’s process is to have fun. “When I ask my clients why they overeat, 99% of the time they tell me, ‘It just tastes so good! I can’t stop!’ Translation: eating is fun,” she said. “And when food is our only source of fun, of course we’re going to eat all the time! As women, we need to have fun, be wild and nurture our creativity. It’s our life force. So many of us see fun as selfish and put all our emphasis on work, family and doing things for other people. Food is our only source of fun and ‘me-time’. Our first week in Live More Weigh Less focuses on putting fun back into our lives so we no longer need Ben and Jerry to show us a good time.” Sarah’s like the upperclassman or big sister you go to with all your questions. From a town outside of Boston, she’s struggled with her body most of her life. After college she was an event planner, worked in PR, and managed an account at an advertising agency where she “spent more time eating chocolate in

the closet than working”. She finally realized dieting did not equal weight loss. She also realized what she really wanted to do and attended the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She’s unafraid to share her story, foibles and all. It makes her relatable and empowers you to share your journey. There are many ways to get to know Sarah, through her blog, Instagram, newsletters, or her program. Soon after beginning to learn about this lifestyle change, you start identifying real reasons why you’re overeating or feel you need to lose weight. She acknowledges life happens and sometimes we slip up. “So many of us concentrate on being perfect 100% of the time, so the smallest mishap makes us feel like a complete failure,” she says. “I think it’s important to focus on being mediocre and human so the little mishaps and challenges are just a normal part of the ride.” What’s more important is if we learn from the mishaps. “When I eat a ton of ice cream, I don’t think, ‘You stupid idiot, you’re going to get so fat. You might as well finish the pint


since you already messed up. You better just eat lettuce tomorrow!’” she says. “ I think, ‘Hmmm, I wonder why I needed to eat half a pint of ice cream? How am I feeling? What is out of balance? What is the feeling I’m trying to get from the ice cream?’ I’ll realize I’m really tired, bored or stressed out, and then I can address that feeling by taking a nap, a day off, or doing something fun. The kindness and learning from overeating means that if happens less and less.”

“I’ve learned a whole new level of what it means to be in relationship with my body. It was hard to gain a lot of weight and have my body change, of course!” she says. “But instead of being so focused on getting ‘back’ I focused on creating my new normal. I took all the focus off of losing weight and put it all on creating my new life, which is especially hard with a newborn.” Sarah Jenks is the champion who will lead you love your body and your life.

The lifestyle is adaptable to the many “I honestly get how hard it is to live in chapters of your life as Sarah discovered a body you hate. I’ve been there. I also and got to practice when she had her know from my own experience and son, Marshall. working with hundreds of women that losing weight is not


the answer,” she says. “Does this mean you can eat whatever you want and sit on the couch all day? No! But what is so amazing is that when we start to create the lives we want now, we naturally want to take care of our bodies because we have a new appreciation for them. This work is so important because as long as we are focused on just losing weight, we are missing what is actually off in our lives. We have to stop hiding behind our diet and actually get in there and do the hard, but very important work.” Back to the story I opened with: I had a week before the Frankie Ballard concert and I had some choices. I could watch what I ate like a hawk and exercise like demon, or I could address what was

making me nervous about going to a concert and possibly meeting a rising star with incredible blue eyes and a chiseled jaw. With Sarah’s work in my corner, I danced daily because it made me feel beautiful and energized. I wrote about some high school issues that were haunting me. I practiced talking to people and I brushed up on Blues music and baseball. It was an incredible night that I was able to enjoy even more because I wasn’t worried about how I looked in jeans. My greatest challenge of the night was did I want to dance in the VIP section with my new friends or on the main floor with my other new friends?


LOCAL spotlight written by catie coscino layout by aira aquino


upporting a local business has a special feeling to it. As you speak directly to the people who started the company, you can feel the passion that drives them behind the scenes. The big retail chains just don’t have that same vibe. The average joe doesn’t typically get the chance to speak to the founders of those huge companies to find out how they made it all happen. That is exactly what feels so different when you walk into the small shops in Wicker Park and find that the same people are there almost every time, remembering you by name. These friendly reminders always bring me hope that I, too, can make my dreams come to fruition one day. For that reason, I have chosen to showcase three unique companies that are based out of Chicago to highlight exactly what makes this city, and the self-starters in it, so special.


Speaking of shops in Wicker Park, one that I’m sure you are already familiar with is City Soles. The retailer is known for carrying indie brands of artisan footwear for the consumer that seeks out avant-garde pieces. Since 1991, City Soles has filled that niche in Chicago and, more recently, globally through e-commerce. They offer exceptional services like: Compliments Guaranteed (or a discount next time around), Prices Guaranteed (if you can actually find the same pair/ color and size for a lower price elsewhere) and Free Shipping both ways. Founder & CEO, Scott Starbuck, has an innate sense of the retail industry and where it is heading. Always staying ahead of the trend, City Soles TV now boasts more than 1500 videos and over 700,000 viewers. Videos of Starbuck interviewing designers about their new pieces, announcing the launch of new products and reviewing collections as they come out really showcase just how approachable and downto-earth he is- rightfully serving as the personification of this fun brand.

City Soles’ recent move to 1514 N. Milwaukee allows for the next chapter of the brand’s story to unfold. Last year alone, they saw a 300% boost in ecommerce sales. Starbuck tells me that they moved to this spot so that they could still “house [their] love for brick-and-mortar and allow for [them] to scale [their] dotcom.” The end goal is to “position City Soles as the Indie Zappos and take [their] 50 brand store and 50 brand website to a 250 brand dotcom.” Drop by the store or visit www. to support them by purchasing your new favorite shoes, compliments guaranteed of course. If you can relate to the City Soles customer in the sense that you just cannot find what you are looking for elsewhere, you are going to love this next service. Scout My Style is a totally FREE shopping concierge service. How does it work for consumers? I went through the whole process myself, start-tofinish. First things first, I logged onto and registered as a new user. I was prompted to take a Style Quiz to create my Style ID. The quiz asked all sorts of questions ranging from what my favorite brands are to my body type to budget. There was also a portion that showed me different pictures and I got to choose which were good representations of my style and which I didn’t like. Right away, I could see that their system was able to get an idea of my look when all of the options were narrowed down to black fringed leather. Once you complete the quiz,

you can either send out a search or just wait for a style concierge to get in touch you. I went with the latter, and the next day I received a text from Co-Founder Russ Laynge himself asking what he could help me find. I had just started a new job that required me to wear black and white, so I let him know. He continued to ask a few more questions about my budget for the trip and how professional I needed to look. ____________________________ Scout My Style and their partners have a great handle on who their customers are. The best part? First time shoppers get 10% cash-back up to $20 on their first purchase. ___________________________ A few days later, I received a text from Russ letting me know that he had found 3 local boutiques with clothes that fit my style, body type and budget in black and white. He listed what each store had and I ultimately decided to drop into their partner boutique, Anastasia on Damen Ave. Russ set up a fitting room appointment for me at my convenience. When I got to the store, a room was already loaded with pieces they had recommended for me personally. I ended up purchasing an adorable white circle skirt that the owner and designer, Anastasia Chatzka, chose for me and an amazing hi-low hem skirt that caught my eye the minute that I walked in. One of the most interesting parts of


the whole trip was that not only were the pieces in the room realistically some that I would have chosen to try on, but the whole store was very much my aesthetic. Scout My Style and their partners have a great handle on who their customers are. The best part? First time shoppers get 10% cash-back up to $20 on their first purchase. But how did this all come together behind the scenes? I’ll let Co- Founders Russ and Zach Laynge tell you. “I could tell something was my style when I saw it, but I didn’t have the vocabulary to describe what I liked, or any idea how to look for it, especially locally. We knew there were great clothes out there, but we had no easy way to search for them. It occurred to Zach, and I heartily agreed, that if there were some way to help people consolidate their style information so that discovering clothes nearby was


as easy as possible, that would be a great service.” So, they made it happen. Currently, they work with 30 different Chicago boutiques to offer shoppers tons of options and they are always looking to expand that network. Working off of commission from the retailers, ScoutMyStyle’s core service will always be free to consumers, but Russ hints that he and Zach “may have a few premium services up [their] sleeves” in the future. Last but never least, our local “jewel box” store, L.W.N. (which stands for Love it. Want it. Need it.) is headquartered in the heart of downtown overlooking the river serving as one of the newest additions to Chicago’s retail industry. The first store location is situated right between Michael Kors and Coach in the Fashion Outlets of Chicago. The eye-catching design is what draws customers in at first, but the gorgeous product is what keeps them

coming back. What L.W.N. describes as a “jewel box” is their oval-shaped space centered on a bridge in the mall that only spans 300 square feet- but it doesn’t feel cramped by any means. Open on both sides with 4 glass window displays, L.W.N. has created “an immersive retail environment that entertains and delights while adding a dash of fantasy and fun to the shopping experience in an open sell concept.” The art deco inspired floor exudes glamour and luxury- the purest expression of L.W.N. as a brand. Inside? Marble countertops are flanked by luxe sterling silver jewelry on one side and the insanely popular Endless jewelry collection on the other. Designer inspired looks are abundant for the fashion-savvy and one-of-a-kind 14k goldplated sterling silver and cz rings are delicately stacked and displayed for those who want something a little more unique.

President and Co-Founder, Alexandra Marks, says of the collection “What I love about fashion jewelry is that it is for women of any shape, size and ethnicity. You don’t need to be a size two or four to wear a statement necklace, or chandelier earrings. Fashion jewelry is transformative, what other accessory allows you to express your personality and totally transform your look?” And her mission is appealing to local as well as international shoppers. One interesting thing about launching so close to the airport is that there are people from all different countries that are now familiar and interested in the brand- spreading the word outside of Chicago at a rapid rate. Since launching in November 2014, L.W.N. has steadily begun to build a loyal customer base. With price points starting as low as $10 and reaching as high as $500, there is literally a special piece for everyone who wants to get in touch with their glam side. You can check out a small selection of what they have to offer at, but I recommend dropping by the store for some unique surprises. Looking to get your foot in the door at a growing fashion company? L.W.N. is hiring- apply online or in-store.

“You don’t need to be a size two or four to wear a statement necklace, or chandelier earrings. Fashion jewelry is transformative, what other accessory allows you to express your personality and totally transform your look?” Alexandra Marks of L.W.N


T he Path to Sweet Success

Featuring: Lickity Split Frozen Custard & Sweets Written By: Jen Lezan | Photography: Laura Lopez

Ken Anderson and his business partner Luke Klein have taken Chicago by storm with their vintage concept frozen custard shop: Lickity Split Frozen Custard & Sweets. The old-time ice cream shop located in Edgewater serves an array of frozen treats and locally sourced retro sweets. The duo took a chance and followed their dream and after 4 years, they are continuing to see success and growth. Halfstack had the opportunity to talk with Ken a bit to learn more about how the brand was launched, his career and more. Ken started in retail and grew into management roles over time at wellknown establishments such as Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Ave. He is a graduate of Loyola University and developed his passion for customer service during his tenure in the retail industry. He always had his heart set of starting a business, but the timing was never just right. The idea that you have to start somewhere is incredibly relevant to Ken’s story. While many people may not see the direct correlation of a Retail Manager and being an Entrepreneur, the two roles are closely related. In fact, some might say the role of a Retail Store Manager is great training for running your own


business. Normally, a store manager is the individual that oversees the daily operations of a retail establishment; they over see many employees and have a responsibility to help lead, and successfully train employees in their responsibilities while making sure that the customers have a good experience.

additional locations over the next 8 years.

Lickity Split has been in business for just over 4 years now. Which means that the brand launched during the economic crises and yet, they’ve been able to maintain and grow. Ken explains that they made some smart Ken’s first job, as a Soda Jerk in Rock- decisions early on when looking for ford at the Last Straw Ice Cream their original storefront. They were Parlor would ultimately set the tone able to acquire a grant from the city to for his future business endeavors. It’s build out in Edgewater. At that time almost as if he has come full circle on Edgewater was considered an up and his journey into entrepreneurship. Yet, coming neighborhood and was one it was his experience in luxury deof the communities the city of Chipartment stores that truly taught him cago considered for Small Business to love customer service and instill in Improvement Funds. Edgewater is a him the values of creating an inviting strong community that was affordable and positive environment. for their brand and ultimately truly embraced the shop. They were able to When asked why he ventured into make a difference in the community the ice cream biz, Ken explained “I’ve all the while following their dreams. always loved retail, customer service Ken explains the goal has always been, and the food industry and this was “to be a neighborhood gathering spot”. just a great choice. We saw a need in the market, as there are not many The most rewarding aspect of running frozen custard shops in Chicago. Yet, the business for Ken is being able to we wanted to be able to stay open year connect with his customers day in and round, so we added in the sweets shop day out. The customers are the lifeconcept.” This concept has worked out blood of the business. They also have wonderfully for the brand and they made it a point to partner with local recently opened a second shop on organizations, charities and schools Western and they are hoping to open such as Loyola to give back to the

community that has give so much to them. They also work directly with other small business partners such as Celestial Kitchens, Flirty Cupcakes, Metropolis and Sweet Atilla’s. Ken and his partner have made it a point to build a community among their partners to help one another grow. When it comes to key people who have influenced and inspired Ken in his career, he mentions people like Stanley Marcus – the founder of Neiman Marcus. Learning about how he built a beautiful high-end brand from nothing, established him as a man that Ken could look up to in terms of

business know-how. He also mentions Gordon Segal, the founder of Crate & Barrel. Despite Gordon’s success he remained humble and loyal to those who had been loyal to him. It is this type of mentality that Ken has when it comes to recruiting and maintaining his staff. He makes it a point to treat his staff well, train them and give them opportunities to grow.

the industry today. Ken is making it a point to take care of his staff and sees the importance in making sure they understand he needs them as much as they need the customers. It’s a breath of fresh air to see such loyalty and appreciation for his employees. That appreciation translates directly into the customer experience one will have at Lickity Split.

This type of attitude definitely sets Ken apart from what is typically seen in the retail industry. The idea of churn and burn, overwork and underpay – that thought that employees are dispensable is incredibly prevalent in

When it comes to growth – Ken and Luke are taking it slow. They are growing at a comfortable pace and they are doing it on their own terms. Rather than become a cookie cutter shop, Ken is trying to create individualized


“Save more money! You have to plan for the unexpected. You never know what will come your way in terms of hidden costs when starting a business.� 110

experiences at each of his shops. They will still be the “Lickity Split” brand, but will have a personality all their own. They also are making it a point to really push for simpler processes that have stood the test of time. They are doing things the old school way and that is innovative in of itself. They are bringing the traditional styles of business into modern times. When it comes to advice that Ken would share with his 18-year-old self, the first thought that came to mind was, “Save more money! You have to plan for the unexpected. You never know what will come your way in terms of hidden costs when starting a business.” As the old saying goes “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” and when it comes to starting a business a plan is like the roadmap to your future. Ken also suggests that anyone looking to launch a business should have patience and to not give up on their dreams. As cheesy as it sounds, the reality is things don’t always go according to your plan or time frame. Keep working towards your goal and in due time, with the right amount of effort, you can reach your goals. It’s never to late to follow your dreams.



MZ WALLACE & FOOD 52 Fashion That Gives Back

Written by: Stella Quimby Layout by: Annabel Carrillo


s it a trend now that every fashion line or even food line now gives back to charity? Is this a form of making sure that there isn’t any buyer’s remorse anymore? Either way, this new form of giving back is a great way to not only promote your brand but also help out others at the same time. MZ Wallace, an accessories brand has now joined the latest trend to help a non-profit organization. MZ Wallace has joined forces with Kitchen and Home destination Food52 to create an exclusive capsule collection in support of the charity: Water. Both brands, MZ Wallace & Food52 will donate 15% of sales to the non-profit organization’s mission to bring clean drinking water to people in developing countries. Currently there are 748 million people on the planet without access to clean and safe drinking water and each purchase will help make an impact because as little as $30 can give one person access to clean drinking water! So together both brands want to make a difference! (Photo on the right: The collection that 15% of sales go to the charity: Water)



(From left to right: Makena Cunningham of charity: water, Merrill Stubbs and Amanda Hesser of Food52, M


So who is this Charity: Water??? Water is a non-profit organization that provides clean and safe drinking water to people in developing or undeveloped nations. The organization was founded in 2006 by Scott Harrison and has helped fund over 13,641 projects in 22 countries, benefitting over 4.6 million people. Overall the nonprofit has raised over $155 million as of December 2014! With MZ Wallace & Food52, the goals is to raise more and help even more millions of people without the access to water that we take for granted. A little bit about MZ Wallace; it was founded in 1999 by Monica Zwirner and Lucy Wallace Eustice, two native New Yorkers. MZ Wallace is a SoHo-based accessories brand crafting essential everyday handbags. Entering its 15th year in business, the founding principles of the company remain unchanged: superior quality, timeless style, and purpose-driven design. On the other hand, Food52 was founded in 2009 by former New York Times food editor Amanda Hesser and food writer Merrill Stubbs. The site is a content and commerce destination for home cooks, where visitors can find everything from recipes and tableware to inspiration and information, all in one place. With an approachable and inspiring food philosophy, Food52 has amassed an active community of nearly 600,000 members. Together both plan to help the world with their joined line! For any of you interested in this water inspired line that also gives back to those not fortunate enough you can visit shop/charity-water and check out the collection! Remember you too can make a difference!! Photos courtesy of

Monica Zwirner and Lucy Wallace Eustice of MZ Wallace)




Written by: Stella Estrella-Quimby Layout by: Annabel Carrillo Friday May 15th and Saturday May 16th Wine Riot made their annual spring stop at Chicago! As always, it was a spectacular event. There were over 230 wines available for guests to try and learn about, food vendors, temporary tattoo stations (of which I took advantage of), and two different photo booths!!! Second Glass, the genius behind the Wine Riot, have been holding these stellar events for over 8 years already and the Founder Tyler Balliet and Co-Founder Morgan First, both have been named 30 under 30 Coolest Young Entrepreneurs in 2010 by INC Magazine. Out of all the events hitting Chicago, what sets Second Glass’s Wine Riot apart? Their goal; which is to help people discover new wines, remember what they drink and share that info with their friends by bringing wineries and wine drinkers together through technology and in-person events. Second Glass also strongly promotes online and mobile tools for both wine consumers and wine producers! Their end result goal; get more people to drink wine!!! It has worked for me, being a very very casual wine drinker prior to the events, but after coming to the Wine Riot Events, by the way the next one in Chicago is on October 16-17, I have come to really enjoy and now consider myself a wine drinker!



So check out and make sure to visit their upcoming events!!! Here at Chicago the next Wine Riot will be in October 16-17!! So again what to expect at the Chicago Wine Riots???? Here’s just a few items to get you all excited! •

Wine 101 classes

Bubbly Bars (my favorite)

Crash Courses on wine

A DJ jamming beats all night

Tattoo stations

Instagram Stations

Photo Booths (you can also dress up, I was an Egyptian Pharaoh)

Postcard Station (they mail the cards you create while being under the bubbly)

And food stations such as the popular the Tamale Spaceship

Again, open your mind up and enjoy all the wines from around the world and learn at the same time!!!! *All photos courtesy of *


Looks for Less By: Teresa Espinoza Layout by: Kali Koller


veryone take a breather! It’s finally summer! A time to lay back and enjoy a drink on your deck, have a bbq with friends, be a beach bum and enjoy festival season! It’s the perfect time to spice up your wardrobe with some new pieces for summer. While crop tops and plaids still rule the summer fashion scene, there’s so much more to pick from. There is still a huge push on the 60’s and 70’s trends of hippie chic. Platforms, fringed shoes and free flowing culottes are sure to show up everywhere this summer! They’re the perfect balance of retro and chic. On the guy’s front, the dreaded Hawaiian shirt has a major facelift and has a totally new retro cool feel. White sneakers and pastel bottoms are in for those guys looking to make a splash on the fashion scene. Time to do some shopping damage for the summer! But not too much, here are my looks for less picks for summer that are going to keep you right on trend and as always keep you budget conscious.


Disco Queen Platforms have their lovers and their haters. Yet, platforms are back with a vengeance. My 5’3 frame is thanking the shoe gods for them! Opt for a blucher that’s more tomboy chic like the Zara version or a simpler platform heel. I for one will be wearing all of them!



Fringed Clackers Platforms have their lovers and their haters. Yet, platforms are back with a vengeance. My 5’3 frame is thanking the shoe gods for them! Opt for a blucher that’s more tomboy chic like the Zara version or a simpler platform heel. I for one will be wearing all of them!


Flowing Culottes The summer is the perfect time to wear this trend! Because they’re so free flowing, it makes them a great choice to wear during those hot summer days when you still want to look put-together but still keep cool. The best part is that they transition so easily from one season to the next!



Jump around, Jump around I have become officially obsessed with the jumpsuit trend. I can’t get enough of them in all different kinds of prints and fits. A jumpsuit doesn’t have to be a blast from the past; you can make a jumpsuit look so chic and modern by picking a slimmer fit or even updating it with a sleek heel. If you love the retro look then go for the platform!


LONG & STRONG I absolutely love this trend. There’s something so masculine yet feminine to the long waistcoat. Try a white or neutral color for a more sophisticated look. If you’re feeling fun and adventurous go for something in a bolder color like the orange Zara version.



t h e s h o rt s leev e s h i rt A men’s shirt doesn’t have to be dull. In fact, for summer, the short sleeve shirts are in light prints and colors. They make for a polished look without looking too stuffy. Because after all it is summer and all work and no play makes jack a dull boy!


HAWA IIAN S HIRT Remember those dreaded Hawaiian shirts your dad would wear? Well, they’re back; kind of. They’ve had a major facelift while still keeping the spirit of the trend alive. There are tons of tropical prints on updated silhouettes. So, there’s no shortage of choices. If you’re afraid to go bold, try a daintier or lighter tropical print.



NE W KICKS Who doesn’t love a brand new pair of white shoes? They look fresh and clean and make you look so polished. This season it’s all about mixing your everyday looks with white sneakers. Dress them up or down!


Sorbet Bottoms

Pastels are always a signal of warmer weather. Typically, it’s an indicator on the women’s side but this time around the guys get a dose of it too. Pastel chinos are the go to bottoms for summer. They add some character to your look and make you look super fashion savvy. Pair them with a blazer and white trainers during the day and with a short sleeve tee for a casual look.



CHECK IT O UT This print never goes out of style really. But the trend is a great print to try out during the summer. To me, there’s something about a checked print that screams summer. Whether you wear a basic checked shirt and pants for work or a checked shirt and chino shorts at night, it’s the go to print when you don’t know what to wear!








ST Y L I ST C O R NE R WITH S t e p h a n i e A l e x i s Styling is a full time gig and whatever you may

think, it’s not easy to do…at all. Stylists spend hours upon hours scouring designers’ collections, online shops and boutiques attempting to make sure their clients look effortless and one step ahead of what’s trending. One of the industry’s most talented is Stephanie Alexis, the founder of SA Style Studio. She is one of the most esteemed stylists in the New York City area. She brings her experience and expert advice to her blog followers daily and gives the advice that readers really want to hear. We had the opportunity to get her expert styling advice on some of the must have summer trends!

HS: Can you give us a rundown of the biggest summer menswear trends and how guys can wear them?

SA: A pillar of both the casual and formal sides of our wardrobe, stripes are expected to be big news for SS15. Collections from brands such as Gucci and Jonathan Saunders to Casely-Hayford and Emporio Armani, applied this trend to a wide variety of garments including both tailored staples like smart trousers and shirts, as well as more relaxed jumpers and accessories.


Gentlemen, before you rush out and purchase, it’s worth remembering that different stripes will have different effects on your overall size and shape. Horizontal stripes tend to make you look wider by breaking up the vertical silhouette, while vertical stripes draw the eye down quickly, giving the illusion of length/height Whether you like to keep things casual or refined, quality denim is a solid foundation for a multitude of looks. This season is about pairing like-fabrics, try doubling or tripling up on denim. Use Tom Ford’s spring 2015 collection as reference. The designer combined a denim shirt and jeans with a simple navy blazer and black leather boots for a flawless monochromatic look. HS: What about the women? SA: Shirtdresses have always been a staple piece in any woman’s wardrobe as they are comfortable and lightweight. This season designers have reinvented this classic shape with drop waists and double-high slits. Designers like Altuzarra, Charlotte Ronson, and Rebecca Minkoff debut their SS15 collections with a plethora of designs available in this style.

Fall may have brought us proper plaids, but for SS15 it’s all about the gingham checkers. It has a sexy, swingy vibe to it that can be either dressed up or dressed down. Whether you rock this trend in a day suit or evening wear separates, this look will be pure eye candy. Culottes are back and here to stay. The SS14 trend is sticking around though SS15. Take the silhouette to work this season by pairing it with blazers, tailored button-downs, and high heels. From Tibi to Jil Sander to Hermes, designers showcased the comfortable pants in a variety of colors and patterns. These pants won’t be going out of style anytime soon; they are still projected to be a huge trend through AW15.

HS: What are some key trends on both the menswear and womenswear front for summer?

SA: Dust off your lava lamps folks, SS15 is one big Seventies time warp. Some key trend pieces: Jumpsuits, billowing boho dresses, disco platforms, denim-on-denim, flared trousers, and clashing florals. Expect vivid floral prints to take over both men’s and women’s looks Black & White. The trend’s not groundbreaking, but it can be seen everywhere. What makes this season’s take on the classic color combination interesting, though, are the various textures, patterns, and silhouettes that accompany it. For more styling information from Stephanie Alexis check out her luxury blog: The September Edition and for more information on SA Style Studio and their services visit Written by: Teresa Espinoza Layout: Kali Koller


emodern Angela



written by catie coscino ________________________________________________________________ Angela Morano began handcrafting unique headwear in 2007

using millinery couture techniques. Based out of Chicago, Morano creates all of her pieces here- and we are lucky to have her. Most of her designs are exclusive, because she even goes so far as to construct her own hand-carved shapes to form them on. Offering a small, carefully curated collection that includes headwraps, floppy brim fedoras for the bohemian goddess, oversized Derby style hats, headpieces for vintage queens and faux fur options for those who prefer a classic look; there is a little something for everyone.


Top Three Picks are as follows b



c Morano



layout by aira aquino _______________________________________________________________________

Featuring gold and cobalt blue solids intertwined with an on-trend black and white chain design, this headwrap is a stand-out piece. I would wear this one with black jeans and a leather jacket, then take it from day to night with a little black dress and some funky platform heels. Retailing at only $45, this headpiece is on the more affordable and versatile side for Morano.




This piece retails at $195. It attaches to the head by a black elastic band that can be changed to match the wearer’s hair color per request. The minimalistic design speaks volumes and it will take a serious fashion daredevil to wear this one. This one of a kind couture piece is meant to be rocked during Chicago Fashion Week! Who knows, you might even show up Lady Gaga herself in this one.




Retailing at $215, this one of a kind design is made for the derby. Yet, I would wear this one for a memorable night out as well. While it may not be an everyday look, this color is flattering on all skin tones and it really is the ultimate classic headpiece that every woman covets. This one also attaches by a discreet, customizable elastic band. Morano’s designs are sold by Not only does Morano offer the size via her website www. Looking for a custom design? show-stopping ready-to-wear as well as Morano can help you with that, pieces, but she is also availthe following Chicago-based too. Creating looks for special able to book parties and workboutiques: Anjel’s, Hasana, events such as bridal headshops. What would that entail, RARA AVIS and Standout Style. you might ask? Popular events pieces is a service that she is include bridal showers, birthday happy to offer. In as little as To set up a private studio ap4 weeks with 3 fittings, one parties, girl’s night out events, pointment for a custom design, bat-mitzvahs and Derby parties. in each phase of the creation to book a party or to inquire process, a custom headpiece At these workshops, Morano about sizing, contact can be created. She also instructs attendees on millinery practices, walking them through offers hat restoration and repairs for pieces that have seen the process of creating their wear and tear over the years. own fascinators, adding embellishments such as feathers and beads or making Derby hats. _________________________________________________________________________________


Top 10 Summer Fashion Trends for Men Written by: Andre Thompson

Layout by: Annabel Carrillo

10. Espadrilles – Espadrilles have been around for

several decades, but started to become mainstream for men and women once Toms became a popular sensation. Espadrilles come in various colors and prints to make an outfit complete. A pair can be purchased from H&M, 21Men, Soludos, TOMS, along with Gucci, Tom Ford, and Cole Haan. Price points can range from $12 - $465 depending on the designer and/or company.


9. Denim – It’s time to trade in the linen for the denim this summer. Denim provides the solid foundation for many looks. A solid plain color V-neck, or crew neck t-shirt, or an oxford button down can be paired with some denim shorts or jeans. Doubling or tripling denim can create some fun looks as well! If the Denim is too much for the summer in terms of weight, try a chambray shirt that resembles denim. Lastly, invest a pair of washed denim and dark denim to take advantage of versatility.

8. Floral Prints – The 1970s has taken over for 2015. Floral

prints are not just for women, but for men as well. It is the perfect print to add the perfect touch to complete a look. Shirts, shorts, and shoes all have floral prints that can be worn during the summer. Remember when wearing florals, less is best. Wear a neutral color to allow the floral print be the focus of the outfit. Topman and H&M has a lot of different options to select from for the floral trend.

7. Printed Tee’s –

Printed Tee’s are a great way to express your style and personality in the simplest way. Wearing a printed t-shirt with a phrase or image can make a look fun, yet stylish. The great thing about it is you can do no wrong when wearing one. You can dress it up with putting on a blazer or a vest. Best part is, with the printed tees, you make up your own style!

6.) Statement Stripes –

From Gucci, Kenzo, and J.W. Anderson have all made stripes a statement piece. The question is, how to incorporate stripes into your everyday wear? Since it is summer, wearing bold stripes, color block stripes, or pastel stripe will be most fitting as long as it is worn with a neutral color to bring balance. A slim pinstripe trouser with loafers and a solid color polo is an example of a laid back look to incorporate stripes.


5. Compression Gear – The latest technology in compression gear has been a popular trend for the last year. Most of the compression gear comes in vibrant, bold colors with reflective materials which consist of microfiber. Compression gear still allows you to maintain your weekly exercise regimen in style without being bothered by the heat!

4. The Bucket Hat –

The Bucket Hat is not a trend that is just for when it is hot out even though it helps with blocking heat from the sun. People have been wearing them year round. The ideal outfit to wear the bucket hat with is cargos, jean shorts, a plain tee, and some chucks. Stussy has made the bucket hat trend very popular with their designs of prints, tie-dye. And colors!

3. Miansai Bracelet –

Usually bracelets are not an accessory that many men wear; However Miansai has become a hot item to add to your closet for the finishing touches of your wardrobe. The anchor statement bracelet comes in leather, different color combinations, and range from $55-$90.


2. The Weekender Duffle Bag –

There is nothing better than going on a trip even if it is a quick one. Why not travel in style. A weekender bag gives you the best of both world: a good size bag that will hold all of your belongings, and one that still allow you to have style. Below are some Herschel Supply Co. weekenders ranging in price from $70.00 - $90.00.

1. Retro Sunglasses – Since it is summer, it is essential to have a pair of cool sunglasses. What seems to be hot is the vintage sunglasses from Giorgio Armani, Gucci, and Saturday Surf New York. These sunglasses can perfect any look that you are trying to go for this summer.


WTF!? MET GALA 2015 EDITION Disclaimer* We know that the Met Gala is about artistic expression, but sorry these stars have taken it too far* By: Stella Quimby Design: Kali Koller

FIRST VICTIM: Sarah Jessica Parker...the NEW mother of dragons. This year’s Met was all about the Chinese culture. So, many stars showcased looks that were dragon inspired. But move over Daenerys, the dragons have a new mother; SJP. Unlike Daenerys, SJP does not look good. The outfit itself and whatever that is called, a headpiece…really; aged her about 10 years and hide that cute petite frame that she’s known for. Is she trying to look like a washed up star trying to get in the limelight? Next time SJP, please reconsider the first look given to you, you have been known for your fashionable taste. photo from


SECOND STAR: Strip Joint Disco Ball…oh wait No, its Dakota Johnson I know her major breakthrough in the movie industry was 50 shades, but that doesn’t mean that every aspect of her life should be 50 shades inspired! While everyone at the Met is all Asian inspired, Dakota here is all S & M inspired. First, it looks like she is wearing glass, hope it’s not cutting here and really really hope she’s not enjoying the cuts. 2nd, she even has a toy doll purse? Is she choking it?? Girl missed her calling and needs to get back to the strip joint F-A-ST!!! Her new routine is up next! photo from

THIRD STAR: Sir Wanna-be Royale Dwayne Wade Is Sir Wade wanting to cash in on the royal titles such as King James LeBron has? Basketball players do not = Royalty, but I am guessing they have missed that basic life knowledge. Do they have any brain cells left from their constant narcissism to know that they are not royal? Oh, look he even has Medals of Honor from whining and complaining about how hard his rich ass life is! Way to go, maybe try getting a few more fake medals! Try to go for one called being grounded…oh wait no….too hard! photo from




FOURTH STAR: Beiber-Chen I know that most people twitch at the sound of Justin Beiber’s name, but this suit jacket and even under shirt have put me into a full shock. The dragon looks very fake oriental and more like a snake with a bad hair day and his shirt looks like a chef’s jacket sewn wrong. Did he pick this up from the dollar store in China town? Cause he totally needs to return it and get his dollar back. photo from

FINAL DISASTER: Solange the Fish

At first I didn’t realize that this dress (?) had a person attached! I do have to add that it is a pretty cool graphic, but the silhouette of it, umm…no. I know big sister Beyoncé is stealing the spotlight with her naked butt dress thing she’s wearing, but do you really have to one up her in the craziest nut dress-thing at the Met? Solange, you look like a smashed fish, please try again. photo from


TF!? WTF!? WTF!? WTF!? WTF!? WTF!? WTF!? WTF!? WTF!? WTF!? WTF!? WTF!? WTF!? WTF!? WTF!? WTF!? WTF!?



With summer fast approaching, it’s time to say goodbye to layers and hello to less clothing options! YAY! Stow away that winter wear and sleep in five more minutes because you won’t have to bother piling anything on but sunscreen before leaving the house. While no day is wear your bikini to work day (unless you’re a pool attendant, then FUN), relish the warmer months when simply throwing on a thinkless dress is the only effort you need to make. I’m here to give you easy suggestions on taking the clothes you already own and rethinking them in new ways for summer as well as a few time saver tips on how to keep those items clean! Here are my recommended style hacks which can get you out the door faster and sooner to any patio for margarita time which for me is definitely any time after 10:30 am!

1. Tie Up Your T-shirts Give your T-shirts a new look by knotting them on the side, front, or back. So many options. So much 80s flair. I know I said, “give your T-shirts a new look,” but any look that isn’t the normal look is a new look, yes? Are you following me? Super. You can style this as a trendy crop top, OR my personal choice (in recognizing and accepting I have a bit of genetic tire ‘round my middle) would be to pair this hack with any high waisted bottom!

them in the wash, saturate the affected area in lemon juice and let one cycle in the machine work its magic.

3. Turn Your Jeans Into Cutoffs If you don’t know, now you know. Perhaps your jeans have seen their last day, or perhaps you’ve shed a bit of winter weight now that you can run and play and bike around this gorgeous city of ours, but if you are ready to part with a pair of jeans, think again. Jeans can easily be repurposed into jean shorts with a few scissor snips! I’ve lived in “jorts” for the better part of nine summers. Britney Spears circa 2000 wore jorts, so I wear jorts, you know? You can cut them a bit longer and roll them to just above the knee, or you can make a higher cut and let your pockets peek out just below your makeshift hem. As long as you’re feeling fly, you do you.

4. White Wine Removes Red Wine What sorcery is this? I won’t look into it , but I guess we can chalk this crazy hack up to science. Guys, SCIENCE WILL ALWAYS GET ME. If red sangria time gets a little messy, pour some white sangria on it (actually, I think it only works with straight wine...I just said sangria again for consistency), throw it in the wash, and voila...WINE MIXER!!!!! But also, spotless garments!

5. Roll your Jeans for an “on my way to the beach” effect Even if you’re not going to the beach, rolling your jeans into a cute cuff makes you instantly look wading water ready. Lest we forget, rolling up your pant legs is also bicycle safe. Not only is this look fashionable, but it also serves one in safety. No matter the style, bicycle helmets are never the most flattering (but necessary), so let your pants do the talking. That’s also what she said. HELLO.

2. Lemon Juice Removes Sweat Stains After many hot summer days workin’ on the farm, or just doing things any normal person does outside, sweat can wreak havoc on the underarms of your white Ts. Before throwing

6. Wear His Board Shorts (Or His Anything) This would be one of the only times you’re allowed to go through your man’s things. Well, I mean, it’s a free country, so do whatever you want, but I’m just saying it’s not nice to go through a person’s things without asking...unless THEY’RE


asking for it, and um like, then you gotta do what you gotta do to figure out why your boyfran isn’t coming home till 2:00 am every night. Moving on, men’s clothing is basic in a good way, and never ever will the oversized boyfriend look go out of style. Even if you don’t have a boyfriend (it’s always too hard out there for a pimp), go shopping in the men’s section! Some great summer steals would be high cut board shorts. They’ll fit a bit baggy, since you ladies probably aren’t rocking a bulge, but they’ll still show a lot of leg! Also, take advantage of wearing a men’s button down left open over a feminine camisole, or throw on one of my personal favorite men’s inspired item year round: THE WHITE T-SHIRT! Hanes, Fruit of the Loom, Jockey, what have you, rush to the large plastic bin (boys will be boys) your boyfriend keeps his clothes in or the nearest Target to grab yourself a pack of white Ts, and you’ll be carefree and looking chic all summer long. If you need an extra push to try this trend on for size, fashion icon Alexa Chung is a slave to this affordable look!

7. Rip and Shred Your Jeans To Perfection The resurgence of 90s fashion is still very much alive and well this summer. God bless, I love the 90s. I basically try to model my life after the movie “Empire Records,” and if I can accomplish that, all is right and good in the world. Simply grab a pair of jeans you are simply bored and then proceed to get down with the tear down of that denim. There really is no right way to distress your jeans. I like to use sandpaper to work the fabric down into something more thinner and malleable and then use a box cutter to make horizontal slices. This is wearable art, so get creative!

8. Use Your Deodorant More Places Than Your Underarms This hack will prove that there is absolutely no shame in my game. I share this bit of information with everyone I meet because newsflash: CHUB RUB HAPPENS. Don’t deny it. Don’t hide it. Embrace your beautiful body, but then also embrace the fact that the summer temperatures are hot and your body parts get shweaty. For the ninety eight percent of us who don’t have a thigh gap swipe a bit of powder deodorant on the insides of your thighs to decrease moisture. I liken putting deodorant between my legs to wearing an invisible pair of swish pants which ups my confidence, as I feel like


I’m living a double life as an “In Living Color” fly girl. Gentlemen, you may find similar confidence in comparing yourself to a pre bankrupt MC Hammer! You can also put deodorant any place that will rub against a textured garment. If you are sporting a pretty sleeveless lace top or a sequined tube top number (I won’t question your festival fashion), swipe a bit of deodorant to the under portion of your arms touching the garment to lessen friction.

9. Easiest Beach Waves Y’all, I’m not going to lie, my mom told me about this next hack on how to achieve the easiest beach waves EVER! She Pinterests a lot. Sometimes she pins pictures of puppies that make me smile, but sometimes she pins tutorials that have the ability to make me look really pretty. Like, you’re basically just wasting time on Pinterest if you’re not pinning things that will help you look beautiful on the outside. Who cares about motivational quotes? No one can SEE your inner beauty. Step 1- Put your hair into pigtail braids.
 Step 2- Flat iron braids until warm...let hair cool…
 Step 3- Shake it out and style!
 Next time, I am going to do these steps with my eyes closed...SO EASY.

10. Wear a T-shirt Under a Strapless Dress Wedding season is here. And sometimes weddings happen in a church. I don’t know about you, but sharing my cleavage with the Lord seems a little off to me. Repurpose a fun summer strapless number by adding a t-shirt (maybe one step up from a Hanes) underneath to A. give your dress a whole new look and B. cover up your tan goodies. There you have it! Ten style hacks to make your summer getting-ready routine a bit easier. Especially in Chicago, when the weather is on your side, it is imperative that you spend as much time outdoors as possible. Do not waste a minute of time stressing out about your appearance, and go get the vitamin D fix you’ve been waiting for all winter long


Written by: Thom Olson | Photography by: Laura Lopez Hair by: Nevena Rothe | Makeup by: Kim Schaffer Models: Ellie Flores, Natalia Kalat & Sargon Khoshaba


n incubator to many fashion start-ups, Chicago sits as a leaping off point for many small brands. Many times a brand may start here, but will eventually relocate to New York as they expand their vision and gain more market prominence. A renegade to this is Borris Powell. His collection is in its eighth year in Chicago. Typical of Borris, his unique vision inspires him to buck trends and remain in Chicago as his fashion business grows. His brand reflects much of his personality. It is multi-dimensional and as it grows, it takes on new facets and qualities. His pursuit of perfection has made him less of a mass-merchandiser and more like someone who goes beyond the trends of fast fashion. Borris is more about style for the long haul and less about following a fad that is fleeting. His creations stem more from of a one-on-one relationship with his clients. This immediate connection to his marketbase has moved his business to new directions and agendas — I’ll look at just a few of the new things popping up at the Borris Powell Studio.


Designs by: Borris Powell Creative Direction: Jennifer Lezan

Shot on location at: Lickity Split Frozen Custard & Sweets


or those unfamiliar with Borris Powell, one needs to understand that Borris straddles the line between high-end ready-to-wear and custom work. His boutique/studio operates both as a workroom and as a showroom. When a customer walks in, they are treated to something that is more intimate and thought provoking than what one would expect in a visit to a shopping mall. Borris offers two lines of clothing. One is more of a typical cash-and-carry while the other line is a custom label. The cash and carry line is still a cut above retail store in that the cash-and-carry line has items that can be altered to make them “uniquely yours” and fit to the individuals body. Hems can be taken up or down and waist bands can be adjusted to fit more comfortably. These items can usually be taken with or delivered after the adjustments. The second fashion

For others, this is a new conversation that they have never had. They are walking into virgin territory. line at Borris Powell is more bespoke or uniquely crafted. Sometimes a client will walk in and fall in love with a particular fabric seen in the ready-to-wear line and want something made exclusively for them. Other times, a client falls in love with the silhouette lines of a particular garment but wants the fashion fabric swapped out for something more…“bigger, brighter, glitzy, slinky. It can be anything. They want the unique.”

THE CLIFF OF CREATIVITY The ready-to-wear rack of garments often times becomes fodder for creativity to percolate. It provides a launching point. One won’t find a full line of small, medium to large sizes, but a variety of pieces in the most popular sizes with extremes being made to fit. The turn around time is generally pretty quick. There are usually two fittings. This is where the conversation begins. Most customers prefer to put some of their




own personal touches into their wardrobe in addition to getting a good fit. Individuals might want to change a lapel on a collar to go from a fishmouth to a peaked notch. Perhaps they might want a shirt’s cuffs to be French as opposed to traditional buttons. These tweaks are what make a Borris Powell garment more personal and also become a go-to item in a closet. The wearer gets personally involved into what they are wearing. It is less about following a trend and more about creating a personal garment that reflects one’s individual style. That is what Borris Powell is all about. His vision is more about facilitating and honing in on personal style and helping the wearer find garments that enhance them as a person and reflect who they are. The fashion conversation takes on a more nuanced if not deeper/richer tone. This conversation is easy for some. They are very aware of the subtleties of wearing a particular article of clothing and how it looks on them. In short, they know what looks good on them and what diminishes figure flaws. For others, this is a new conversation that they have never had. They are walking into virgin territory. These individuals get more of

Men like good quality fibers... They like the feel of luxury on their skin. a fashion education and a new perspective on how to look at their own bodies with respect to clothes. The finished garments can be conservative and durable for everyday wear or more over-the-top event-types of garments that perhaps will be worn only a few times — think red carpet or black tie affair. For Borris, this means there is a mixture of lines and details that make the garment feel closely akin to Burberry or Versace-like. The overall look/feel with a mixture of materials like cashmere and leather creates a luxe product. This is particularly true of the newer area of the Borris Powell business — menswear.


A NEW GROUP OF FOLLOWERS “Many men have been wanting a Borris Powell design. Now I can give it to them.” Menswear is a logical extension to Borris Powell. While he is known mainly for red-carpet dresses and doing upscale formal wear, menswear and men’s formal wear grew out of men looking at what their date was wearing. “My customers want to be bold. They want to stand out. They are confident men who look at their clothing as an extension of themselves. They don’t want to be just the arm charm in a tux. They see what I do and how I dress. They wanted that Borris Powell look. It is a look they can’t get anywhere else.” The same mixture of fibers, cut and styling that go into his womenswear appear to go into his menswear lines. There is a mixing of cashmere and leather. Fine quality silks and woolens populate both lines. There is a crossover at times in color palettes. Some menswear woolens have crossed over into his womenswear AND some womenswear fabrics have crossed over into mens. Beauty is beauty. This new push into menswear caused Borris to partner up with some serious master craftsmen. “I wanted to offer a level of quality that was better than what one typically finds off the rack. I wanted to present something that is really more luxurious and very bespoke. Men like good quality fibers. They can feel the difference when they compare. They like the feel of luxury on their skin. These are men who take great pride in how they look. And contrary to popular belief, these men are not gay. “My most fashion forward men are strongly and deeply heterosexual without a doubt. They have a confidence and personal style that allows them to think clearly out of the box. They want to look good and they don’t want their clothing to constrain or define them.” These guys are trailblazers and can’t find what they want off the rack. They have found their way to Borris Powell’s studio and in a very short time. This burgeoning new client base




is eclipsing Borris’s womenswear. In two years, it has quickly moved to make up almost 50% of his business. It has also pushed Borris down another road: nano-technology, surface science and micro-fabrication.

THE SCIENCE OF FASHION It started during a conversation with a client. A typical “what do you do for a living” kind of lead in went onto something more deeper quite quickly with a discussion about stain resistance and water absorption. The question evolved into how does one make textiles more resistant to stains that ruin a garment’s longevity? As it so happened, this client was a nano-technologist who was formulating just that — a new strain and water repelling surface fabrication. The scientist was looking for someone to partner up with to put to test a new process for liquid/stain resistance and test market it. Nanotechnology applications are not the same as scotch-guarding a garment. With most stain repellant applications, the surface treatment wears off quickly with laundering and dry cleaning. They become less effective or require repeated application over the life of the garment. Some moisture repelling applications seam to deflect water, but actually attract dirt and other materials with an oil base… think gravy or French fry grease. Other water repellents may cause the water to bead up and fall off, but at the same


time cause the fibers to loose their wicking properties. These wicking properties are what cause moisture and sweat to evaporate and leave the skin feeling dry and comfortable. On the nano-tech side of things, the natural properties of a fiber (like cotton, wool or silk) are modified on an atomic or molecular level. The addition of a molecule helps to contribute to the surface science of a particular fiber. Consider a white wool cape that you may love. It keeps you warm and dry but now it also now repels red wine when an accident in a restaurant occurs. This new treatment does not wash off like other surface applied materials. It is sprayed on, but is then heat activated. The heating element bonds the molecules together. The result of the additional heat step is that when heat is applied again (like in the case of a tumble dryer or ironing), the repellent actually becomes reactivated instead of dispersing. “This has been amazing. Cleaning, ironing and putting the clothes in a dryer actually help make the garment more stain resistant. I am very happy to be able to offer this to my customers. My future goal is to be able to apply this to all my garments in the near future. Currently, I offer it and it is done at the customer’s discretion. When I show them the results, most think it is amazing. It really extends the life of a garment. This new technology has my brain whizzing and churning out new ideas and concepts. It has completely energized me.” The treatment works well on almost all fibers with the exception of spandex or spandex blends.

THE NEXT SEASON So what is new for Spring next year? As we go to press, the fashion season is debuting throughout Europe and eventually New York. Yes — we are already starting to think about next Spring in the middle of July. Summer is just a blip on the screen and will soon become winter again. That winter will thaw out revealing a new host of hot fashion. Spring collections are now being spun out and


time really of the essence. What will next year be like? “It will be a continuation of my Lone Rider Winter Collection but made more playful. I really think we as a society are ready to have some fun. We have been very serious for a while with the economy and such. I think it is ready to cut loose. Something playful is needed. I had some ideas that came to be while I was sleeping. I see myself gravitating around the colors of jade, teal greens and yellow like one would see at a resort or on vacation. I want happy colors and want to surround my clients with happy. Lot’s of happiness!”



Food & Dining

Michelin recommends a restaurant in Edgewater

Written by Thom Olson



hursday night came along. I really didn’t’ want to cook. A long day of work

and the additional task of making dinner was not something I looked forward

to. Time to go for dinner, but the question is where? Time to try the new place

that opened up in the old spot that was previously Cote du Rhone in Edgewater. It was close by and within walking distance. It looks nice. Damn – it’s BYOB. I am

not a fan as I like a full bar. I like wine to accompany food as I think it propels the

meal to a more interesting level. It cleanses the palate between bites and courses. Do I really want to schlep to a liquor store? I can live without and go in. This new restaurant is Herb.

It’s pretty with a modern interior. The space is well designed and thoughtfully conceived. It is divided into two rooms and each are intimate and cozy. I thought to myself the designer made some excellent design choices on the interior. Natural varnished bead board gives a rustic but natural touch that balances a wall of smoked mirror that makes a small place seem expansive. The seating is comfortable and it is easy to have a conversation. The colors are warm with neutral olive greens, tans and yellow. The place feels very zen and tranquil — almost spa like. It puts one at ease very quickly. It is very easy to relax to enjoy the meal. It does not feel stuffy nor does it feel like I have to get overly dressed up but it is casually elegant. There is a mix of wood finishes and tones so it doesn’t feel match/matchy. The designer in me can see this place was exceedingly well thought out and so many things caught my eye but didn’t distract. I would almost call the restaurant glitzy because there is such attention to design. I say these feeling as I remember an important thing to note…THIS is Edgewater.

SNOB! No, I am not a snob. Hello! I live in this neighborhood so how can I be a snob? I have lived in this neighborhood for on/off 30 years. I remember when its most noticeable landmark destination status was the Kenmore/Winthrop drug corridor. That destination is pretty much gone and has been replaced with nice establishments that are

Attention to detail sets HERB a part from many restaurants in Chicago. It is beautifully conceived and the food is exquissite.. in taste and presentation.


Food & Dining

more family friendly. The neighborhood is a multicultural mix. It is not uncommon to hear five or six languages of people as one walks around the block. The 7-Eleven sells shisha and hookahs as well as lotto tickets. within a two block area of Bryn Mawr, one can find an Italian, Mexican, Indian, Japanese,Thai, Vietnamese French, Chinese,Brazilian or American restaurant. Plus, there are more than a few coffee shops and of course a Dunkin Donuts. The neighborhood has taken many years to transform and is very much still evolving. Let’s be clear. It is not Lincoln Park. It is not Andersonville. It is not the Gold Coast. So, how did this lovely new restaurant end up here? Located at the South end of Edgewater and bordering in Uptown, Herb sits comfortably at the North end of a huge Asian community. Other establishments in the neighborhood are a bit dumpy or disheveled. They lack the clean modern environments/atmosphere/touches that most think of as synonymous with modern Asian design. Other restaurants are part of a chain with the interior reflecting a sense of corporate design thought and don’t reflect a lot of individuality. Herb has design and individuality in spades. It is feels slightly lux, yet mildly industrial. It is economy of space with an eye towards elegance but done on a budget. This is a little uncommon to see in this neck of the woods. So, will I get

blown away with the prices? Again, this is Edgewater. Thankfully no. This, as it turns out, is a Prix Fixe.

however was what arrived on my plate. The presentations on the plate are so beautiful that they feel more in line with what one would get in the Gold Coast of Chicago. They look more like five star presentations than food slapped on a There are three pricing options at Herb. plate with a sprig of parsley or lettuce One can do á la cart or select the three leaf. Patty says “ “I like to give my cuscourse option or a five course options. tomers food that is memorable. I want They are reasonably priced for individu- them to feel like they are receiving a gift al entrees, but the 3 course and 5 course when their meal arrives.” This is a very options are effectively priced at $35 nice sentiment, but one that she takes and $55. The menu is slightly limited, quite seriously. Each plate feels very however, there is something vegetarian much like a present. She also starts the in every category. The food is very, very meal with an amuse-bouche. For those clean. By that I mean there is no strange not accustomed to this, it is an introducchemicals, corn syrups, fillers or strange tion from the chef (a small mouthful of flavor enhancers. Is it organic? I would something special from the kitchen) that tend to take it a step further by saying cleanses the pallet and sets the tone for it strives to be nutritious, balanced and the meal. I expect it when I have meals extremely healthy. It is food that would that cost three or four times as much as probably take the body to a new level what this will cost — thus it was a shockof healthy if eaten on a regular basis be- er. It is these unexpected small symbolic cause it is so fresh. But let me be clear, it gestures that are the kind of thing one is not just salads and bean sprouts. One expects from haute cuisine and we are can not live on rabbit food alone without after all, in Edgewater. Chef Patty knows going stir crazy. Flavor has to be present how to get one’s attention. and healthy does not always go hand in hand with flavor.

Is it pricey?

Chef Patty Neumson understands flavors and how the quality of food affect flavors. Many of the recipes on the menu are inspired by foods that her mother and grandmother made for her in Southern Thailand. The foods are lush with flavor yet very delicate in how they are presented. This next shocker

Taste buds are primed.

The food is flavorful. The menus change seasonally. The foods I sampled from the menu were very stunning. The lemongrass chicken comes with a cucumber relish and a peanut sauce. It is not the typical peanut sauce I have had at other Thai restaurants. This is homemade, chunky and has texture. It was so flavorful and unusual I had to ask what it was. It was not like the beige gravy that some places serve. It was dark and deeply rich. I wanted an entrée of it. It balanced the cucumber relish very well. All things combined, the chicken was a party in my mouth. The Green Papaya Salad took my mouth in a new direction. It was cool and crisp yet hot and a bit spicy. I didn’t expect that much heat to radiate from a salad. It was a wow experience. Soup is something that most will over look on a menu or get instead of a salad when they hate the iceberg that is coming their way. I am like that too. The


I like to give my customers food something that is memorable... like they are receiving a gift when the food comes to them.�


Food & Dining soups on the menu for spring include a Beef & Tamarind or a Vegetable & Coconut. The Beef with the Tamarind has shallots and mushrooms. It is a hot and sour soup. It packs some heat and it delights. It is has a light beef stock that gives body without weighing down the ingredients. The beef chunks are very moist and tender. The Vegetable and Coconut tasted a bit like corn chowder and has lots of variety in the bowl. It is visually really interesting and the taste on the tongue is light in texture, but full of heartiness. It hits the palate on many levels as one feels satisfied without getting stuffed. It has a slight sweetness

and is very nice. The portions are perfect as they set up the entrée perfectly with anticipation. This is where Chef Patty really cuts loose and goes all out to impress. The Chicken comes wrapped in a edible bowl. It is visually stunning and lovely to look at. Yes, it feels very much like a gift lovingly wrapped from the kitchen. There is some turmeric curry paste in the mix and you can savor the flavors of Thailand. The Beef entrée comes with sweet potato, purple yams, onions and has turmeric. It has a hearty feel to it. Both are packed with flavor that comes

The amuse-bouche is a small mouthful of something nice from the kitchen that helps set the tone for the meal... kinda similar to a breath mint after a meal when a place delivers the check.


from the natural ingredients. There are other things on the menu that will get one to stand up and take notice. There is pork, crab, red snapper and also bean curd with eggplant that will pull at your taste buds. All entrees come with an amazing presentations and flavors that will set your mouth on edge wanting to try more. At this point, one is really quite full. As I mentioned, portions are ample. One will not start or be running to a burger joint after experiencing this haute cuisine. The desserts are a surprise. They are left to the chef and labeled Chef’Whim. They are mouthfuls of sweetness — similar to the amusebouche. Tonight they are serving a pineapple/coconut pastry confection that is chilled icy cold but is very cake-like in texture.

The Outcome? I was really impressed with Herb on many levels. It was hitting on all cylinders for me. It was relaxing and extravagant without an extravagant price. There was so much incredible thought behind the restaurant. I had to investigate some

things and make mention of them. As it turns out the interior was done by interior designer Siri Jenthanomma. Her work at the restaurant is incredibly thoughtful and lovely. The graphics, identity and signage are by the design group of KeyConcept Design. They nailed the look and feel of the place with perfection. The final shocker of the evening: Michelin, the bastion of good taste, reviewed Herb after five months. YES! Herb put Edgewater on the map of good eating. One does not need to spend a fortune to get Michelin recommended food nor do I need to spend $20 on a cab to get there. It is in my very own neighborhood. Michelin put Herb on the 2015 list of Bib Gourmands list of good eats in Chicago. Bib Gourmands designates very good restaurants that offer good value with great food. They recommend food that includes two courses and a glass of wine for $40 or less. When one thinks of all the food establishments in Chicago, there are less than 60 that make the Bib Gourmand list, getting this distinction is really quite impressive for a restaurant with a track record of less than a year AND… a restaurant in Edgewater. Yes, now you can call me a Snob.

Final note: for the boozer in you. A glass of wine would have really touched this off nicely — so keep that in mind when you come here. It is BYOB and you will want to pack a wine that stands up to flavors and perhaps some heat. This Thai can get a bit spicy as it is authentically exquisite cuisine. Those that love flavorful experiences will want to pack liquors that will bring out the food flavors. Select a Vouvray/Viognier (white) or a Barbera or Beaujolais (red) if you want a wine. Avoid anything oaky but go for more fruit and less tannins. Some folks will like a Reisling or Gewurztraminer as a touch of sweetness can offset the heat. Relax and enjoy.

Many of the recipes are inspired by foods that Chef Patty Neumson’s grandmother made for her in Southern Thailand. They are bold in flavor, richly delicate and fabulously fresh.


Hometown Heroes, misfits and eccentrics An interview with the guys behind

Hometown Hero Production Company Written by: Jen Lezan

How many of us can say we’ve actually accomplished something beyond our wildest dreams? A creative idea can fall flat before ever gaining the traction that is needed to bring it to fruition. Then, there are those of us with enough moxie to actually make shit happen. The idea of making a movie was but an abstract thought, for the team behind Hometown Hero Productions. Then, one day, the team just went for it, put together a kickstarter campaign and turned that dream into a reality. Tyler Amm’s first feature film: River City Panic was released last fall and was well received by the creative community and his hometown, Ottawa IL. Ottawa served as the backdrop for River City Panic. The film is about six underachieving friends stuck in the monotony of small town life and follows them on the adventures of one particular


night. A night that goes from mundane to mad in a matter of hours. Rumors begin circulating surrounding a recent missing persons case and panic sweeps over the townsfolk. What was just a quiet, peaceful town suddenly transforms overnight into an epidemic of all-out hysteria and chaos, leaving the group wishing they had never left the basement! River City Panic, falls easily in line with the aesthetic of 80s cult classic films. The dark humor, lens usage and lighting give the cinematic feel of films that are a mixture of The Goonies meets the brat pack vibe of John Hughes films. Getting the movie made was a labor of love that required over 300 people, but ultimately it set the tone and direction of Tyler and Marc’s future. These two young men banded together a wacky group of amazing friends and are

making sure film buffs bare witness to the creativity that can found in Ottawa. Halfstack recently had the opportunity to speak with Tyler Amm and Marc Wilkinson, the writers, directors and cinematographers behind Hometown Hero Productions. We talked about their journey into making movies and what’s coming up next for them. At the release of this issue, Tyler and Marc will be knee deep in gore, prepping their next movie, a horror film that was fully funded through Kickstarter: Grace’s Room. Keep reading for the full interview. Can you guys share a little bit about you career journey? TYLER: I don’t have a career. Question one is done! Haha. I went to school for sociology, got out, got a real world job - not on the TV show

Whatever you want to do, just do it - don’t ask why, when, how. Figure out how to make the thing you want to make and do it.



“The Real World”, just a job in the real world – Then realized it was boring. So, I saved money and made a movie. Now I’m doing it again! MARC: I went to school for Film & Video and immediately moved to Los Angeles. I lived and worked in the film industry in LA for three years. I worked as a producers assistant, an editor for a casting company, and as a set PA & “background actor” (extra). Similar to Tyler, I realized that I wasn’t doing what I wanted to be doing. So, I made a movie with my own time and money. Then I came back so we could combine our efforts and do it more. Tell me more about your business and why you went the entrepreneur route? TYLER: Oh, we’re entrepreneurs?! Oh shit! Well, we’re movie boys. We’re in the business of making feature films for and by ourselves. We’re just a group of friends trying to do our own thing, support each other creatively, and make stuff. It’s called Hometown Hero Productions. MARC: We chose the path of entrepreneurship because that was pretty much our only choice. No one gives you the keys to Universal and says “you’re a director now, go make your movie.” No one was coming to us

with industrial size buckets of cash. And we didn’t want to get stuck making commercials, or trying to write films that we could “market” or sell. We knew the only way do the kind of work we wanted to do was to be our own bosses. So that’s how we’re approaching it.

ents, and ex girlfriends mostly. Joe Swanberg, who is another Chicago indie filmmaker who I’m essentially trying to emulate in everything I do. The Duplass Brothers. Rian Johnson, Christopher Nolan, John Hughes. Shane Carruth. And Ke$ha. Mostly Ke$ha.

What have been some of your most profound moments, projects you are most proud of as filmmakers?

What do you consider innovation in your field, how do you plan to continue to push the boundaries?

TYLER: Completing my first feature film - River City Panic. Getting my own office. Getting my own candy bowl. Getting to see people’s reactions to the films the first time we screened it publicly.

TYLER: With digital media, anyone can make a movie now. The technology is accessible. So, we’re using that to the best of our ability by harnessing that and bringing our ideas to life immediately. There’s no excuse to wait, so we’re not. We’re constantly creating and putting our creations out into the world immediately.

MARC: Same. My movie hasn’t premiered yet, but just the joy on the last day of shooting my first feature film was huge. And seeing the trailer play in a theater, before River City Panic was pretty great. Have there been any key people that have influenced your current career and your life? TYLER: Lloyd Kaufman, who created Troma Entertainment. My friends, my parents, all of my ex girlfriends; can I list them all? Also, Tim & Eric, Monty Python, Mighty Boosh, Trey Park and Matt Stone have influenced me. Shit like that. MARC: Yeah, friends, par-

MARC: The innovation that’s happening right now has a lot to do with both shooting formats and distribution. On my feature, Sunset Rock, innovation meant shooting with compact DSLR cameras with a minimal crew. We were able to shoot in live locations, almost documentary style. Distribution wise, Tyler was able to release his movie digitally as soon as it was done on Vimeo for people to rent or buy. We’re able to handle the entire creation process ourselves without waiting for anyone and we’re able to market it


directly. TYLER: I don’t think there’s anyone else that’s going to keep making movies of this caliber regardless of what’s been given to them. What makes us different is that we’re tenacious. We don’t stop. So, hopefully people are going to take notice of that. Have you faced any struggles or obstacles as business owner or even just in life that has affected your journey? If so, how did you manage to overcome? TYLER: Oh, constantly. Getting people to believe that we are a legitimate enterprise, getting funding to make our films, getting people to show up to be in the thing, and then even getting those people to watch it. It essentially comes down to creating awareness. The interest is there; once people figure out we’re serious and capable. MARC: I’ve had to deal with cast and crew flaking out at the last minute - which I suppose is common when you’re not paying people much if anything. Locations backing out at the last minute and finding new places to film, which sometimes means rewriting. Every part of the filmmaking process is an obstacle. Being able to push through and keep going is the only thing that differentiates us from every other aspiring filmmaker that gave up when it got too hard.


TYLER: It’s constantly hard. If you could go back and tell your 18-year-old self one thing, or give yourself one bit of advice, what would it be? TYLER: Save all your money, because you’re going to want to do bigger things than eat Fourth Meal at Taco Bell and buy stuff for your girlfriends. MARC: Don’t go to film school. Seriously. Study something that you care about, that can maybe inform your storytelling or your creativity, but that will pay for you to live while you make your art. TYLER: Or don’t go to college at all. MARC: Or that. But, know that film school isn’t going to help you make movies, except for connecting you to other filmmakers and their gear. Most of the technology I learned in college was outdated by graduation. Don’t make my mistake. It’s very expensive. TYLER: Start working out earlier. And take more naps. What kind of advice would you give people trying to turn their passion into a career that has meaning? TYLER: Just do it. Can you add a Nike swoosh here? Whatever you want to do, just do it - don’t ask why, when,

how. Figure out how to make the thing you want to make and do it. MARC: That’s the best way to learn. Be hands on, create constantly, get feedback, learn from it, and go. And when you’re not making your thing, you should be reading and writing constantly. TYLER: It you keep doing it, you’re going to get good at it — creating your art IS your practice, and at the same time you’re cultivating a base. People will notice your passion, and hopefully that can evolve into a career. MARC: Hopefully. We’re still working on it, too. But it seems to be working. Where can we learn more about you and your business? Facebook, mostly. Our production company is at https:// HometownHeroFilm. Tyler’s feature River City Panic is at rivercitypanic and you can watch it at ondemand/rivercitypanic/ 123443075. Marc’s film Sunset Rock is at https://www.







The challenges that creative individuals face are quite real. Artistic gifts and creative abilities can, at times, come at a cost. Yet, quite often it is the creative who can overcome their struggles through the pursuit of their art and find peace. Gifted and creative individuals often go unrecognized because of the close associations they have with introversion. Introverts often are not very good at getting themselves out there in order to be discovered or to profit from their own talent. Creatives can face challenges from the outside, but more commonly they face inner challenges. Many creatives can be their own worst critics. Striving for perfection is appropriate for gifted people. At each stage of their development they will strive to grow, to develop, to do better. Their goal always shifting as their own achievements redefine the perfection they are establishing for themselves. Yet, a drawback is that their drive for self-perfection can manifest itself as self-condemnation. This can pose a problem if a creative allows this mindset to immobilize them in moving forward with their abilities. Gifted people are often indestructibly creative, but their creativity can go unrecognized because it’s so often seen as outside the box or drastically different. Many creatives struggle. It is said, Van Gogh only sold painting in his life. Creative people are inherently shy. Like Vincent Van Gogh, artists are often highly sensitive people. They can find more comfort in being alone, rather than sharing their talent. Those strongest, often have


to bravely overcome adversity. Whether the hardships are from the outside world or a part of their internal struggle, the creative often turns to their art to find solace. The most talented of the creatives reclaim their struggle and allow it to evolve into its highest capacity as beautiful work. Eli Borrowman is one of those creatives. She’s a beautiful, ornate and at times misunderstood soul. She has faced ups and downs. She has seen her share of tragedy and adversity. Despite her past, she continues to forge on and continue to grow, evolve and create. She is a Chicago based artist and the designer behind Fermented Fruit Clothing. She has taken the darkness from her past and created light with it in her unique work and clothing line. Eli, like many creatives, has struggled with anxiety and depression. Yet, her vitality for life and her ability to change negative experiences into positive outcomes is what has allowed her to continue moving forward. Her spirit is genuine and that is what draws people to her. Halfstack had the opportunity to work with Eli on the Summer 2015 issue to showcase her current collection. The storyline behind this editorial was empowerment and rising from the ashes like a phoenix. These ideas resonated so well with Eli’s work and career. During our time with her, we had the opportunity to interview her about her journey, career and experiences. Continue reading on for the interview.

Can you tell us more about yourself, your background how you got your start in your career? Actually, I don’t have a traditional fashion background. In fact, I went to fine art school. I used to spend 8 hours a day painting and drawing! I have a bachelors and masters in fine art. Sewing skills run in my family. So, I have always been surrounded by craftiness growing up. As I got older, I was always sewing or altering clothing. Even while working on my more sculptural artwork. In the past, I have worked as a seamstress at costume shops and small sewing businesses. It was during those experiences that I learned a lot and developed my craft. Those opportunities heavily influenced my love for sewing. Working at a sewing job 40 hours a week and sewing with different types of materials for a few years really improves your technique! Over time, my degrees have allowed me the opportunity to teach part time as an adjunct at local art schools while I work on my own stuff. Can you share more about your business and why you have chosen the path of an entrepreneur? It has and always will be important to me to work on projects that I care about and to have hobbies or things to work on outside of my day job. I am a maker at heart and I always need to keep myself busy. I also have a lot of ideas that I need to get out. I create and design items that I see a need for. I love the idea of combining function and design together.

What have been some of your most profound moments, projects you are most proud of as business owners? I feel so fulfilled when people save up to buy a vest from me and are excited to get it!! I love getting reviews from happy customers as well. They make my day!! I also do custom sewing work! When wedding dresses fit perfectly on my clients and they feel amazing in it, seeing that couldn’t make me happier. Another great moment for me was my sister glowing gorgeously in her custom wedding dress that I made. I also make, on occasion, custom gifts for people and when I see them appreciate the gift, it makes what I do worthwhile. Last, but not least, teaching students and seeing them excel in their journey is a very rewarding job that has completely enriched my life. Have there been any key people that have influenced your current career and your life? Not specifically, but I am lucky to be surrounded by awesome supportive friends and family that accept me for who I am and are there for me when I need them. That is huge for my life and career. My students challenge me to think, plan, and get organized. So, teaching has been a fantastic influence. Also watching good friends who are pursuing their own business and who are strong motivators helps every day!! What do you consider innovation in your field, how do you plan to continue to push the boundaries?

Functional design for sure! For examples, creations such as my cyclist wear that is safe, but edgy looking and well made! Have you faced any struggles or obstacles as business owner or even just in life that has affected your journey? If so, how did you manage to overcome? Yeah, who doesn’t struggle with a business when it is small and you only have spare side money to work with?! That is a fact of life that you face being a creative trying to make a living from what you love. I also struggle with depression and anxiety everyday. So, putting myself out there is hard for me. I struggle with that constantly. I am a very small business and I am working on getting myself out there more. Growing up I didn’t have a ton of confidence. A creative mother raised me; she struggled with anxiety, depression and alcoholism. Those problems run deep on both sides of my family. I love my mother, but growing up dealing with my mother’s problems (at a very young age) and everyone knowing about it at school affected my confidence and personality. My brothers and I had to be responsible for a lot on our own. On top of dealing with her issues and her moods, we also didn’t know how to handle our confusing emotions about her that we didn’t understand at the time. My mother was also very critical of herself and us. So, now I am very critical of myself. Yet, this actually has helped

my craft because I expect better of myself always. Yet, it has affected my confidence and at times makes me very introverted and self-conscious. I now notice that I have a lot of her traits that I have to constantly manage. Alcoholism tragically killed my mom in 2008, one week before I was to move to Chicago for grad school. This was a heavy burden that my family and I had to carry. It took me a handful of years to recover from this experience emotionally. I actually named my brand Fermented Fruit because of a wooden dress project I created that was inspired my mother during my time in grad school. This project utilized the old jars of canned fruit she made and saved from the early 80’s. She saved these from the time that she was mothering us as babies. My family and I found them when cleaning her house out. I found that to be so profound because I believe that is when she was happiest in life. I like the idea of fruit fermenting over time, aging. I feel like I am one of her fermented fruits. I am what became from her, possibly something positive from something tragic, but beautiful. I believe in creating positive experiences from negative ones. If you could go back and tell your 18-year-old self one thing, or give yourself one bit of advice, what would it be? Take on more internship opportunities!! Stop being so hard on yourself! Start a small business now! Be



braver because life is short. Sleep more because it makes you more mentally healthy. How has staying in Chicago affected your career, what made you decide to build your business here? My experiences in Chicago motivated me and it is the city that sparked my interest in bike riding, which is a big part of my life now. It affects what you pick out to wear on a daily basis. This aspect alone has deeply influenced my design aesthetic and focus. I want to create functional clothing, but for people who don’t want to look like they are going to the gym. I also want to create clothing for an alternative person that also serves a functional purpose. Due to these experiences and goals, I now incorporate reflective material, extra pockets on many of my designs. I want clothing that I feel great, strong and sexy in, but that also has a function and a purpose. What kind of advice would you give young people looking to turn their passion into a career that has meaning? Follow your dream because that is where the passion is. Try everything at least once and be open-minded! Surround yourself with positive people that support you. The best experience is hands on! Where can we learn more about you and your business?


Creative Entrepreneurs & the Creative Hustle Featuring Cam By Cam & True Partners in Craft Interview by: Jennifer M. Lezan

Launching a business is not for the faint of heart. It takes guts, it’s gumption and it puts a lot at stake. Some would also say you’d have to be a little crazy to launch a business, especially in the creative world where things can be so subjective. Making money from your craft can be difficult. Getting people to notice your work can be even harder. It’s no surprise that people give up the ideas to launch a creative business so quickly. We’ve all heard the stats that 80 percent of new businesses failed. It’s a scary stat and one that is likely to deter people from even thinking about, let alone pursuing launching a business. Yet, there are people out there who still go for it anyway. Millennials are more likely to start a business today, then their parents were during the peak of their career lifetime. Many of those aged 18-34 years old are eager to take the leap to launching a business. Polls show one in five of millennials plan to quit their day job to start their own business. Cam Hong and Alexis Ellers are two women who fall within the ideal of the creative entrepreneur. They are women on a mission to create something meaningful for them-


selves. Alexis is the mastermind behind True Partners in Craft and Cam is the leather expert behind CambyCam. Each of these women exudes sincerity in their passion for their craft. They each have created something out of nothing, learned and grew with their craft and have cultivated their skills. Their dedication over the years has paid off. Each of these women creates handmade products that are immaculate when it comes to quality, design and aesthetic. Halfstack worked with them in our Summer fashion editorial to showcase their latest collections. We also had the opportunity to talk with them about their journeys and goals for the future. Read on for the interviews.

Meet CamByCam Cam, can you tell the readers of Halfstack a little bit about yourself and your career and what led you to designing leather goods? By trade, I am a license cosmetologist. I have been doing this for 11 years and counting. I like what I do, but when the day is over I want to do something different than just hair. With zero knowledge I taught

myself how to make jewelry, but it wasn’t challenging enough. So, I quickly got tired of it. One summer I helped my friend Eli Borrowman with her collection in the West 18th Street Fashion Show in Kansas City. One of her pieces had warrior leather shin guards with it. I asked her where she got her leather from and from there I started making bracelets, belts, wallets, book covers and bags. Can you share a bit about your process and inspiration? I was curious about making a purse initially, just for myself. This stemmed from a picture of a bag I wanted but couldn’t buy. So, I decided to attempt to make it with tools and things from around my house. After I completed that first bag I was so proud and just felt like “WOW, I can do this!!”. I really enjoyed making it so much that I began to get more serious about it. The Internet is a vast source of knowledge and has helped me many times when I got stuck about a particular process. Because I’m working with remnants of leather; I let the pieces inspire me when it comes to the shapes I design. I think it’s unique that the raw edges, scratch marks, holes, and brands that were on the leather originally,





seem purposeful. I like to think of them as paintings or an abstract piece of art or as if I am putting a puzzle together and every design I made is improved and perfected. What has been your most profound moment as a designer? My most profound moment was when I was accepted in the Kansas City West 18th Street Fashion Show as an accessories designer in 2013. Then, more recently as a guest lecturer at The Illinois Institute of Art for leather workshop, and also being part of the shoot for Halfstack magazine this summer helped to solidify my skills and product line. Who would you consider great influences in your life? My family, my boyfriend, close friends, and co-workers, who all support my endeavors. I am surrounded by all of these amazing artistic people who influence my life and they teach me so much. What have been some obstacles you have faced as a creative entrepreneur? How have you overcome them? My only obstacle is money. After paying the bills with the money I make from my day job, I barely have any money left to get supplies. I bitched and moaned to whoever is willing to listen until I get sick of hearing myself. So, I finally made a budget to buy a couple things at a time and prioritize it based on how badly I may need it. I just keep working hard and pushing myself. I am my hardest critic. What would you tell your 18-yearold self? If I could go back and tell my 18 year

old self one thing, or give myself one bit of advice, I would say to try harder. What kind of advice would you give young artists/designers looking to turn their passion into a career that has meaning? Don’t doubt yourself and be persistent. Where can readers learn more about you or buy your bags?

Meet True Partners in Craft Can you tell us more about yourself, your background and how you have established yourself as an accessories designer? I’ve always made things since I was a little kid. At around 8, I was given a polaroid camera and began to take photographs of everything. 10 years later I went to Columbia College Chicago for photography. I truly love digital photography but it lacks the tactile feeling of using your hands to make something. I had my Etsy shop for a while listing whatever random things I was making to fulfill my desire to make something with my hands. I made a few pairs of fringe earrings one night using a bike tube, pieces of old earrings and jump rings from a failed chainmail project. I mailed one pair to my best friend, made a pair for myself and a pair for Etsy. After posting about them of facebook they were immediately bought by an acquaintance. Then,

the organizer of the Bike Winter Art Show invited me to sell there, which I already had photographs in, the very next weekend. I started to sell in stores very soon after. I now have my accessories in 20 stores across the USA. Can you explain what your creative process is like when it comes to your work? What kind of research goes into it, where do you find your inspiration? I look at a lot of leather designs for inspiration. I love the idea of making pieces that are traditionally leather out of a recycled and vegan material. I get a lot of inspiration from the inner tubes themselves, as they are really diverse. They are different thicknesses and have curves. What have been some of your most profound moments, projects you are most proud of as a designer? My favorite thing about designing the jewelry that I do is that it’s really accessible to people. Since the materials I use are mostly recycled, I am able to keep the price low. I’m selling a lot of pieces all over instead of a few here and there. One really exciting and unexpected outcome of that is that I see people wearing my jewelry out in the world. I’m always proud to make pieces that someone like myself would be able to buy and wear all the time. Have there been any key people that have influenced your career, your art, your life? My biggest influence are all the other people who are out there making whatever they are making and figuring out a way to sell it while keeping true to themselves and what they make.




Have you faced any struggles or obstacles as an artist throughout your career? If so, how have you overcome? Tabling. I find selling my work directly very difficult. I’m hoping to get out there and do more craft fairs. I’m trying to find shows that are a good fit for my aesthetic. Sadly, there isn’t actually a partner in True Partners in Craft, but sometimes I can convince a friend to come with and do most of the sales pitches. If you could go back and tell your 18 year old self one thing, or give yourself one bit of advice, what would it be? Well, 18 year old me didn’t listen to anyone and I’m not sure I would want to give myself any advice anyways. Sure, I’d like to spare myself some of the hard times, but you can’t have light without dark. What kind of advice would you give young artists/designers looking to turn their passion into a career that has meaning? Keep track of everything, all the money you spend all the time you put into it. Not just from a business standpoint, but also to help you recognize that you are doing something real. Just because you’re not going to a “job” and you enjoy what you’re doing doesn’t make it any less of a career. No one else is go-


ing to validate you. You’re going to have to do that for yourself, that and pretty much everything else so keep track and stay organized. Any upcoming shows, gallery showings, etc that you would like to share? I’ll be at Locally Sourced at the Lincoln Park Zoo July 1st, July 22, August 12 Where can we learn more about you and your collection? is home to all my artistic endeavors including my jewelry line: True Partners in Craft.

you can’t have light without dark


michelle swoons

beauty blogger ♼ plus size model feature by perry fish layout by aira aquino


“I love myself. I was made exactly how I was supposed to be made and no one will put me down. My value does not decrease because others cannot see what I am worth. I am enough.” These are the words that beauty blogger and plussize model, Michelle Landriault lives by. Being a plus-size woman can be difficult, especially in a world that’s fueled by perfection. Recognizing the challenges young girls face with body image and confidence, Michelle wanted to support the plus-size community by sharing her passion for fashion and beauty, so In 2011 she launched her blog, Michelle Swoons. “I really wanted a place where girls could go and get the latest and greatest info about plus size fashions, beauty, and have a safe, judge free zone. I actually created my site for the 16 year old Michelle who really needed a good friend that would help her learn about the things that would make her

feel more confident, and that would build her up. There are a lot of bad ideas out there for young girls...I wanted it to be a place where they could get some good ideas. “ On her blog, Michelle shares makeup tutorials, beauty product reviews, and fashion tips and tricks. She accredits her love for teaching and helping others as inspiring her to become a makeup artist. “I honestly was always good with makeup. As long as I can remember, I was always the one doing all of my friend’s makeup for proms and homecomings. It was something I thought I had a talent in. I ended up pursuing it in 2005, and I was really happy I did. I go back and forth with it a lot, but I really love teaching people how to use their own skills to apply something and make it work. I think

I was meant to be a make-up instructor.” One of her favorite ways to connect with her audience is through “vlogging”; A popular technique with makeup tutorials, DIY projects, and sharing recipes that involves primarily video content. “I started vlogging so that I could have an interaction with my viewers and teach them how to use different tools to get the best look for them. I started off with the crappiest camera, or my laptop camera, which was a nightmare. I have back stock of videos that need to be edited, but it’s a full-time job vlogging. When you’re not editing, you’re filming, and when you’re not filming you’re thinking of new content and planning out your schedule for the next ones.”


I really love teaching people how to use their own skills to apply something and make it work. I think I was meant to be a make-up instructor.”

hrough her blogging and work as a makeup artist, Michelle became introduced to the exciting world of modeling. “I started modeling on the fly one day because a friend of mine influenced me to try it, and a photographer needed me.


From there, it just blew up and I started modeling for various different things. I’ve had a lot of positive experiences, but I’ve had some negative ones as well. I can tell you that if you feel uncomfortable then just don’t do it. You have a voice, ”

you must use it. Don’t let anyone push you to think differently either. If you feel passionately about something, don’t let anyone take that away from you. Michelle quickly learned that while the plus-size industry is built on the principle that women of size are beautiful and should be celebrated too, like any system, it has its flaws. A size 22, Michelle has faced challenges in the inconsistencies of fashion and the judgment of others. Nonetheless, she stays positive, focusing on how far the industry has come and the barriers that have been broken. “I’m happy that the plus-size community is being more accepted in today’s culture, but I hope that also drives us to get healthy and move more. There’s a lot of struggles for me to workout because I am so much larger than the average person. I won’t lie and tell you that its good for me, it’s not healthy. I just want to help other girls like me that want to get a little healthier and in shape, do it in a way that is good for them.” Even in the most difficult and challenging moments, Michelle does her best to stay focused on the good. She is a true advocate for self-love and bodypositivity, and she loves encouraging all women, of all sizes, to be who they were meant to be, themselves “I know everyone has things they would change about themselves, but I think what I love most about being me is the people in my life. I have a great family and loving parents. I have to thank my mom. She really taught me everything I know about being a woman, and my

dad taught me a lot about being strong and self-sufficient. I was lucky that I had good parents and great friends. I also love my talents. I’m really lucky that God blessed me with my hands that write, blend and apply makeup so well. I have an eye for fashion and I’ve always been OBSESSED with clothes and accessories. I’m really happy with how everything turned out and came together. I love being me. I thank God everyday for what he has blessed me with.


Marcellas Reynolds

The Journey to the Top BY: Olivia Lemley

“There is so much power in being young and beautiful, but you grow up to realize there is more and your priorities change.� -Marcellas Reynolds

Da oes he even have a free moment? With variety of roles within both the fashion


and entertainment industry, Marcellas Reynolds has risen to the top. At age 45, he has managed to succeed as a model, reality star, actor, fashion stylist, entertainment reporter, print journalist and TV host. From his time as a contestant on the show Big Brother, Reynolds has surpassed expectations. Although he has excelled in many fields, he now directs focus on his career as a wardrobe stylist and TV host.

“I don't think there is anyone that is completely happy with their body. That is the human condition. I work with some of the top models in the world and everyone has something.” Marcellas Reynolds

Before his roles on the big screen, Marcellas Reynolds was a top model, represented by Ford, Goodfellas and Beatrice. During his career, he worked in all the fashion capitals of the world as he modeled for top designers such as Brioni, Nautica, Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger. Throughout his journey as a model, Reynolds has discovered it is best to do what makes you feel good about yourself; whether it is staying active,

eating healthy or something in between, everyone deserves to be proud of who they are. In today’s society, it is hard to avoid social media and advertisements. Celebrities, knowingly or not, send young girls messages that alter their perception of beauty. The worldwide trending hashtag, “Kylie Jenner Challenge”, has encouraged teens to physically harm themselves in order to mimic the luscious lips seen in magazines. From skin tight195

or see-through clothing to scandalous music videos and propaganda, our youth is immersed into a culture focused on sex appeal. “I get it! Sex sells, but aren't we more evolved than that? I want girls to feel powerful—not just because of how they look (or how sexy they are) but because they are smart and talented. The same emphasis should be put on being smart and kind as it is on being sexy. In today's society, thanks in part to celebs like the Kardashians, I don't think that's the case.” While he was in New York for a modeling gig, Reynolds explored a potential career as a wardrobe stylist. Now, he has over 10 years of experience under his belt as a celebrity stylist. He has earned the respect of the industry styling for some of Hollywood’s hottest stars: Justin Timberlake, Rebecca Hall (The Town), Jordin Sparks, Eddie Cibrian (Sunset Beach), Sharon Stone and Jayma Mays (Glee). He travels around the country styling for clothing stores like Kohl's, Bonton and Macy's while also doing photo shoots for publications like British Vogue, Elle and InStyle. In addition to his career as a stylist, Reynolds also dedicated a great deal of his time to his television aspirations. His future goal is to host yet another series. For the past few years he has had at least one series per year in which he has headlined. Reynolds hopes to see one of his series become a

“I get it! Sex sells, but aren't we more evolved than that? I want girls to feel powerful—not just because of how they look (or how sexy they are) but because they are smart and talented. The same emphasis should be put on being smart and kind as it is on being sexy. In today's society, thanks in part to celebs like the Kardashians, I don't think that's the case.” -Marcellas Reynolds


multi-season hit show. This pop culture pundit has starred on numerous top rated shows, ranging from CNN World Report to reality TV’s Big Brother. Starring in reality television show, Big Brother, was a rather intense experience for Marcellas Reynolds. The series revolves around twelve strangers living in a house together with no communication with the outside world. The houseguests vote each other out of the house, and the last houseguest remaining after three months receive the grand prize. Being an openly gay black man on the show, Reynolds ran into conflict throughout the season. He has not forgotten the hurtful words, yet he choses to be a better man and forgive those who were rude. “I wasn't scared of being myself. I was scared of the response of ignorant people suffering from prejudice. I'm very good at being Marcellas. I've always liked myself even when faced with hate and fear from others.” Can all the constant judging cause wear and tear on a person? Answer: absolutely. It may be a major flaw, yet snap judgments are only a side effect of being human; it is done every day by millions of people; this has created self-consciousness to be common. Though Reynolds always accepted and loved himself for who he is, there was an attached fear for what those around him might think. He is an inspirational man for his strength to overcome such obstacles in his lifetime and use his experiences to his benefit. Marcellas Reynolds reveled in his youth; he knew he was attractive and was aware of his

impact on others, but being categorized outside the social norm can, typically, hold someone back—but not Reynolds. “What I've learned is no one fits into a box. We're all individual and unique and if you are open to seeing those traits in anyone, we're all better for it.” -Marcellas Reynolds Since 1995 Reynolds has lived his life in front of the camera as a model, actor, TV host or entertainment reporter. As a dedicated and hardworking individual, he was able to stabilize himself in, what many may think to be, uncomfortable situations. Marcellas Reynolds is a positive role model to all those facing insecurities. For his admirable ability to be successful in both his career and image, he is a star to be recognized. Marcellas Reynolds shares his final goal for this year: “I'm just going to keep being happy. Being happy is the victory.”

“There is so much power in being young and beautiful, but you grow up to realize there is more and your priorities change.” -Marcellas Reynolds



BY: Olivia Lemley Designed By: Jamie Breeden

“I just have a "never give up" attitude, so every door that opened has led me to where I am today.” -Candace Jordan

A known columnist, internet show host, media producer and author of her own website, Candace Jordan leaves a prominent footprint in each industry she enters. Her past also includes time spent as a Playboy Bunny. The term “urban socialite” cannot come close to defining this empowering woman. While being socially prominent, Candace Jordan is a go-getter. Due to her impressive self-marketing, she is often categorized as a socialite; however, this categorization does not do her accomplishments justice. “Candid Candace” has had her foot in the door of the fashion industry since she was 13 years old. Her numerous years as a model made her an ideal candidate for Playboy. She was the valedictorian of her high school class and earned a scholarship to attend St. Louis University, but the thought of more schooling bored her; it was not until her friend encouraged her to audition that she decided to become a Bunny. After getting the job, Candace Jordan rose to the top. She appeared in a “Best Bunnies” pictorial which caught the attention of the Playboy’s Hub of Chicago. She moved into the mansion while Hugh Hefner was in residence and made herself known: she became Playboy Bunny of the Year in 1976, the centerfold in 1979, and the cover of eight U.S editions and six international editions. “It's a very empowering experience, and Hef certainly didn't hold a gun to my head to do it.” It is popular among those observing the subject to think a position as a Playboy Bunny is the result


of a lack of self confidence and worth. Candace Jordan’s decision to become a Playboy was entirely her own decision. It was a choice purely made to embrace her own happiness with her second family in the mansion. Both her mother and father were active and supportive through her decision. Jordan also has many thanks to her nanny, Mary Johnson, for always being there as a guardian growing up. She believes the best present they gave her was the encouragement to believe in herself. “When a local news station asked my dad about it, he said: "I would pose too if they paid me that much."” Having “Playboy Bunny” on her résumé did not stop her from achieving any of her goals. Candace Jordan refused to acknowledge her past as an obstacle. It was not something of which she was ashamed. Moreover, she leveraged the experience to shape herself into the media guru she is today. “I used it as a stepping stone instead of seeing it as any sort of roadblock.”

“It's a very empowering experience, and Hef certainly didn't hold a gun to my head to do it.” -Candace Jordan


The Women’s Rights Movement pushes for equality and freedom for women to make decisions and to be able to live their lives independently--Candace Jordan has been doing just that. Since the late 1700s, women have been fighting a constant battle to be gain the same status and power males have been given. The idol Jordan has made herself to be today shows how the combination of strength, courage and dedication can lead women to achieve whatever to which they set their minds. With the support from her family and friends, she had the freedom to choose her own destiny. In the end, what is there to look down upon?

“I didn't pose for Playboy due to a lack of self confidence. I've always felt comfortable in my own skin. I have to laugh at feminists who decry centerfolds as being "objectified."” -Candace Jordan

Playboy Bunnies, contrary to popular belief, earn their jobs and salaries just the millions of other hardworking Americans. Is society’s tendency to make initial judgements due to minimal information, or is it a lack of understanding towards one another? Candace Jordan was a happy and successful Bunny who has made an evident impact on society. Her florescent attitude and persistency have assisted her in achieving many accomplishments. Not only did staying at the mansion give her the opportunity to earn a living, but it also introduced her to her second family. COMING SOON: Expect to see much more of Candid Candace. She is on the road to a continuing her modeling career. Though she has worked in the industry since young adolescence, she is not yet ready to close her portfolio and finish this journey. In addition, you can look forward to seeing more of Candace Jordan on television. She is the host of her own internet show, “Candid Candace TV” or “Watch312,” for which she has been awarded multiple honors: two Telly Awards, a gold plaque from the Chicago International Film Festival Television Awards in 2014 and a Certificate of Merit for her documentary this year. She plans to fulfill her passion and pursue more on-screen work. “I always keep myself open to new experiences and try to never say no to any opportunities. More often than not, each opportunity leads you onto a new path. I've also never been afraid to try new things. I like to keep challenging myself.” -Candace Jordan Throughout Jordan’s journey, she has never sought out a “new” Candace. She has always kept a positive attitude, looking at every situation as an optimist. This is a woman who embraces her beauty as she demonstrates how everyone should indulge in self-love. Confidence is key when looking to succeed in new opportunities or, perhaps, step up to the next level of a work-in-progress. With a determined mindset, Candace Jordan has become an icon for all those struggling to love themselves and embrace their bodies.


An interview with Jassmine Parks Founder of Pheno ma! y



Jassmine Parks is an amazing writer and spoken word artist with a unique style and love for life and all the ups and downs that come with it. Her poetry and writings are so deep and intricate it would move even the strongest of men in their seats. She has a way with words that truly impacts her audience. Which, of course, comes with first hand experiences of life full of blessings and difficulties. Growing up Jassmine encountered issues that not only affected her, but also molded her into the woman she is today. Because of those experiences, Jassmine has found a connection and desire to help kids and young adults that deal with family struggles, domestic violence, discrimination and sexuality. The difficulties of life that she faced did not stop her from exceeding. With determination, she received her G.E.D. at the age of 16 and received her bachelors from The University of Michigan. Jassmine has an extensive amount of experience in writing and is currently a member of the 2015 Detroit Poetry Slam Team. Additional accolades, include being published in The University of Michigan- Dearborn’s journal, Lyceum and being in the process of completing her first full collection of work. Writing is something she loves, but she wants to experiment with other forms of art such as acting, speaking and modeling. I was thrilled and excited to be able to get in touch with such a passionate artist and get to know a little more about her.

Halfstack Magazine: What is the program you are currently working on and what is it about? My program, Phenoma!y, a Phenomenal Anomaly, is still a new program. The program is a safe space for adolescent youth. It is intended to provide a trusting environment for the kids. I set up the program at a charter school in my own hometown, Romulus in Metro Detroit, Michigan. I am currently in the process the necessary steps to turn Phenoma!y into a non-profit organization.

HM: What made you start it? Teenage life is a confusing and overwhelming time for some youth. In a sense, it is the shedding of a childhood that hinged on dependency (physically, mentally and emotionally). In another light it appears to be a proverbial threshold leading into adulthood. Adolescents are learning to be more independent and responsible. At the same time pre-teens and teenagers are detaching themselves from being the extensions of someone else, such as a parent. They are attempting to establish the foundation of their own identity. It is best that they have a safe environment in which they may come into themselves. I am passionate about working with youth because they hold the future (ours, theirs and proceeding generations) in their hand. It’s important that they are properly equipped to enter the world as responsible, confident, self-sufficient members of society.


------------------“being viewed as disadvantaged

and underprivileged

youth led me places that allowed me to reflect” and evolve”. jassmine parks


Throughout my youth I struggled with issues of poverty, housing stability, adoption, an incarcerated mother and a plethora of other things. Though intelligent, my behavior and dismal living situations were not conducive to an education setting. Only being viewed as disadvantaged and underprivileged youth led me places that allowed me to reflect and evolve. Though temporary, at different stages of my growth I had certain people in my life that were willing to provide guidance and compassion, absent pity or judgement. To them, I am thankful because I may not be where I am without the push and accountability.

HM: In relation to the theme of our issue, what are your thoughts on selflove? In learning how to love myself I have been attempting to incorporate the power of vulnerability, au-thenticity and transparency into my life. Vulnerability to me is the ability to risk possible pain to be re-warded with the positive emotions such as happiness and peace. Authenticity allows for a person to strip themselves of the layers that we tend to hide behind. It allows for one to be seen for who they are, without explaining it away or offering excuses to appease to others. Transparency is being com-fortable in one’s own nakedness and giving others the choice to look or not.

HM: Have you found yourself ever disliking your appearance? If so, how did you overcome that? Beauty is so subjective! The traditional beauty standard is measured against white women with blue eyes and blonde hair. I’ve never felt fully comfortable in my own skin with such an impossible bar. I’m a brown skinned black woman, with dark eyes and dark natural hair. I try to reaffirm aspects that make me beautiful and sometimes it means loving my imperfections and redefining what I find beautiful that day. I have not evolved into total comfort of my body and some days that’s okay.


HM: Nowadays the media claims that in order to be beautiful, you must be physically perfect. What are your thoughts on this? The media is in the business of controlling perception and selling advertisements. They have accomplished that! Even though it is unrealistic perception is reality. Unfortunately these portrayals of women contribute to esteem issues for our gender. It feels like a superficial based distraction. Commercials target women in such a way that we feel compelled to augment ourselves in an overwhelming quantity. Ads make us so self-conscious of our appearance as an individual that we shy away from political injustices. Why should I care about who makes my bra and its padding amount more than I do the wage gap? How does the size of my butt help decrease sexual assault?

HM: What would you say to people that struggle with body love? Find the unique aspects of yourself that you think are lovely! Accentuate them, exaggerate them. I like to find new beauty marks on my body in odd places. Also affirmations work! You have to combat the negative outlook from yourself and others by staring at yourself in the mirror, sometimes stark naked. Find at least one thing you love and refuse to comment on what you dislike. Leave yourself notes. Look up women who resemble you and are successful in loving their imperfections. Remember that perfect is unobtainable by everyone, even the beautiful ones in ads are photoshopped.



HM: Have you used your poetry in relation to self-love, body love or self-acceptance? Or have you had any instances where you were going against the typical beauty standards? One of my favorite poems that I have written is called the Topography of My Love Lines. The work narrates the struggle that I had with the stretch marks that came from pregnancy. It wasn’t until my daughter, Ja’Nya (7), would come up to me every day and lift up my shirt and squeeze my belly. She told me that she loved my “flabby bell,” and its chubbiness and the stretch marks. Every day! I was SO uncomfortable. She told me that they were beautiful because I birthed her. The more she did it, the more I began to see the beauty in them myself. The poem serves as a story in which Ja’Nya explores my stretch marks (love lines) and in that I also explore the beauty of self-outside of the societal imposed beauty standards. Jassmine is not only a positive example to women, but she is also a reflection of how women should view themselves on a daily basis. There will be days when we will totally dislike our appearance, but Jassmine reminds us that it’s okay. A little affirmation goes a long way!


Written By: Jennifer Oquendo Layout by Aira Aquino

When you look in the mirror

what do you see? Do you see beauty or a face full of imperfections and flaws? Do you see someone attractive and interesting or are you embarrassed of your appearance? ? It seem that today, society has put an incredible amount of pressure on women of all shapes and sizes to achieve unobtainable beauty standards. The media reveals beautiful women as nearly perfect. In order to be


beautiful you need to be thin, your makeup should look almost airbrushed and flawless, your need to be big yet proportional and any imperfections need to be quietly and quickly corrected with cosmetic procedures. With such a tough list to get through, it’s no wonder why women are so insecure and completely unsatisfied with their bodies. The idea of beauty changed from who you are and what’s within to how well you can hide your

blemishes. It’s deceiving and unfortunately women fall prey everyday to the pressures of society’s standards of what beauty is. In this day and age, women are hiding their imperfections because they are afraid of what people may say or think. Except for Tess.

Tess Holliday who is

I created the hashtag because I was tired of being told what I could and couldn't wear by the media and how I should cover my body

also known as Tess Munster is the largest plus-size model and blogger based in LA and an inspiration to many women all over the world. She has inspired the internet and social media with her curvaceous boldness and security in her body. She has recently become the first model of her height and size, 5 foot 5 inches tall and a size 22, to be signed to a mainstream modeling agency- called Milk Model Management. But going beyond the accomplishment of being signed, Tess has a message that could change the world. Early in her career, Tess moved to Seattle to pursue her love for makeup. She enjoyed making women look and feel beautiful, but she always felt like there was something missing. At one point, Tess decided to move to LA and that’s when her life would completely change forever. She responded to ‘House of Dreams Model Search’ by Torrid and was accepted. She received attention from many people and soon her dream of modeling quickly became a reality. “It’s something that I’ve wanted my whole life, so to even think that it’s happened, it feels like an out-of-body experience. … I found out about plus-size modeling when I was 15, and I went to an audition in Atlanta. They told me that I was too short and I was too big, and I would never model. But I’m very hardheaded! … I was getting shoved into lockers, I was being called names. Modeling really helped my confidence because I started seeing myself in a different


The reason I’m different, is that I have my own style and I do what I want and share that.


light. I started seeing myself like, ‘Wow, I’m actually pretty,”’ she told USA Today. Although Tess gets a ton of positive support, changing the status quo is anything but easy. She started a social media movement by using the hashtag -- #effyourbeautystandards on Instagram in 2013. The goal was to help promote beauty and to encourage women to embrace their bodies. “I created the hashtag because I was tired of being told what I could and couldn’t wear by the media and how I should cover my body because of my size,” she told The Huffington Post. “I decided ‘eff that,’ I will wear what I want!” With 826,000 Facebook fans and more than 645,000 Instagram followers, Tess has been a voice to thousands of women from all over the world. The #effyourbeautystandards movement is typically active on social media where women from all over send their own positive and encouraging comments and pictures. The movement is going well and has reached and helped many people; however, Tess is planning on a website for the movement in the future. On her Facebook account, Tess usually reveals pictures with her hair pinned up and often wearing dresses, swimsuits and lingerie. She is unafraid of the negative comments that state she is unhealthy or promoting obesity. “Size isn’t an indicator of health,” she says. “I don’t smoke. I barely drink. I work 15hour days, I’m getting married this year and I have a son,” she told LA weekly. “Plus-size fashion bloggers are really changing things in the industry, but plus-

sized models haven’t been as progressive,” she says. “We’re hangers and we wear what companies tell us to wear. The reason I’m different, is that I have my own style and I do what I want and share that.” The fact that she is unafraid to flaunt her curvy body and oozes confidence that is rarely seen nowadays is changing the way people view true beauty. Tess goes against your typical beauty standards that society has established. And she’s okay with that. Recently, the results of her first agency photoshoot with Milk Model Agency were released on Instagram. Catherine Harbour photographed Tess in black and white images wearing a scooped-neck tee and boxer briefs. The images revealed Tess and her many tattoos as well as her confidence and her comfort in her body. She looked fierce, unafraid and very comfortable. Although Tess has been successful in the modeling industry, she doesn’t want to stop there. Her desire to continue to be the voice for a lot of women that struggle with their image is something she has always looked to achieve. There’s nothing wrong with loving yourself and being comfortable in your own skin. With that she knows there will always be negative people who will try to tear her views down. Thankfully, Tess focuses on the positive to help promote body love for women. “I think, if someone doesn’t look at an image and feel something, you haven’t done your job,” she told the Daily Mail. “Whether it’s negative or positive, it should


evoke something in them. That’s what I’ve always done with my work, I want to challenge society’s perception of ‘beauty’ and what’s acceptable in our industry and the world. There is no one way to be a woman, or to be beautiful. We all deserve a place.”


The Beauty of Imperfection WRITTEN & PHOTOGRAPHED BY: LAURA LOPEZ I can remember years ago, my mom gave me one of the greatest compliments, both as a photographer and as a human being. One night, we were in the middle of a deep and lengthy conversation about life and love. I had come to her, a little sad and looking for guidance and the kind of comfort that only someone who really knows you and loves you can give and she said to me, “Laura, you have always been able to see the beauty in imperfect things.” It served as a gentle, yet powerful reminder of who I am. I felt grateful in that moment that I was the type of person that could learn to love outside of the box. The theme of beauty in “imperfection” is one that is visited often in my work. I am endlessly inspired by life, by people, their ruins and their aftermath. As a photographer, I often find myself exploring abandonment, left behind memories, dark buildings and forgotten places. In places where most people see ruins, I see life. Where most people see leaky ceilings, broken windows, graffitied walls, and hollowed floors and gawk at how ugly it is; I see memories. I see history and I admire it for its beauty. That unique perspective that is most often a gift to artists is the same perspective in which I view people. The things that make us so beautifully human, our darkness and our light fascinate me. Where some people just see scars, I see stories. I see survivors. Where people see imperfection, I see art. I have wanted to create this series of images for such a long time. I gathered this group of people that so candidly shared their pain, their insecurities, their joy and their stories with me. In a world that is so driven by appearance, aes-


thetics and the pressure to be beautiful in the way society says. They have bravely uncovered parts of themselves for me to see. I share the unconventional beauty of these courageous individuals. It is not the kind of beauty found in tiny waists, full lips, voluptuous curves, or muscular biceps. It is the exceptional beauty that is found in their honesty and their realness and the profound beauty of their stories, and in their acceptance and love for themselves. Mirna has been in my life for the last 2.5 years and we have become extremely good friends since we met. I knew that I wanted to photograph Mirna when I set out to do this project. It was not about the size of the scar, but rather the importance of what it represented. In November of 2014, she had two 4cm tumors removed from her right breast. For months, she had ignored a rapidly growing, painful lump on her right side and by September, it was visible


With the encouragement of a loved one, she went to a doctor where they told her that the tumors would need to be removed and biopsied. “All I heard was tumor. Everyone told me that I was going to be okay, but it didn’t feel okay.” The thought of cancer at any age is an extremely scary thought, but being a 28 year old woman and having all those thoughts race through your mind is incredibly overwhelming. Further testing showed that there were a total of 14 benign Phyllodes tumors in both breasts. While she is thankful that the tumors were benign, she still has to get regular checkups and the tumors are monitored closely to make sure that there are no further abnormalities. As 30-year-old women, we are not at an age when we are consistently concerned about our health. At this age, when we are so consumed with life, we tend to overlook and put things off. Mirna’s story serves as a reminder to all of us about how important it is to be proactive about our health.


with her arms at her side. “This is a true story…” she said. I have known Karli for years. We went to the same high school. She was a couple of years older than me, but I always remembered Karli. She was smart, athletic, sweet and she was always, always beautiful. Everyone loved Karli. In March of 2006, while leaving her South Loop apartment building she was beaten, kidnapped and forced into the trunk of her own car. She escaped the trunk and “lived to tell about it”. In May of that same year she was attacked once again. This time, her attackers held her up at gunpoint and threw acid on her. She spent 6 weeks in the Intensive Care Unit at University of Chicago and has had more than 12 surgeries for her injuries. While in the hospital the mirrors in her room were removed so she couldn’t see what they had done to her. Her face, arms, stomach, and parts of her legs were all permanently scarred from the attack. She was the pawn in retaliation against her boyfriend at the time. She was young, educated and starting her life, but naïve of the effects that his lifestyle had on her. I asked her during this session, “Do you ever think about what they would have done had you not gotten out of the trunk?” She responded, “Ohhh, they would have killed me.” I could literally feel every hair on my arm stand straight up as she said it. The more we spoke about the details of the attacks; I had to remind myself over and over that she lived through this. I have photographed Karli a number of times over the years and this session was the most in depth we spoke about the attacks during our times together. Now, 9 years later, she is a mother to who she describes as “the most insightful, compassionate little 3 year old I have ever met in my


Karli 215

life. I’ve taken extra care to make him that way.” While this may have been our first deep conversation about the details of the attacks, we have always talked very openly about her advocacy of survivors. She currently works with the local Police Departments and does public speaking events about her story and her survival. She also talks publicly with adolescent girls and women about being a survivor, loving yourself and making smart choices. She has taken this tragic event that has happened to her and used it as a catalyst to change her life. Her openness and honesty about her story have always been reasons that I have loved working with her. Karli is one of the bravest women that I have ever met. With only 1 attacker brought to justice in her case, she does not live in fear. She is a mother and an advocate. She is a survivor and she is the epitome of beautiful. To learn more about Karli’s movement visit her website at And follow her on Instagram at @karlispeaks In September of 2007, Jonathan was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He had been physically attacked outside of his house by 5 men during a gang initiation. For 30 minutes, he was beaten with a tire iron and stabbed in his face, head, forehead, knees and chest. They told him that he deserved it for being a “white boy”. He heard one of them speaking with a Hispanic accent and Jonathan who was born in Cuba, started speaking Spanish to them. One of the assailants began to cry saying “I am doing this to one of my own”; he was ordered by one of the other guys to kill Jonathan and “forget it happened”. They proceeded to slash his neck and chest. He was taken to Saint Francis Hos-



pital, a Level One trauma center, and was then transferred to UIC where he spent the next week. He had suffered broken front teeth, broken fingers, broken bones in his arm, wounds to his head, face, jaw, neck, chest and knees and a complicated injury that had his right eyelid slashed in half. He has had 8 surgeries over the years for his injuries. My sister was a friend of Jonathan’s and years ago I had asked her to reach out to him to see if he would allow me to photograph him. He hesitantly agreed with some terms. He said that I could take the photographs, but he was not interested in seeing them. His scars at that point had made him feel weak and ugly and they represented a personal kind of tragedy. After the photos were taken, he changed his mind about wanting to see them. As difficult as it was to look at them, there was a real beauty in what he saw. He says now, that although he still doesn’t like his scars, he worries less and less about them. “I understand that it is what it is. Time is the only thing that has helped me cope”. : Since I started photography, I have done so many maternity sessions and there is always something so beautiful about the way a woman confidently wears her pregnancy. There is a way that her body almost instinctually poses in a protective stance with her arms around her belly or the way she rubs her growing tummy when no one is watching. Her body changes and grows. It is almost magical the way she can produce life. I have photographed Ava a few times and there is no denying that she is absolutely stunning. She is a Chicago model and makeup artist who has a large following through social media When I photographed her last, she shared the news with me that she was pregnant before she had made an official announcement. We talked a lot about social media and the need for the perception of the perfect life. “We have to be beautiful. We have to have the perfect life. It’s like we aren’t even human anymore. It’s a shame that society will rip apart a pregnant woman. They pick you apart if you are too big and they do the same if you aren’t big enough. Everyone is different.” She isn’t worried about her body being perfect, or getting herself back to where she feels most comfortable. She says the only thing that matters to her right now, is that her baby is born healthy. Ava will welcome a second son in August.




Katie 219

I am not a mom, but I am a daughter and I have grown up always believing that my mom was the single most amazing human being that I have ever known. I have watched a few of my best friends have children and was present for all 3 births of my brothers children. I remember being in complete and total awe of my sister in law, that her body could do that, carry and deliver 3 amazing babies. She was a warrior in her own right each time. I have heard my girlfriends talk about how much their bodies have changed. I have seen them hide their stretch marks believing that their days of bikinis were over as they look down at their tummies. Sarah, is the mother of a son CJ and two little girls Nyah and Nora. She is currently pregnant again with her 4th child. During the session, we laughed a lot with her daughters who love being in front of the camera. They are beautiful, silly, happy and so in love with their mom. Sarah said that looking at her babies and the life that she has created has built her confidence to overcome the changes that her body made during pregnancy. When looking through the images and coming across this one, it was just this really beautiful image of being a mom. It’s not a perfectly posed portrait. It was just a very honest moment. Her family welcomes their new little one in November. I had photographed Lisa and her sisters last summer. They spent the entire session laughing hysterically, drinking champagne, and singing every song from West Side Story. I had absolutely no idea at the time that Lisa has been fighting her own battle with Multiple Sclerosis. According to the National MS Society website, Multiple Sclerosis is a disease of the Central Nervous System in which the Immune System attacks myelin- the fatty substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers as well as the nerve fibers themselves. The damaged myelin forms scar tissue on the entire nervous system. When we started the



session, we focused a lot on the physical scars of a house fire that Lisa was in after curtains caught fire from a candle burning in her apartment. The fire left scars on her chest and hands. Soon our conversation turned from the physical scars on her body to her Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis and the lesions on her brain. She was officially diagnosed in 2012 with MS after being misdiagnosed with Vertigo in the past. She said after receiving the diagnosis the doctor told her that most people are hospitalized with 2 active lesions and Lisa had 17. Living with symptoms for almost two years without even knowing it, she said that it has now made her “more aware of her body then she has ever been.” She now works out with a friend who is a personal trainer that graciously donated her services. She offered to help after finding out Lisa’s diagnosis and learning that exercise is good for someone living with MS. Her family was extremely supportive in living a healthier lifestyle and one thing that Lisa has never lost is her sense of humor, even naming her MS Walk group “Lisa’s Lesions”. While there is no cure for MS, Lisa goes for treatment every 4 weeks. “I am normal. I function and I am fine.” To find out more on Multiple Sclerosis visit: In September of 2014, 30 year old Esho woke up with Chest Pain. He had been experiencing this pain for the last 6 months, except that morning the pain was unbearable. He said, “ It felt like someone was stabbing me. I couldn’t breathe.” He doesn’t remember much before waking up in the ambulance. He was a 2 pack a day smoker, who had been in the ER 4 times in recent months for chest pain. He had been diagnosed with Acute Bronchitis and was advised to stop smoking. In the years before, he had been diagnosed with Type II Diabetes and was told that he


had to better manage his weight. By the time he arrived at the ER, the pain had subsided and he wanted to leave. An ER physician convinced him to stay for a stress test. He declined three times, before finally agreeing. What the results had shown was that Esho had in fact suffered a heart attack.


He was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. An Angiogram showed that 2 of his arteries were 90% occluded. Esho needed double bypass surgery. Days later, he underwent open heart surgery at the age of 30. The recovery process has required a lot of exercise, at least 6 times a week, and a healthy diet. He is thankful to be alive and is grateful to the support of his friends and family. “I sometimes feel upset that I caused this to happen, but then again it reminds me how important and valuable life truly is. Never take it for granted, at any moment everything can be gone that fast.” In the October of 2008, at the age of 17, Natasha was driving her truck with her left arm resting out the window. She hit a huge pothole going 40 mph causing the truck she was driving to flip more than 8 times. Her arm was severely injured during the crash to a point where doctors considered amputation. It took multiple specialists, months in the hospital and 17 surgeries to save her arm. The last day of her hospitalization was the first time that she had seen her left arm since the actual crash scene and she spent the next 3.5 years doing her best to keep it covered. “I hated it. I hated looking at it. I even dreaded showering because I would HAVE to see it.” Now, almost 7 years later, with the love and support of her family and friends she has become more comfortable in her own skin. “Time played a huge part in accepting it and not


letting it define me. I was young at the time and as I matured and I grew up, I started to realize that it could have been a lot worse. You are not your scar. You are still you.” She was 17 and she wanted to be “beautiful” like the women she saw in advertisements. Katie started working at a tanning salon and tanning up to 5 days a week. “ I felt good. My face was blemish-free, clear, and perfect, my teeth white. I looked great in clothes and I liked the confidence that tanning gave me.” She worked and tanned all throughout her 4 years in college at the tanning salon. When she was in her early 20s her boyfriend at the time noticed a dark mole on her calf and suggested that she get it evaluated. She had put it off believing that it was nothing. She was young and she felt “invincible”. A few years later her doctor became concerned and sent her



Tyronita Natasha

to a Dermatologist. In addition to the first mole, there were now 5 other areas of concern. Photographs were taken of almost her entire body and the 6 moles were biopsied. She received a phone call from her doctors 3 days later with terrifying results. She had Melanoma at the age of 25. “I did this to myself” she said. She has had numerous surgeries over the last few years and scars now cover parts of her body. She now sees her dermatologist every six months, a process she will have to go through for the rest of her life. Katie was married in October 2013 and attributes her husband and family to being her biggest support system. Katie refused to let her Melanoma diagnosis


stop her from living. Her story was featured on the Miles Against Melanoma website and she hopes to become more involved in the cause. To find out more about Melanoma visit… www. Tyronita, is a fashion student at Columbia College and she is constantly surrounded by the idea of “perfection”. She has an “outie” belly button. To most people, it’s just a belly button, but Tyronita hated it. It was a source of insecurity for her. “I used to have people tell me how weird and gross it looked.” She disliked it so much she had even considered plastic surgery. When she started college she really started to

embrace who she was and her confidence was all in her own thinking. She really began to discover that everyone else’s opinions didn’t matter. “Your thoughts have a significant impact on the way you see the world and yourself. Your mindset is everything.” Kyara has Scoliosis, an abnormal curvature of the spine. And although she didn’t require treatment for the condition it does bring her pain and it is something that had her self-conscious. By the time that she had her back evaluated by a doctor she was done growing and would be ineligible for a brace. The doctors stated that the only treatment option for her at this point would be surgery, but Kyara has opted out if it is not necessary. When I first started photographing Kyara a few years back, I remember her telling me how much she disliked her back. I loved how beautiful it looked in pictures. So, I photographed her back a number of times and she attributes our sessions as a key role in overcoming her insecurity.


Athletes who love what they do, will learn to fight through the pain. Most dedicated people are willing to walk through hell in order to pursue what they are passionate about; no matter how much it has hurt them. The Ortiz family came into my life in the fall of last


year. I had met AJ at work and one of the first things that I learned about him is how much he loves his dad and how much he loves boxing. For his whole life, Alfonso Sr, trained under the direction of his dad. He was a fighter. Between the years of 1978 and 1998 Alfonso Sr. had over 100 amateur fights and a number of professional fights under his belt. He had a promising professional career with Chicago’s Latino Community believing that he had what it took to go “all the way”. Even as a Chicago fireman and paramedic, he was still focused on a professional boxing career, but years dedicated to the sport left him worried about the use of his hands. The constant trauma from throwing punches had required 3 surgeries over the years. Multiple procedures required bones replaced from his hip to his hands. After the last surgery, the doctor asked him, “If you couldn’t be a fireman…What would you be doing for a living?” Unsure of what the future held if he continued fighting he made the difficult decision to stop competing. He then made the transition from competitor to coach. He now organizes and promotes fights and he has coached fighters on both the amateur and professional levels and has been ringside for fights all over the country. He trains the City of Chicago firemen every year for Battle of the Badges. Yet, his most important fighter has always been his son AJ, Alfonso Jr. “When he was a baby we would put him in his carrier and bring him to the gym. He learned to walk in the gym”. When AJ was young and too small to reach the bags he would stand up on top of milk crates.


Alfonso &Aj His life centered around his dad and the sport. “I knew my dad was a bad ass. He was top-notch. He was the ultimate fighter. He has been tough for a long time.� When AJ was 18 and fighting in a Kansas City tournament, he threw a left hook that injured his shoulder for the first time. He had a Labral tear of his left shoulder and after failed Physical Therapy attempts, surgery was necessary. It was a painful 6-month recovery process. Now, AJ like his father is a paramedic and has hopes of being on the Chicago Fire Department just like his dad and his grandfather. In March of this year, while sparring with another fighter, Aj injured his shoulder again. It was the same shoulder, the same injury and again another surgery. In April, he had a second surgery and has now just begun the Physical Therapy process and is unsure if he will ever be able to be in the ring again. Boxing has become such a significant part of their lives and a huge part of their relationship with each other. They are a family filled with tradition. Their love of the sport being passed down from one generation to the next and their scars are the physical evidence of just how much they love the sport.


written by Danielle Hazekamp layout by aira aquino


1. Violife Slim Uno Portable Manicure Kit $24.95

This is the perfect accessory to carry with you. The kit has everything you need to give yourself a mini manicure on the go. The only thing I can say is just be careful the first time you use this as it is a little faster than I expected but it does get the job done. I especially love the buffing attachments.

2. $5.99 In-Shower Nourishing Body Lotion

I am the worst when it comes to applying lotion in the shower even though during this past winter I severely needed it. Once I discovered this lotion my legs have never looked better. It is so easy to use and easy to add to my shower routine.

3. Bobbi Brown BB Cream SPF 35

$44 When it comes to the summer I try not to wear as much makeup. I love this BB Cream, it is by far the best BB Cream that I have ever used. Not only does it help even out your skin tone and provide a light to medium coverage, but it also contains Argireline. Argireline is a collagen boosting peptide that helps minimize fine lines. I swear you can see the difference in your skin with continuous use


4.Dior Addict Lip Glow $33

In the summer I love to wear bright colored lips but sometimes lipgloss is just too much. Especially when you have long hair that is attracted to sticky lips. Not only does this product act like a lip balm that is moisturizing, but it also finishes like a light gloss. Its color depends on your PH level so every time you wear it, the color may be slightly different.

1. The Art of Shaving, The 4 Elements of Perfect Shave Unscented Starter Kit

$25 This kit is the perfect kit to achieve the best shave especially since most guys go for the clean shaving look for the summer. This kit includes a pre-shave oil, shaving cream, and aftershave balm.


2. Tweezerman Essential Grooming Kit $30

This is something I truly believe that every guy should have and carry with them when they travel. You just never know when you will need it. This kit not only includes manicure tools such as nail clippers and multi use nail tools, it also includes facial scissors and pointed tweezers for ingrown hairs.

3. Maestro’s Classic Beard Wash

$23.99 Now, I don’t know about you, but I recently read about the germs in a man’s beard if he doesn’t wash it and was not impressed. So, guys to keep your beard well groomed, this is all that you need. This special formula is gentle on the face with its sulfate free formula and special conditioning ingredients to clean your beard and moisturize the skin on your chin.

4. Kiehl’s Facial Fuel No-Shine Moisturizing Lip Balm $9.00

I truly believe that every man needs a good lip balm. Most lip balms, however, leave lips looking shiny, something that some men don’t want. This special formula is made especially for men. Therefore, it is shine free while still providing the moisture that helps with chapped and cracked lips.


Summer Skin an interview with Dr. Tzu With it almost time for summer, I have to admit I cannot wait to hit up the beach. I love the way the sand feels, the way the water looks and the way the sun feels on my skin. Yes I love being in the sun, I just however always have to make sure to wear sunscreen. I don’t only wear the sunscreen to prevent major sunburn, I literally will look like a lobster if I don’t but I am also concern with skin cancer. Call me a little vain but I am especially concerned with getting it on my face. I mean who really wants a scare on their face because a mole became cancerous? Thanks to Dr. Julia Tzu of Wall Street Dermatology we are getting all the info we need to keep our skins protected this summer and in the future.

1. What are the best ways to

avoid getting skin cancer? Wear a broad spectrum sunscreen (SPF of at least 30) on a daily basis and practice prudent sun avoidance. Go see your local dermatologist for annual skin cancer screenings. Most skin cancers are easily treatable when caught at an early stage. 2. Are there sunscreens that you highly recommend to use in the summer? For summer outdoor activity, I


recommend a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF of at least 50. Make sure your sunscreen has the “broad spectrum” designation, as this means that both UVA and UVB radiation, which damage the skin, are filtered. Look for sunscreens that are labeled as “very water resistant”, which means that the sunscreen can protect you for 80 minutes while your skin is exposed to water. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a “water proof sunscreen”.

4. When should one start going to a dermatologist if they have no apparent skin issues? How often should one go?

3. Are there any other products that one should use to help prevent or protect your skin from sun damage and skin cancer? Physical sun protection is key. Seeking shade when possible, wearing clothing with built-in SPF, or wearing a broad brimmed hat are easy ways to prevent most of the harmful incoming UV radiation. In certain countries such as Asia, parasols are also popular. From a product standpoint, you can use an antioxidant serum underneath the sunscreen. Antioxidants

can neutralize some of the harmful molecules (what we call “free radicals�) generated by UV exposure to the skin. There are also oral supplements that have the ability to provide additional protection against UV radiation. For example, there are oral supplements that contain an active ingredient derived from a fern, has been shown to provide protection against UV radiation. These oral supplements, however, should be used in conjunction and not as a substitute for prudent sun avoidance and sunscreen application.

Although there is no particular age at which skin cancer screenings are recommended, the earlier one starts the better. Skin cancer can occur at any age, and the higher the risks factors (ie. family history of skin cancer, exposure to ionizing radiation, immunosuppression, genetic disorders) for that particular individual, the earlier that person should start the screening process. Annual skin cancer screenings are advised for people with no personal history of skin cancer and no other additional risk factors. For people with a history of skin cancer, who are at higher risk for developing additional skin cancer and recurrence of their original skin cancer, skin cancer screenings need to be performed at more frequent intervals, such as every 3-6 months, depending on the medical history of the patient. Written by: Danielle Hazekamp Layout: Kali Koller



Noemi Grupenmager Founder and CEO of Uni K Wax Centers

Summer is just around the corner and that can mean only one thing: it is time to get rid of that unwanted body hair. Now, I know the easiest way to get rid of unwanted hair is just to shave it, but some occasion’s call for a longer result and that is when waxing is the solution. I know that waxing can be a painful but there are many things that you can to make your experience pleasant. Thanks to Noemi Grupenmager, Founder and CEO of Uni K Wax Centers, read on to learn all you need to know to make your waxing experience a pleasant one. When is the best time for someone to get waxing done? If you have never waxed before, the closer to your vacation/big event etc. the better because your hair


has been used to other hair removal methods, such as shaving for example, and this results in hair growing unevenly until it adapts to the waxing cycle. If you have waxed before, 2-3 days before is ideal. If you have time, wax ahead of time to get your hair into a growth cycle and with regular waxing you will see your hair grow back more sparse and thinner. How should one prepare before getting waxed? Look for a professional waxing center that not only specializes in waxing, but also has the most “ouchless” waxing experience. To do this, choose a wax that is all-natural as this is better for the skin, additionally an elastic wax will gently remove hair, and finally, choose a professional that offers specialist care. Uni K Wax, does offer full body waxing for men and women, has its own all-

natural elastic wax and each waxer has undertaken an extensive training course in waxing and the best waxing methods including the most painless wax method.

I also recommend keeping the skin healthy and hydrated in between waxing services for optimal hair removal. Moisturizing is essential in keeping your skin soft in between waxes. Keeping the skin healthy and hydrated before you wax, allows for the hair to be removed completely and with minimal discomfort. If skin is dry, rough and cracked, the hair could break off rather than being removed completely and the regrowth will appear faster than if the skin was healthy and moisturized.

Helpful tips before waxing service: - The industry standard is to let your hair grow out about one-eighth to onequarter of an inch before going in for a wax. - If you are sensitive during your menstrual cycle, you might want to avoid a bikini wax during those days. -Alcohol tightens pores, which restricts hair from being removed from the follicle effectively, so it is not a good idea to consume before getting waxed. - Using sun protection is always recommended when exposing your skin to the sun and it is especially important during the first 24 hours after waxing in order to avoid redness. - Let your waxer know of any medications you’re taking, as this may affect you skin and your ability to be waxed. - In order to have the best waxing results, it is best to keep your skin healthy and hydrated all of the time. This entails drinking lots of water (to hydrate from the inside out) and using skin care products that prepare the skin for a great hair removal experience.


Noemi Grupenmager 236

What should one do for after care? Maintaining healthy and hydrated skin is essential for making your service last. Drink lots and lots of water to hydrate from the inside out and use a great moisturizer to lock in hydration every day. Exfoliating twice during the week and up to two days prior to a wax also assists in hair removal. Wearing lose fitting clothing will reduce ingrown hair from forming, as tight fitting clothing causes chafing and irritation on skin which often causes ingrown hair. If you do have an ingrown hair, you can use Uni k Wax’s ingrown hair roll on – this natural product gently removes the ingrown hair and returns skin back to its soft and beautiful self. Available online and in Centers $22.00 What can one expect when getting a wax? At Uni K Wax Centers, the waxer commences the service by greeting the customer at the door and walking side by side with the customer to a specially designed for privacy and comfort, waxer room. The waxer invites the customer to make herself comfortable and for a bikini service, the customer can put on a disposable panty as well as providing the customer with an individually packaged wet wipe, allowing the customer to refresh her bikini area. This is an additional level of hygiene and cleanliness and the wipe is also formulated to allow an even better and more thorough hair removal experience. The waxer then informs the customer she is going to be back shortly while she goes to the on-site lab to pick up the customer’s own individually prepared fresh warmer of wax. The waxer then returns to the room where the customer is waiting for her bikini wax. The waxer starts by explaining the benefits of all the products the waxer uses on the customer’s body. The first is an all-natural antiseptic body spray, used to further cleanse the area to be waxed, then the waxer commences by applying thin layers of our all-natural elastic wax, manufac-

tured exclusively in Miami for use at Uni K Wax. The wax is applied in the bikini area at body temperature in a special application and is left on the area to allow the skin to benefit from the soothing and beneficial properties of the wax. As the wax is resting on skin, the pores open up allow for the hair follicle to easily and gently be removed when the wax is removed. Due to the elasticity of the wax, it is applied on a larger area of the skin and can remain on the skin for a longer period of time, moisturizing the skin, so a bikini service, which only takes 15 minutes, can be the most beneficial and relaxing 15 minutes you have ever had for a bikini wax. When the wax is removed, the waxer, applies a special technique that removes the hair from the root with little to no discomfort, the elasticity of the wax is what makes the whole process swift and “ouchless”. This special technique eliminates the risk of breaking the hair, which translates to longer- lasting, soft, smooth skin. The waxer then applies an individual cold pack to the waxed area. The cold pack closes up the pores and prevents bacteria from entering and ingrown hair from forming. The waxer then applies a soothing allnatural cucumber, chamomile and calendula gel, which moisturizes the skin. Your Bikini area is silky smooth, not irritated and you are ready to leave feeling wonderful. It is our goal to make sure you leave our Centers hair-free, carefree and loving the skin you are in. After the first application of wax, we offer a touch up service to allow you to train your hair growth pattern for a longer waxing experience each and every time. What are things to look out for to ensure that the place you are going to is sanitary? - Each waxing center must be clean from the front door to the back door, and each waxing room in between. - All waxing utensils, such as spatulas and other tools must be in sealed containers, to prevent contamination, at all times. - The wax should be prepared new for each customer and provided in a clean wax warmer. - After a wax service, if there is any wax left, the wax must be discarded. - Prior to the wax being applied, the waxer should clean the bikini area or any other area to


be waxed, with antiseptic, in order to remove any bacteria, perspiration and oil from the skin. - After the wax, the waxer should also discard of their waxing spatulas, gloves and other tools in front of you, so that you know that these items have not been used on previous customers. - Also, each wax bed should be cleaned before and after a service and finally, when the customer leaves, the lab assistant or waxer should then thoroughly clean the wax warmer with hospitalgrade cleaning agents. - I recommend searching for a center solely dedicated to waxing. Many nail and hair salons offer waxing services, but I’ve come to find that these salons are not as proficient and thorough as salons that offer waxing exclusively. - When you enter a waxing room, the first thing I would do is look for the waxer’s certification of their active license issued by the board of cosmetology from that State, which is required to be on display. Also, this goes without saying but just make sure it’s valid in the State in which you are being waxed. - After every customer service, the used wax should be in the trash and the trash should be removed from the room, after all you don’t want to see who was there before you. - Proper uniform for a waxer should include professional waxer clothing, your waxer should put on fresh gloves to wax each customer, she should have shoe covers on, her hair should be tied back and finally she should not have long fingernails or wear excessive jewelry. What are the most popular waxes that people get? The most popular are bikini waxes, and there are several that people get. Bikini trends for down there, from the most popular to least, include the following: The most popular is the Full Brazilian Bikini Front and Back which removes all the hair from the front of the bikini area right around in between the cheeks to your butt area (but not the cheeks). The reason why this is the most popular is no one wants hair anywhere, there are also other benefits for removing all hair. During sex, the hairless area allows for more sensitivity with skin on skin. Also when you wear those little silk panties, you feel the luxury of the silk on your bare skin. There are


many reasons for completely removing hair with the full Brazilian bikini front and back wax Full Brazilian Bikini Front – similar to the style above, without hair being removed from the behind. Brazilian Bikini Front with Top – similar to the waxing style above, where the waxer will leave a “landing strip”, which is shortened, hair is removed from the top of the landing strip to just above the top of the lip. Brazilian Bikini Front – This is where there is a small “landing strip” of hair left at the front. Another words, the wax does not remove hair close to the lips in the bikini area. Many like this waxing style as they don’t have to bare all on the waxing bed but they receive the full benefits of waxing the bikini area allowing them to wear bikini’s without the fear of a loose hair. Deep Bikini with Top – this is a waxing style that removes hair about two fingers in from the panty line, and hair is also removed from the top of the bikini area, to leave a neat small triangle of hair. The benefits of this waxing style, is customers can wax the bikini area without exposing their full women parts, and they can wear a bikini or other underwear and not worry about any stray hair escaping to embarrass them. The least popular is the bikini line – this is wax removal up to the panty line. Waxing in this area leaves a neat and tidy area up to the panty line area. So, if you like a full area of hair but contained to the bounds of the panty area, this is the waxing style for you.

Written by: Danielle Hazekamp Layout: Kali Koller

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New Industry Rising Stars Beauty

Amazing Cosmetics Local Entrepreneurs/Beauty Innovators/Artists

Photo from (From Left-Sue Katz, Sandy Incardona, Lisa Thurman)

Written by: Stella Quimby Layout by: Annabel Carrillo hat happens when you cannot find the right concealer to match your skin? Go out and buy another right? Well, for these ladies it was a totally different story. They decided to create their own concealer with their makeup knowledge and business sense! So Amazing Cosmetics was born. Amazing Cosmetics, started in 1999 by Sue Katz and Lisa Thurman with Sandy Incardona later joining the duo, wanted to create a cosmetic line that would always match a woman’s skin tone; perfectly. They also envisioned a skin care/cosmetics line that will leave a woman’s complexion, flawless. Their “Studio” the flagship location, is based out of Libertyville, IL (the ladies hometown) and is open for shoppers to visit, take makeup classes, plan events and more! So these ladies not only created a line that draws thousands of visitors to their location but Amazing Cosmetics is also a favorite of many celebrities such as Drew Barrymore and Carrie Underwood!!!



Photo from

This non-animal testing line (yes animal lovers, they DO NOT test on animals) also takes pride of their amazing technology. All their cosmetics have the following:

Plus Amazing Cosmetics carries over 20 concealer colors ensuring that you’ll find one that matches your’s exactly. They are broken down into categories such as:

1. Are Water Resistant


2. Are Highly pigmented (3.5x’s the amount of a traditional concealer)




3. Have a Natural Finish (you are able to touch your skin without it coming off… imagine that?)

*Plus there’s many shades within these categories that ensure the match*



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These local Chicago entrepreneurs have revolutionized the cosmetics industry with their amazing technology, ensuring that your skin color matches the concealer (no more different neck/face colors) and have made their line a household name. PLUS they also give back to the local and other nonprofit organizations! Some organizations that Amazing Cosmetics have partnered with include; Chicago’s Children Charities, Girl Up, Red Cross, Step Up Women’s Network and many more!! So they not only make you look good but also feel good by giving back with each purchase!!! So what’s next for Amazing Cosmetics? They currently hold video tutorials on their website for people like myself that need help with putting on cosmetics, they also have Artistry Story; where they feature an artist and how they use Amazing Cosmetics-currently it is Brigette Myre Ellis a makeup artist with 22 years’ experience in TV and Film. Lastly they have a local event for all you Chicagoans out there on July 11 at the Studio! You can get a mini makeover, drinks and more! So make sure to visit and see this new line taking the beauty industry by storm!!!


GET YOUR SWEAT ON THIS SUMMER Wriitten By: Brittany Lohmann Article By: Aira Aquino


he weather is finally warming up. If you are looking to switch up your regular exercise routine and spend more time outside, there are plenty of opportunities in and around the city to do just that. Take advantage of the summer months by getting in your workout outside. Whether it is jogging, swimming, biking, an outdoor bootcamp or yoga class, getting out of the gym and into nature can have many benefits.



While exercising in itself has many benefits, including weight control, combating degenerative diseases, improved sleep, and so on. Being outside can provide an added boost to your everyday workout. The elements add resistance and demand more on the body, leading to a better overall workout. Exercising outside can also lead to an improved mood, better vitality, and enthusiasm for the workout itself. You can receive these added benefits whether exercising on your own or in a group. Either way, there are plenty of ways and places to get your daily workout in.


If your workout is during your alone time, there are always the classic options such as running, biking, or walking that allow you to be outdoors. However, if none of those options seem appealing, there are still plenty of activities that one can do by their lonesome. For example, consider combining bodyweight movements (e.g. push ups, squats, sit ups, lunges, etc.) and endurance activities (e.g. running, biking, jumping rope) for a short, intense workout. Or head over to Dearborn Park (865 S. Park Terrace) to use the park’s trails and fitness course.

If working out alone does not seem appealing though, there are always plenty of fitness groups in and around your hometown.


Curious about outside activities in the Chicago area this summer? Check out The Outdoor Fitness Meet Ups - Chicago for more information. The site has listed groups within a 25 mile radius of the city. Groups include walking, cycling, rowing, general fitness, hiking, and much more. Aside from the activity itself, the listed groups also indicate the exercise’s level of difficulty. As a result, anyone can find a workout program that suits their health and fitness needs. If team sports seem more appealing, consider signing up for a team with Live to Support, Chicago Sport and Social Club, the Union League Club of Chicago, or even a neighborhood YMCA or Park District to find a team to play on. Whatever activity you decide on, be sure to always take the weather into consideration. While exercising outdoors can make you feel more motivated, provide some extra resistance training, and leave you feeling more energized, the heat and the humidity can impact your workout and your health if you are not careful.

-----------“Whatever activity you decide on, be sure to always take the weather into consideration. “ ------------




When training outside it is important to always consider the weather, especially when it is hot and humid. A few tips for training when it is hot and humid include: 1.) dressing appropriately; 2.) allowing time for adaptation to the heat; 3.) and, most importantly, hydrating properly. In terms of clothing, on particularly hot days, wear loose and bright-colored clothing to help keep cool. Loose clothes allow air to circulate and light-colored items reflect light rather than absorb it, which both help to keep your body temperature down. Also, to protect oneself from the sun be sure to wear hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.

after exercise (Texas Heart Institute). The hot, humid weather is inevitable. Ensure that you are able to get the most out of your workout by being prepared and training smart.


However you decide to get your sweat on this summer, make sure to train smart when getting outside. Taking the proper precautions prior to working out can make all the difference in enjoying the outdoors and the activities you are participating in.

In addition, to dressing appropriately, be sure to allow the body to adapt to the warm weather, especially if it has been inside an air conditioned building all day. Aside from its usual benefits, doing a full warm up prior to exercising will allow one’s body to become more accustomed to the heat. When discussing hydration, the recommended amount will mostly depend on the activity and its length. However, for workouts of less than 1-1/2 hours, the Texas Heart Institute suggests the following prescription: drink about 16 ounces of water 1 to 2 hours before you exercise; drink about 16 ounces of cool water 15 minutes before you exercise; 5 ounces of cool water every 10 minutes during exercise; drink about 16 ounces cold water or a sports drink just


Summer Bites

The Best Seasonal Produce for Nutritional Value Brittany Lohmann article

Aira Aquino layout

In the summer months, most people are looking for light, fresh options to incorporate into their diet. These fruits and veggies will only taste fresher knowing that by shopping seasonally yields a better product. Check out the list below for 10 summer fruit and vegetable favorites that are not only good for you, but are easily incorporated into your everyday menu


1. Avocado One of the best known fruits for healthy fat. In addition, avocados are high in folate, which may help depression; it may also act as a natural detoxification as its high fiber content may aid digestion. The avocado is best used when the skin gives into to slight pressure. Incorporate the fruit into salads, guacamole, use as a mayo substitute, or use it as a spread.

2. CAULIFLOWER This cruciferous vegetable is rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. It can aid brain and heart health and act as an anti-inflammatory.

though it was recently harvested and should feel slightly damp. Be sure to eat the eggplant right away though; it will only last in the fridge for 2-3 days after purchase. Eggplant is best when roasted or grilled. It can act as the focus of a main course and be used as a meat substitute or shine as a part of another side dish.

3.Long Beans This fiber-rich veggie shines in the summertime. When choosing long beans, be sure to avoid beans that appear limp or droop; also, stay away from beans with overly tough skin. Instead, look for beans that are stiff and will “snap” when broken.

Store beans in your fridge for up to a week and prepare them alongside other veggies in stirfry and salads.

4. Peaches Rich in vitamins, the peach is a summer favorite. You will know that a peach is ripe for the picking based on its color, touch, and its skin texture. In terms of color, don’t be fooled by its red coloring. The optimal color for a peach is actually deep, golden yellow. You can also tell if your peach is ready to eat by giving it a firm, yet gentle squeeze. The skin should be soft to very soft rather. Finally, examine your peach’s skin texture around the stem. If the skin is slightly shriveled, then it is ready to consume.

More importantly, cauliflower is very versatile and can be incorporated into dishes a number of ways. Stay traditional and steam it alongside broccoli and carrots, roast it in the over, or use cauliflower as a low carb substitute for rice.

3. Eggplant This jewel colored veggie is full of fiber, potassium, manganese, folate, vitamins B and K as well as many other nutrients and is a staple in Mediterranean cooking. When choosing eggplant look for a smooth, shiny surface with a relatively firm skin. Another telling sign as to when an eggplant is ready for cooking is its stem: it should appear as



Peaches are popular to use in baked goods, desserts, and drinks; however, they can also be grilled or paired with poultry for a fresh take on cooking with this fruit.

5. Peppers When oranges are out of season, grab a pepper instead. Peppers are known for their high vitamin C and contain other vitamins and minerals with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Peppers come in a variety of colors, including green, red, yellow, and orange, and have a complex flavor profile, ranging from sweet to very hot. Peppers can be roasted, grilled, sautĂŠed or eaten raw. Include them as a part of salad, soup, dip, or use them to highlight alongside the main dish.

6. Raspberries These sweet berries are packed full of vitamins and antioxidants, which can help fighting off chronic diseases. When choosing raspberries, look for ones that appear firm rather than mushy with a bright red color. Then, rather than storing raspberries in their original container, spread them out on a plate or tray to keep them fresher, longer. Use raspberries as a part of preserves, jams, sauce or incorporate them into baked goods and/or desserts. Go non-traditional and use these berries as a part of a savory/sweet salad.

7.Tomatoes Full of nutrients to stave off chronic diseases, fresh tomatoes are a summer staple. Choose a tomato that is rich in color, has a firm skin, and has a slightly woody/sweet smell. Then store on a plate at room temperature for two to three days. Whether they are roasted, sautĂŠed, grilled, or used raw, tomatoes can be added to highlight to any dish. If you are looking to be more adventurous, look for using tomatoes in many Mediterranean, Mexican, and Italian recipes.

8. zucchini Full of potassium, fiber, and rich in Vitamin A, zucchini is a low calorie and very versatile vegetable. Choose zucchini that are small to medium sizes; think six to eight inches in length. Make sure that the vegetable has a firm and smooth skin. Avoid zucchinis that have any nicks or cuts in their flesh. Then store them in the refrigerator, making sure to wrap the vegetable tightly. This squash can be used in many dishes. It can be incorporated into baked goods as a muffin or bread; eaten raw and topped with cheese and tomatoes; braised; cut into noodles and used as a pasta substitute; or even made into fries.





Written by Tareq Al Saud


he summer season is upon us and for many that means family travel. For many, summer is the most popular time to get away and see the world. So where do you want to go? Europe? Not a bad time to go. The value of the dollar is the strongest it has been in years; almost since the beginning of the Euro. But you have already trampled down the Champs Elysees to death, dined on enough tapas until you puked tuna and beer gardens no longer call you. Want something exotic? How about traveling to the Middle East? Yes. It is a bit hot, but it is a cheap vacation that offers a lot for the dollar. With four airlines making direct flights to the Middle East and airfare battles going on amonst them, now is the BEST time. You can get some great travel deals. But wait! There is more to the Middle East than the Pyramids. If you’re not exactly the camel riding type and you perhaps yawn at the pyramids — never fear. We have some fun places that you will want to check out to make this the most memorable trip you will experience in decades. Here is a quick list of off-the-path places to visit in Cairo and Alexandria. What? Alexandria? YES! This is a Middle East hot spot for many in Europe and the Middle East. It is not to be missed. Put it on your your bucket list right at the top. It has great beaches, wonderful nightlife/cabarets and historical places. It is the go-to place for many in the Middle East and where one won’t feel the price tag that comes from going to the Emirates or Qatar. Things to also remember about civilizations that are old — while you may see a fairly modern building, there is more than meets the


eye. Many structures in the Middle East are built on ruins or foundations that go back centuries. It is mix of time periods and truly puts new meaning into the words “recycle”.

CITADEL OF QAITBAY The Citadel or Fort of Qaitbay is a 15th-century defensive fortress located on the Mediterranean sea coast. It was established in 1477 AD (882 AH) by Sultan Al-Ashraf Sayf al-Din Qa’it Bay. It

was considered one of the most important defensive strongholds, not only in Egypt, but also along the Mediterranean Sea coast. The Citadel is situated on the eastern side of the northern tip of Pharos Island at the mouth of the Eastern Harbor. It was erected on the site of the famous Lighthouse of Alexandria, which was once considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The lighthouse was in use and continued to function until the time of the Arab conquest. Several disasters occurred and the shape of the

lighthouse changed, but it still continued to function. You know it’s old when the “Restoration” was about 880 AD. By the way; that is why we travel. Can you really see anything older than a couple hundred years in the US? During the 11th century an earthquake occurred and caused damage to a majority of the Lighthouse. The base survived but could only serve as a watchtower. A small mosque was built on the top. In the 14th century there was a very destructive earthquake and the whole building was completely destroyed.

The Citadel remained neglected until 1904 when the Ministry of Defense restored the Upper floors. King Farouk wanted to turn the Citadel into a royal house so he ordered a rapid renovation on it. After the revolution of 1952 the Egyptian Naval troops turned the building to a Maritime Museum. The biggest restoration work dates back to 1984, when the Egyptian Antiquities Organization made ambitious plans to restore the fort. This place will rock your socks off. It is history incarnate, an architectural wonder and has amazing views all rolled into one. It is very easy to spend a very long day there and absorb what is probably one of the best places for new comers to Alexandria.

THE SALAMLEK and AL HARAMLIK PALACES, MONTAZA PALACE and GROUNDS The Montaza Palace Grounds are worth a look/see while in Alexandria. They are located in the Montaza district of Alexandria, Egypt. The palace lies on the foundation that was once the Salamlek Palace. The Salamlek was a palace built for men in 1892 by Khedive Abbas II, the last Muhammad Ali Dynasty ruler to hold title over the Khedivate of Egypt and Sudan. This was a hunting lodge and residence for his male companions. The larger and adjoining Al-Haramlik Palace (built for female companions) and royal gardens were added to the Montaza Palace grounds and were built by King Ahmed Foaud in 1925. The palace has long open arcades facing the sea along each floor. The views are perfectly breathtaking. The Al-Haramlik Palace has a distinctive design blend that combines different types of styles

Travel & Leisure

When Mohammed Ali became the ruler of Egypt in 1805, he renovated the old Citadel, restoring and repairing its outer ramparts. He rebuilt it once again into an important stronghold with the most modern weapons of the period, particularly the littoral cannons. The time of Mohamed Ali is considered the golden era for the Citadel. The Citadel retained the interest and importance to Mohammed Ali’s successors until the

year 1882 when the Orabi Revolt took place. The British fleet bombarded Alexandria violently. Much of city and the area surrounding the Citadel were damaged. This attack cracked the fortress. The north and western facades were severely damaged with the western facade being completely destroyed.


including: Byzantine styles with Gothic, Classic, and strange Islamic styles of architecture. The word Haramlek is a Turkish architectural term that is used to describe the palace where women stay. It was forbidden for anyone other than women to enter this special ladies area. The palace contains a lot of French antiquities and is decorated richly in the Baroque and Rococo styles. The three-floored Palace consists of a huge open hall with all the rooms and suites surrounding it. The first floor consists of many rooms and halls and the most important among them are the office of the king, the billiards hall, and the dining lounge. The second floor used to host the chaperones and servants of the kings and queens. The third and last floor hosted the suites of the king and the queen with a huge balcony in between. This floor also has the baby prince’s suite. It was designed out of cork in order to prevent the sleeping baby from being disturbed because of the sound of footsteps. Another one of King Farouk’s restoration projects, the palace was renewed and restored. King Farouk wanted to dig a crypt that goes from the palace directly to the sea in order for him to use it in case of any attacks taking place. However, he was not able to complete it because of the Egyptian revolution in 1952. President Anwar El-Sadat renovated the original Salamlek Palace and used it as an official presidential residence. It has most recently been used by former


president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak. It was built on a low plateau east of central Alexandria overlooking a beach on the Mediterranean Sea. Nature lovers will love this place. The Montaza — the former expansive 150 acres royal gardens, are open to the public as a landscape park and forest reserve. It contains a huge selection of trees and plants with some of being quite rare. For the horticulturalist in you, some of the tropical plants at the palace date back 75 years and include many exotics like: Catania, Zamia, Carlota, and special types of palms. There are also huge specimens of Anthurium, Hokiry, Araliaceae, Victoria, and Ropilia. The Montaza Palace itself is now a public museum dedicated to the Muhammad Ali Dynasty family history and objects d’art. The Salamlek Palace is now a hotel and a lovely place to stay while on your travels to Alexandria. It is also a wonderful place to have a destination wedding should you be looking for a spot with a lot of natural beauty.

CAIRO Cairo is like the Middle East’s version of New York City. It is a city that truly never sleeps. Most of the life occurs late and the city picks up steam after midnight. Rush hour here will start around 9:00 PM. One can get anything they desire as delivery is never a problem. Like a genie

in a lamp, you can get anything you need (pizza, matches or dry cleaning) delivered 24 hours a day. All one has to do is ask. The pyramids themselves are out of the central downtown area, but as we can see them in movies, why bother? Let’s look at some of the more obscure places that many tourists overlook.

MANIAL PALACE AND MUSEUM The Manial Palace and Museum is a former Ottoman/Egyptian dynasty era palace and grounds. They are located on the Rhoda Island in the center of the Nile. This is in the Sharia al-Saray area of the El-Manial district of southern Cairo. The palace and estate have been preserved as a historic house museum and estate. They reflect the settings and lifestyle of the late 19th- and early 20th-century Egyptian royalty. The residence compound is composed of five separate and distinctively styled buildings. They are surrounded by Persian gardens within a lovely English landscape garden park that runs along a small branch of the Nile. It is a quiet and tranquil sanctuary in the middle of a

very bustling metropolis. Book it now. The museum is one of the top 5 places in Cairo to be married. Now that it is reopened, reservations are pouring in. Don’t expect it to be cheap though, someone has to pay for the restoration of the gold walls and ceilings.

THINKING ABOUT SHOPPING? Khan el-Khalili is a major souk in the Islamic district of Cairo. What is a “souk”? It is an open air market and this is one of Cairo’s main attractions for tourists and Egyptians alike. It is fabulous. It puts most farmer’s markets to shame. You will want to plan on spending quite a bit of time here as it is not small and there

is plenty to see. The history of the Khan el-Khalili is very interesting and goes back centuries. The Khan el-Khalili was originally the site of an early mausoleum. It was the burial site of the Fatimids — a group that took control of Egypt in about 900 AD. The mausoleum was originally built by Gawhar al-Siqilli, the general who conquered Egypt for the Fatimid dynasty and founded Cairo in the late 970s AD. By the late 14th century, Egypt had been devastated by the Black Death, but continued to be the center of great economic activity.

Travel & Leisure

The Manial Palace was built by Prince Mohammed Ali Tewfik. He lived from 1875 to 1955 and was the uncle of King Farouk who was previously mentioned. Ali Tewfik had the palace designed in a style integrating European Art Nouveau and Rococo with many traditional Islamic architecture styles including Ottoman, Moorish and Persian. The palace is a mishmash of influences of the day and is very unique. It houses an extensive art collection with furniture, clothing, silver, objets d’art along with fantastic medieval manuscripts dating back to the Middle Ages. The beautiful ceramic tile in the entryway and mosque were created by the Armenian artist, David Ohannessian. The palace had been closed for renovation for most of 2014. It has since been reopened after a cost of over $60 million. Planning a destination wedding?


Travel & Leisure The Fatimid cemetery was destroyed to erect a large building that could house merchants and their goods at the heart of the city. The Khan was located at the middle of Cairo’s most important zone of economic activity and later sultans built commercial establishments close by. By the late 15th century, the district around Khan el-Khalili had also become the major center of foreign trade. Sultan al-Ghuri, Egypt’s last important Mamluk sultan (1501-1516), modified the layout of the district through a major campaign of demolition and new construction. Along with his religious and funerary complex and a large wikala that still exist today, he demolished the original Khan built by al-Khalili. It was rebuilt as a commercial complex with monumental gates and perpendicular streets. Among al-Ghuri’s constructions was the Wikala al-Qutn. Parts of these are still visible today, including an ornate gate and upper stories whose external facade is lined with iron-grilled windows where merchants’ rooms were located. The district became synonymous with Turkish merchants and the Turkish community of Cairo. Today, the Khan el-Khalili is occupied by Egyptian merchants and shopholders. It is significantly


geared towards tourists. Shops typically sell souvenirs, antiques and jewelry. Many traditional workshops continue to operate in the surrounding area including hookah makers and goldsmiths. In addition to shops, there are several restaurants, street cafes and coffeehouses distributed throughout the market. The coffee shops are generally small and quite traditional, serving Arabic coffee and usually offering shisha. One of the oldest and most famous coffeehouses is Fishawi’s and is over 250 years old. One can see how traditional hookahs are made and take one home. This place is gorgeous at night and perfectly safe to walk through. Make a point of going to watch it come alive and feel the magic. You will want to catch it at Ramadan when the place is buzzing all hours of the day and night.

A WALKING TRIP THROUGH CAIRO The Qasr al-Nil Bridge spans the Nile River in central Cairo, Egypt. It connects downtown Cairo to the Gezira Island and the Zamalek district. At the bridge’s east and west approaches, there are two large stone lion statues flanking each entrance. They are the work of 19th century artist Henri Alfred Jacquemart, who was a French sculptor. Qasr el-Nil Street crosses over the Nile on the bridge, from the

east bank area Tahrir Square (Liberation Square in downtown Cairo). This is a pleasant walk and goes past the huge the Mogamma government building and the Headquarters of the Arab League, then onto the Qasr al-Nil Bridge over the river to Gezira Island. Your walk will continue past the Opera Square and the Cairo Opera House, with connections to the Cairo Tower and the Zamalek district. You can then cross over the Al-Tahrir Bridge from the island to the west bank’s Agouza district. The Qasr al-Nil Bridge, with sidewalks, is popular for strolling in the evenings. The bridge offers fabulous views of the river, landmark buildings, swanky hotels, other structures on the island and along the west bank. The bridge is a popular date spot. So, expect to see lots of couples. It is very romantic at sunset. The bridge is very beautiful and carries a lot of history. It was a symbolic site of the 2011 Egyptian revolution, along with the nearby 6th October Bridge. You will feel the history of contemporary Egypt walking through the areas and not just think of Egypt as camels and pyramids. Got any other cool places you’d like to share? Pass them on to us at HalfStac!. Shoot us an email and include a photo if you have one. We would love to see where you have trekked and your list of hot spots. Happy travels.


Iraq’s FIRST and ONLY Female dJ

Written by Tareq Al Saud


he was singing before being able to talk. She was dancing before being able to walk. In doing so, she made her name, her brand and her future. As a girl from Iraq, it’s impossible to do what she is doing, but she is out ahead of the pack. Her family encouraged her, supported her and protected her. So, she always felt it was normal to be a trailblazer. She didn’t know that she would be a famous girl one day. So, she is humble and friendly and you cann’t picture her without a big smile and wide open arms. She is Aisha or Dj Aayush. Born on June 11 of 1981, Aisha was the third in line of 3 brothers and one sister. Her father was an officer in the Iraqi Civil Defense and her mother a retired teacher. Aisha got her mother’s talent. With the strong voice that could make her a great singer, in Iraqi traditions, it is so hard for a girl to be a singer. Many families considered that a big shame on the family. Yet, Aisha dreamed and was always imagining herself singing and surrounded by adoring fans. Many Iraqi families moved out of Iraq after the gulf war in 1991. It was so hard to live in Iraq. The economy was bad. Aisha and her family moved to Yemen. They stayed there for about 4 to 5 years. Aisha was very independent. She was working and helping her family to live. The family decided to go back to Baghdad after they made some money to return. Aisha and her father stayed in Yemen with one of her brothers. A side note: Aisha’s father was one of the only 9 people who survived the Ameriya’s Shelter Bombing in Baghdad. He


was working there as a civil defence officer during the 1991 war. Aisha worked hard on many levels to help her father. She couldn’t get a very high level of education. Aisha was smart. She kept developing herself and her knowledge. She is very much self-taught in her skills. In 2006, Aisha’s father passed away. She was so sad, perhaps some would say she was the saddest member of the family. It was a shock for her on many levels of emotion. At the same time, it was a very important factor in shaping her drive and success.

OPTIONS FOR WOMEN IN THE MIDDLE EAST... Aisha hadn’t forgotten about her singing talents and about being a singer. She couldn’t do that, as she came from a conservative family. It is very hard for woman in Iraq to work in the theater, the arts or as a singer. Iraq is a country based on a mix of tribal and religious traditions. Options for women can be very limited. Aisha understood that very well as an Iraqi girl. In order to achieve her dream, Aisha made a very smart decision and was very strategic. She decided to become a DJ. She had saved some money to set aside and she began with a very simple recorder and a CD player. She started small with being a DJ for strickly- girl only parties. Her friends helped her develop some connections. Aisha eventually received many offers to work and host parties. She moved onto high school graduations, birthday parties and traveling with tourists groups inside Iraq. Don’t forget that all of these were only for private affairs for women only. Aisha’s name and popularity grew and began to mushroom. She was and continues to be consistent about always trying to do the best on the job. Aisha possesses a unique and positive energy/power that inspires her family, friends and her fans. Her personality transcends and is effervescent. After one long trip/tour, she made a very important step. Two of the most influential social clubs inquired and wanted Aisha to be their DJ for an upcoming season of summer parties. Aisha proved to her family and friends that she could make it as a female DJ in a privately female society, but now she would have to deal with a new issue. The clubs’ parties are not girl-only affairs. She decided to take on the challenge. Aisha considered the situation very carefully. The situation in Iraq always is about safety. With many bombings of cars and terrorists, Aisha’s popularity would bring new challenges, but it also has brought new opportunities. She has grown enormously in popularity. She has bought new sound equipment for her work. She has expanded to open her own music and gift shop in an affluent neighborhood in Baghdad. Day by day, Aisha proves that by doing her best, she can achieve her goal of becoming famous not only in Baghdad, but in Iraq. Her tours of the many cities in Iraq have given her a lot of visablity, particularly because she is female. Aisha has developed great skills as a sound engineer through her years of practice. She now does the sound engineering for many of the famous singers/groups in the Middle East. She has worked up to engineering sound and music systems for many TV shows and music conventions. Her belief in the power of music and songs has helped shape her view that music can help pull people together. While she couldn’t be a singer, Aisha had worked on a significant project — one that she knew would be a massive hit. Aisha had organized the first Karaoke event in Iraq ever.


Once announced, the tickets to the event were sold out in one day. Karaoke is not socially popular in Iraq. This simple act has helped move and inspire social change and viewpoints in Iraq. Now and with Aisha, everyone wants to sing out loudly and publically with the music. Aisha also participates in many humanitarian activities and events. She has supported and helped a lot of homeless people in Iraq. Aisha works continuously to help get donations for those who lost their homes in Mosul because of ISIS. Currently, Aisha now traves to Istanbul, Beirut and Dubai to host parties. Besides making a name for herself, she has inspired many women to take on their dreams and to be seen. At the end of her day, Aisha comes home very tired but still smiling. And when you ask her what is the next step? She simply answers: “I have a lot of projects on my mind.”


fter more than 25 years of being out of her country, Nadia Osi still paints all that she can remember from

her past there. Born in Baghdad on June 28th 1970, she is from a Christian upbringing in the Middle East. Nadia loved painting as a hobbie. When Nadia finished high school, she applied to the Academy of Fine Art in Baghdad to study painting. One of her instructors advised her to study Graphic Design saying that he couldn’t see her as a painter.

Nadia was always dreaming about painting. As a newly arriving Iraqi family to London, the family had to work hard. Nadia had to work to help support her family. She worked as a graphic designer for companies and magazines and spe-

Written by Tareq Al Saud

Arts & Culture

In 1990, Nadia along with her father and one of her brothers went on vacation to London. Iraqi people were able to travel outside the country at that time. During that time, when Nadia and her family were in London, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. That was in August of 1990. Nadia’s father decided to stay in London and not return to Iraq. Nadia’s father brought his wife to London after a long process. Nadia continued her studies in graphic design. She received her bachelor degree from the American College of London.



Arts & Culture

cialized in commercial art. One of the magazines that she had worked for was Jamila (Pretty Girl) for the Arab community in London. “If you don’t wanna feel homesick, you have to eat your traditional food and drink your tea with cardamom”. Nadia said. Nadia likes nature and traveling. She toured many cities and towns in Europe and she began to paint again. She painted the nature. Nadia loved the realistic art paintings she saw at museums. After a while, Nadia’s style developed more into Impressionism and Expressionism. “I like the work of Mahmoud Fahmi Aboud as he is very Impressionistic artist. I learned a lot from his experiences and his advice.” Nadia continued “I also appreciate the work of Gustav Klimt and his romantic style and gold colors.” Other artists that Nadia likes include Scottish artist Jack Vettriano. She particularly liked his painting The Singing Butler. Nadia’s favorite time to paint is the daylight time and the twilight time just before dawn. “I love to listen to music and drink my cardamom tea while I am painting,” Nadia said and continued, “I can spend a week to over a month on one paint depending on the details.” Nadia left her home country 25 years ago, but she continues to paint all she can remember. “I am longing and yearning to go back to the country of Iraq in the past, when there was real humility and kind relations among the people living there. In London, I didn’t feel like I’m a stranger. I felt that here in Iowa. I found the Iraqi people are more different here in Iowa than in London too. London was more multicultural.“ Nadia said. Nadia is yearning to return to the North of Iraq where her family came from. She has very fond memories of things that she can’t find in the States. She likes and remembers the taste of the bread Rigag. She had a lot of memories about her childhood and her family’s picnics in Northern Iraq. Iraq is different than what people see in the news. It was more than car bombs and terrorists. Nadia recalled a day when she she was asked to paint about agriculture in Iraq. Her teacher didn’t believe that Nadia could paint the whole farm with a tractor. Her teacher said that she copied that painting. Nadia focuses her paintings on the subject of the Iraqi ladies in the past. She paints all the details and adds her own style. The colors and training allows her to paint in an expressive impressionistic style similar to the painters she loves. Her work has taken the world by storm. Nadia is planning to do exhibits in UAE , Qatar and Kuwait next year 2016 alone. When looking at her work, one can feel the warm and seductive breezes or the Middle East.



BABYLON Written by Tareq Al Saud


or Zubair, music is the fresh air and water that he can’t live without. He has his own style in music. Lions don’t play Lute but Zubair does. There is the story behind the man they call “The Lion of Babylon.“

passions and love to his country: Iraq. Zubair was always first in all his tests, exams and presentations. He is very smart and amazingly gifted at the Oud. Zubair was influenced by the pioneers in Oud in Iraq like Munier and Jameel Bashir, Ali Al Imam and others.

ments from all around the world. The oud was included in this competition. Zubair was not only the only one to represent

Iraq, but also the Middle East. With his tal-

ent and ambition, Zubair recieved the gold prize and moved on to the music festival in Tokyo. It was in Tokyo, he recieved the nickname “The Lion of Babylon.”

It is funny and quite a coincidence

how the Japanese named him The Lion


On august 1st of 1977, Zubair Al Awadi was born in Baghdad. His family was originally from Hilla (City As with many of Babylon). Zubair was raised in Iraqis, Zubair was Baghdad. It was here he discovered suffering from his great passion — music. the situation When he finished high school in in his country, Baghdad, Zubair decided to study especially after music and be a professional oud 2003. The war player. Oud is a traditional Arabic had destroyed all stringed instrument. It looks much the beauty in Iraq like a lute or guitar in the western and replaced it world. Oud has a bigger sound with blood, horPhoto by Jack Potts box with a shorter arm and has ten ror and sadness. strings. Some may find it sounds Zubair decided to leave the country similar to the Spanish Guitar style in as he could not play music or develop the way it is played. his talent as the situation worsened. Zubair joined the Institute of Fine Zubair traveled to many Arabic counArts in Baghdad with a big dream — tries like Jordan, Lebanon and Cair; however in 2004, Zubair decided to he wanted to express his emotions,

travel to Tokyo. There was a musical

competition open to all stringed instru-



of Babylon. Zubair’s name in the Arabic language means Lion. Zubair was born on the 1st of August making him a Leo in the astrology chart. Zubair originally was from Babylon City in Iraq which has a famous Lion statue as it’s icon and landmark. But there is no place for our lion in Babylon or Iraq. Zubair’s father was killed by Al Qaeda assassins in 2004. Zubair’s father (a police colonel) was denounced as a traitor. His attackers shot him more than 50 times. After his father was killed, Zubair’s life had changed forever. Zubair became the man of the family. His family prefered to stay in the town of Hilla as the situation in Baghdad became complicated. Zubair’s family also wanted him to stay out of Iraq completely because they did not want to lose another member of the family.

“They wrote that they were going to cut my fingers off if I continued to play my music,” said Al Awadi One of the threats to him and his family came in the form of a letter to Zubair’s home four months after his father was killed. It came from the same men who had killed his father. They threatened to cut off his fingers off if he continued playing his music. Al Qaeda considered music to be haram or forbidden by Islamic law. Zubai,r as a 34 year old muslim, believes music is a gift from God. Zubair was forced to leave Iraq for good. “There are some people in Iraq now who deface the image of Islam and Christianity. They live by provoking clashes between religions and wear the mask of religion, but they are terrorists.” Al Awadi said.

Zubair took the next step to combine Oud music and sound technology... kind of like Middle East meets techno. Zubair composed many music pieces using sound mixing equipment with the technology and computer effects made on the sound board. He has taken this technology passion and made video clips using 3d visual effects to add visual elements to his music pieces. In 2010, Zubair had the chance to fly and resettle in the U.S. He is one of more than 1,300 Iraqi refugees who’ve resettled in the Houston area since 2007. He was lucky as the situation in Egypt became unstable due of the revolution that was brewing there. As a refugee, there were a lot of emotional and mental challenges to living in the West. Life is not the same in the U.S. For those on the outside looking in, it may seem easier, but it can be very unsettling being far away from home. Zubair initially had to take a job in a factory to pay bills. A 6 am to 6 pm shift left very little time for music.

“One of my friends said something that terrifies me. He said, ‘You will abandon your oud in America.’ I have been trying to prove my friend wrong.” One can not keep the lion down long before he gets up to roar. Zubair continued working on his compositions. Since his immigration to the US, he became well known in Houston because of his musical talent. Zubair has played his Oud music on every International Refugee Day for five years. He now has received many commendations and citations for his work in music. He is now working on two projects: the first is a music score for a motion picture. The second project is developing a line of oud strings that carry will carry his name.

The next destination for Zubair was Cairo. Zubair wanted to develop his knowledge more in the area of the Oud, it’s music and traditions. He was the first Iraqi to study in the Arabic Institute of “Everyone’s homeland is in their Oud in Cairo. He graduated in 2006 and heart, but my music is my home. It is my became a teacher for a short time at the school. But Cairo became a short stop on country. My music is where I feel safe.” his journey as it was a temporay refugee city until he could find a new host country.


global focus 263


Arts & Culture


uch like Americans, the Arab world has contemporary symbols and celebrities that inspire. During the holiday seasons of

Christmas, people in the US remember watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman or Julie Andrew’s Holiday Specials. It is hard to think of Christmas without reflecting on those TV classics, as they are so much apart of childhood and holiday memories. Ramadan for the Arab world is very much the same. The Arab Ramadan Holiday has a face that is synonymous with joy, laughter, elegance and holiday spirit. That face is the incredible likeness of Sherihan. As this Ramadan holiday season arrives, a memory that comes to mind and brings a smile to millions is remembering Sherihan. This is the 30th anniversary of her first Ramadan special. It is befitting the holiday to give thanks to someone who has made Ramadan so full of laughter and joy.

When we talk about Sherihan, we talk about an Arabic legend that is still beloved by millions upon millions of Arabs from the ocean to the gulf. In fact, during the Ramadan season, many girls would run home to see Sherihan to imitate her style and fashion. She was extremely fashionable and set “the look” of many. Sherihan’s life, however, was not always glamorous. At times, it was full of tragedy and sorrows. Yet, these events didn’t prevent her from being the ray of light and inspiration for millions of Arab girls and women. Sherihan was the icon of the 80’s and 90’s. She sang, danced and acted in many movies, TV shows and Fawazeer specials. Fawazeer is an Arabic word meaning puzzles. It was these Fawazeers that put Sheihan into the forefront of the consciousness of many. It is these programs that are the fond memories of many in the Arab world. In looking at the life of Sherihan there are many important milestones that molded her into the face that inspired the Arab world.

Her Mother, Mrs. Awatif Al Shalakany was married to Mr. Shalakany in secret. The reason behind this secret marriage was to prevent the enrollment of her only son, the musician Omar Khorshid, from being inducted into military service. As being the sole teenage breadwinner of the family, this prevented Omar from being taken into the military and possibly killed.

The Arab Ramadan Holiday has a face that is synonymous with joy, laughter, elegance and holiday spirit. That face is the incredible likeness of Sherihan. This is the 30th anniversary of her first Ramadan special.

Arts & Culture

Omar Khorshid, the older stepbrother of Sherihan, was a famous artist and musician. Omar watched his stepsister grow. She was talented from the womb and constantly singing and dancing. As a musician, he believed in his sister’ talent and was always pushing her to be her best. He was her supporter and teacher as she was growing up. Omar died suddenly in a car accident in 1980.

Written by Tareq Al Saud

Sherihan Ahmed Abdul-Fattah Al Shalakany and -yes- this is her full name, was an icon. According to the arabic tradition of writing names, one writes a name first then the name of the father, followed by your grandfather with the family name at the end. Sherihan was born on December 6th in 1964 in Cairo, Egypt.

As a result of this secret marriage, Sherihan was born. The father died suddenly leaving his daughter to her fate with his family. The Shalakany family refused to recognize the marriage and questioned it in anticipation of getting the father’s wealth. The Shalakany family also denied Sherihan as a daughter of their father. Sherihan paid the price for these customary secret marriages long before going to the courts to prove her father’s linage. This issue was resolved in June of 1980. Sherihan was 16 years of age at that time.


Sherihan experienced the biggest shock of her early years when her brother died. She remained emotionally stuck in sorrow for many years. When referring to Omar, she said, “Life without Omar has no test. He was my brother, my father and my friend.” She continued to push herself while remembering everything her brother taught her. Many of the entertainment and singing skills he himself had learned and tried to pass onto his sister, took on new importance. In working on her singing, it was a emotional connection and remembrance of Omar.

THE FIRST FAWAZEER At a very young age, Sherihan managed to transform her sorrow into one of her greatest successes. She landed a role to do one of the most entertaining TV shows in Ramadan Season on Egyptian television. It was a short series of holiday programs called Fawazeer — the arabic word for puzzles. The series was 30 episodes and ran daily for the whole month of Ramadan. The first Fawazeer was based on the Arabian Nights stories and was mixed with a variety of world cultures to attract a broader audience. The Fawazeer Show made Sherihan into a major celebrity. Each show could be easily compared to The Carol Burnett Show in the US. The shows were extremely funny and full of music and dancing. They were very family-oriented and appealed to a very broad age demographic. To the youth culture she was an instant icon. No expense was spared on her costumes. Similar to Carol Burnett with a collection of Bob Mackie gowns, Sherihan had a wardrobe that was beyond any-


thing that was seen on Arab television at the time. Her wardrobe was straight out the workrooms of Paris. The dresses were couture confection. She was extremely fashion forward and stunningly beautiful. Teenage girls idolized her style and tried to imitate her looks as fast as they could. The programs were an overnight sensation. Sherihan was acting, singing and dancing. It was a TV festival for 30 nights with much extravagance and commanded the attention of everyone. Sherihan became the Santa Claus of Ramadan in the Arab world. The Fawazeer Shows were picked up the following years with each year being more extravagant. Sherihan started to shoot roles for many Egyptian successful movies in the 80’s. Her costars and directors were the giants in the Middle East. As an actress, Sherihan received a lot of awards in many film festivals around the Arab world. Sherihan’s repertoire included a wide and varying breadth of roles and characters. She could successfully play a simple country girl with believability as well as an aristocrat ingénue. Sherihan was determined to make an impact on the theater stage. One of the productions she was in was called “For the Sake of Your Eyes”. The explosive and exhaustive 4-hour production was performed almost daily and ran for more than 2 years. Sherihan was a force and icon of ambitious, positive energy, style and makeup for millions of girls in the Arab world. She also caught the eye of millions of young men. Sherihan’s life became a swirl of rumors and fodder for tabloids. After finishing her third season of the Fawazeer in 1988, there were many rumors connecting her with one of the

Egyptian President’s sons. The staff of her show saw him at the taping of her show many times, others denied the rumors by saying he was just a VIP fan like many of the others while other people said they were dating.

FIRST LIFE CHANGER & A STEP AWAY FROM PUBLIC EYE May 24th of 1989 was date that changed Sherihan forever. A car accident on a desert road, during a trip to Alexandria, fractured her spine. Sherihan had to endure dozens of surgeries on her back to fix the multiple fractures. She went into reclusion and was under medical supervision and rehabilitation for years. Sherihan lived abroad for many of these years to get medical treatments. This seclusion provided additional speculation in the tabloids that lasted for years. Much like the rumors of Princess Diana, massive rumors circled about that car accident in that it was not car accident at all, but an attempt to separate Sherihan from Mubarak’s son as planned by the first lady of Egypt, Susan Mubarak. Regardless of the rumors, millions of her fans were deeply saddened by her absence during the Ramadan season. It would be four years before the Diva of Ramadan would be able to stand and perform on her last Fawazeer Show in 1993.

In the 90’s, Sherihan focused on her career as an actress to churn out many great films. She added a lot to her career and became one of the Middle East’s most recognized Divas at that time. As an entertainer, Sherihan became the face of Arab world on a level with Madonna, J-Lo, Britney Spears or Katy Perry. Sherihan was the package deal of all these stars put together. Her style put her in the fashion forefront much like Lady Gaga. The variety of her work put her on a level with the great actresses like Ashley Judd or Charlize Theron.

ROMANCE AND NEW LIFE On a romantic level, her life was marred by a short-lived marriage to a wealthy arab businessman, Allal El Fassi. They got divorced quietly after a series of crises appeared in the market tabloids. Privacy was a constant issue for the actress. A second marriage to businessman named Alaa Al Khawaja would prove to be more fruitful, but no less tumultuous. This marriage was secret because Alaa Al Khawaja was a husband to another woman at the time. The woman was the famous Egyptian actress, Isaad Younis. Issad Younis knew about this marriage. There was a rumor and media war against Sherihan led by Isaad Younis. Sherihan obliged by providing complete silence, but soon the couple was crowned with Lulua (Pearl). This was the first daughter of Sherihan.

Arts & Culture

Sherihan stood up again and shot the fourth season of the Fawazeer Show. During that same time, another personal tragedy came along. Her mother, Awatif Al Shalakani passed away. Sherihan had lost her first supporter of life. This personal tragedy propelled her to do her best work. The Fawazeer, as usual, was beyond stunning and provided an entrance

to do other acting gigs. Sherihan moved on to do a musical movie: Crystal in 1994 and also in the same year she returned to musical theater in Mohmmed Ali’s: Street. The play was a massive success. The play was booked solid and ticket sales ran the show for over 2 years.


“I ASK YOU TO PRAY” In 2002, while finishing her role in the movie “The Love and the Blood”, doctors discovered a very rare health issue in her face. Sherihan had cancer of the salivary glands. It’s the one of the fiercest and one of the strangest types of cancers. Simultaneously, Sherihan received news of winning the best actress award at the Alexandria International Film Festival for her role in the same movie. She couldn’t attend but, sent a short messege: “A health issue prevents me from attending, but all my thanks to you, to your assessment of the film and to the league. I ask you to pray.” Sherihan flew to Paris for her appointment with surgeons for the most scary moments in her life. On September 24th, Sherihan was surprised by a sea of fans holding a pilgrimage to say prayers outside her stay at the Ritz Hotel. Her friends/ fans were joined by hotel guests and staff who stayed to pay vigil and pray for her. Sherihan described that moment: “I went to the hospital, washed and did wudoo (Muslims preparing wash for prayer) implementation of the will of God Almighty. I embraced my daughter Pearl and my family and the doctors took me to the operating room to meet my God.” The cancer operation took 18 hours to replace the muscle of the right cheek and the salivary gland. She would undergo several other operations to restore her face. The prognosis was not favorable. Prior to the surgery, doctors had told Sherihan that she would be able to live only for 3 months. After the surgery, the doctors told her that she might be able to live for 9 months. Later, she was told that she could be able to live for 3 years. In the midst of this sadness,


a glimmer of joy entered her life. Sherihan gave birth to a second daughter Talia. After spending much of her life in the public eye, Sherihan disappeared. She was a regular in the jet set and spent years in the eye of the public or in the media. Her beauty was legendary and was never again seen until very recently. A day in Tahrir’s Square downtown Cairo proved to be the re-emergance of the great lady.

THE FACE OF EGYPTIAN REVOLUTION She participated in demonstrations during the first Egyptian revolution against the former president Mubarak in January of 2011. Sherihan was among the protesters and was also among the millions of Egyptian protesters against the new President Mursi in June 2013. She made her first TV appearances that covered the 2013 revolution against Mursi. Sherihan learned a lot from her long experience of illness. Her strength, ambitions and faith were always in front of her eyes. Sherihan has recently published new photos of her on her Facebook page. Everyone who knows Sherihan is amazed and happy to see her photos. Sherihan seemed as if nothing happened to her face at all. The same shinning and elegant lady looks as if time had stopped for years. Sherihan now is planning for a return to television. It is speculated that her first foray will be a drama. These are all rumors, but the beauty that was the face of Ramadan has returned. It is something to celebrate as the Ramadan season is about to begin. To share with you the excitement of the season, please view the short clip of Sherihan on HalfStack’s blog as she sings and dances in a short series of segments from her of Ramadan Fawazeer Shows. Happy Ramadan!

editors last look


“Your Body Doesn‛t Define You!” By: Reynisha Lindsay Designed by: jamie breeden

How many times have you read an article or blog post about how to lose weight? How many infomercials have you watched about programs to help you lose weight or enhance certain parts of your body? How many times have you believed someone when they told you, “you need to lose weight”, “you’re too fat”, “you’re too skinny”, “your butt is too big or your stomach is not flat enough”? I pose these questions because I know that you have been asked at least one by someone or even yourself. What’s worse is if you are the one asking the questions of yourself. Where did these thoughts or ideas that you are “too” anything come from? Did you learn them from family, friends or social media? Your self-criticism came from someone or something. It is not natural for us to have a negative self image of ourselves. Therefore, it had to be learned. I try to figure out why we put so much pressure on ourselves. Why we let our outer appearance take precedence over what is on the inside. Why we


obsess over every minute detail from the top of our head to the bottom of our feet. What is the fixation we have with our bodies? Are we searching for perfection? But whose perfection? Why does someone else’s opinion of our body matter so much? Your view of your body should be the only one that matters. Don’t we know that what is on the outside will not last? Our bodies will eventually waste away as time is fleeting. Therefore, shouldn’t we spend our time loving our bodies and thinking positively about our bodies? Focus on the characteristics you love about your body. Revel in the features that make you unique. Stop looking at the magazines and the celebrities and think those body images are perfection. Most, if not all, magazine bodies are airbrushed. It is neither healthy, nor realistic for you to hold yourself to those standards. You have to make the decision to stop hating your body and love it no matter what anyone else says. Enjoy your body now instead of waiting to

“your butt is too big or your stomach is not flat enough”? reach a goal. Sure you can workout and develop a weight loss plan. However, make sure you are working out because you love your body not because you hate it. How can you take care of something or nourish it, if you hate it? You need to eat like you love your body and sleep so your body can renew itself. Replenish your body with water. Treat your body to yoga, Pilates, or Zumba. Fill it with healthy dishes and fruit smoothies. Learn to take care really good care of your body. It’s the only one that you have. It is a temple that houses your soul – the most intimate part of your being. For people to see your soul, you have to transcend societal views of beauty and love what you see in the mirror. I recently read a quote that said, “Embrace and love your body, it is the most amazing thing you will ever own.” What a powerful statement if you believe it. Believing is the struggle which keeps us from embracing ourselves. Reason being, we manifest what we think. If you continue to believe the “too’s” that I mentioned previously, and criticize yourself, you will never be satisfied with your body. Thus, the power to change your body perception will remain beyond your reach. I know you are tired of the struggle. Therefore, change your perception. Find a better vantage point and focus on the positive. You are worthy of being happy and you deserve to be happy. Allow yourself to believe it. You have to lift yourself up and trust that you are more than what you see and more than what people say. Once you realize that you are beautiful in the skin you are in, you will radiate confidence. In turn, that confidence will enable you to reveal the real you. Thus, whatever you put on your body will only enhance the beauty within. Spray on a little fragrance. Adorn your body with jewels, comfortable fabrics, items that make you feel good about yourself. Use your body to reflect what is inside of you. Let your personality exude from every ounce of your

body. Dress your body the way you want no matter what anyone else thinks. Choose to be confident and be bold. Now, I am not saying the process of loving the skin you’re in is an easy one. Acceptance of how we look on any level is complex. The inner struggle of the mind is taxing. I believe most of us want to look the way we desire without judgment or ridicule. However, few of us are able to love our bodies, as we should. Moreover, even fewer of us have the self-assurance to be individuals. We find it difficult to love something we want to change. Thus, the inner struggle ensues. The perception of our bodies is our reality - no one else’s. Therefore, we can only change the perception by changing our thought process. While this is a difficult task, it is not an impossible one. Realize this, learning to love your body while it’s not at its best right now, does not mean you cannot love it later on. You are on a journey with highs and lows filled with tumultuous emotions. Just know change will happen when you are ready and accepting. No diet or workout plan will change you unless you are ready for a change. Focus on being healthy and the rest will follow. The mind is the most powerful tool we possess. Yet, the body is the most valuable thing we possess. Treat it as such. Don’t hate it or hide it. Be proud of it. Each scar, line or wrinkle has a story. Each year allows it to grow. Each day allows it to renew. Each smile makes it look beautiful. Allow your mind and body to work together. Do this for yourself and others. Compliment and encourage them. By inspiring self-esteem in others, you are developing yours. Once you have it, you will see your body in a new light. Lastly, your body should not dictate your happiness. It should not be the most important thing about you. Your body doesn’t define you…you define you.

“you need to lose weight”, “you’re too fat”, “you’re too skinny”


June 30, 2015

By: Rachael Stewart Dear Rachael, I know you’re hurt. I know you’re confused. I know you’re scared. You don’t look in the mirror and see yourself, but rather someone who is constantly searching for a different you. I wish you could see how beautiful, kind, funny, smart, talented, unique, worthy, and loved you are. You live in a world that is consumed with weight, image, and status and because of that you were destined to fall. I remember that pool party in the second grade when you first started to look at yourself differently. Only seven years old, and already unhappy, already developing a vision of yourself as fat. You looked at yourself and then at your friends and thought how nice it would feel to be skinnier and to be able to sit down without having your thighs squish on the seat. Seven years old!!!! How could you already hate the way you looked? How could you think you were fat? Why couldn’t you just be happy with yourself?

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Remember middle school? Remember gym class with those horrid purple and gold uniforms? Remember how you looked around the gymnasium during warm-ups and thought that your legs looked monstrously huge next to the other girls? You thought that maybe if you got lower cut socks it would make your legs look longer and leaner or if you got different shoes your calves would somehow magically appear smaller. It was ridiculous, it really was. Who obsesses over the way their legs look? Middle schoolers are supposed to be carefree and only concerned about who gets to marry Jesse McCartney. High school would be different. High school would be better. I remember how much you loved going to the high school plays because high school seemed so glamorous, so cool, so exciting. It was going to be amazing. In a sense it was amazing. For the most part, you had a great time. You were in band and choir, you got straight A’s, the boys were easy on the eyes, you were constantly involved in different groups and organizations and let’s not forget about the amazing people you met. It was great, it really was, but at the same time it was the hardest four years of your life. If your previous years in school didn’t already make them clear, there was an obvious status quo in order. All of those cliché high school movies proved true in some way. Now was the time that people started dating, got their first kiss, went out with a boy to the movies for the first time. You wanted so badly for some boy to stop by your locker and ask you to go the movies. You saw all of your friends being noticed by boys and it made you wonder what was wrong with you. Why weren’t boys flirting with you? Why didn’t you get your first kiss? Why didn’t they like you? It all seemed to add up to the fact that something had to be unlikable about you. You had to be weird or ugly or not skinny enough to be asked out. You had to be.


You know what would make boys like you more? Being skinnier. It seemed like having a slender physique equated to being happier and being more worthy of affection, so with that your weight loss journey began. The end of freshman year would be where your struggles began even if it didn’t seem that way at the time. I remember when calories became a reality and when the obsession began. It started with reading all of the nutrition labels from the food you ate, then you googled how many calories fruit and vegetables had, then you started cutting more and more food our until eventually you would give your lunches away at school or lie to your parents to make them think you ate. It wasn’t about being healthy. You told yourself that you were eating healthy foods and that you were exercising so you must be healthy. That reminds me, let’s not forget about the

exercise. Remember how you exercised for hours on end to burn off everything you ate? It was great to feel so in control wasn’t it? Wrong. I remember how this behavior continued on and on until your body said “I can’t take it anymore!!!” Along came the binges. Along came the overcompensation for the years of restriction. Binge eating made you feel great and horrible at the same time. You finally got to have all of those sugary treats, those bags of potato chips, that piece of pizza that you had been pushing aside for too long, but at what cost? After every binge you felt disgusting. You felt fat. You felt worthless. You felt out of control. This led to more self-hatred than ever before and it seemed like you would never get out. It seemed like nobody could love you because you might be fat and who could love a fat person. Who could love someone who was in constant fear of food and gaining weight, who obsessed over her appearance 24/7, who couldn’t love herself first? Clearly love wasn’t about personality or connections beyond appearance. It must have been all about physical attraction right? I’m looking back at all of this and am filled with a mixture of emotions. I’m saddened by the many years that you spent hating yourself. I’m hurt that you couldn’t see that there was nothing wrong with you, but yet you still starved yourself because you thought being skinny would make you happier and more desirable. There is a pit of regret having watched you binge and later hate yourself because weight and appearance were more important you than your worth as a person. You missed adventures, birthday parties, dances, sunshine, happiness, because you didn’t want to go out and be judged by people. Rachael, I wish you could have seen what I see now. I wish you could see that you were perfect just as you were. I wish you could see the person that you have become. I wish you could see that if someone is going to love you more because you’re thinner, that person doesn’t truly love you. Although you’ve suffered and although you’ve been in so much pain, you’ve also learned so much. You’ve learned that regardless of the number on the scale, you are worthy of great things. I’m proud of the kindness, strength, love, laughter, and joy that you have shone onto others. You have nothing to be ashamed of and everything to be proud of, and I think you’re finally starting to see that. I love you. Sincerely, ER V E N You UP





being beautiful and feeling good should not have a label or a number or a certain look to it.


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