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A verum quam vel et ulpa vwelectn relhe loiunis dolen im ustrum veagnim usupisels mtaqui aut ipsaeri loremspacd ma volorp

Iqui a verum quam vel et ulpa vwelectn relhe loiunis dolen im ustrum veagnim usupisels mtaqui aut ipsaeri loremspace.



Denette Buenrostro-Ramirez Epicc Magazine Founder & Publilsher


“It is how we choose to handle that adversity that determines whether we grow or stagnate.”

Epicc Magazine was created for all the phoenixes like me who have risen from the ashes, reborn after experiencing a difficult moment in their lives. The phoenixes profiled on these pages, all of whom are successful women in life and business, didn’t give up. Instead, every pain and disappointment they experienced became the fuel to ignite the fire for one hell of a comeback. I wanted to share these stories with the world to inspire and motivate others who may be going through similar situations. Believe it! There is light at the end of the tunnel—and it isn’t a train headed straight on! My hope is that as you read each story you are able to connect with the person and understand that there is a reason we have adversity in life. It is how we choose to handle that adversity that determines whether we grow or stagnate. I want to thank first and foremost God for giving me situations from which to grow. I thank my husband

for his unconditional love, support of all my crazy ideas, and showing me that anything is possible! My children have given me all my life experiences for which I am eternally grateful. Much gratitude to Wally for his undying positive outlook on life, my best friend Shalay who makes this cartoon called life bearable, my life coach Katharine who is just fabulous, and my mother Lucille who gave me life and my sisters who fill my life with joy. Bruno Mars, if you are reading this, thank you for “Don’t Believe Me Just Watch” because that verse fueled me to create my first empire…and now I’m working on my second! I wish upon you all love, peace and the best Epicc life ever! Besos, Denette Buenrostro-Ramirez Founder & Publisher


I believe An ordinary life can be extraordinary. Thank you for letting me inspire you to make your life “Epicc�! Denette Buenrostro-Ramirez

“I want to do something splendid... something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it, and mean to astonish you all someday.” Louisa May Alcott How would you make your life splendid?



A WORD FROM THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Please keep me on your radar. I am always looking for compelling stories for Epicc Magazine.

I am overjoyed to share with you the premier issue of Epicc Magazine! I know the stories we chose to feature in this edition will inspire you. I have had the privilege of meeting some of the inspiring individuals you will read about in the following pages. I met Denette, our publisher, a few years ago while working for another local publication. Denette is the personification of endurance and passion for life and she was excited when I shared with her the idea of creating a content-driven publication to share with our community inspiring stories. That’s how Epicc Magazine was born. I have selected an editorial team that believes in the mission of Epicc Magazine. Like Denette they are active in our community running successful businesses and finding time to give back. Their names are in the next page. I hope you enjoy browsing through the pages of this first edition. Install the Issuu app in your iPad if you have a tablet. It will enhance your reading experience and the app is free. Also, let me know if you would like to have your story published. My email is waldinei@hotmail.com

Waldinei (Wally) Lafaiete Editor-in-Chief

Have an “Epicc” 2020! Wally Lafaiete


FOUNDER & PUBLISHER Denette Buenrostro-Ramirez EDITOR -IN-CHIEF Waldinei (Wally) Lafaiete waldinei@hotmail.com EDITORS & CONTRIBUTORS Katharine McMillan Dave Strahan Janet Montagne Luz Ortiz Laura Curtis Violeta Burja Uchenna Umeh, MD Damien Vatel Lisa Astorga Shalay Peterson Ian Peterson Boravy Maloy Maribel De La Fuente-Alvarez Cristina Plascencia-Lopez Stephanie Eiland

“Epicc Magazine will be an inspiring and content-driven publication.” Wally Lafaiete



CAPTURING BEAUTY THAT LIGHTS REVEAL Jon Blaze Photographer Models: Courtney LeShaun Mia Isabella Genna Town Addison Kravitz Justin Stafford Frank Kenzine




Are you happy and living a meaningful life or, are you living aimlessly (and unhappily) without purpose and plans for your future? Purpose gives us the reason to wake up every morning, adds higher meaning to our existence, and impacts quality and longevity of our lives. Having a purpose in life is linked to high levels of happiness, self-esteem, and life satisfaction, along with good physical health and long lifespan, according to a 2014 National Institute on Aging-funded study of 6000 people ages 20 to 70. You have probably asked yourself: What is my life purpose? Why am I here? What am I supposed to be doing in my life? Self-questioning usually happens when we find ourselves stuck or at a crossroads in life. When facing different options, we need a sense of purpose to help us make the right decisions that will have a long-term impact on our future. It`s great to have a life purpose. But how do we find it? As much as we would like, we’re not brought into this world with a defined life purpose written in our hearts. We also don’t come

We’re all here for a reason, each of us has a unique task in this life and one main purpose to live for. It’s only up to us how and when we get to it.


equipped with an instruction manual to help us navigate through life in search of purpose. It would be much easier, but then we would be impoverished of precious self-examination and self-reflection needed to uncover our deepest yearnings. Wondering about our life purpose usually starts in teenage years when we’re deciding about our academic path, then we might search and find our meaning within our career choices, our family or serving others. When we enter second part of our lives, we usually re-evaluate the first half and might realize we need to just adjust our direction. Sometimes, we finally have an epiphany about what our life was meant to be. Only small percentage of people find the answer to this mystery early in their lives and make it their lifelong dedication. I wasn`t among them. It took me half of my life to find it, or should I say, to finally see it. The answer was there, all the time, inside of me, but I was looking elsewhere. Why? Because of my mindset, comprised of beliefs, expectations and fears which I subconsciously adopted as mine from my parents, my schoolteachers, my peers and society. I didn`t know what I wanted, had no idea about my life purpose, and had no clue how to find it. In my search for direction I thought that a “proper” education, one that guaranteed a solid job afterwards, that was accepted and praised by society and supposed to provide for good life, was the right way to go. A proper education should make me happy and validated. Of course, it didn`t work. For years, I had been creatively unsatisfied and utterly unfulfilled in my heart to the point where it started to affect


my health. I knew all along there must be another meaning to my life and continued searching for it. Through reading, learning and trying different things in my life I discovered I had to turn inwards, to go deep within myself because the answer had been there all along, like a precious pearl on the bottom of the ocean. Once I realized that, I changed my perception about my life. I decided to listen to my inner guidance to find out what made me feel good and what didn’t. I followed my heart and discovered what caused unrest and unhappiness in my life, where my fears and blockages were coming from, and how to release all that negativity. I learned what I was passionate about, what my strengths and skills were, how to use them and what made me feel helpful, creative, inspired, motivated and energized. All of it enabled me to change my priorities, to set up a new course for my journey and finally started living my life in more meaningful way. I`ve experienced a huge positive change mentally, emotionally and spiritually which has reflected in my creative fulfillment, healthier lifestyle, and increased personal strength. We`re all here for a reason, each of us has a unique task in this life and one main purpose to live for. It`s only up to us how and when we get to it. There are no instant solutions just as there are no right or wrong steps. It`s just life with numerous opportunities and constant choices, full of aha moments and amazing discoveries, giving us lessons and blessings. Embrace it with all your heart. It`s worth it.



7 STEPS TO FINDING YOUR LIFE PURPOSE: 1. Listen to your inner guidance/your intuition, be bold and claim your right to be happy. 2. Be willing to work on self-reflection, to grow personally and to sacrifice for your purpose. 3. What do you love to do? - Discover your interests, your hobbies and your passion. 4. What are you good at? - Examine your skills, abilities and strengths. 5. What or who inspires you? – Find your inspiration, motivation and good examples. 6. Where do you want to belong? - Discover what resonates with your core values. 7. What would make you feel valued and validated? - Contribute to something bigger than yourself.


Violeta Burja is the founder of H.E.A.L. Holistic Studio. She helps people on their path of personal growth through her healing work and education about mindbody-soul connection. www.heal-holistic.com





Growing up in a military family, Laura has traveled to six continents and innumerable island destinations and has considered travel to be an integral part of her two, now grown children’s education.

LAUR A C U R T I S Laura Loraine Curtis is a resident of San Antonio’s fast-growing

Ms. Curtis has previously served as an editor/writer for a

suburb, Helotes. She relocated here from Houston 16 years

popular online magazine, writing many cover stories and

ago, leaving behind a career as an R.N in obstetric nursing and

articles. In addition to home decor and antiques, her interests

started her own home staging business. While collecting items

still include the medical field, as well as travel and cultural

for home staging, she amassed many interesting antiques,

exchange. Growing up in a military family, she has traveled to

necessitating the opening of her first antique and decor shop,

six continents and innumerable island destinations and has

Ooh La La! Decor & More in 2009. She continued to do home

considered travel to be an integral part of her two, now grown

staging part time while running the shop with her partner.

children’s education. She is also an animal advocate, currently

When her partner moved, she joined forces with a team of

caring for seven dogs, and has adopted numerous homeless

Dutch antiques dealers and relocated to a larger building,

dogs and cats and is an approved foster with San Antonio

restructuring and renaming the business, Europa Imports.

Pets Alive. She also works closely with the Helotes Humane

When that property was sold, she purchased a commercial

Society. She is excited about being part of Epicc Magazine

tract of land on Bandera Road and began operating as an

staff and sharing her ideas while presenting those of other

online entity and by appointment. She also sells her premium

dynamic individuals in our city.

antiques at the bi-annual Round Top Antiques Fair and will be presenting her items at “The Venue” in Round Top this spring.




‘Laura Curtis is also an animal advocate, currently caring for seven dogs...’




Bistr09 is a classic French brasserie newly created by renown French Chef, Damien Watel & wife Lisa. The 09 in the name stands for, of course, the neighborhood zip code - but also their 9th restaurant creation in the city. The decor is a fresh, bright new look with a timeless elegance.

GOIN G G R E E N ( E R ) Everybody knows it’s always greener on the other side .


But is it ? I tried to find out for myself as a carnivore , I had a

We all know the restaurant business is extremely challenging

chat with Paul , a born vegetarian and his “mostly green” wife

..but if you make one with no beef , in Texas , you are asking


for more!

The Evans along with Michael Berhend , reformed as well,

Although they had no idea , the timing was perfect! A

opened a vegetarian restaurant at the Pearl called green in

couple of years later the winds of the green movement

2007 . While Paul grew up as a vegetarian from vegetarian

started blowing from the west into the dormant south Texas

parents in a blue zone , that’s code for vegetarian communi-

vegetarian plains and that soon propelled the next stage for

ties or concentrated areas of vegetarians ,Mike, formerly the

multiple locations in a rather short time.

owner of Lulu’s cafe , home of the giant chicken fried steak

Places like “Pharm Table” or “The Good Kind” also set out to

and 3 lb cinnamon roll, made a 90 degree turn right to the

provide healthy , earthy choices for us to try.

healthier side of the menu .

It’s clear Californians are moving to Texas and it’s clear the

Paul grew up to be a well-rounded guy and, just as tons of

influence is in many sectors of the local industry.

other people always dream of , he thought of opening a

Is it here to stay I ask?



Everybody knows it’s always greener on the other side. But is it?



And more specifically the impossible burgers and the likes of “faux fish “ and “faux chicken “? I pondered why would a person want their vegetables to look like meat ? or taste like meat? If they curl up to the mere thought of beef or pork. I for one enjoy vegetables as the way they are true

Lisa Astorga & Damien Watel Culinary Editors

to their nature . I gather the processed part , that makes them look like a burger , is meant to reach the masses through a fast food platform . I know there are veggie hot dogs and assume there is a vegetable based fried chicken..? As such , I am tempted to make a chicken breast look like a carrot on my menu tonight! For the Evans , it is a lifestyle choice and they made it their business! And it is here to stay and grow. At a recent Monday night visit to green, the place was packed with a broad variety of clientele! It would cool to go to a drive-through where you could order roasted carrots a potato leek soup and spinach lasagna and grilled artichokes. Surely , it will evolve in its form and the trend will level off as the millennials mature and Jen Xers take over . But for now , we can all get some comfort that “going green” in San Antonio is no longer just reserved to west coast hipsters , just as “organic “ is no longer a trend but most likely the norm for all things grown in the future, we will see a steady stream of creative “green “ chefs to join and ride the wave , and local farmers will once again rise . when the dust settles , somewhere between the straight edge punk vegan movement , and the Cowboys steakhouse and fried chicken fast food industry , there should be ample room for a 50-50 diet for the rest of us.

“Why would a person want their vegetables to look like meat ?”


“We can all get some comfort that “going green” in San Antonio is no longer just reserved to west coast hipsters.”





Jab, Cross, Hook and Uppercuts are not the only thing boxing has to offer. There is so much more. I was introduced to this sport in January of 2013 and it was love at first punch. It not only got me in the best shape of my life but it helped me get through one of the most difficult events in my life: my divorce. So not only does it help you physically but also mentally.

Boxing = Mind + Body + SouL I fell in love with boxing so much that I bought the gym where I started. I wanted to share and help more people through this sport. From reading M. Ali’s story I knew it had helped him with his Parkinson’s Disease (PD) so I was on a mission. Unfortunately, it wasn’t so easy and days and life just passed until recently when Raymond Rodriguez popped into Box Beat and asked if I would be interested in participating in a Parkinson’s Program.


I have personally seen it myself how they come in to the gym walking slowly and leave with more movement. We have had people breakdown during class because they so hate this disease and then leave with a smile. I can’t put into words how their faces light up when they box. It is AMAZING!




“God definitely works in mysterious ways and at the correct moment.” - Luz Ortiz



If you are interested in helping or if you know of someone who has Parkinson’s Disease and would benefit from this program please reach out to me directly at luz@myboxbeat.com I said YES immediately. I was truly humbled, amazed and thankful that he had come in. God definitely works in mysterious ways and at the correct moment. I immediately met with the PD group led by Founders Dianne Johnson, RN and Raul Garza who started the Punch Out Parkinson’s Program 3 years ago at the Rendazzo Gym led by a Local Longtime Boxing Coach Leo Zuniga, who also now has Parkinsons. And invited all to the group to Box Beat as another location addition to the Program. Dianne, a movement disorder nurse worked and did research on PD for almost 24 years. While attending a Parkinson’s Congress in Scotland she saw a patient with very little mobility hit a heavy bag and the smile on his face of accomplishment brought tears to her eyes. A few years later after reading more on the benefits of boxing she decided to go to Indiana and become a certified instructor for Rock Steady Boxing. Unfortunately, due to cost and the need to have to charge patients it was a no go. Thinking outside the box and for a way to make this program happen she reached out to Raul Garza and came up with Punch Out Parkinson’s Program. They started at Randazzo gym and recently at Box Beat.

class because they so hate this disease and then leave with a smile. I can’t put into words how their faces light up when they box. It is AMAZING!

Box Beat and I want to help Dianne and Raul take this Program to another level. I, along with my BFF Janet Montagne and Luis Montes de Oca have joined the board and The Punch Out Parkinson’s Program became a 501c in November. Aside from Patients in this program with Bradykinesia, donating gym space and time our Box Beat family stooped posture and tremor after a few weeks is also helping with the training. I especially thank improve their walking speed and posture. Adrian “AD” Rodriguez for donating his time to teach and help us spread the word for future I have personally seen it myself how they come in hopeful funding. Our long term goal is to extend to the gym walking slowly and leave with more our program statewide and provide help to less movement. We have had people breakdown during fortunate in San Antonio and all over Texas.



Luz Ortiz was introduced to boxing in January of 2013 and it was love at first punch. What are some new physical activies that you should try this year? List them here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10







S IN H TRAN Tran’s life thus far has been a classic example of how to achieve the “American dream”.



Professionally dressed, she arrives for her interview at the

At age 13, the family got their first television, though Sinh’s

popular coffee shop in a trendy Mini Cooper on her lunch

father did not allow their 3 children to watch it often, since

break, easily blending-in among the other well shod patrons.

he felt it took away from their study time. Being educators,

She orders, removes her jacket and takes a seat among the

both of her parents emphasized the importance of education

notebook and laptop-toting customers perched on their bar

knowing that education was their children’s ticket to a better

stools answering texts and fielding phone calls. The aroma of


roasted coffee wafts through the shop as hipster tunes are playing in the background. To anyone watching, Sinh Tran is

Though poor, the family made sacrifices to set aside

a typical Asian-American millennial waiting on her afternoon

funds for their childrens’ education. After high school, Tran

caffeine fix, but in reality she is anything but typical. Just a

attended a college in Hanoi, earning a degree in Computer

few years ago, this classic American coffee shop scene was

Science. She secured a job with a Vietnamese company that

something Tran had only observed in movies or on T.V.

outsourced software. While working for that company, she was offered a position doing contract work in Tokyo, and

Sinh Tran was born in 1984 in a village in Vietnam called

accepted the 9 month position. She took classes to learn

Cay that lies about 6 hours outside of Hanoi. Her parents

Japanese, then left Vietnam for the first time. “It was an

were employed there, meeting as intermediate school

eye-opening experience,’’ Tran states. The amount of tech-

teachers. Born just 9 years after the war ended, her village

nology and progress there was astonishing and she had the

had no electricity or running water. While most American

opportunity to rub shoulders with like-minded, progressive

baby boomers were worrying about how to finance their

individuals in her field. Knowing what awaited her outside of

new BMWs or what Prince might dare to do next on MTV,

Hanoi made her restless.

the Tran family was worrying if there would be enough food on their table that evening. Change came slowly to Cay and

When her contract ended in Tokyo and she returned

Sinh’s family did not get electricity to their home until she

to Vietnam, Sinh felt her life was lacking and knew she

was 7 years old. Even today, some homes lack running water.

wanted more than what her home country could offer.



‘ From the postwar rice paddies of Vietnam, to the crowds of Tokyo, through the cornfields of Iowa, then the steel town of Pittsburgh, Sinh Tran has finally settled down in San Antonio.’



At age 27, she went to work for a financial firm. Having spent most of her adult life focusing on education and her career, Tran had given little thought to romance or starting a family. In Vietnam, if a woman is approaching her 30’s with no marriage prospects, people start to talk and even worry. She had friends that had come to the U.S. and from what she had learned, knew that there were better opportunities for single, working women here. She decided to take courses to learn English and set her sights on entering into a Master’s degree program in America. Tran was accepted into a program at Maharishi International University in Fairfield, Iowa. She lived on campus for 8 months and while there, learned how to drive. Getting a driver’s license was intimidating for Sinh. She giggled a bit as she recounted how she failed the test 4 times before finally passing, but this is a lady that likes a challenge and she persevered. In Hanoi, she was close enough to ride a scooter to school and work, and in Tokyo there were mass transit systems that allowed her to get where she needed to go without driving. The wide open spaces in Iowa and the lack of good mass transit systems in most of the U.S made it necessary for her to learn how to drive. Soon after, Tran bought her first car. Owning a car was a big deal to those back home in Cay. A single woman, working in the USA, living on her own and now owning a vehicle was a huge accomplishment for this petite, soft-spoken village girl from Vietnam. After 8 months in Iowa, speaking English and armed with a driver’s license, Sinh Tran accepted a position in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with Fed- Ex and continued her Master’s studies with Maharishi through online courses. After 7 months, the contract ended and Tran took a job with a security software company here in San Antonio, knowing that the warm weather and low cost of living would afford her a good lifestyle. With sponsorship from that company, she was able to get a green card and become a permanent resident of the U.S. She earned her Master of Computer Science degree and landed a job with USAA as Senior Integrator in software development where she remains today. What’s in the stars for Sinh Tran now? Though she loves her job, education remains of paramount importance. Wanting to learn even more, Sinh is enrolled in a second Master’s program to study A.I through Columbia University and is currently about halfway through that program. Now 36 (though she appears girlishly younger), she has a long term boyfriend named Jeff, a loan officer that she states is “wonderful”. She has also purchased her own home. Sinh feels that San Antonio is advancing rapidly technologically and she is excited to pursue her interests within the field of artificial intelligence. She is certain that there will be continued growth in A.I in the near future. From the postwar rice paddies of Vietnam, to the crowds of Tokyo, through the cornfields of Iowa, then the steel town of Pittsburgh, Sinh Tran has finally settled down in this bi-cultural, fast growing southwestern city of San Antonio. Having accomplished more than what most Americans have, and what far less Vietnamese have been able to do, Tran is now more settled domestically but continues with her work in the field of A.I. With the determination and work ethic this lady has, there is no doubt that she will accomplish everything that she sets out to do. Though Tran’s life thus far has been a classic example of how to achieve the “American dream”, it is obvious that It does not come easy, but through hard work and determination. She is grateful for the values her parents ingrained in her and for the opportunities this country has had to offer. She is happy now and finally in a place she calls “home”.



Vietnam n i e g a l l i v r ft he eam”. r D Sihn Tran le n a c i r e the “Am in search of


eams r d r u o y e r What a Record them





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YOUR WELLNESS AND YOU WITH DR. LULU Dr. Lulu has dedicated her life and her voice to creating awareness for suicide in children, teens and young adults, especially in the minory community.

Uchenna L. Umeh, MD/MBA aka Dr. Lulu the Momatrician, is a Nigerian-born board-certified Pediatrician, with nearly 30 years of clinical experience. After many years in clinical practice, she considers herself a grand doctor, since her former patients now bring their children to see her. She attended medical school at Ahmadu Bello University Hospital in Nigeria and obtained her pediatric residency training at Howard University Hospital Washington D.C. Soon after completion she started the largest minorityowned and operated private practice in Lancaster and Chester both in South Carolina. It was during those years, that she first experienced a patient suicide, a 15-year-old male in 2008. When she became a single mother of three sons following a divorce in 2009, she sold her beloved practice, joined the United States Air Force as a Lieutenant Colonel and moved across the country to San Antonio Texas. While she Uchenna L. Umeh, MD/MBA Also known as Dr. Lulu

was active duty, she served as Commander at Maxwell Air Force Base, and Medical Director at Lackland Air Force Base. She completed



her 4year contract and received an honorable

that tackles the issue of suicide squarely

discharge in 2016, after which she worked with

through interviews with real people talking

a multispecialty group practice until September

about their struggles with suicide. Her weekly


Facebook Live series are at 2pm each Sunday on AskDoctorLulu, her Facebook business page,

Dr. Lulu experienced her first suicide in July

where she discusses hot topics affecting youth.

of 2000, a friend, another physician, another

As a public speaker, she has given National

Nigerian. In the recent years following that, she

and International Keynote Addresses (she now

started noticing a disturbing trend; more and

considers herself a “Global Suicide Activist”)

more of her patients were presenting to her

however, her favorite places to speak are

office with depression, anxiety, self-harming

schools and local community events where she

behavior and suicidal behavior. And they were

can interact one-on-one with children, parents,

getting younger and younger. Finally, in May

and the community at large.

of 2018, she had a visit by a 7-year-old patient who had attempted suicide twice, that was

Most recently, her work on suicide was

when she resigned from clinical practice to

recognized by the Nigerians in Diaspora

pursue a path in public speaking.

Commission, a Nigerian federal government initiative that recognizes Nigerians making a

She has now dedicated her life and her voice to

difference in the diaspora. She has also testified

creating awareness for suicide in children, teens

at the Texas State House in Ausin in favor of

and young adults, especially in the minority

House Bill-10, a bill that seeks to increase

community. Her journey has led her to speak at

funding for research in mental health issues

the Texas House of Representatives in support

affecting minorities in the state.

of a bill to increase funding for research in minority children. Her website is www.teenalive.

She is preparing to host a brand-new TV show

com is an online resource for high-risk teens.

in San Antonio Texas called “Your Wellness and

She is also Medical Director and CEO of Dr.

You with Dr. Lulu”, stay tuned.

Lulu’s Youth Health Center, a pediatric practice focusing on at-risk youth aged 8-21 years, who

As a parent coach, her online courses

struggle mental health challenges or suicidal

and teachings are mainly on effective


communication between parents and teens and she focuses on the effects of parenting, and the

She has been featured on multiple radio

home environment on suicide prevention. Her

shows, TV shows, podcasts and magazines

books: “How to Raise Well Rounded Children”

(most recently, she had an article on childhood

and “A Teen’s Life,” are both Amazon Bestsellers

trauma featured in Parents Magazine),

and are available on her website and on

both in the US and in Africa. She blogs at

Amazon. She can be reached on all social media

wordsbyblackbutterfly.com and has a weekly

platforms, and via email askdoctorlulu@gmail.

podcast called Suicide Pages with Dr. Lulu

com, or 802-768-1180.





JODIE SINCLAIR Author of “ Love Behind Bars” Release in April 2020


through Billy’s health concerns, her own professional setbacks for her association with a criminal, and a pardons scandal and FBI investigation that revealed corruption in the criminal justice system leading all the way to the governor’s office which put a target on Billy’s back—to save her husband from dying behind bars.

When TV reporter Jodie Sinclair went to the Louisiana State Penitentiary, also known as the Death House at Angola, in 1981, she expected to report about the death penalty and leave. She never expected to fall in love. Billy Sinclair was an inmate at Angola, sent there for an accidental murder during a robbery-gone-wrong. After a trial which was skewed against him and sentenced to life behind bars, he saw first-hand the corruption and abuse rife in the criminal justice system, and he began an unrelenting crusade for reform. When the pair married by proxy a year after meeting, Jodie took up Billy’s fight. From then on, she lived with one foot in the outside world and one in the complex and dehumanizing bureaucracy of the prison world. This incredible memoir tracks her heroic twenty-five-year fight—

It is the uplifting true story of a woman who stood by her man, and in doing so, exposed the horrors of our criminal justice system and became a voice for all those who have loved ones behind bars.

The powerful, poignant story of love, courage, and redemption from death row, where an indomitable woman challenged corruption in order to free her husband.




LA VI E E N RO SÉ The start was a blend of terrifying and exciting! The combination of fear and anxiety, the joy of fulfilling a lifelong dream and the gamble of her savings..


WRITTEN BY: Damien Vatel

A rosy future is what we all strive for. The twists and turns life takes us are like navigating a sailboat around the earth. At times the calm makes us wish for a storm and the storms make us long for the calm but there’s always a destination. With the breeze blowing in her sails , Casey Barber is now making stops to your favorite restaurants and presenting her own dream “message in a bottle”. She calls it ROSE GOLD. As an avid rosé drinker (and you guessed it, part time sailor), I have tried it and loved it at first sip! True Provence Rose, and it was quickly added to our wine list , before I even met Casey. We did meet a few weeks later and I was very curious after I listened to her how a Texas girl came to make a rose, in France, and circle back to sell it in Texas.!!? A honeymoon in Provence was the backdrop of it all ..mais bien sur! Sipping rose in St. Tropez sealed the deal. In Dallas, Casey was a nurse practitioner, and once her three children had grown up enough, she followed the dream and started her wine business. Rose Gold: The name , she had thought of many

moons ago, saving it preciously for the day she would take the plunge . The start was a blend of terrifying and exciting! The combination of fear and anxiety, the joy of fulfilling a lifelong dream and the gamble of her savings all rushed in full speed towards Provence. Once her first vintage landed in Texas, someone told her “you will never sell those 1100 cases” she recalls... she blew through them quickly and is now awaiting her third vintage, the 2019. For a girl with no experience in the wine industry and who had never owned her own business before, not bad ! As a single mom and a one girl team she struggles to make enough family time as she finds herself in a different city every week. Although she has been occupied with Texas so far, Florida and Colorado are her next target market and, if all goes well, maybe another label or two? Casey’s wine is in 150 restaurants across the state and at specs and Hargrove in San Antonio, TX.






Burgundy Woods is evolving the Texas Fashion Industry, one department at a time...

BUR GUN DY W O O DS WRITTEN BY: LAURA CURTIS - PHOTOS BY: WALLY LAFAIETE Imagine being a young artist in L.A., out of school now with some good experience under your belt. After working hard for 10 years to make a name for yourself in both the music and fashion industries, you are offered a coveted job opportunity that every struggling artist dreams of receiving. The ink has barely dried on your contract when you call your mother back home in San Antonio to tell her the great news. Immediately, you sense something is wrong and soon learn that she has become stricken with a life-threatening illness. Suddenly at a crossroads, you envision yourself jet-setting about while on a job assignment, knowing that any moment your

mother’s life could end. What would you do? Artist/digital fashion editor and home town girl Burgundy Woods, dedicated woman of integrity that she is, cancelled her big career contract, left a romantic relationship behind and came home to take care of her only close family member. “I imagined myself on that plane. If something had happened to my Mom and I could have helped her and didn’t, I could never have lived with myself”. This sense of dedication and responsibility would eventually spill-over into her work once she returned to south Texas, but it would be a difficult road for her.


“I came to the conclusion that San Antonio needed a formal awards ceremony to honor Texas fashion industry.” - Burgundy Woods




Backing-out of the West coast contract could well have left a black mark on any future career endeavors, but Burgundy began looking for work soon after ensuring her mother’s wellbeing. It had been over 10 years since this South Side girl had spent time in San Antonio and she noticed some changes. One question came to her mind, “When did San Antonio become so cool?”. Most obvious was the large number of creative individuals circulating and searching for ways to show their work. The city had been enriched culturally with international travelers and immigration. San Antonio had become more diverse and interesting. International festivals and art events had inspired social creativity. Still, the city seemed to be lagging in the areas of fashion and digital media. In fact, Woods was turned down for positions at several local television stations because none could see a use for her digital editing skills, since it wasn’t yet being utilized here. Despite being multi-skilled in videography, production, digital media, and sound editing, she could not find a suitable job. Frustrated, she decided to take matters into her own hands. In 2014, Burgundy Woods rebranded her online fashion news company to Style Lush TV, dedicated to San Antonio’s fashion. As a pioneer in the digital industry, she rapidly saw a need for fashion news coverage and so her goal was to showcase the growing number of fashion community deservedly wanting to be seen and recognized for their ideas. She started the “Look Local Night” showcasing the city’s many local boutiques. With Style Lush taking off and social media networking at its peak, this promotion of local style was a hit. In 2015 Burgundy Woods then conjured-up a concept for the city’s own version of The Academy Awards. “It was so vital to show the world the level of fashion talent working here, plus, many individuals had come to me talking about some fabulous outfit or local fashion that they wanted to

show off and I came to the conclusion that San Antonio needed a formal awards ceremony to honor Texas fashion industry”. The San Antonio Fashion Awards was started that year. Now in its fifth year, The San Antonio Fashion Awards has become the event of the year for the fashion community, honoring excellence in the design of apparel, make-up, hair, media, modeling, photography and more and has now become the finale event for the even bigger, TESXAS FASHION WEEK TM for the entire state of Texas, begining this year in 2020. S.A.F.A is still reviewing and adding categories in which individuals from all over the world can vote. Opening the vote internationally has garnered worldwide attention to the San Antonio fashion scene and enticed even more creative individuals to come, stay and work in a city previously known mostly for Fiesta and the River Walk. If you have been in the San Antonio area for the last 10 years, you may have noticed the changes that abound. Unique boutique bars and hotels catering to hipsters and fashion forward individuals have appeared. The River Walk was extended, the Pearl Brewery area was revitalized, and the Missions have become a world heritage site. There are more fashion shows and festivals celebrating style, creativity and the arts with international collaboration. Indeed, the city has become a “cool” city and much of the style and fashion sense that San Antonio now has can be attributed to the works of Burgundy Woods. With her experience and maturity, Burgundy has discovered some other needs within the fashion community that had to be addressed for the city to compete at the level of other major hubs. She realized ‘there need to be a non-profit organization dedicated to fashion here.’ With her shrewd business sense, Burgundy Woods started the Texas Fashion Industry Initiative, the states first official non-profit for the positive growth of the Texas fashion industry.





Funds received through TFII are directly applied to the mission ran by three departments: Education, Global Awareness and Arts & Culture. These departments have been created to bring global awareness, business education and acumen to budding fashion talent. Woods has witnessed the growing number of creative individuals but also saw that many had no sense of how to market themselves, their products, or experience dealing with finances. It was imperative that an affordable training program was available. Currently taking applications, Woods has worked hard to offer a 12 week education program, called The Silver Jacket Entrepreneur Program being offered through Maestro Entrepreneur Center. The program is designed to educate young artists and fashionistas on the business aspects needed to succeed in the fashion world. Workshops and interaction with other business owners who have succeeded and meeting with like-minded individuals can give up-and-comers the valuable tools needed for success. The old adage, “When one door closes, another opens� certainly applies to the life and career of Burgundy Woods. Growing up on the South side of San Antonio, she was told countless times she was not going to be successful in her endeavors. When her West coast career came to a halt and her job search here hit a wall, insecurity and fear could have dissuaded her but Woods persevered. Her persistence has paid off and has benefitted the art and fashion scene here in San Antonio in countless ways. It is almost certain that San Antonio would not be the stylish and trendy version of a city that it is today if she had not returned. If destiny or fate has anything to do with life, then it was surely at play here. Keep a fashion forward eye fixed on this young woman. We have a feeling BurgundyWoods has even more ideas that will bring San Antonio even closer to the forefront of the world fashion industry. m



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Profile for Lafaiete Creative Productions

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Inspirational stories to make your life "Epicc"!

Epicc Magazine  

Inspirational stories to make your life "Epicc"!