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Get to know Erin OBrien and 71 Magazine of San Antonio!

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SLTV: Erin, thank you so much for taking some time off your busy schedule to spend some time with Style Lush TV. Before we get into your incredible new digital magazine, let’s start with some basics. Are you originally from San Antonio? 
EO: Yes – born and raised!


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SLTV: What is your background professionally and education wise? 
EO: I’m juggling careers in two industries. The first is media. I have two degrees in communication (UIW B.A. class of 2008; UTSA M.A. class of 2017), and I’ve been working mostly as a magazine editor for local and regional publications in Texas and a bit in California for nearly 11 years. At maximum, I was editing six magazines at the same time, which was insane, but excellent experience. I launched 71 Publications – the firm behind 71 Magazine – last summer after I finished the M.A. program.

The second career is academia. When I started grad school at UTSA in 2014, I wanted to try some new things professionally, so I started teaching public speaking as a TA. I had never imaged myself teaching, but it was actually really fun! So I continued after graduation. I’m currently an adjunct instructor for Northwest Vista College and TAMU-SA.

Plot twist: I have a third career as a professional student! Haha. I started the MBA program at OLLU last fall in order to hone my skills as an entrepreneur. If all goes well, I should be a member of the MBA class of 2019.


Photo Sourced from Erin’s Facebook

SLTV: Your most recent notable success, is the launch of 71 Magazine. We have to ask… what is the back story for choosing the number 71? 
EO: The number represents several things, not the least of which is serendipity. Last spring, when our strategist, Mike Brannon, and I were trying to think of a name for the magazine, we both kept seeing the number, 71, in random places. When I told him I had been seeing the number, he was like, “What? Me too!” We thought it was odd that we were both seeing it, since 71 isn’t a particularly “common” number (like, say, 10). So we started thinking. The first thing that came to mind was the year, 1971, which was basically creative heaven. Lots of amazing – now classic – films and albums were released that year. In fashion, it was the year of YSL’s famous “Scandal” collection and the groundbreaking Cecil Beaton exhibition at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.

These were all points in favor, but then we did some more research. 71 also has intriguing connotations within numerology, there’s a Highway 71 that goes through Austin and 71 is a recycling code – for clear glass, incidentally. It was all awesome and appropriate to the vision, so it just seemed like the universe was telling us to go with 71 as our name. And especially after our amazing art director, Elisa Giordano, designed the logo for us, we’ve gotten a lot of great feedback on it. My favorite sentiment is actually from Mike, who says the logo looks like something that might’ve actually appeared on a ‘70s racecar.


71 Magazine’s Premier Issue | Nov-Dec 17

SLTV: Yes! We think it is insanely cool looking as well, and I’m a huge believer in the power of numbers also. How interesting. What kind of magazine would you say 71 Magazine is? Who does it cater to? 
EO: 71 is a digital magazine highlighting the best in creativity in Texas and beyond. Fashion is our “flagship” interest, but we also love art, film, music, photography, technology and particularly combinations among these arts. Fashion-tech and art-tech are good examples of this: when two different art forms come together to create truly original things. Along these lines, we’ve discussed lab-grown leather, 3D-printed clothing and multimedia fashion exhibitions that really showcase fashion as an art. So generally, I would say the magazine caters to anyone who’s interested in the best in the arts, creativity and the future of fashion.


#SneakPeek | 71 Magazine Jan-Feb Issue

SLTV: It is a beautiful magazine. It is so well put together. Incredibly chic. Feels new for San Antonio. We were immediately fans upon browsing your recent release of the January/February issue. Why did you decide to pursue 71 Magazine? Has this always been what you wanted a career in? 
EO: When I started my undergrad, my goal was to become a fashion editor. In my mind at the time, that meant moving to New York and working for a publication like Vogue or Elle. I didn’t really appreciate San Antonio then, because it didn’t seem to offer much in terms of fashion, so my goal was to leave. To that end, I moved to Southern California for an internship after graduation. There wasn’t a position available after the internship, so I looked until I found a news-reporting position in LA – which I lost in less than three months due to “economic difficulties” (this was 2009, right after the economy completely tanked).

So then I moved back to San Antonio and found a full time editing position with a local publishing company. It was a great opportunity, and I’m thankful for it, but it didn’t really speak to my dream, creatively speaking. I kept applying to other opportunities outside San Antonio, but nothing worked out. Gradually, I just kind of forgot about my dream and became disillusioned with the industry, which led me to go back to school in 2014 – in order to leave publishing, which is kind of hilarious in hindsight. I resigned from most of my editing positions and spent every semester at UTSA preparing for a full career switch to academia – until March 2017. For context, this was my last semester in the program. I had completed all requirements except my thesis, and had even submitted applications to doctoral programs for fall 2017.

Late one night in March, when I was working on my thesis, the dream came back to me. Actually, it hit me over the head. It just suddenly occurred to me that I had to start my own fashion magazine, and San Antonio was actually the best place to do it. This seemed to come out of absolute nowhere, since I had been actively pursuing a different path for about three years – but it was a very strong feeling. Although it seemed random at the time, in hindsight, I think it was simply proof that my dream had never really died, but actually had been quietly building. And while 71 has evolved from that early vision, it is, in a very real way, the realization of that dream.

#SneakPeek | 71 Magazine Jan-Feb Issue

SLTV: How fortunate for San Antonio! This is some of the most promising and professional looking digital magazine content to blossom from our market. What are some of the challenges that you faced when beginning this venture and how do you overcome these challenges? 
EO: The main challenge for me is time. I’m the owner of the company, as well as the editor-in-chief of the magazine. This alone would be a full plate – but I’m also a fulltime business student and an instructor at two campuses. Since August, I’ve pulled many all-nighters just to cover all my bases. It’s insane, and maybe I’m insane myself for even attempting it all – but it’s worth it because I love everything I’m doing. Especially 71, which has been growing faster than I ever imagined. I almost don’t even want to call this a challenge because it’s really such a privilege. How do I handle it all? I just make some coffee and keep going!

And, of course, an amazing team doesn’t hurt. I really can’t emphasize that enough. Regardless of all my efforts, the magazine would definitely not be a reality if it weren’t for Mike, Elisa, Michael Giordano, Monica Herring, Shelby Kerr and our other contributors and supporters. Team 71 is small, but mighty – and growing all the time!

#SneakPeek | 71 Magazine Jan-Feb Issue

SLTV: Well, I can sure relate to time being a challenge. Don’t you sometimes wish there were multiple yous? lol. What are some of your favorite fashion trends coming up for Spring/Summer? 
EO: I’m still loving the ‘90s revitalization, which I’ve heard is continuing into spring/summer. Sheer overlays have been my thing since middle school! And regardless of trends, I will never NOT wear floral maxi dresses in spring and summer. I’m not entirely ready to put away the velvet yet, either. I love that so many colored-velvet pieces from fall/winter are still viable for the next several months, with some accessory adjustments. And in any case, I love vintage. In any given season, awesome retro pieces are always in style for me.

#SneakPeek | 71 Magazine Jan-Feb Issue

SLTV: Who’s on your fashion radar right now? 
I’m super excited about Anouk Wipprecht, who’s doing some awesome things on the fashion-tech front. Another newer line I’m into is Poster Girl. It’s like the ultimate collection of party wear that my mom wouldn’t let me wear back in the day, haha. I also recently became aware of The Vampire’s Wife, which looks like fun. And again, all things vintage! Game-changers like Yves Saint Laurent, Gianni Versace and Elsa Schiaparelli are eternally on my radar, regardless of season.

SLTV: What are your hopes for the evolving San Antonio Fashion Industry? 
I’m glad to see that the San Antonio fashion community is not only growing, but finally starting to get its due, thanks to entities like Style Lush TV! I think creative people have always been here, or have been associated with the city in some way, but in the past, many would leave. This is clearly changing with all the growth going on, particularly in areas like downtown and Southtown. (Case in point: our Jan/Feb cover girl, Chrysta Bell, who is also a San Antonio native; she and I had a great conversation about “rediscovering” our hometown.) I hope this overall creative growth continues, and that we at 71 can help with those efforts.


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SLTV: What is the best advice someone wiser than yourself told you? 
EO: My parents both told me to never settle for a career – or anything else – that I don’t really want just because someone else wants me to. And they were coming from experience: Both of them initially entered careers they didn’t really want following pressure from their parents. They didn’t want to do the same thing to me, so they never pressured me to go into any particular area, or to make life decisions just because society says I’m “supposed to.” But they’ve always been supportive of everything I did decide to pursue. I’m grateful to them every day for all of this.

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SLTV: Well Erin, we are so thrilled to have interviewed you; thank you so much for your time and producing something so beautiful here in San Antonio. It’s products and people like you that help our fashion industry grow in the right direction. We are thrilled. One last fun question. If you had to choose only ONE San Antonio restaurant to eat at for the rest of your life, where would it be? Why? 
EO: This is the hardest question of all! Haha! The restaurant scene in San Antonio has really been growing in the last few years, not to mention all of the city classics, so there are SO many excellent options! But if I could only pick ONE … it would probably have to be Tong’s Thai. I could eat those cheese rolls forever.

SLTV: hahaha… Those cheese rolls… man, that’s a good one.

To view the 71 Magazine’s Jan-Feb Issue Click HERE.

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