September Fashion

Each month, BRAVA produces a fashion feature that rivals those in national publications. I often go above and beyond my regular duties of scouting and choosing the location, planning the shot list and directing the photographer, working with the models, coordinating every aspect of the shoot and designing the pages—to conceptualizing the editorial angle of the feature, helping chose the vendors and products featured, even writing a headline or two!


While every September issue highlights an extra special fashion feature, this last shoot might just be my favorite ever! I secured an amazing location—the Chazen Art Museum in downtown Madison—which had luxurious but neutral textures and amazing natural light to that allowed the richly embellished garments and accessories to shine. Pair those factors with one of my favorite photographers and amazing model and we’ve got a shoot that is a perfect ending to one chapter in my career. Click here for the full feature.

Problem Solving with Editorial Design


Some photo shoots simply don’t go as planned. And at a monthly publication with a minuscule staff, there are no do-overs. So there have been many instances at BRAVA when the feature has relied on clever design alone to make it successful.

This month, we featured an amazing documentary film maker who finished a piece on Egyptian women’s politics during the Arab Spring protests, while experiencing the political protests taking place right here in Wisconsin. Since the article was framed in the dichotomy of her two homes and juxtaposed these movements—and because we had a lot of the same portrait with different facial expressions from her shoot—the design became about the subject’s two selves and the many, often compartmentalized, facets of one’s personality. It proved to be a successful solution, if I do say so myself!

Product Styling 101


Whether it’s working with a local boutique to ensure their goods support our editorial direction or simply making heads and tails of a pile of product that’s appeared in my office, product styling is an essential skill. It can be as simple as acting as liaison between the editors and photographers or as involved as actually setting up the shot and specifying focus and lighting, I’m perfectly comfortable in either situation.

Some of my favorite product features were simple one-pagers in BRAVA’s “Live” or “Thrive” department. Often featuring home goods, cosmetics or accessories, a great assemblage of product is like a little gem in these pages—a little spot of beauty every reader can appreciate.


Clean and Simple Product Styling

product_styling_0769Sometimes the simplest articles are the best. For September’s shopping guide, BRAVA’s fashion coordinator and I spent a few days scouting our favorite local shops and pinpointed trend colors on which to base the feature. We brought all the product to the studio, where we styled and shot each piece on a simple white background. After cleaning up the shots in Photoshop, I assembled them into a quirky mosaic with lots of white space—creating content that was interesting while giving readers a break between heavier articles.

BRAVA is back!

Until Friday, April 10 (a day I’ll never forget!) I worked full time at a local women’s magazine called brava. It ceased operations and left about a dozen wonderfully creative people without jobs. Half of that group stuck together to try to figure out a way to work together to get brava back into production. I finally have good—no, great—news to report: brava is back! Here’s the official press release:

Brava magazine confirms release date of August 1, 2009

Madison, Wis. — June 4, 2009 — Brava magazine, the monthly lifestyle publication dedicated to celebrating the lives of women in south central Wisconsin, announces it will re-launch the popular magazine on August 1, 2009.

Erickson Publishing, LLC, former publisher of brava magazine, its sister publication the annual encore edition and producer of the Madison Women’s Expo suspended operations in April.  The fate of the products was unknown. Kristin Erickson, owner of Erickson Publishing, LLC, is happy to have sold the business to a core group of former employees. “I am so proud of the impact brava made to our readers, our advertisers and the community as a whole,” Erickson says.  “It was extremely hard to suspend publication, and I am absolutely thrilled that this team of talented professionals will continue to take the products to new exciting levels. I am delighted to pass the baton to Laura Houlihan.”  Erickson will also remain working with the team as a consultant.

“The team is assembled and has been working behind the scenes for weeks in the hopes the purchase would go through,” says Houlihan, the newly named publisher of the magazine. Houlihan brings to the table her past experience running Skirt Magazine in Jacksonville, Fla., as well as her sales experience at brava. “The outpouring of support from our readership and advertisers has been amazing. We couldn’t let it die,” says Houlihan. “It’s like having our family back together.”

The Madison Women’s Expo, a yearly event produced by brava and held the weekend before Thanksgiving will also return for its 11th year. Marketing and Events Director, Michelle Page-Alswager, will remain at the helm.  “What can I say?  Women look forward to this event and exhibitors love the results they get from the thousands of attendees visiting them.   It’s the perfect tie in — the premier women’s magazine in south central Wisconsin, and the best Women’s Expo, I’m lucky to be part of both,” states Page-Alswager.

More information to follow.

For more information, contact Michelle Page-Alswager at (608) 235-3857 or Laura Houlihan at 608-609-9149 or

As always, you can follow our progress at our interim blog, hold that thought, although I can’t make any promises for regular updates since we’ll be working so hard to get this magazine launched. Feel free to leave any comments here or there as to what you’d like to see in brava as it moves forward.