Olivia Fields reviews her work as creative director and photographer at Little Red Book. 

Driven by imagination, collaboration and diversity, Little Red Book — the University of Georgia’s premiere fashion magazine — is fully loaded with professional-grade photography and well-produced fashion journalism. The magazine, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, is chock-full of beauty and style tips.

The publication was founded in August 2007 by three students in the UGA’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences, but it didn’t publish its first issue until 2008. Since then, the magazine has grown, shrunk and changed hands multiple times, constantly shaping to fit the visions of the current executive board.

At the head of the organization today is Vanessa Vassileva, the 19-year-old sophomore and newly-appointed editor in chief. Vassileva was awarded the position at the end of her freshman year, making her the youngest member of the executive board.

Despite being initially unsure about the job, Vassileva worked hard to make the position her own. Under her leadership, she said the magazine has become more organized and cohesive, establishing tighter brand identity. She said even the smallest things, such as using the same fonts consistently throughout each issue of the magazine, can help to create brand identity for consumers.

“When I was first given the position, I wasn’t really sure what that entailed,” Vassileva said. “I figured out very quickly that I can’t do everything by myself. For lack of a better word, I’m a project manager. I honestly dip my hands into everything.”

The magazine, although published by UGA students, isn’t meant to be tailored to the student fashion scene, Vassileva said. Expanding beyond Athens is a goal of the board’s, but Vassileva was quick to acknowledge the role the Athens community plays in the magazine’s production.

The executive team members have a symbiotic relationship with local retailers: in exchange for letting Little Red Book borrow clothing for its editorial shoots, the final publication credits all items to the respective retailers, acting as a marketing tool in the most recent issue, the creative team borrowed pieces from Community, Cheeky Peach and fab’rik, all boutiques found in downtown Athens.

“Little Red Book would not be a thing without Athens,” Vassileva said. “If it wasn’t for the clothing stores letting us borrow their products, we wouldn’t have content. If it wasn’t for the local printing company, we wouldn’t have a magazine at all.”

Coordinating with retailers is a job Vassileva leaves to her other executive board members, particularly her fashion editor, Madeleine Howell.

Howell, a 20-year-old fashion merchandising major, said her position puts her in charge of the fashion team. Her jobs include coming up with the theme of each issue of the magazine, pulling clothing from boutiques and other club members’ wardrobes for photoshoots and coordinating editorial photoshoots.

Coming up with a theme isn’t easy. Howell said the process can be extensive since all members get an opportunity to submit ideas. The best ones are debated by the executive board members, who decide on the winner.

The 10th-anniversary theme is “Generation X,” and it is characterized by bright colors and bold clothing combinations. Themes are fluid, and clothes used in the issue were based on trends of the era, rather than using all vintage pieces.

"One of the things we really wanted to go over with this issue was inspiring people to be more individual with their style.”

-- Madeleine Howell, Fashion Editor

On the mood boards, there was glitter, sequins, saturated colors and primary colors. The theme isn’t straight out of the ’80s glamor but rather bits from the decade combined for a fresh look, Howell said.

“It wasn’t like out of a time capsule or anything; it’s just a sum of the parts, all of these different aspects coming together in terms of styling and makeup,” Howell said.

Ashlee Bock, a 19-year-old model, is highlighted in the most recent issue of Little Red Book. Bock is featured on the cover with fellow model Hawa Camara, both posed on the floor of Athens Skate Inn.

“I didn’t know that this magazine was a thing, and now that I’ve seen it, I think it is so incredible,” Bock said. “Seeing [the club members] work together and how big this project was and then seeing the final product was such a good experience. Their passion really shows.”

Passion for fashion of all types drives the members of the club, who each have their own style. With this in mind, Howell said diversity was at the top of the executives’ goals this year. 

“Diversity, as far as people’s interests, is a big deal to us,” Howell said. “One of the things we really wanted to go over with this issue was inspiring people to be more individual with their style.”

Howell mentioned the board plans to diversify the publication further by including menswear and male models in the coming issues of Little Red Book.The members’ dedication to innovation has brought about fruitful benefits: in the past few months, the club has grown from seven members to 30 under Vassileva’s direction, and they don’t plan to stop there.

As the magazine continues to grow, the leaders of Little Red Book are looking to the future. Vassileva said the club has plans to expand by revamping its blog to include extra content and to archive PDF versions of the magazine. The hope is to have an online version to help them reach readers outside of Athens.

For Vassileva, Little Red Book is a family and a group project she’s happy to be a part of. In terms of involvement, she doesn’t think about how it’ll look on a resume.

“This club has pushed my boundaries of being the best I can be because this publication isn’t just reflective of me; it’s reflective of our team, our magazine, the College of Family and Consumer Sciences and the University of Georgia,” Vassileva said. “I think if you’re doing something, you should always do it to the max.”

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