You are currently browsing the archives for the READ category

First African Startup Joins Silicon Valley’s Elite

Two years ago, three young men had an idea for a prototype, presented it to the biggest little companies in Ghana and secured 20 paying clients, all within 54 hours. The product? Dropifi, a contact widget that helps small businesses sort feedback from customers.

Full story on

Ken Venturi: Golfer, Storyteller, Rat Pack-er

Last night on the “In Memory of” portion of the ESPYS, a man by the name of Ken Venturi was mentioned having recently passed away. But several months before that I wrote a brief profile on him for NBC Bay Area.

Just days before his death, the 82-year-old San Francisco native, golf champion and national golf broadcaster, Ken Venturi joined 130 of the greatest golfers in the world.

Venturi participated in SJSU’s golf team during the years of 1951-53′ and his induction is described as “a tremendous honor for one of SJSU’s most decorated athletes of all time,” by SJSU Athletics Media Relations Director Lawrence Fan. “He had a wonderful professional career in sports and then in broadcasting while always keeping SJSU close to his heart,” Fan said. “He still has constant contact with the men’s golf coach and has conducted clinics and fundraisers on behalf of the golf program here at SJSU.”

Being the only amateur with a 54-hole lead in the Masters, the voice of CBS Sports for 35 years and winning captain of the 2000 President’s Cup are just a few accomplishments under Venturi’s belt. His proceeding broadcasting career even proved exceptional when he was awarded the PGA of American Lifetime Achievement in Journalism Award in 2000.

Photo Courtesy of SFGate

USGA Executive Director Mike Davis told Spartan Athletics that Venturi’s 1964 U.S. Open victory is one of the greatest moments of the tournament’s 112-year history. “His ability to overcome extremely difficult conditions at Congressional personifies the perseverance, determination and execution required to be a U.S. Open champion.”

Part of a golden era in Bay Area golfing, Venturi joined golfers Bob Rosburg, Johnny Miller and George Archer in a San Franciscans-take-all winning streak. “The last time I had tears in my eyes was when I won the U.S. Open,” Venturi said. “This has been a special day, and I’m deeply honored.”

He participated in many charities including New York-based organization called Guiding Eyes Classic which benefited blind golfers and raised more than $6 million. One of the participating guide dogs ended up saving his owner’s life, safely guiding him down the stairs of  the World Trade Center’s North Tower.

Venturi’s off-field life also proved one for the books, but when your best friend slash roommate is Frank Sinatra and you get a shout out in one of Mark Frost’s books, no less is expected.

He is survived by his third wife, Kathleen, and two sons, Matthew and Tim, according to The Associated Press.

You can read my original story for NBC Bay Area here. A great gallery of photos called “Ken Venturi through the years” is available for viewing on SFGate’s blog.

Queen of the Lens

In what was the best birthday deadline I’ve come upon, I had the pleasure of writing a profile on innovative photog Annie Leibovitz’ for the current 5.2 “Invent” issue of Content Magazine on newsstands now.

 While she is responsible for capturing masterpieces like the Disney Dream Series, John Lennon hours before his death, and countless magazine covers, Annie Leibovitz is no exception to life’s hardships. After going through depression, financial struggles and the passing of her partner, Leibovitz divulged to us how she found renewal at an older age, through a series of stills which are on display in an exhibit called Pilgrimage. Here are a couple excerpts and outtakes:

“The renewal process began on a trip with her children. In a deep depression, Leibovitz reluctantly went with her daughter sightseeing at Niagara Falls. ‘ There is this moment, where you ask yourself, ‘Well, should I jump?’ she says jokingly. But, ‘I saw my kids staring at the falls, just mesmerized. I started thinking of places I wanted to go.”

“One thing they teach young photographers is bring them through the darkroom idea so you know how imagery is made. But that will probably go away at some point. I’m a photographer student with this digital as the rest of us. This project really showed me the latitude that we have in digital. It taught me that what we disliked about digital to begin with is what we’re really thriving on. Before we didn’t want to see things sharp. And now we want to see things sharp. We’re going deeper into the ocean and higher in the sky. We’re seeing animals in the dark. It’s exciting.”


“One of the great things of getting older is you do know what you’re doing. And, sometimes you’re successful and sometimes you’re not, but it’s okay. I think it has to do with if you survive a Rolling Stones tour in your 20s and still live, then you go into some other kind of status,” she says jokingly. “Then you get to be in your late 60s and you just have to hang in there.”

And here’s more from the issue including another story I did on the company Slice:

Q & A: Lubov Azria

At last week’s Academy of Art Fashion show in San Francisco, I got the chance to chat with Lubov Azria—the woman behind the BCBGMAXAZRIA brand. My interview was featured on Style Wax Poetic. Check it out below!LUBOV1

With more than 500 retail stores worldwide and over 200 in the U.S., BCBGMAXAZRIA GROUP has dominated women’s fashion retail. The husband-wife team has nearly perfected the sexy, body-hugging dress to the likes of celebrities such as Angelina Jolie and First Lady Michelle Obama.

Lubov Azria is the woman behind it all—BCBGMAXAZRIA, Hervé Léger and more. She and husband Max Azria were awarded Honorary Doctorate degrees from The Academy of Art University on Friday, where I got to sit down with her to talk about fashion, technology and keeping things fresh with Max in the design room.


JE: How did you know fashion was your official artistic choice of expression?

LA: I didn’t, it was a journey. I originally started as a Ballerina in Ukraine. And then, growing older, that wasn’t the right path for me and I also loved art. I wanted to be an art professor. But then I realized it wasn’t very profitable and very competitive and my alternate was fashion.

JE: What is the biggest piece of advice you are giving to young fashion designers?

LA: Follow your dreams. And never give up. That alone, will take you far.

JE: What was the first article of clothing you and Max ever designed together?

LA: Oh gosh, hmm… I think it was a suit made out of stretch satin.


JE: In your opinion, what is the most important thing for people to consider when dressing themselves?

LA: Dress to your body shape. I think many people don’t realize they might not look good in certain shapes. Wear clothes that give you more shape. Women should dress based on their body shape not based on trends.

JE: You’ve dressed many famous celebrities, but who have you not styled/dressed yet that you’d like to?

LA: That’s a good question. I love musicians so I’d really like to dress Blondie.

JE: From Hervé Léger to the Miley Cyrus collaboration for Wal-Mart, you’ve created created a broad spectrum of clothing lines. Why is it important for you to have such diverse cornerstones of fashion retail?

LA: I think it’s exciting. There’s an opportunity that comes your way and it’s really good to experiment with it and see where it takes you. You know, life is a journey not a destination. So I think it’s good to experience collaboration and communication with other designers.

JE: Which of you had the idea of revamping Hervé Léger, you or Max?6a00d83451b3d969e2015437f0a3af970c-320wi

LA: We were both really passionate about it, it was teamwork. It’s very unique and truly special and truly couture. It’s been an artists’ dream to work on that line.

JE: Do you still have the same passion you had from Day 1? If so, what keeps you so passionate?

LA: I believe my purpose in life, is to make things better. I wake up each morning with only one thought, ‘how do I make it better?’ And that’s what drives me every single day. Improve, make it better, grow, learn, evolve, change inspire.

JE: You’ve said you find inspiration everywhere in your travels. Have you found inspiration from San Francisco?

LA: Oh my gosh, absolutely. This is my first time truly able to enjoy the city and, wow, the interior design here is incredible. The old mixed with the new—it’s incredibly inspirational. I didn’t realize how amazing this city is. I think when people talked about San Francisco—now, I have a totally new perspective.

JE: You are in the Silicon Valley at the moment, has technology had an impact on your businesses?

LA: Yes, it’s changed everything. My favorite app is iAnnotate, I can’t live without my iPhone and I’m constantly on my iPad. I use Skype with my kids when we’re apart and I, just… can’t image being without technology. I see a huge difference from when we first started designing. Social media has been incredible and the whole blogging industry has been a fantastic revolution. These women have something to say, have impeccable sense of style, are great writers and great communicators. I’m obsessed with them.

 Follow me for chances to get your questions in my next Q&A!

Metro Cover Story: Stream of Concertness

My story on start-up EVNTLIVE was featured as this week’s cover story for Metro Silicon Valley. (Yay!) I’m excited to tell the story of this company’s virtual concert venue and how others in the space are using technology to stream live performances. Read on and let me know your thoughts!

Outtakes with Jessalyn Gilsig

Jessalyn Gilsig photoshoot for Content MagazineLast week I got the chance to sit down with actress Jessalyn Gilsig for an interview for Content Magazine. Kindly embracing our bombardment of light fixtures, hairstylists and photographers, Gilsig gave me a great interview… so great in fact, it couldn’t all fit in the original story. So, enjoy these moments (short of Glee-king out) that didn’t make the cut.

JE: Had Terri Schuester (Glee) stayed on the show, what do you think her charactar would be up to right now?

JG: She would have ruined the wedding for sure. I would have walked in, making trouble and fighting to get my man. That’s what I loved about Terri. She was still misguided but she wasn’t looking for power or fame or that much money, she was just going about it all the wrong the way, but she was always motivated by love for him. We all make these crazy decisions in the name of love. As a kid, you had a crush on a boy and you knew his neighborhood and then you fantasized that you’d run into him at the local store and then it would be on! We all do these silly things to move the forces of love in our favor.


JE: Can we expect some more visits this season or seasons to come?

JG: Yeah. The door is always open. Ryan (writer of the show) and I have known each other for so long now so he knows I’ll always show up if he calls.

JE: This film (Somewhere Slow)  is about risks, what is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?

JG: I was young and living in New York and was about to move back to Canada because I was out of money and my visa was about to expire. All of the sudden, I got a check in the mail from an animated movie I did and my first thought was, ‘I’m going to L.A.’ I had no idea what I was walking into but I just did it. It was like somthing just carried me there. I wasn’t looking to get into hollywood, I was just looking for meaningful work and the rest is history.

JE: How was working with costars the young Graham Patrick Martin, and Lincoln’s  David Costabile (Lincoln)?

JG: I called up David and said we needed him because we needed that person who was hilarious but could play someone who’s not the coolest guy in the world but he’s a good person and good husband. It wasn’t like her husband was an asshole, they’re just not connecting. Ya know, we have that so much in our real relationships. You could be living with a person and still feel alone and that’s what they’re doing. I love David so much because he’s absolutely willing to embody that role and he did it so beautifully. I feel like he added so much dimension to the film.

Graham was so lovely, and he was just at that moment in life, where you could see him coming out of his adolescence, and the man was kind of consuming his body but was not there all the way not fully-realized. And he played the role with subtly and patience and we just knew he was Travis.

JE: How was your experience as not just an actor, but also a producer on this film?

JG: First off, I realized how much I knew. Because, as an actor nobody asks you your opinion. Nobody says “Do you think we should start with this scene in the morning or this other scene?” You’re not looking at any logistical decisions around you. But I realized I had been absorbing all that information. It was very different being a part of decisions like scouting locations, casting actors and looking for funding. One guy we went to talk to about investing in the film had like 50 cats. All of the sudden I was sitting in cat piss. I laughed and thought, wow so this is producing an independent film. (laughs)

JE: Tell me about your experience being on the cast of the new TV series Vikings.

JG: A lot of time and care was put into creating this world of the Vikings. Having written the Elizabeth movies and The Tudors, he (Michael Hirst) has this way of doing these historical epics with human element. When I first met him, he said something really beautiful to me, “We can do a piece set in this period but we’re still telling stories about people. If there’s one thing that’s universal, wherever you land in time or wherever you live, it’s that we all love our children.” We’re all just people and I feel like that really comes off in the show because it’s so much about relationships.

JE: Your characters have some serious fan bases from Glee to Nip/Tuck to Heroes. So, which do you get recognized for most?

JG: Surprisingly, Nip/Tuck. It had a very strong and specific following. And Glee is next. Then Heroes with the people who love the supernatural recognize me. But now, with Netflix, people still watch older shows like Nip/Tuck… a lot.

JE: How has it been going from TV to film?

JG: It’s so different it’s all about adapting and being open to the unknown. TV is very fast. We shoot between seven and eleven pages a day. In film, they’ll shoot two to three pages a day. In television, you have to make decisions very quickly and you have to be alert.  On a show like Vikings, you can evolve a character so it’s like doing a film over the course of a miniseries. Really good TV these days is more like film and audiences are eating it up like Downton Abbey and Breaking Bad or these shows where people are committed to these whole series as an experience. I feel like TV’s at this amazing place, where everything we like about film is in television, so instead of a 2-hour movie, we have these 9-hour movies and these epic experiences. So, in a way, I feel like I’m reaping the benefits of this now since I’m attuned to working quickly.

JE: What did you think of opening night at Cinequest with the film Ginger and Rosa?

JG: I really liked how it was a slow burn. You’re like ‘where is this going’, is it going anywhere? And then all these characters that had never interacted appeared in one room together in the scene at the end and it had that amazing payoff. In a way, you were worried like, ‘I don’t know if there’s enough heater to a climax.’ Elle Fanning, the emotion she brought it was excrutiating and really excellent. It called into question, this idea that we have to have these social codes, we have to have some kind of restriction on our behavior, but we have to respect others.

You can catch the last showing of Somewhere Slow at Cinequest this Friday, and you can read the full magazine spread here.

Interview: Jessalyn Gilsig

I got the chance to sit down with actress Jessalyn Gilsig to talk about her work and life while she was in San Jose for the annual Cinequest Film Festival. Alongside an uber-talented Content Magazine team, we bombarded her Fairmont hotel room with light fixtures and hair stylists for a high-fashion editorial photo shoot. I got the chance to chat with her about her eccentric charactars and her latest role as producer in new film Somewhere Slow.

Jessalyn Gilsig is no stranger to playing complicated roles: ex-wife of Will Schuester (Glee), destructive nymphomaniac (Nip/Tuck), and fire-starting superhero (Heroes) just to name a few. But this weekend, she debuts her most risky and complicated role yet and she’s giving Cinequest viewers a front row seat.

You can (and I hope you do) read the full feature  here.

Cover Girl

I’m very much stoked that my profile on Sarah Austin became the cover story for the latest issue of Content Magazine, “The Underground Issue.” You may or may not recognize her (most-likely the latter) from Bravo’s reality show Start-ups: Silicon Valley.

You have to buy the magazine to see the story, but here’s an excerpt:

“Viewers of the show had a new personality to hate, but that was her role to play. ‘I think the strangest thing about being on a reality TV show is they try to play you into character archetypes,’ Austin indirectly admitted the majority of ‘Start-Ups: Silicon Valley’ is staged in many situations, but she says she had no idea she would be painted as the villain.”

For more where that came from, check out the Content’s 5.0 The Underground Issue which is also sold around downtown San Jose. I hope you’re able to read it- I’d love to hear your feedback!

8 Intriguing Facts About Dwight Bentel

Photo Courtesy of San Jose Mercury News


Exactly a week before graduation, nostalgic feelings became even more surreal after learning of the death of the man who I owe my invaluable storytelling education and experience. As a writer and editor of several SJSU publications including The Spartan Daily, Dwight Bentel’s namesake became virtually (and sometimes literally) my home for the past five years.

At the center of SJSU’s campus the beautifully-aged, ivy-covered building still holds Bentel’s legacy of young, passionate journalists whose blood spikes at breaking news and eyes settle on every imperfection.

Known as “The Father of Journalism,” Dwight Bentel was a Bay Area legend and nationally known for pioneering an ethically informative journalism and fighting for a free society. These are just a few of many intriguing facts about the late Dwight Bentel:

1. Wrote two books

2. Lived through 11 U.S. wars dating back to World War I.

3. Oldest living former member of the San Jose Mercury News staff.

4. Wore white gloves because he was ironically allergic to newsprint.

5. Spent 40 years as an SJSU professor, including one as “teacher of the year.”

6. Avid advocate and defender of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

7. Produced at least two Pulitzer Prize winners, who’ve collectively won six Pulitzer Prizes.

8. Began the SJSU Journalism degree, The Spartan Daily  becoming one of the top departments in the country.


Big Fish In A Small Pond

The coincidentally refined 29-year-old Katie Hintz-Zambrano @MrsZambrano

Spearheading one of fashion’s biggest hit site’s Refinery 29‘s latest and most-successful locale, Katherine Zambroza sat on the other side of the interviewing table with us SJSU media students.

Originally from Nebraska, this soft-spoken, intelligentsia grew up obsessing over periodicals and glossy magazines. “I’d study back issues from the library and then quiz myself on looks and designers.” The fashion-ravenous female made it her goal to go to New York where her passion would come to life.
Upon getting into NYU, she successfully made contacts that led to big-name by-lines that boasted an impressive resume. She immersed herself into the journalism world of sports, music and eventually fashion. Even before graduating, Zambrano landed her breakout role pitching stories for ESPN the Magazine to the likes of her passion for the NBA. She’s since gained headway at,’s The Cut, Elle, teen Vogue, Marie Claire and Nylon just to name a few. The diverse writer’s also contributed to more unlikely pubs such as XXL, Vibe and KING magazine as a hip-hop expert. She then worked for Marie Claire as a writer when all her assignments and clips snowballed into an impressive portfolio.
The 29-year-old also has a fascination with bathrooms. Well, design- in general, but bathrooms specifically for the meeting place at San Francisco’s oober-hip Four Barrel Coffee. Always in search of unique places in the city, she pays close attention to detail and invariously jots down potential story ideas as they come up in conversation. And, a chat with young Bay Area natives last Friday proved no different.
Working in tech, her husband inevitably moved to Cisco headquarters in the Silicon Valley almost a year ago which brought on Refinery’s latest Spawn: the San Francisco edition. Among Chicago, New York, Miami, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles, why is San Francisco the most successful locale? Zambrano thinks it’s the unique variables that attract people to San Francisco “Girls here have to worry bout the elements so that adds a different factor that the other cities don’t have to. There’s hills, wind, fog and everything in between,” she says.”People have unique style that you have to find and aren’t necessaryily surrounding you. Makes it more interesting.”

A perk of being a big fashionable fish in a small pond, is Zambrano gets the opportunity to hit hot fashion spots and events that she may not otherwise in a bigger city like New York. The night before our meeting she covered the Academy of Art University’s annual fashion show where she got a personal interview with Alexander McQueen creative director Sarah Burton. So there she was—sitting and speaking with fashion’s most hailed designer who just a year ago boasted the most famous bridal gown on another Katherine. Kate Middleton (who goes without explanation). But this year, Zambrano had the pleasure of meeting Burton among other events such as Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the De Young Museum.
Refinery29 SF Stats:
  • SF is most successful locale
  • Rate viewing by clicks on email newsletters
  • Stories hit NYC headquarters 48 hours before deadline
  • Have general social networks but hope to have location-based twitter handles.
So here we were—six girls swallowing each experienced word that leaves the egoless beauty’s bright pink lips. We sat as she shared with us advice for  young journalists and style-g0-getters:
  • When pitching story ideas, pitch to “fashion news” section.
  • It’s all about people you know. Make contacts on good terms with whoever you can no matter how big or small the publication.
  • Network with people a few years older because they are not threatened by youand can give you junior-level opportunities so your not competing.
Katie’s Coffee Fit:
Shoes: Tsubo (local brand)
Necklace from Argentina
Bag: A vintage tool bag from a friend
For more photos, follow me on Instagram @Jennyz63

Social Widgets powered by