SoCal Spotlight: Ivana De Maria’s StoryPlace

SoCal Spotlight: Ivana De Maria’s StoryPlace

Contributing Editors: Anthony Stafford and Joshua Pinkay

In Los Angeles, it’s no secret that millions of people move into the city to pursue their dreams of entering the world of entertainment. Little does everyone know, those who reach their success still have other dreams like the rest of us! Ivana De Maria is one of those successful individuals who grew up with an attraction to the entertainment industry, moved to Los Angeles to pursue that dream, and continued dreaming — pursuing an uncommon endeavor: an entry into the tech world using parts of what she already learned. Ivana saw an opportunity in something that each of us has – our stories. We sat down with her to find out more about her background, and to learn about her new dream to take the entertainment world by storm in the way aspiring dreamers will find new projects. Here’s a peak into how your stories, our stories, and the world’s stories will be revealed.

Q: What inspired you to enter the entertainment industry?

A: Since I was a little girl I was always very attracted to the entertainment industry. My great grandfather founded the first Radio and TV station in Mexico and my two oldest brothers have a production company as well. One of them is a producer and the other one a director. Growing up, I spent a lot of time on set with them, helping them in any way I could. I was always very enchanted by the magic behind creating a film.  I always knew I wanted to eventually work in the entertainment industry, specifically as an actress. However, I also had many intellectual curiosities, which I wanted to explore before focusing on my long-term career. I studied high school in Switzerland and after graduating I moved to Boston for College. I attended Boston University where I completed a bachelor’s degree in Business and Law, always knowing that upon graduating I would focus on acting full time. Over the course of those four years, during summers while all my classmates would look for finance internships, I would attend acting school in NY and LA, and then during the school year I would enjoy learning the theoretical aspects of business and law, skills I felt would come in handy no matter what I did. Upon graduating I immediately moved to LA to pursue acting full time.

Q: What has been the biggest challenge you face working as an actor and producer in Los Angeles?

As soon as I got to LA, I starting the casting/rejection/waiting process, and the more I learned about it the more frustrated I got by the system. I hated the idea that my results would depend on so many factors that were not in my hands. I called my brothers and asked for advice. Their answer was “make your own short film”. I had no clue how to do this, but my frustration with the industry was bigger than my fear of the unknown. I began writing my own characters, which then turned into my own stories, then my own projects and finally my own productions. I wrote, produced and acted in two short films, which to my surprise had great success in the festival circuit.

As an actor you accept a life of instability and this is the hardest part of it. Financial instability, physical instability and emotional instability. Because it is so volatile, one day you have a job and the next its back to square one. You have to be available at all times which makes planning anything very difficult. I found that my personality required a bit more structure that what acting offered, and so I decided to find other ways to make a living that would let me be selective with my acting jobs.

Q: You recently took on the tech world with the upcoming launch of your app StoryPlace? How did your background in entertainment influence your decision to start this business?

When I began creating my own content I learned everything about the process of telling a story. From writing, to producing, acting, editing, the business… and I fell in love with all of it. I realized that my generation had an opportunity: the industry was changing and the power was now in the hands of the creative. There was a new currency going around: STORIES. If you had a good story and knew how to tell it, you had a big opportunity. By looking closer at the story culture around the world, I realized that this demand for stories was not exclusive to the entertainment industry. Every industry, product or brand is founded on a story.

A couple of years ago I started developing projects based on real life stories and quickly became enchanted by the idea of finding these stories and bringing them to life, giving them a voice. I found a beautiful combination in social responsibility and film, and decided I would create entertainment content based on true stories, specifically those with messages, stories and voices that needed to be heard today. As I embarked on this journey to find extraordinary stories, I found that everyone’s story had a lesson for me in some way. This led to a thought and an actual dream that that kept me up at night: “How many stories go unheard in the world?” I could not stop thinking of all the lost learning opportunities and decided I would do something about it. I wanted to create a place for these stories. Taking into account technology and generation trends, I decided to create a platform that would inspire people to connect through story sharing, to realize the importance of sharing and listening to stories. That is why I created StoryPlace, an egoless social platform that promotes empathy by connecting people through sharing and reading real life stories.

Q: Why is Southern California the perfect place to launch and grow your business?

Southern California is the hub of startups! It is a place that promotes entrepreneurship and Los Angeles is a city that is truly designed for the self-employed. Every street has cute café’s and working spaces that help young entrepreneurs have a working environment without the need for a formal office. In terms of StoryPlace specifically, SoCal culture is very open and friendly, everyone is always open and excited to share his or her story!

Q: What advice do you have for someone looking to break into the entertainment or tech industries — two highly competitive fields?

I am a true believer that as an artist, it all starts with creating your own content, and therefore you own opportunities, so believe in your vision and don’t be afraid to tell your own stories. Don’t be afraid to fail and don’t try to please anyone but yourself.Let your goal be making your own self proud, and then things will start happening. Furthermore, when they start happening don’t question your “luck”.Many times I would feel insecure or question myself when something went right and I got “lucky”, but luck is where preparation and opportunity meet. So give yourself the credit for being prepared when that opportunity comes along. And most importantly, enjoy the path! 

Q: Where do you see StoryPlace going in the next few years?

Hopefully many places! I’ve learned that in the app world you never know what you’re going to get. It can have 1 user for the first week or a billion users in one day. The entire team has been working hard on making sure that do everything we can in order to get those billion users, and most importantly we are ready to scale at any given moment.

My hopes with StoryPlace are that it becomes a leader of empathy in the world. Hopefully other industries will follow and people will be able to appreciate the power of empathy and storytelling. I would love for StoryPlace to eventually expand into more than just an app, a community, a festival, a book, a non-profit… who knows! The possibilities are endless.

Q: Do you have any local LA or SoCal spots that inspire you in your work?

I like to explore SoCal any chance I get and every time I do so I find new places that inspire me. What inspires me the most is meeting someone with a great story, and there are many of those in California!

I recently stumbled upon a small hotel called Moonlight Inn, which is in Moonlight beach. My boyfriend and I were driving and started getting tired so we decided to find a place to spend the night. Never did we imagine that this place would be an absolute oasis. It is a “WELL” hotel, which we learned meant that everything about it, from the design to the service, was tailored to promote wellbeing. This is just one example of all the incredible places I have found in SoCal. Every place you go has a story as well, its just a matter of listening.

Q: Anything else you want Angelenos to know about you or your company?

I’m always happy to hear stories and eager to discover new places! Contact me through my social media @ivanamaria and tell me your stories. More importantly, if you have a story to tell (which I know you do), download our app and StoryPlaceIT!

Taste of sbe Makes Its Debut in Los Angeles

Taste of sbe Makes Its Debut in Los Angeles

Story Contributions by Anthony C. Stafford

What could be one of the most coveted events in the culinary world is headed to Los Angeles for the first time! Widely known for their elevated restaurants with stunning atmospheres and cuisine, the food group known as sbe will launch their spectacular Taste of sbe 2018 event in L.A. on October 20th and 21st. sbe’s award winning celebrity chefs from across the globe will join forces in Los Angeles, Miami, and The Bahamas for three epic weekends of culinary celebrations in partnership with Rolling Stone Magazine. Buckle up for all the details on how you can join in on the fun, and what you can look forward to when you attend!

Jam-Packed Weekends Featuring Food, Shopping, And More

sbe will kick off their exclusive event by bringing a star-studded chef line-up to Los Angeles, Miami, and The Bahamas for three weekends of world-class collaborations from numerous chefs. Who exactly can attendees expect to be present? Chefs Danny Elmaleh, Martin Heierling, James Beard Award Winner, Michael Schwartz; Katsuya Uechi, Jose Icardi, Makoto Okuwa, and Dario Cecchini will join forces to present unique and custom tastings, extravagant cuisine, interactive demonstrations and the finest spirit and cuisine pairings.

As can be expected, sbe is going all out this year, and the exceptional culinary experience will be elevated further with extravagant parties, celebrity DJs, and late-night celebrations with music tailored by Allison Hegendorf. Guests have numerous options of accommodations to book with in each destination city, under the “Taste of sbe” room package at: Mondrian, in Los Angeles; SLS South Beach, Mondrian South Beach, Delano South Beach, Shore Club, SLS Brickell, Hyde Midtown or SLS LUX Brickell, in Miami; or SLS Baha Mar, in the Bahamas. Each of these accommodations include complimentary bites and sips at all participating sbe restaurant and lounges in their respective regions.

Sam Nazarian, Founder and CEO of sbe says, “sbe is a global lifestyle hospitality company with a 360-degree lifestyle experience. Taste of sbe is born out of our desire to bring unique experiences to our guests and offer an exclusive opportunity in three of our hottest locales: Miami, LA and The Bahamas.” He continues, “We pride ourselves on being able to curate a lineup of all-star chefs to collaborate across our brands, all united under the sbe umbrella.”

“I’m so excited to be part of this incredible line up of sbe celebrity chefs and be part of this revolutionaryprogram,” said Chef Makoto Okuwa. “The collective talent within sbe is second to none, and the diversity of experience and expertise that they bring to the table as a whole is unparalleled. I’m looking forward to adding my style and experience to the mix and working alongside these celebrated chefs.”

Wishes Get Granted Too

In addition to all of the exciting activity throughout the three-weekend event, a percentage of proceeds from all ticket sales will benefit the local Make-A-Wish Chapters. Not only to attendees get to feel like they’re on a mini-vacation, but sbe will also grant the wish of a vacation to a child and his or her family to The Bahamas for a two-night experience at SLS Baha Mar.

Wake Up On The West Coast

The first Grand Weekend takes place in Los Angeles, October 20-21, and will kick off with (drumroll…) a Veuve Clicquot Rose and Whispering Angel Brunch at Cleo Third Street! The party is just getting started as a weekend of activities and events await. Those events include private shopping experiences on Rodeo Drive, cooking classes, a Grand Dinner at Skybar at Mondrian Los Angeles, a Farewell Brunch at Doheny Room, and more!

Party On The East Coast

Heading across the country to Miami, the second Grand Weekend runs October 25-28, starting with Celebrity Taste at SLS South Beach on Thursday evening. Guests can expect participation from The Bazaar by José Andrés, Leynia, Katsuya, Fi’lia by Michael Schwartz, Makoto, and K Ramen.Burger.Beer. Saturday’s temptations include an interactive Sushi Making Class and lunch at Katsuya South Beach followed by a Grand Dinner inDelano’s iconic lobby complete with special live performances. The weekend concludes in style with a Farewell Brunch at Diez y Seis.

Sunset in The Caribbean

The final Grand Weekend takes place on the private beaches of SLS Baha Mar resort in The Bahamas, from November 15-18, where the coveted ticket on Friday night provides access to a one-of-a-kind tasting event at Bungalow Pool. Chefs in attendance will include Dario Cecchini, Michael Schwartz and Danny Elmaleh — topping off
with an after-party at Bond Nightclub and a special guest performance. On Saturday, guests will experience a Grand Dinner White Party, held on the private Baha Mar Pier. A Farewell Brunch at Cleo Mediterráneo on Sunday brings the memorable weekend, and three-weekend event to a close.

Join The Festivities

Individual tickets are available for each event throughout all three weekends, ranging from $55 to $500, as well as all-access packages. The weekends are presented by Rolling Stone, Heineken, Lincoln, Fever Tree, Diageo, Moet Hennessy, The Patron Company (Bahamas only), Pepsi and Red Bull.

For further information visit www.sbe.com/tasteofsbe and follow #tasteofsbe, #worldofsbe and #thisisbeyond to unlock your passport for the finest experiences that sbe has to offer.

About sbe

Established in 2002 by Founder and CEO Sam Nazarian, sbe is a privately-held, leading lifestyle hospitality company that develops, manages and operates award-winning hotels, residences, restaurants and nightclubs. Through exclusive partnerships with cultural visionaries, sbe is devoted to creating extraordinary experiences throughout its proprietary brands with a commitment to authenticity, sophistication, mastery and innovation.

Following the acquisition of Morgans Hotel Group, the pioneer of boutique lifestyle hotels, in partnership with The Yucaipa Companies and Cain International (formerly Cain Hoy),sbe has an unparalleled global portfolio which will see 25 hotels and over 170 global world-renowned culinary, nightlife and entertainment venues by the end of 2018. The company is uniquely positioned to offer a complete lifestyle experience – from nightlife, food & beverage and entertainment to hotels and residences, and through its innovative customer loyalty and rewards program, The Code, as well as its award-winning international real estate development subsidiary, Dakota Development – all of which solidify sbe as the preeminent leader across hospitality.

The company’s established and upcoming hotel brands include SLSHotel & Residences, Delano, Mondrian, The Redbury, Hyde Hotel & Residences, and The Originals. In addition, sbe has the following internationally acclaimed restaurants and lounges under subsidiary DisruptiveRestaurant Group: Katsuya by Chef Katsuya Uechi, Umami Burger, Cleo by Chef Danny Elmaleh, Fi’lia byMichael Schwartz, Leynia and Diez & Seis by Chef José Icardi, Hyde Lounge, S Bar, Doheny Room Skybar, Bond, and Privilege. To learn more, watch sbe’s #thisisbeyond video and visit sbe.com.
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Four Winters Welcomes Fall With New Menu & Free Ice Cream Event!

Four Winters Welcomes Fall With New Menu & Free Ice Cream Event!

Story Contributions by Anthony C. Stafford

New Season, New Flavors, and a Good Cause

Four Winters (@fourwinters), an iconic U.K. based ice cream brand that recently opened their U.S. flagship store in Los Angeles, is launching their exciting new fall menu on September 28th, and guess what? If you love (free) ice cream, you’re in luck! Four Winters is inviting LA locals to celebrate with them!

Four Winters, defined by hyper-freshness and market-driven seasonality, is adding new flavors to capture the essence of fall — including Vegan Chai, Lemon Berry Cloud (feat. Sqirl’s Blackberry + Meyer Lemon Jam), and Pink Velvet. Yum!

Here’s a rundown of the deliciousness that goes into each of these flavorful scoops:

  • Vegan Chai: Sugar, spice and everything nice! A blend of ice cream, chai spiced caramel and spiced crumble create a combo so good, you’ll hardly believe its vegan.
  • Lemon Berry Cloud (feat. Sqirl’s Blackberry + Meyer Lemon Jam): Just the right amount of sweet & sour, this flavor combines a sweet cream base, lemon curd, almond meringue and Sqirl’s amazing blackberry + meyer lemon jam to create a perfectly tart combo!
  • Pink Velvet: A delicious mix of a cheesecake base and pink velvet cake, topped with pink strawberry crunchies.

In addition to these amazing flavors, Four Winters is also proud to donate the proceeds raised from purchases of Pink Velvet to the American Cancer Society in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October 1 – October 31).

One Night Only: Free Ice Cream For All

On September 28th, from 7pm to 11pm, Four Winters will be offering their Vegan Chai and Lemon Berry Cloud flavors of ice cream for free to all visitors, as an invitation to experience the new menu. The classic year-round flavors, such as Fudge Brownie, Cereal Crunch, Cookie Dough and Knafeh, will also be available for purchase.

Ice Cream Like No Other

At Four Winters, each scoop of ice cream is made to order (frozen at -321º Fahrenheit!), and the brand’s new approach to old fashioned, hand-churned craftsmanship produces remarkably smooth ice cream. Four Winters’ ‘magic’ blends fresh ingredients and home-baked toppings with locally sourced and flavor-infused dairy, transforming it into delicious ice cream in front of their customers’ eyes.

Founders Zeid Zabian and Omar Alkhawaja opened the U.S. flagship earlier this summer to introduce local Los Angeles foodies to their unique taste on ice cream. “We wanted to throw this event to continue to invite the neighborhood to experience and enjoy Four Winters’ amazing, distinct flavors,” states Omar. “We love taking our customers on a journey through the season with our evolving seasonal ingredients, and wanted to offer our fall menu to the public so they can taste our new combinations!”

About Four Winters

U.K.-based ice cream brand Four Winters offers a fresh spin on dessert — making every scoop of ice cream to order! Four Winters’ dedication to freshness, and new approach to old fashioned, hand-churned craftsmanship produces remarkably smooth ice cream. Each made-to-order scoop is blended with evolving seasonal ingredients and home-baked toppings. Behind the ‘magic,’ authentic hospitality, conscientious product sourcing, and elegant aesthetics blend to produce a distinctive experience.

FOUR WINTERS STORE INFORMATION: 
Address: 8065 West 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048
Sunday – Thursday: 12pm – 10pm
Friday – Saturday: 12pm – 11pm

Umami Burger Teams Up With Meals on Wheels for National Cheeseburger Day

Umami Burger Teams Up With Meals on Wheels for National Cheeseburger Day

Story Contributions by Anthony C. Stafford

On Tuesday, September 18, Umami Burger kicked off a one-day campaign with St. Vincent Meals on Wheels for National Cheeseburger Day. The “No Senior Goes Hungry Campaign” helped to bring awareness to the 250,000 seniors in Los Angeles that are at risk of hunger, food insecurity, malnutrition, and even homelessness.

Providing Senior Citizens With Respect And Compassion

For National Cheeseburger Day, Umami Burger participated in raising funds for St. Vincent Meals on Wheels. Known for their generosity and good deeds, it’s no surprise that Umami Burger held yet another amazing selfless campaign to care for others. When guests placed their orders and indicated their support for the organization, Umami Burger donated $2 from that meal to St. Vincent Meals on Wheels. St. Vincent Meals on Wheels provides every senior citizen with respect and compassion, along with nutritious meals every day — and the scope of this operation expands to nearly 2,000 hungry and homebound senior citizens in LA.

It is an indisputable belief that every senior citizen deserves respect and compassion, and Umami Burger created another easy way for everyone to take part in changing the lives of senior citizens in Los Angeles. Though this weeks efforts have already passed, maybe sometime soon Umami Burger will team up with Wheels on Meals again. Whatever the case, you can always look forward to Umami Burger launching a worthwhile campaign for you to participate in, that can help make a positive impact on the community.

ABOUT UMAMI BURGER: Founded in Los Angeles in 2009, Umami Burger has been named GQ’s “Burger of the Year,” Men’s Journal’s “Best Burger in America” and one of the “25 Most Innovative Consumer Brands of 2016” by Forbes’ CircleUp25. Currently, Umami Burger has 22 restaurants in California, New York, Illinois, Nevada, and Japan with additional locations planned around the
world. SBE, the leading lifestyle hospitality company that develops, manages and operates award-winning hospitality venues, is Umami Burger’s majority shareholder. For more information on Umami Burger, please visit umamiburger.com or follow @umamiburger or #umamiburger on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Reflections on the Los Angeles Food Bowl with Lady Boss, Jenn Harris

Reflections on the Los Angeles Food Bowl with Lady Boss, Jenn Harris

SoCal Mag loves seeing female entrepreneurs in action, especially when they’re creating experiences for Angelenos that wouldn’t compare to other cities. Jenn Harris gave us a quick reflective interview about this year’s past Food Bowl, and why it had such a significant importance on giving back. Consider this an LA event you no longer want to miss!

Q. Why is Food Bowl such an important culinary event for SoCal residents? Tell us about the mission and charity component.

A. This year we partnered with three really important charities: Midnight Mission, Food Forward, and LA Food Kitchen – all of them are doing really fantastic work in LA. LA Kitchen puts food that would go to waste to people that need it and help create job training programs. Midnight Mission is doing their best to feed the homeless here in LA. So Food Bowl is important because as much as we want to celebrate the great chefs and restaurants we have here in this city, we also want to shed some light on some of the serious issues that people face everyday.

Q. What can fans of this year’s Food Bowl expect next year? Any returning chefs or new highlights not to miss?

A. We had the best chefs in LA this year – and we have even more next year. Josef Centeno was back doing events. Michael Samurusi from Providence headlined a sustainable seafood dinner in Manhattan Beach, which was phenomenal. We also had the brothers from Lasa which is a great Filipino restaurant in Chinatown. They did a huge outstanding in the field long table dinner at Night Market, which is also returning next year. It was our five-night food festival in Grand Park, where we just take over the entire park with food and restaurants. There are food trucks, entertainment, and that’s going to be even bigger and better next year too.

Q. What is your day to day like at LA Times? What do you love the most about this position?

A. I think what I love the most is that I get to eat everyday. I basically get paid to eat, run around, and try new food. I meet new people and hang out with chefs and share that experience with everyone. I pinch myself everyday that I have my job. It’s really fun.

Q. What are your favorite hotspots for dining that you’d recommend to anyone visiting SoCal?  

A. For out-of-towners, I always say you’ve got to go to Cassia in Santa Monica, because Chef Bryant Ng is doing amazing things with fresh produce and his flavors are just always on point. Any of Josef Centeno’s restaurants in Downtown LA… I’d recommend going to the Far East Plaza in Chinatown and basically doing a little eating tour; hit up Howlin’ Rays, hit up Chego, and hit up Lasa. There’s a lot of great food choices here. Also, Langers in DTLA has the best pastrami ever, so I would definitely go there too.

Q. Anything else you want to add about Food Bowl?

A. Just that if you’re someone who likes food and you’re here in LA, then I think it is the perfect time to eat around LA. It really does give people a taste of the great chefs and the restaurants around here. It’s a fun month to eat.

For everything about the LA Food Bowl coming in May of 2019, be sure to bookmark the official website and stay tuned!

Team SoCal

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Editor-in-Chief:  RANDY DUNBAR

Managing Editor:  NIKI SMART

Associate Editors: JOSHUA PINKAY, KATIE NARTONIS

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Contributors:

RACHEL JEFFARI

FRANZ SZONY

TONY FRERE

HEATHER RUSSELL

ZUKE OSHIRO

JOHN SKALICKY

JARED RUBIN

SoCal magazine is a cultural portal for all things West.
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