Olivia La Roche, Writer, San Francisco

Olivia La Roche is a fashion writer based in San Francisco’s Mission District. Interested in exploring the cultural significance of fashion and its power to captivate and educate, she takes an alternative approach to her craft. Today Olivia invites Lisa Says Gah to take a peek at her home and some of her favorite spots in the neighborhood. Enjoy!

POSTED March of 2015

LSG: Hi Olivia! Thanks for having us in your home. Tell us about yourself, what do you do?

Welcome! I’m really happy to be connecting with like-minded fashion professionals in San Francisco. We’re here but it’s not like New York or LA, and conversations like this are really important to foster a thriving fashion community. I am a bit of a  jack-of-all-trades when it comes to working in fashion. I had the pleasure of collaborating with the talented team at Lone Wolf Magazine to bring issue 11 to print and am currently writing for the Lone Wolf  Blog as we are between issues. I also do freelance copy and content production for creative companies, which is a lot of fun.

LSG: Your room is so cozy! Would you consider this to be your creative space?

Thank you! I do. I have always been sensitive to my surroundings (perhaps overly so) and my room is a reflection of that. It is my personality externalized and mirrors what’s going on in my life, what’s inspiring me and what I need to feel good while living in a hectic city.  It’s my sanctuary. Also, in a more literal sense, it serves as my studio – you can see the giant easel taking up that corner; it’s not just for show. I have an art degree and still paint when I can find the time.

LSG: Tell us about Lone Wolf. How did you land this job? What do you love about it?

When I started getting into fashion publication seriously, I was thinking of starting my own magazine. I was knee deep in planning and research when two people who know me really well discovered the magazine and independently sent me the link. They both said that it was basically the magazine I would create. It was amazing to see exactly what I wanted already up and running and doing well. I decided that being part of Lone Wolf would be an invaluable learning experience and it has been.

LSG: At age 6 what did you see yourself doing career-wise?

It's funny you ask because I was thinking about that the other day and had this really amazing moment of “oh yeah, I’m kinda doing that!” when I remembered what I wanted at that age. I used to snatch copies of Vogue from my aunt and sit at my mom’s desk with a red pen marking them up as if I was the Editor in Chief. I pretended the issue was just about to go to print and I had the final say. Don’t ask me how I knew anything about the workings of a magazine at that age but I knew I wanted to part of one. While I’m not an Editor in Chief (yet!), it feels incredible to be in the working environment of my dreams.

LSG: Describe your typical workday.

I mostly work from home, which has its ups and downs. It can be hard to motivate at times but when I am on deadline I turn into a machine. Some days are a blur of writing. I cut myself off from the world, get pretty disheveled and drink lots of coffee. After I turn something it feels like I’m coming up for air. When I go to the office, I like getting really polished because I have a lot of great clothes, and never have enough excuses to wear them.

LSG: You’ve lived in the Mission for 6 years now. What attracted you to this neighborhood, and why have you stuck around?

When I was moving to San Francisco, the Mission was the only neighborhood I considered. At the time, it was just starting to generate buzz and I was attracted to that “up and coming” vibe. It was being compared to Brooklyn and I saw myself as the “Brooklyn type”.  Now the neighborhood has changed a lot and so have I. I’m not focused on being any “type” but I still love where I live and haven’t encountered anything that would call me out of my current spot. Sometimes I think a change of neighborhood would be positive, but you just can’t beat the microclimate and varied offerings of the Mission. It’s such a wonderful mix of people, plus the view out my window is of one of the oldest sequoias in the city and we’ve grown attached.

LSG: Which places do you frequent most? When you’re not in the Mission where can you be found?

The places I frequent in the Mission mostly coincide with my walking routes - 24th Street has many gems. Press is a great vintage bookstore and magazine/stationery resource; its right next to Sidewalk Juice where I get my green juice so I usually stop in and see what’s new. Most of my friends have gotten birthday gifts from Press this year, so maybe I need to switch it up! Just a block or so from there is this total hole-in-the-wall fish market called Basa Seafood. You would never think to go in, but they actually make some of the best sushi I’ve ever had. It has zero ambiance, so I usually pick up a platter of sashimi and have friends over. It’s really affordable, which is almost unheard of in San Francisco and is great if you’re feeding a big group.

Downtown is a fun change of pace from the Mission - I like being in the thick of things. My friends and I get together to try new restaurants and one of my latest favorites is Trou Normand. The food is amazing but the space is so beautiful they could be feeding me cereal and I wouldn’t mind. Highly recommend.

LSG: Describe your personal style. What is it most influenced by?

I see personal style as a tool to navigate the world. I dress for my mood and what I know I am going to be up against on any particular day. I rely on how putting something on makes me feel and that’s the main influence on my personal style. Clothing can communicate so much - it can be a coat of armor or an invitation. I love the psychology of dressing. Comfort is important so I tend to lean in a menswear inspired direction. I love long overcoats, silk shirts and suiting with simplistic lines. My mother describes my style as “severe” and I actually like that - believe it or not.  Although, I have been more playful lately, incorporating some fun and feminine pieces. I just got a baby blue moto jacket and that’s been changing things up. It felt really good playing dress up with Lisa Says Gah, all the beautiful silks and knits made we want to explore a softer side of myself.

LSG: How do you unwind?

I take a lot of baths. It’s like hitting the reset button. Sometimes I take these “ultra baths” where I basically camp out in the bathroom – bath salts, clay mask, wine, and snacks. I even put my laptop on a little stool and watch a movie. It’s pure hedonism and is pretty embarrassing if someone walks in!

LSG: Any advice for aspiring writers and creative’s looking to get into the fashion business?

Don’t settle! You see people who have the careers of your dreams so obviously it’s possible! Why not you? Get a foot in the door any way you can. Go on informational interviews, take people you admire to coffee. Ask for help. Get a mentor. Go to every event you can and look people in the eye and introduce yourself - that's how it all starts.