Sue Williams, Linda Grasso, Robin Sanders
Now in its 10th year, the premier lifestyle media brand of the San Fernando Valley, Ventura Blvd—an eight-issue-per-year magazine, the website ourventurablvd.com and its various social channels—brings to life the people, stories and places that make our community great. Ventura Blvd is a division of media/marketing firm The Golden State Company. Here, publisher Robin Sanders, editor-in-chief Linda Grasso and director of brand partnerships Sue Williams share about their endeavors and life in the Valley.
Tell us what is unique about what you do.
Linda: “I essentially find stories about compelling people and events with some sort of Valley connection or peg. People always ask: ‘How do you choose what ultimately winds up in the magazine?’ The truth is, I really think about it. I ask myself, ‘Is this noteworthy? Will locals find this interesting or care? Will this resonate?’ If the answer is yes, I move forward. I make a conscious effort not to include PR-driven puff. You can get that with lots of other magazines. I like to think of Ventura Blvd’s coverage as grassroots.”
What have you discovered about our community during this unprecedented time?
Robin: “The Valley is a resilient gem of a place. We went from a big community to a small town in a matter of days. In the early days when getting into a grocery store was a tough task, our local restaurants made everything from fresh produce to bread available for purchase to make at home. Places like Petit Trois, The Joint Eatery, The Local Peasant and BLVD Kitchen literally fed my family.”
Sue: “I’m constantly amazed at the strength of our local hospital teams, putting their lives on the line every day for our community. Thanks to their expertise, we have many stories of recovery in our neighborhoods. Seeing the community bonding over feeding essential workers and the outpouring of support for our local shops and restaurants has warmed my heart and gives me hope for the future.”
How has the shutdown changed the way you do business?
Robin: “I feel closer to my clients more than ever before. Going through this with them as their partner has brought me to an even greater understanding of their businesses. I am honored to assist them with marketing advice and action that can help them succeed during this time.”
Sue: “I’m close with my clients and the Valley business community. As soon as the crisis hit, we all began checking with each other to see how we were doing personally and professionally. It’s been a wonderful experience helping clients navigate these ever-changing times. I miss popping in to say ‘hi’ and lunch meetings, but we’ve gotten very creative!”
What are you grateful for today?
Linda: “I’m grateful to have had these 10 years as editor of Ventura Blvd. I have enjoyed the work, but even more so I have met so many people whom I now consider good friends. I had a 16-year career as an on-air journalist, quit for five years to be a stay-at-home mom and then re-entered the workforce as VB’s editor. Back in 2011 as I started this new chapter, I was feeling a little lonely. I needed a new village. VB basically created that for me. Several people we have featured, as well as advertisers, ultimately became dear friends. In fact, I met so many of my current gal-pal posse by interviewing people for this very issue—the September Women’s Issue.”
What woman has inspired you most in your life?
Sue: “My third grade teacher, Mrs. Lacroix. She had a knack for identifying and cultivating talent in her students. She sparked my love of theater, suggesting I try out for the lead in our class play, and helped me develop an independent study program to keep my 8-year-old brain from getting bored. There is nothing more important than expanding young minds. That’s why I’m inspired daily by my three sisters, who became teachers.”
Linda: “My mother. When she was 30 she got divorced and was saddled with raising four young children. She worked during the day and went to school at night, getting a BS in business and then an MBA. She shows me what is possible if you put your mind to it.”
In what ways do you empower other women to succeed?
Linda: “I’m a big believer in actively supporting other women. That’s why I kicked off my podcast, SheSez, three years ago. We need to be sharing the secrets of our successes and the lessons from our failures. Young women can learn from older, more experienced women, and older women can learn a few things from the younger generation too! It is all about opening your mind and, most importantly, extending a hand.”
What are you looking forward to most this fall?
Robin: “I’m looking forward to getting back to more in-person interaction. Dining out, going to my boxing gym, Fitbox, and Thanksgiving with a full table of people would be just wonderful. Let’s wear our masks and keep 6 feet apart now so we can do that this fall! Oh, and a vaccine would be nice too!”
What is your #1 piece of advice during this unprecedented time?
Robin: “Take stock of what is most important in your day-to-day life, and forge ahead with a plan to keep that central to everything you do. Be open to listening and helping people in new and creative ways.”
Sue: “It’s important to stay calm and be present. Situations can change in an instant, and you have to be ready to pivot. Protect and value the people in your life and the time you’re able to spend with them.”