200 N. Pacific Coast Hwy.,
Suite 110, El Segundo
- Special Section
Above L to R
Robin Sanders, Michelle Villas, Sue Williams and Linda Grasso lunching at Osteria La Buca in Sherman Oaks. Photographed by Shane O’Donnell.
Now in its 12th year, the Ventura Blvd lifestyle platform provides compelling stories that emanate from the San Fernando Valley about the people who live here. Those stories are shared in an eight-times-a-year magazine, on the website ourventurablvd.com and through social channels. The through line across all Ventura Blvd content: focusing on the things that matter to our community. Here, meet the women who make it happen.
What are some of your favorite ways to charge your battery?
Sue Williams, Director of Brand Partnerships: I love road trips (especially to the Central Coast) with my husband and stumbling on unique places off the beaten path. I also love comfy nights at home bingeing TV with my kitties.
Michelle Villas, Creative Director: My husband and I do a lot of camping with our dog. Just getting away for a couple of days without being connected to work and social media is really refreshing. There’s a tranquility out there that I respond to. And then throw in a fire at night with some beverages, and you’re all set!
Linda Grasso, Editor-in-Chief: Because I’m conversational and outgoing, people think I’m an extrovert. But the truth is, I’m an introvert. I charge my battery by being in my garden or cooking in my kitchen—in complete silence. Both things refresh and center me.
Robin Sanders, Publisher: I have a daily practice that involves meditation, reading, floating in the pool and playing with my dog.
How do you help make the Valley a better community?
Linda: I feel like Ventura Blvd is a binding or vesting agent; it brings us together, shares who we are and gives us the feeling of knowing our neighbors. And whether in the print issues or online at ourventurablvd.com, the articles celebrate our community—the people, businesses, organizations and locations that make it a great place to live.
Robin: I love connecting people. Ventura Blvd’s magazine and platforms are my medium to do this on a large scale. On a smaller scale, I support Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission in their work to prevent, reduce and eliminate poverty, hunger and homelessness in our community.
Sue: I try to listen to my clients’ needs and guide them toward solutions that will help them share their story with the community.
Describe the process of creating a magazine for The Golden State Company.
Michelle: I design all of Golden State’s regional magazines, and there’s a major level of collaboration involved in preparing each issue for press. Working closely with our editors to craft the direction of each issue is a great experience. Every photographer and illustrator is another piece of the puzzle where we come together to find the creative vision. Beyond that, our publishers and sales team are always thinking of new offerings that we can present to our clients, and I love helping them bring that to fruition. I’ve been with this company eight years now, and I love where I am in my career.
What are some characteristics that make you good at your job?
Robin: I’m a collaborator. It’s important to me to understand a client’s business and their goals. Every person I work with is important, and I believe it shows in how I interact with them. My entire team takes a holistic view on how we work with local businesses.
Linda: As a longtime journalist who has worked in nearly every medium, probably my curiosity. My husband always says I’m either the best person to sit next to at a dinner party (if you are gregarious) or the worst (if you are shy). Point of fact: I ask a lot of questions because I am genuinely interested. That said, Ventura Blvd as well my podcast, SheSez, are both learning adventures. I find things and people I’m interested in, and I get to satiate my curiosity and learn. It’s very fulfilling.
Michelle: As creative director, I’m juggling a lot every day. There are so many components that go into every issue, so being able to multitask and prioritize is huge for me. The creative aspect of my job is where I think I shine—I love figuring out the best way to bring our stories alive through photography and illustration and then combining it all to make a compelling issue.
Sue: I am a true people person. As a director of brand partnerships, I have built strong relationships with clients who have become friends, in many cases.
How did the pandemic change you?
Robin: I’ve become more adaptive in all areas of my life. Can’t work things out the usual way? No problem; let’s flip it over and look at it from another angle. No matter what is thrown at me in my life or at my team at Ventura Blvd, we will figure out how to make things work for our clients and our business.
Linda: It underscored the importance of spending time wisely and with loved ones. And it gave me a better understanding of the term “carpe diem”—seize the day. As we all learned, life can change pretty drastically in a mere moment. Lastly, it made me more of a minimalist. I really haven’t purchased much in terms of personal belongings since the pandemic. I just feel like I have enough stuff. Less truly is more.
Sue: It made us all more appreciative of the little things. I enjoy going to local restaurants and live music venues with friends and family as often as I can.