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Jez Magazine: Fashion, Beauty, Culture & Entertainment, With A Special Focus On Philanthropy – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Ezequiel De La Rosa, Founder & Editor In Chief…

February 28, 2018

“I think it’s still the romance of it; the romance of holding something. And seeing it, as opposed to just looking at your computer. I work at the computer 24/7 when I’m not shooting, things like that, and I don’t want to sit down and look at a magazine on the computer.” Ezequiel De La Rosa (On why he thinks print is still important in this digital age)…

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

From photographer to editor in chief, philanthropist to entrepreneur, Ezequiel De La Rosa is a man with a passion and its name is Jez. The new quarterly magazine, which highlights what’s new and best in fashion, beauty, culture and entertainment and has a special focus on philanthropy, is Ezequiel’s labor of love, something his editor’s letter in the premier issue states comes from his heart and reflects who he truly is.

Recently, I spoke to Ezequiel, or EZ as he is known to some, and we talked about his latest endeavor, Jez. About its title, which he said comes from his faith and simply means “Christ before me,” and about his life and the many hats he’s worn throughout and continuing forward. He’s been a designer, store owner, makeup artist, photographer (which he still is, photographing many of the images between the covers of the magazine) and now magazine creator. The man is a talent unto himself and one of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure of speaking with.

His idea to honor and showcase the “Supermodel” is obvious as the beautiful Carol Alt graces one side of the first issue’s cover, while the handsome actor and activist, Ian Bohen, is on the second cover. It’s a beautifully done premier and one that Mr. Magazine™ is looking forward to seeing again.

So, I hope that you enjoy this Mr. Magazine™ interview with a man who made the conversation “EZ” and entertaining, Ezequiel De La Rosa, founder and editor in chief, Jez magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On whether he thinks it’s crazy that he started a print magazine in this day and age: It’s been a passion of love and I’m trying to create a sort of different magazine, because I want a magazine that will do things. And I started it in reverse, because everybody starts somewhere like Instagram and on social media. And I did not. I am starting in reverse now. So, I have to step it up and I’m learning every day. My thing is I also wanted to bring back the supermodels because right now we have so many Instant-Famous, which is fine, it’s the new way of the world and we all have to basically adapt and change our model. But there’s something about experience that is amazing. I find nowadays that we have interchangeable models and things like that. Before we had models that commanded the stage. So, of course, I glorify that. And then also put the new models in as well.

On his premier issue being devoted to “Good People”: It’s always going to be devoted to good people, because I believe in philanthropy. And I’m trying to create, now that I’m working on the web, I’m trying to create a way of awareness and also of revenue, of creating revenue to different organizations that are doing good. Right now my focus is on Together1heart and they are going to be doing an event on May 7. And I’m working on creating things that will generate money for the event and also for the future. And from there, I will pick another foundation that are doing good and that I can associate myself with, so that I’m always highlighting a good organization that’s doing something.

On whether he considers himself a photographer, an editor, a publisher, or all of the above: Right now I have to consider myself everything. (Laughs) Creating a magazine in this day and age is not the easiest thing. I’m trying to create a magazine in a world where magazines are closing right now. So, I have to be very wise on how I create everything and how I do it. And it’s a lot of hard work, because it’s not like you can create and have 20 million in staff nowadays. I don’t think that’s the way that things are going now. I don’t think there’s enough revenue to go around at the moment.

On what he thinks is the number one ingredient for his magazine’s success: I think by the grace of God. I can’t guarantee anything. I am trying to do my best to create something that people will love, sales will tell. I am happy that in my first edition that I was able to cover everything through ads. I think that itself is an achievement. So now, I have to start meeting with ad sales people, because basically I did everything myself.

On where he came up with the name Jez for the magazine: Jez is because of my faith. I’m not a religious person, but I am a believer. I’m a Christian, non-denominational, and basically Jez means “Christ before me.” And it’s as simple as that. I was trying to come up with a name and that came to mind with a friend of mine, and I said well, that’s what I’m going to call it. And it’s also sort of like saying “yes” in a different way, with an accent, you know? Hopefully, it’ll open up doors. I’m very happy that I’m in Barnes & Noble, and I’m hoping that it sells out. That would be amazing. We’ll see. But it’s also about learning and seeing what works and what doesn’t work.

On what he thinks will be his biggest stumbling block in getting the magazine to succeed: I’ve gotten some great feedback, people really love it. So, it’s about trying to get people to invest, to do advertising in the magazine, because there are a lot of magazines and they all want money. And then also getting people involved with a good cause. This was a real stumbling block, as far as me getting pneumonia. (Laughs) I have never had pneumonia before and then being put in the hospital, but I guess it was God’s way of telling me I needed to take things a little bit slower, and really plan and organize.

On the days when the same models would appear over and over again on the covers of magazines: Well, because at that time there was a different way of measuring the success of a girl. At that time, whether it was an editorial or catalogs, they had a system, they would do it on sales. For example, like a Niki Taylor, who’s modeling again, if she wears something, she’ll sell it out. And it’s a proven fact. Like Carol Alt, who I have on the cover of my first edition. Also, it’s such a pleasure when you work with them because they know what they’re doing. I’m not saying that the girls today don’t, because there are a lot of amazing models.

On the magazine not being limited to female models: No, not at all. It’s all genres. I live my life as a very open person, and I love people. And I love featuring people. I always say it’s 80 percent women and 20 percent men. And I also like the celebrity aspect, which I think will help sell the magazine. And I’m working that angle quite well.

On if there is one article or picture in the first issue that he is most proud of and would like readers to go to first: I’m very proud of the magazine. Is it perfect? No. But I would love them to see everything, and I would love them to give me comments. One thing that I would ask a reader is what are their favorites, because the only way that you learn and can fix something is if you listen to people and ask them what was appealing to them, because I’ve already put out what I like. So, now it’s about listening so that I can better myself and better the magazine.

On the plan of being a quarterly magazine and currently working on the website: Yes, we’re working on the website and the app right now. And quite honestly, they told me that I have to take it easy for six weeks. So, I’m trying to figure out how much work that I’m going to be able to do.

On if he thinks it’s still important to have a printed publication in this digital age: I think it’s still the romance of it; the romance of holding something. And seeing it, as opposed to just looking at your computer. I work at the computer 24/7 when I’m not shooting, things like that, and I don’t want to sit down and look at a magazine on the computer. It’s nice to have. Does everybody feel that way? No. Now listen, am I going to be printing hundreds of thousands of copies of the magazine? I don’t think so. I think I’ll get it to a certain number and then the rest will be online, because I know the power that the online has. But there’s a romance about having a printed issue.

On being a photographer for the magazine and whether he prints out the images or simply uses the digital ones: I love seeing them printed. It’s funny, because what I do is I print two or three full copies in New York before I send them out because I want to double and triple check everything. And it is such a feeling when you get it back and you see it, and it looks really good. When the colors match, it’s just something that’s incredible.

On anything he’d like to add: The important thing is it’s a magazine that wants to reach a multitude of people and wants to help put. I think that’s the most important thing, but I don’t want to have a magazine just to have a magazine. I want to have a magazine that’s going to do something that helps new designers and have them help different organizations.

On what he would have tattooed upon his brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about him: That I’m a good person.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home: It depends on the day, but I would say you would find me cooking and having people over for dinner. I love to cook and I have a great kitchen. And that’s something I like doing.

On what keeps him up at night: I would say, making sure that I do right.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Ezequiel De La Rosa, founder & editor in chief, Jez magazine.

Samir Husni: As I understand it, you were in the hospital, you came out, and as an epiphany of sorts, you decided to launch a magazine.

Ezequiel De La Rosa: (Laughs)

Samir Husni: Are you out of your mind starting a print magazine in this day and age?

Ezequiel De La Rosa: I actually went into the hospital after the magazine was already published. (Laughs) I missed my own launch party. I ended up getting pneumonia, which is rather crazy, and had surgery. But it’s been a passion of love and I’m trying to create a sort of different magazine, because I want a magazine that will do things. And I started it in reverse, because everybody starts somewhere like Instagram and on social media. And I did not. I am starting in reverse now. So, I have to step it up and I’m learning every day.

My thing is I also wanted to bring back the supermodels because right now we have so many Instant-Famous, which is fine, it’s the new way of the world and we all have to basically adapt and change our model. But there’s something about experience that is amazing. I find nowadays that we have interchangeable models and things like that. Before we had models that commanded the stage. So, of course, I glorify that. And then also put the new models in as well.

My logic is mending the two together, because I was very surprised to learn that before, the fashion business was very private; it was very elitist and things like that. You didn’t see people posting things because they wanted to keep everything hush-hush. And now it’s like your posting 24/7, because the more followers you have, the bigger it is. And I was shocked at seeing some of the supermodels that I know have followers that amounted to nothing compared to a little girl who’s posting at home that hasn’t done anything, yet has millions of followers.

Samir Husni: You decided to start with print and your first issue is devoted to “Good People.”

Ezequiel De La Rosa: Yes, and it’s always going to be devoted to good people, because I believe in philanthropy. And I’m trying to create, now that I’m working on the web, I’m trying to create a way of awareness and also of revenue, of creating revenue to different organizations that are doing good. Right now my focus is on Together1heart and they are going to be doing an event on May 7. And I’m working on creating things that will generate money for the event and also for the future. And from there, I will pick another foundation that are doing good and that I can associate myself with, so that I’m always highlighting a good organization that’s doing something.

Samir Husni: Tell me a little bit about you. Do you consider yourself a photographer, an editor, a publisher, or all of the above?

Ezequiel De La Rosa: Right now I have to consider myself everything. (Laughs) Creating a magazine in this day and age is not the easiest thing. I’m trying to create a magazine in a world where magazines are closing right now. So, I have to be very wise on how I create everything and how I do it. And it’s a lot of hard work, because it’s not like you can create and have 20 million in staff nowadays. I don’t think that’s the way that things are going now. I don’t think there’s enough revenue to go around at the moment.

Samir Husni: What do you think will be the number one ingredient that will ensure that your magazine will succeed?

Ezequiel De La Rosa: I think by the grace of God. I can’t guarantee anything. I am trying to do my best to create something that people will love, sales will tell. I am happy that in my first edition that I was able to cover everything through ads. I think that itself is an achievement. So now, I have to start meeting with ad sales people, because basically I did everything myself.

Samir Husni: Tell me about the name of the magazine. Does Jez stand for the “Journal of Ezequiel” or what does Jez mean?

Ezequiel De La Rosa: Jez is because of my faith. I’m not a religious person, but I am a believer. I’m a Christian, non-denominational, and basically Jez means “Christ before me.” And it’s as simple as that. I was trying to come up with a name and that came to mind with a friend of mine, and I said well, that’s what I’m going to call it. And it’s also sort of like saying “yes” in a different way, with an accent, you know? Hopefully, it’ll open up doors. I’m very happy that I’m in Barnes & Noble, and I’m hoping that it sells out. That would be amazing. We’ll see. But it’s also about learning and seeing what works and what doesn’t work.

Samir Husni: What do you think will be your biggest stumbling block and how will you overcome it?

Ezequiel De La Rosa: I’ve gotten some great feedback, people really love it. So, it’s about trying to get people to invest, to do advertising in the magazine, because there are a lot of magazines and they all want money. And then also getting people involved with a good cause. This was a real stumbling block, as far as me getting pneumonia. (Laughs) I have never had pneumonia before and then being put in the hospital, but I guess it was God’s way of telling me I needed to take things a little bit slower, and really plan and organize.

And that’s what I’m actually doing, organizing and planning and taking some time to listen. And really getting the web component working, working on the Instagram, and trying to get all of these pieces together.

Samir Husni: You mentioned how everybody can be a model now. And you and I probably both remember the days where you could count the models out there on one or two hands, and it was guaranteed that those would be the models appearing on this magazine or that one, over and over again, from Gisele to Cindy Crawford. People used to count how many times they would appear on the cover of magazines.

Ezequiel De La Rosa: Well, because at that time there was a different way of measuring the success of a girl. At that time, whether it was an editorial or catalogs, they had a system, they would do it on sales. For example, like a Niki Taylor, who’s modeling again, if she wears something, she’ll sell it out. And it’s a proven fact. Like Carol Alt, who I have on the cover of my first edition. Also, it’s such a pleasure when you work with them because they know what they’re doing. I’m not saying that the girls today don’t, because there are a lot of amazing models.

But the fact of Instagram, they’re people who are commanding more money than a gorgeous girl, a girl who is simply striking. But they’re more interested in the followers. It’s hard today. Girls have to have a following. And some may have to do sexier pictures to get more followers. It’s sort of working in that manner.

Samir Husni: I see the magazine isn’t limited to female models.

Ezequiel De La Rosa: No, not at all. It’s all genres. I live my life as a very open person, and I love people. And I love featuring people. I always say it’s 80 percent women and 20 percent men. And I also like the celebrity aspect, which I think will help sell the magazine. And I’m working that angle quite well. And it’s really a pity, because when I was sick I missed several shows that I could have gone to and taken pictures with celebrities. Recently, was the first time that I could go to some shows and mingle. Although I’m still not myself. I still have to give myself time to mend.

Samir Husni: Is there one article or picture in the first issue that you are most proud of and would love for the reader to start with?

Ezequiel De La Rosa: I’m very proud of the magazine. Is it perfect? No. But I would love them to see everything, and I would love them to give me comments. One thing that I would ask a reader is what are their favorites, because the only way that you learn and can fix something is if you listen to people and ask them what was appealing to them, because I’ve already put out what I like. So, now it’s about listening so that I can better myself and better the magazine.

Samir Husni: The plan now is that you’re publishing the magazine quarterly, four times per year and you’re working on the website.

Ezequiel De La Rosa: Yes, we’re working on the website and the app right now. And quite honestly, they told me that I have to take it easy for six weeks. So, I’m trying to figure out how much work that I’m going to be able to do. I can’t fly for about five more weeks now, so I have to wait on all of that before I can really start.

Samir Husni: With everything that’s happening today in magazines and magazine media, do you think it’s still important to have a printed publication in this digital age?

Ezequiel De La Rosa: I think it’s still the romance of it; the romance of holding something. And seeing it, as opposed to just looking at your computer. I work at the computer 24/7 when I’m not shooting, things like that, and I don’t want to sit down and look at a magazine on the computer. It’s nice to have. Does everybody feel that way? No. Now listen, am I going to be printing hundreds of thousands of copies of the magazine? I don’t think so. I think I’ll get it to a certain number and then the rest will be online, because I know the power that the online has. But there’s a romance about having a printed issue.

Even though the magazine is in Barnes & Noble, I have had people to email me and ask for a couple of copies. So, people still care about the printed magazine.

Samir Husni: As a photographer, and I’ve noticed your byline in a lot of the images in the magazine, do you still print the pictures out and hold them in your hand and think, wow? Or do you simply use the digital images?

Ezequiel De La Rosa: I love seeing them printed. It’s funny, because what I do is I print two or three full copies in New York before I send them out because I want to double and triple check everything. And it is such a feeling when you get it back and you see it, and it looks really good. When the colors match, it’s just something that’s incredible.

In my background, I’ve worn many hats throughout my career. From the early ages, I used to design womenswear. And when I’m talking early ages, I’m talking from 14-years-old and on. Then I had a store at an early age; I did some modeling and someone asked me could I apply makeup to men and women and I asked how much did it pay, and that’s how I became a hair and makeup guy. And I did that for many years and worked and traveled all over the world. I got covers of Vogue, Harper’s, Cosmo, you name it.

And then I became a photographer and I didn’t even want to be a photographer, then I ended up falling in love with it. And one of the biggest thrills was going to the lab and of course, you’re going to do a test clip and then you say, just run it normal. And people would ask me why I was doing a test clip, because I was just going to run it normal. I just always had to. I went into digital later and the reason I went into digital was because of my rental studios. A company was doing an event and they rented one of my spaces and they sent some equipment over and I started using it. Then suddenly, a digital photography magazine wanted to run it on the cover and then I found myself in the digital world. And that’s how I basically got into digital.

And I got into late, but if you know the fundamentals, and the fundamentals are so important to know how film and lighting works, the it doesn’t matter. It’s awful nowadays that you have some people who don’t know much and they ruin the business because they’re more of a painter than they are a photographer. The photo is retouched more than anything, it’s like a painting. And that’s something I don’t agree on.

Samir Husni: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Ezequiel De La Rosa: The important thing is it’s a magazine that wants to reach a multitude of people and wants to help put. I think that’s the most important thing, but I don’t want to have a magazine just to have a magazine. I want to have a magazine that’s going to do something that helps new designers and have them help different organizations.

Samir Husni: If you could have one thing tattooed upon your brain that no one would ever forget about you, what would it be?

Ezequiel De La Rosa: That I’m a good person.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly at your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing? Having a glass of wine; reading a magazine; cooking; watching TV; or something else?

Ezequiel De La Rosa: It depends on the day, but I would say you would find me cooking and having people over for dinner. I love to cook and I have a great kitchen. And that’s something I like doing.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Ezequiel De La Rosa: I would say, making sure that I do right.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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