Mariah Romero & Darnell Thomas, Founders & Editors of 1905 Magazine
Mariah Romero & Darnell Thomas
Founders & Editors of 1905 Magazine
Mariah: Making clothes, thrifting, going to art shows, karaoke, & swimming
Darnell: Styling and creative directing, modeling and performing, obsessing over "Queer Eye"
Mariah: Stockton, CA
Darnell: New Orleans, LA
If you're looking for young, creative talent in Santa Fe, Mariah Romero and Darnell Thomas are the people to speak to. As alumni of Santa Fe University of Art and Design, they represent the latest generation of creators coming to this city. Through their style publication 1905 Magazine, they exhibit the work of fellow young creators and artists from Santa Fe and across the Southwest. Last week we sat down and chatted about the evolution of their magazine, why they decided to stay in Santa Fe after graduating college, and their hopeful mission to "rebrand Santa Fe".
P.S. 1905 Magazine is hosting a Summer Print Release Party on Saturday, July 14 at 6:30 at the El Rey Court. Also, we have a giveaway running on Instagram for some 1905 merchandise and a Kamagraph skateboard!
SFF: How did you guys meet and start working on 1905 Magazine together?
DT: We met in college when we were both studying at Santa Fe University of Art and Design. I actually thought Mariah was Miley Cyrus from the back because her hair was shaved on the sides and it was blonde. I just walked up to her and told her I thought she looked cute and that she looked like Miley Cyrus but better!
MR: After that, we were in a typography class and that’s where we really became friends. We talked about our interests -- Darnell was doing photoshoots on campus and I was making clothing and also doing shoots. There was no fashion major at SFUAD where we could collect our work and have meaning, so we decided to start 1905 Magazine.
DT: We created this community outside of theatre and film, because unless you were doing costume design, there wasn’t really a place for fashion, and we wanted to cultivate that atmosphere on our campus. We realized we could take the initiative to do it, because we both had experience in graphic design and we could literally create a magazine with our own hands.
MR: There were a lot of people like photographers or stylists who wanted to work in the fashion industry, so we thought “Ok, let’s do this.” And we were surrounded by friends who wanted to model for us, so it was a really great place to start 1905 because we had all the resources. A lot of what we did when we first started was going to thrift stores and borrowing clothes from our friends for shoots.
SFF: What did the magazine look like in those beginning stages?
DT: We were a monthly magazine at the time, while we were full time students, so I remember scrambling to come up with all this content all the time. We accepted anything -- any submissions of content that we received. When we started, the students and faculty at SFUAD were very excited. We had, at one point, to make clear that 1905 was our publication, not SFUAD’s publication. We spent a lot of time making it into our own, and it got a lot of the campus excited.
SFF: How has the magazine evolved since then?
DT: The content, look, concept, and our voice have totally evolved. At first we were just fashion, and we weren’t really hitting it on the head with who we were. But once we graduated, and we were in this startup business competition called bizMIX, we met our mentor who helped us refine our strategy and think outside the box. We shifted to being more of a style magazine rather than fashion, because fashion is so ephemeral and it goes by season, and style is something that is a big part of who you are.
MR: Yeah, and 1905 is really personal to everyone who’s involved. All the projects should feel very intimate.
DT: Yes, we talk about very intimate, personal issues, which is what we want. We want to create a community of this young talent and young spirit.
SFF: How does 1905 get personal?
DT: There was one issue called “The Man Issue” and we had a writer talk about masculinity, what he thinks about it, and how he deals with his masculinity in being “soft”. That issue was all about “the male” and we included models who were transgender, and gender nonconforming. I grew up in the South, so it was refreshing to hear other men talk about being “soft” and how there’s power in being that as a man.
MR: We like to let the writers give their personal stories. In the current issue we have a writer talk about the color yellow, and her relationship to yellow. She told a story about her childhood, and things like that really stand out to me rather than journalistic content.
SFF: Are most of the 1905 contributors your friends from college?
MR: No, that’s changed a lot. We used to only with people we knew, and now we work with people that are all across the Southwest, in places like Albuquerque, Denver, or California.
SFF: Wow, so people you might not actually meet in person! How do you find your contributors?
MR: Yeah! We find them mostly on Instagram. Sometimes they reach out to us on our website and ask us to check out their work, so it’s a mutual selection. And sometimes we let people know we’re getting ready for the new issue and have an open call for submissions.
DT: Pretty soon we’re going to go back to the drawing board, think about rebranding, and meet with our mentor. He pushes us and challenges us to think outside the box and evolve 1905 as a business.
MR: Within the last year and a half is when we started thinking of it as a business rather than a project. Before that it had just been fueled with passion, and we’re still very passionate about it, but now we are thinking of it as a business and know it’s time to get going and monetize.
SFF: What is it like being close friends with your business partner? How did that relationship blossom?
DT: I’ve always had fun with my style, and I’ve always been #teamoverdressed, and Mariah would always compliment me and tell me I look cute, so we just clicked. It all sparked from that conversation about how we like to do photoshoots and be hands on with our creativity. Even when we decided to do the magazine, we were meeting every day. Putting our assignments off to meet and talk about what we’re doing, how we’re going to execute photoshoots, who we’re going to talk to. Sometimes we were up all night talking to each other and designing and figuring things out. I think during that time I knew we clicked as far as morals, what we think about, what we talk about, and that we had a really good connection.
MR: Yeah, we work really well together. We’re very different people, but I think it comes back to the morals. Every time we make a big change, like when we decided to go quarterly, I nervously approached Darnell about it, and he was like “I was thinking the same thing!” And with our upcoming rebrand, the same thing happened.
DT: I think a big part about working with a partner is that you can’t be too set in your own world. You have to be open minded and say yes and when it comes to new ideas. It’s interesting when you have a great idea and you present it to someone and they’re like “Yeah that’s cool, but I was also thinking that this could work…” It’s all about collaboration with partnerships.
SFF: You both mentioned morals -- what do those mean for you and how does that show up?
MR: Well, we talked about The Man Issue and while creating that issue we had to be on the same page as far as including trans representation and examining toxic masculinity. In general, we’re down with the same politics - showing the nipples, representing marginalized groups, et cetera.
SFF: Do either of you come from a family of artists?
MR: Well, my dad’s an english teacher and he’s always been into writing, but he’s also a wrestling coach….
DT: My dad is a contractor, and my twin brother is a painter. I’ve always been immersed in the performing arts and I’ve always loved costumes and dressing up, so that’s where it sparked.
SFF: How did you guys decide to go to school here in Santa Fe?
DT: Personally, I wanted to get away from home. I wanted to experience something that was out of the norm from what I was used to. When you’re born and raised in a big city, some things just don’t excite you after a while. I just wasn’t feeling inspired. I went to a conservatory high school, so the goal was to venture out and find conservatory colleges I could get into. That’s the main reason I was leaving, to study the arts away from home. I first came here when I was 18 and I wasn’t sure if I liked it. There wasn’t much going on, and I wasn’t seeing the big picture. But then when I spent more time here and experienced the outdoors, went on hikes, and meet all these different people, I loved it.
SFF: It must be so different from New Orleans. Even just the physical environment and how people spend their time.
DT: Yeah, it was definitely a big culture shock. I still get homesick. I have a twin, so it’s almost just natural for me to miss my family. But I also want to experience what it’s like to have my own life away from my family.
SFF: Why did you decide to stay in Santa Fe after you graduated?
DT: Because, working with Mariah, we had this business that we started and we noticed that a lot of things started popping up here in town. We were also in bizMIX, so I thought it would be nice to start a business here and that I could learn a lot. I considered moving to the West Coast, but I felt like I wasn’t done with Santa Fe yet… or Santa Fe wasn’t done with me. So I figured I’d just take my time, be here and be present. I love what I do here. I love my friends and I have a great support system here. I work at Santa Fe Dry Goods and I started as a shipping & receiving manager. It was very hard -- probably the hardest job I’ve ever had! But now I do web production management, I curate the website, and style photo shoots twice a week. It’s really fun!
SFF: Mariah, what made you decide to go to school in Santa Fe and then stay here?
MR: For me, I was deciding between going to a California state school or an art school. My dad is from New Mexico so I have a lot of family here (like, A LOT). When I moved into this house, I found out that my neighbor is also a Romero -- they’re my grandpa’s cousin! It’s nice to have that support. I have a bunch of random relatives in Santa Fe but also in Albuquerque, Taos and Los Lunas. I have a really big family. I’m grateful to have been around my grandparents while they’re still alive, so I go visit my grandpa a lot.
SFF: Does it feel almost like a homecoming?
MR: Yeah, it does. But also, I had a job that I really liked here when I graduated. And I had made a lot of connections here and felt really good in this community. I just recently started working for French & French Interiors, but for a while I was the assistant creative director at The Magazine. I’m still doing some art direction for them which has been fun, and I also work at Goler shoes. I run their social media and do photoshoots for them. It’s like everything that we do for 1905, but I get paid.
SFF: Where do you guys like to hang out in Santa Fe?
DT: Santa Fe is cool in the sense that you can go out and you don’t know where you’re going to end up. I like to go to new restaurants and bars, and house parties that our friends host are always cool.
MR: We really like Santa Fe Spirits. It’s really cozy and we have meetings there often. And we used to host a lot of karaoke parties at my house.
SFF: What would you change about Santa Fe if you could?
DT: There aren’t a lot of brown people here, which I’ve always experienced. Coming from New Orleans, where I’m surrounded by black people, there aren’t enough for me here. I also want more young people to live here. I can tell more young people are moving here, but I think they hide!
MR: I would say the same: more young people getting together and more people of color.
SFF: What fashion advice can you give to the people of Santa Fe?
DT: Sometimes I feel like I could be a part of “Queer Eye Santa Fe”. You can tell a lot of people are lazy about how they look… which is fine, but I think they should care. Being brought up in the South, your room has to be clean, everything has to be in order. Growing up, my dad used to make us change our clothes if we weren’t dressed properly. I’ve always had to care about how I look because my whole family cared. One of my grandmothers was very hard-handed, which is one of the things I can’t shake. I’m not saying people need to be in with the trends, but I have a passion for people being happy with who they are. I think some people have a hard time finding that through their style. Some people don’t know how to navigate what they like, or what looks good on them, or what liberates them as far as what they put on. I find style inspiration in people that I meet and things that I see.
MR: My advice to people in Santa Fe is to utilize thrift and consignment shops! We promote buying locally/ethically and I know it’s not always doable for everyone’s budget, but what I’ve found useful is thrifting and sharing clothes with friends. Fashion is a very wasteful industry. I do think some people have a hard time finding items they like in thrift stores. To them, I would say have an open mind and look everywhere. If you’re a man only looking in the men’s section, you might not find anything. Also look at inspiration before coming in. Know what you like, but be open to what they have as well.
SFF: What are your favorite thrift stores?
MR: My favorite thrift store is in Albuquerque on the army base, so not everyone can go there. I always find unique vintage pieces. I also recently found this gem in Española. I was just driving around location scouting for a shoot, and there was a sign that said yard sale and thrift store. It was kind of sketchy, but I went in, and this old man led me into this empty house with all these clothes. It was very odd, but they had a lot of good stuff! I couldn’t even tell you how I got there
DT: I always love going to Salvation Army, and Savers is good too. But usually when my friends say they’re getting rid of clothes or cleaning out their closet, I ask them if I can go through it. I’m very much that person. My best friend is my fashion sister and we kind of speak the same language. He’s very creative with his approach to fashion, so whenever he’s throwing out things I ask him for it, because I’ve usually had my eye on it for a while anyway.
SFF: What are your hopes and dreams for 1905 Magazine?
MR: It would be nice to do rebrands and photoshoots for businesses in town. Rebrand Santa Fe! We started 1905 Magazine to create a community for people who are interested in fashion, but moving forward what we want to do more events and bring people together, so it’s not only online. We’ve also talked about giving back to the community or charities we believe in with some of the money we make with these events. That’s something that feels very important to us.
DT: One of my hopes is to make money from it and make it our full-time lifestyle, and to apply the skills that we use at our daytime jobs onto the magazine. It would be cool to start an agency, but still have 1905 as a trademark of who we are.
SFF: And you guys have an event coming up this weekend, right?
MR: Yes, Saturday, July 14 at the El Rey we will be celebrating the release of our summer print issue. We’ll be selling the magazine, tote bags, post card sets, a poster and keychains with our tag line: "style as self love".
DT: The bar La Reina opened a couple months ago, so we’re excited that the event is at a new location in Santa Fe. And we will have some local food vendors there. It should be a fun time!