Tag Archives: meet the (818)

VLY GRL Redefined

Say Valley girl and the image it conjures up is either Julie Richman from Valley Girl, Cher Horowitz from Clueless or Elle Woods from Legally Blonde—upper-class, airheaded, ditzy, credit card wielding and totally, like, into shopping.  As if!  It’s such an outdated 80’s stereotype that have us Valley girls, rolling our eyes, and muttering, “Whatever…” under our breaths.  It’s because of this stigma that a valley girl, currently living in San Francisco, decided to push against this image and show the world that there is more to valley girls than their onscreen counterparts.

Meet 818 local–born and raised in Reseda–Alisa Damaso:  graphic designer, illustrator, singer, writer, mixed media artist, and zine maker.  This talented young woman is also the creator of VLY GRL, her own brand of clothing and enamel pins, representing the San Fernando Valley and redefining the valley girl image.  It’s her homage to her home, and the vehicle in which she sheds light on the real valley girls—women who come from diverse walks of life, authentic, complex, and multi-layered.

Meet the (818) brings you an exclusive behind-the-scenes interview with Alisa, as she talks about her inspiration for creating VLY GRL, and future aspirations for the project.     

What inspired you to create VLY GRL?
I was in the middle of a career transition. In 2015, I quit my communications job to study graphic and web design, and I needed to build my portfolio and showcase my illustration skills to get a design job. I wanted to create work that represented me and my style while honoring something that’s super important to me, and it’s easily the Valley. I’m obsessed with enamel pins and realized there wasn’t enough 818 representation in the pin game, so I began to make them myself.
Years of living away from the San Fernando Valley and traveling internationally made me realize that no matter where I go, there’s a universal idea of what people think Valley Girls are, and it’s completely wrong. The 80s really embedded negative stereotypes about us into the public, and unlike other cultural groups, it seems socially acceptable to make fun of that archetype and make ignorant assumptions about women from the San Fernando Valley: That we’re vapid, materialistic bimbos.

VLY GRL became a vehicle to turn those stereotypes around and represent the San Fernando Valley on my own terms, while honoring SFV ideas and symbols in a fun way. The Valley is honest. It doesn’t try to hide its flaws or pretend to be someplace else. In turn, Valley Girls are down-to-earth. We’re hardworking hustlers who make shit happen. We’re gritty, scrappy, and ride-or-die for our communities. But we also know how to have fun! These are the girls I grew up with and the women I know today.

The idea is to put out accurate, authentic portrayals of modern-day Valley Girls and drown out the insulting, outdated ones of airheaded, shallow mallrats with credit cards. Everyone deserves to be seen as a unique individual. Valley Girls come in all colors, all body types, all professions and income levels. We are spread out across the socioeconomic system, touch every point on the sexuality spectrum, are immigrants, children of immigrants, natives, locals, born-and-raised, expats, and transplants. We’re multifaceted and complex and in-between. Our voices matter, and no one is going to tell our stories better than we will. VLY GRL exists to take back and redefine the term. You can’t tell all that from a few fun products, but that’s the goal I’m working toward, especially with the VLY GRL Zine series.

Name one thing that you miss most about the San Fernando Valley.
The affordability of everything, man. Stuff is expensive in the Bay Area, and it’s not always proportionate to quality. Also, I miss SoCal Mexican food, thrifting without breaking the bank, and legit hot sauce that’s actually spicy (SF be weak with it).

What do you miss the least about the valley?
Triple-digit weather.

As a valley girl yourself, what challenges did you face with said stereotype?
I don’t take it personally, but it is a bit triggering when people use the term “Valley Girl” negatively. It’s similar to when you’re dealing with any stereotype⁠ — it’s fucking exhausting trying to decide whether or not to seize a teachable moment or protect your energy and let it roll off you ⁠— because Google exists and people’s ignorance is not my damn responsibility.

As a kid I had a sassy-androgynous-dramatic-weirdo-artist vibe, so I was bullied by the cool kids. And trying to fit in was always met with rejection. So eventually I embraced my differences and made it a point to be unapologetically myself, which throughout my life led me to find my tribe of weirdos. I’m the complete opposite of what a Valley Girl or an Asian girl or a Filipino girl is “supposed” to be: I hate the mall, I’m not that great at math, and I don’t have the stomach or emotional strength for nursing. Folks need to stop having certain expectations of women; we don’t have to be just one way, and we don’t owe anyone anything.

That being said, challenging convention is a subject I’m super passionate about. As a woman of color and daughter of immigrants, I’m a strong believer of diverse representation in the media being extremely crucial to combating stereotypes and empowering marginalized communities. I didn’t grow up seeing positive, diverse representations of people who looked like me on TV and in the movies (if at all), and I definitely didn’t see my culture being portrayed. A lot of kids didn’t. That does a number on a child’s self-worth and what they think is possible for them. That’s why it’s imperative that we make our own shit.

Where do you see VLY GRL five years from now?

It would be dope to make more apparel and accessories, and do more collaborations with other brands and organizations, but right now I’m just taking it day by day. People are just getting to know the brand, and I’m finally settling into my design career.

It doesn’t sound very romantic, but VLY GRL is my side hustle. I work full time, commute, freelance, rehearse and play shows with my band, and have familial responsibilities. For real, not everyone can quit their day job and work for themselves; the revenue just isn’t there yet. All my production costs are from my own pocket. Everything I earn from this business goes right back into it. It’s literally my passion project.

Some people don’t realize all the mental, emotional, physical, and financial work that goes into all this. That’s why it’s frustrating when folks ask for free shit or post my work without crediting me. The internet is a great medium for artists to get their work out there, but it also makes us susceptible to copycats and thieves. All artists need to do their due diligence to protect their work, which is a whole other job in itself.

I love what I do, but damn… I put my blood, sweat and tears into VLY GRL. It’s a one-woman show with the occasional help of my ride-or-die homegirls, who I am so eternally grateful for. I don’t do it to make money. I do it because I love the Valley

Show your support and visit the VLY GRL website. You can also follow on Facebook and Instagram @vly_grrrl.

Get Fit in the 818: Tru Fit Bootcamp

Lao Tzu, an ancient Chinese philosopher, once said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”  When you walk through the doors of Tru Fit Bootcamp, you take that step and embark on a journey towards a better version of you, no matter what your fitness level and goal is.  Their motto:  Visualize.  Believe.  Achieve.

Their newest member, Ruben Pizano, lost 10 pounds of fat and gained about 5 pounds of muscles within three months of joining the gym and going to their Formula 104 Burn and Build classes—30 minute express classes focusing on bodyweight exercises.  Veteran member Christian Ylagan lost more than 25 lbs, shedding at least 10% body fat since he joined in 2017.

“Tru Fit Bootcamp came to me unexpectedly on St. Patrick’s Day of 2017 during the Friends and Family day.  I then decided to join the Fat Furnace Challenge and the results were unbelievable!”, shares Mr. Ylagan of his experience with Tru Fit, “I am not talking about weight loss, but also getting stronger and better in a lot of things.  Not to mention, having a better mindset, confidence, lifestyle choices, and perspective in life.  I can say that joining TruFit Bootcamp is one of the best things that I have done for myself.”

Tru Fit Bootcamp offers an all-inclusive strength and conditioning program focusing on three key aspects: mental fitness, nutrition, and the workout.  Their formula combines all these elements to help newcomers and members alike reach their goals and transform into the best possible versions of themselves.  Before attending any workout session, new and prospective members go through a group orientation as well as a consultation with one of the coaches to ensure the program is tailored to each individual’s needs: your mindset, nutrition, and overall health is taken into account.

The heart of Tru Fit Bootcamp is owner and head coach, Ditanyon Demps, an innovator with a vision and a passion for fitness as well as helping others achieve their fitness goals.  In 2000, his success with helping his college roommate lose over 40 lbs in three months inspired him to pursue his dream of helping others achieve the same fitness success.  Coach D, as he is known around the gym, spent almost two decades developing the Tru Fit formula and program, based on his experiences as a trainer working for Gold’s Gym and various clients’ homes throughout New York City.  His credentials include certifications with APEX, the National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT), the American Council on Exercise (ACE) as a lifestyle and weight management consultant, National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF) and the International Sports Science Association (ISSA).  He also has a Level 1 & 2 Trainer Certificate in CrossFit and accreditations in supplemental and sports supplementation, brain-based psychology, power and plyometrics, and Olympic weightlifting.

In 2011, Ditanyon opened the doors to Tru Fit Bootcamp in Sherman Oaks, CA, where the gym flourished and thrived.  To accommodate his growing clientele, the gym moved in July 2017 to their current location at one of the newly constructed airplane hangars on Balboa Blvd in Van Nuys.

Though Tru Fit Bootcamp offers classes to suit any fitness level, Coach D always encourages growth and development in his clients.  He is a firm believer of testing limits and challenging oneself to see what someone is truly capable of, although he balances this with injury prevention by emphasizing proper form.  During class, each work out is explained in detail and modifications are made for people with injuries or certain limitations.

His coaching team of Christina Wishart, Lisa Deidrich Rivera, Trei Wilson, and their newest addition, Jose Venegas, have all been trained and certified under the Tru Fit Program.  Though each may have a unique coaching style, all of them are very knowledgeable and ensure each member maximizes their workout sessions.

Coach Lisa joined TruFit after the crossfit gym she was going to closed.  With a CrossFit Level 1 certification, she coached Sunday Spartan race classes at her previous gym.

“I was really looking for a new place to call home.  After trying several other crossfit gyms, I tried 30 days at TruFit and immediately felt like I belonged.  I connected with like minded people and loved the fact that there are varying level classes to accommodate ANY fitness level.”, shares Coach Lisa. 

“Once Ditanyon heard that I coached previously, he began dropping hints about me coaching a class or two at Tru Fit. I am glad I took him up on that offer. I love coaching and helping people achieve their goals. There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing someone climb a rope for the first time, get their first pull up, or flip a tire for the first time.”

What makes TruFit Bootcamp truly unique is its community—driven, supportive, and focused on the same goal: being better versions of themselves.  Walking into a new gym for the first time is intimidating enough but luckily, the Tru Fit community welcomes newcomers with open arms.  For many of its members, Tru Fit Bootcamp is their second home and their fitness family.

Tru Fit Bootcamp is located at Delta One 7900 Balboa Blvd, Van Nuys, CA 91406.  For more information, you can contact them at (424)537-1041 or email joel@trufitbootcamp.com