CHICAGO: SANJA SEDLAK INTERVIEWS THE LADIES OF VERLUXE

Diego Villarreal.

Diego Villarreal.

There are some badass chicks that live in Chicago, and among them are three ladies that make up Verluxe: Eva Dubovoy, Danielle Alston, and Sofia Kerpan.

Interview by Sanja Sedlak - Photograph by Diego Villarreal

SANJA SEDLAK: Verluxe. What does it mean, where did it come from?

Sofia: It came from a basement at 79th and Stony Island. We knew that we wanted to use the word Luxe and pretty much everything else was trademarked at this point so we decided to make something up.

Danielle: Ver is 'to see' in spanish. It means to see luxury. We got input from King Louis and he gave us the go.

How did you form?

Danielle: Our company began developing once we were posting photos all the time. Getting the feedback was what kept us going.

Eva: We posted a short lifestyle video of us on YouTube where rapper JDP saw it and asked for a music video. From there people started paying us and before we knew it we were a full-fledged production company.

Sofia: We had so much cool content but nowhere to feature it, so one day over the summer Eva's friend Dino suggested we do a magazine, and we started working on it that night. It started really small and now It's grown to have a small cult following.

What was it like working with Common?

Danielle: He's one of the nicest artists that I've ever worked with; so humble and chill. You can tell that he genuinely cared.

Eva: I was in Berlin when they shot that but I was the editor and his verse was one of my favorites. He had such a great camera presence - there were too many great shots to choose from. He was giving it 100%.

Sofia: He's a veteran. And he has really good skin. (Laughs)

Who would be a dream to work with?

Sofia: Honestly, I want to work with Danny DeVito. It would be so raw if he was in one of our music videos.

Danielle: Kanye. Duh.

Eva: Beyonce or Ciara would be incredible.

What's it like being an all-female company in this industry?

Danielle: Everything that it seems like it is.

Eva: I noticed a lot of sexism and rudeness especially when we first started out. Now, I feel like we have gained a lot more respect in our industry and the fact that we're women is now an advantage instead of a point of contention. We're good at what we do and we want the same level of respect as men.

What is unique about your creative vision?

Eva: The big thing is that there's three of us. We each bring something unique to the vision that makes Verluxe what it is. Three minds are better than one ya know?

Danielle: It's definitely like a potluck.

Sofia: We're getting accustomed to using humor a lot. The less serious we take ourselves is when our work comes out the best.

What do you feel has been your biggest break so far?

Eva: Pop Out by KGBZ and King Louie, and Orange Soda by Vic Mensa.

Sofia: The magazine, definitely. Just the fact that people are reading it and care.

Danielle: Working with Common. That was jut a great day - I'll remember that forever.

Boyfriends? Do you even have time for them?

Sofia: I think guys are also afraid of us, honestly. I feel like boys don't like empowered women; or they're getting used to it. We just freak them out I feel like.

Danielle: Keyword: boys.

Eva: I just recently started a relationship for the first time since founding the company. He's a producer and DJ so he totally understands when I get stressed or dip to LA for a week. I wouldn't be able to do it if he wasn't so awesome.

Do you still get starstruck? How do you handle?

Sofia: We have to reel it in though because we need to be professional. But we'll whisper to each other.

Danielle: You definitely have to be intuitive and know when the right time is to talk.

Eva: (Laughs) Sometimes! It's gotten easier as we work with bigger names but most artists are really nice and down to earth so it's usually not that bad.

Do you have a philosophy by which you live?

Sofia: I really think taking risks is the key, especially if you're creative, to heading in the right direction. For every video we try to do something different. More often than not, taking that risk can really take you somewhere.

Eva: Work hard, play hard. There's always at least five different things i'm thinking about or doing. When it's finally the weekend we just want to turn up and have a good time. It's all about balance.

Danielle: Because this industry is especially judgmental, it's really important to be ok with who you are and to also know who you want to be. It's about the work that you put out.

What's the biggest misconception about you?

Danielle: That we're rich and traveling the world. We have normal lives and family dinners, we go to school and do homework - we're still taking midterms.

Eva: The one that annoys me is when artists think I'm a video girl. The level of respect is low until they realize we are actually directing it. Another one is people thinking Verluxe is one man instead of three girls. We're a girl gang c'mon!

Sofia: Also, one time someone literally asked us if we had a threesome with each other. It's like, if we were men, would you be asking us that question?

WARDROBE BY THIS INDIAN SUMMER & IRIDIUM

Diane Abapo Founder and Editor-in-Chief at SUSPEND Magazine.