MIA ROSA Spotlight On
Founder of ATOD (A Taste of Dawn) magazine
Dawn Garcia is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of ATOD (A Taste of Dawn); a luxury lifestyle magazine about living a cultured life. Dawn is a Los Angeles-based tastemaker and influencer, radio/television host, judge for International Design Awards, and Board Member of Youth Business Alliance (YBA), working to guide inner city’s brightest high school youth as they pursue their dreams.
Dawn is the Food & Culture Editor of LAPALME and contributing writer to such publications as Huffington Post, Robb Report and LOCALE magazine. She is a mother, partner, and high-octane entrepreneur.
Dawn’s success in business and life can be attributed to her general overall philosophy. In her own words: “Life is sexy. It’s exciting. Every day is full of color, movement, passion, and purpose. It exists in the threads of our clothing, the remnants of wine resting on your lips, the awaiting fare of unending flavor, textures on the city walls, cracks on the streets beneath us, the hum of a crowd of strangers among us, and the takes brought to life in the footage of a film.”
We turned a bright Spotlight on Dawn Garcia this month.
- What prompted you to create ATOD?
Service is the most important thing in every industry. Food and wine doesn’t get more personal than that. It literally nourishes you and invites you to let go. That’s how ATOD started but it’s since become a platform for creativity. ATOD is a place for quality content, rich stories, and beautiful visuals. I’m a sucker for clean design. I myself want to always be inspired so I have created A Taste of Dawn in the hopes of inspiring others as well.I design and write the majority of the magazine but have a staff of 10, consisting of writers and photographers around the world who continually inspire and teach me.
- How difficult was it to get your business off the ground? And was it a long, slow process or did things click right away?
I was fortunate to have a fan base that followed my writing throughout my career, but honestly never intended to have a fully-functioning online magazine. The first year grew faster than expected, so I just had to find a way to evolve. It started with food and wine and soon I decided to make this magazine about everything I love. It grew into a luxury lifestyle magazine and brand whose sole mission is to encourage people to live a cultured life and savor every moment.
I can’t say the magazine clicked right away, but I always have been one to push boundaries and dream big. I actually designed a magazine for a high school project when I was 16 and, ironically, ATOD is pretty close to that vision. It’s kind of wild.
I never believed in false marketing so I let this grow the old fashioned way: word of mouth. It’s been grassroots from the beginning and now, millions of readers strong, I’m grateful it stands on its own.
- What current projects have you the most excited?
In terms of ATOD, I’m starting to do more traveling and interviewing and that’s something I love. I am also about to launch a new campaign specifically for the magazine and those who believe in living boldly.
I’m in the planning stages for the second Off The Hook Seafood Festival in Santa Monica. I was one of the founding media partners and last year was a huge success, selling all 1500 tickets before the event.
I just finished a second screenplay which is heading to a major studio. And I’m writing and directing my first animated short, which I’m really excited about.
I also was hired to co-author a book with an LA contemporary artist, Louis Carreon, and I’d say that has really become one of the most exciting things I’ve done. Having the freedom to just write and create with someone so openly artistic is a huge gift. (“Drugs Sold Separately” makes its debut at Art Basel later this year)
- How are you able to juggle all the things you do? Writing is a very time consuming practice!
It is, but writing is like oxygen to me. I do it every day and have a really strong work ethic. I basically write and edit every day, seven days a week. Plus, I’m a mom and a partner and that motivates me. I have a strong little support system, so even when I have moments of self-doubt, they remind me that what I’m doing matters. I found what I love. I do what I’m passionate about. I made the decision a while back to find a way to “live my happy”. Even on days when I don’t really want to, I still do it. I feel empty when I don’t.
- Was there anyone you looked up to as you were getting started with the magazine? A mentor or someone in the public eye who inspired you along the way?
As an editor, I wish I could say I had a mentor for this but I didn’t. My favorite magazine is Harpers Bazaar. It’s edgy and had never strayed from that. I have learned though by observation and I’ve been fortunate to have some incredible people believe in me.
Francis Ford Coppola was one of the first people to encourage me to write. I’ll never forget that. I have a tenacious, fighting spirit and believe in having huge dreams and goals. I’ve never been one to start at the bottom. I have always started at the top and progressed from there. I did that when I started in film as a make-up and special effects artist and apply that theory now in every aspect of my life.
Growing up, we never had much money and our family faced tremendous loss. I think having the reality that life is not a guarantee pushed me to strive for more and not be too afraid to go for it. I have always been inspired though by two writers, Anais Nin and George Sands and have been motivated by the grace of Audrey Hepburn and Princess Grace. I also look at women like Helen Mirren and even Oprah and think, ‘No matter where you come from, anything is possible.’ Of course, I can’t ignore men like Bill Gates or Stephen Hawking. I’m a fan of brilliance and individuality. I’m inspired by those who don’t follow. They make their own way.
My mom passed away when I was 15. She was only 36 and never really knew what she was capable of and struggled immensely with feelings of worth. I vowed not to go there in my own life. I have always wanted more. I believe in aligning yourself with inspiring, creative people who believe the same.
- Are there any “aha” moments from your career that stand out in your mind?
Working with the best, however brief, and learning that in order to truly succeed, you must fail a few times. I have met some amazing people, some heavy hitters in entertainment. I think the moment I met JJ Abrams and talked to him and his producer, Brian Burke 3 years ago, I knew that writing and being creative was everything to me. Getting the opportunity to write for other publications, to meet entrepreneurs, to work with filmmakers, winemakers, and artists – that’s the stuff dreams are made of.
- What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Don’t let fear consume you. You will fail sometimes. And it’s totally ok. Listen to people who have done it before you and don’t listen to every bit of advice people give you. There is no right way. There’s no holy grail or perfect way to do anything. Find your own voice, accept when it’s not working and ALWAYS – ALWAYS be willing to adapt and evolve. Change is imperative to growth. Integrity, innovation and passion will take you far.
Also, ignore the chatter. People will talk about you, people will be discouraging. Remember that those who spend their time worrying about what you’re doing are only further away from living their own dreams.
- What do you do to relax?
What is that?! Ok, seriously, I’ve been a bit out of the “taking care of me” thing for a while. I’m in the process of finding ways to really slow down and pause. That said, I love enjoying a glass of wine and then, ever since I can remember, have always found solace in two places: museums and the beach. Art and the ocean make me feel connected to the rest of the world. I feel understood and that relaxes me.
- What are you reading?
One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel García Márquez). I’m also reading a screenplay a friend sent me.