New York, Paris, Milan, SoSaLa?
November 18th, 2008
Could South Salt Lake become the next fashion capital?
by Rebecca Edwards
If it seems unlikely that South Salt Lake, or SoSaLa as it has been coined recently, could become the latest hot spot for fashion and entertainment, it may be time to reconsider. With the likes of East High becoming forever imprinted on the pop culture psyche via the High School Musical (HSM) movies, and the hottest literary phenomenon since Harry Potter, the Twilight series, being penned by a BYU alum, it seems the time is ripe for Utah to splash onto the fashion scene as well.
One man has a big vision for the future of SoSaLa and Utah's place on the world fashion stage. Stacey Eastman, founder and president of Pulse Management, has partnered with Elite Model Management to open a full-fledged talent agency in SoSaLa. Eastman's hip office is the cornerstone of the new Market Street Station shopping and urban living center being developed at 2100 South and Main.
Despite swanky, new digs and the recent attention the entertainment world has given Utah thanks to HSM and American Idol runner-up David Archuleta, the question still remains: Why Utah?
"I have operated in seven different cities for over 21 years in many different markets," Eastman said. "And all of our superbowl rings (Vogue covers) have been procured by Utah talent alone."
For the past two decades Eastman has discovered and represented some of the biggest models in the world, including Utah discovery Hye Rim Park who has walked runways for top designers all over the world and graced the covers of magazines like Vogue.
Pulse, whose mission includes "slamming forth an intense revolution of raw, clean, talent" was established two decades ago by Eastman, a successful fashion photographer. In that time, Eastman has discovered some of the top models in the business, including recent phenom (and Utah native) Ali Stephens. Ali is the latest in a long line of successful models that Eastman and his team have discovered in Utah. Within three days of Pulse discovering her, she was walking the runway in Milan. Another Utah discovery, Hye Rim Park, has not only graced the cover of Vogue, but has been heralded by editors and photographers alike as one of the top ten models in the world.
Chicago, Miami and New York.
The success of talent discovered in Utah caught Eastman's attention, and it's not letting go. Over the past ten years, he has been working more and more with Utah models, leading to the opening of the SoSaLa office in June, 2008. This is the first office Elite, one of the world's leading agencies, has opened in a market that is virtually unknown to the fashion world at large.
"This is the first time since 1965 that Elite has entered into a partnership like this, and it's in South Salt Lake. There's something in the water," Eastman jokes. "When Brigham Young said that 'this is the place,' he didn't know how right he was. Elite has launched more industry icons over the past 65 years than anyone else, and we have been able to accomplish this partnership solely because of the people we have been blessed to work with."
Eastman is not shy about crediting the lifestyle and family values of Utahans as contributors to the success of his models. "I haven't been able to put my thumb on it, but in 21 years the only thing I can come up with is that it's got to be the lifestyle. Whether part of the predominant religion or not, religion attracts other religious people, and that is accompanied by a certain lifestyle."
Pulse models are selected not just for physical beauty, but for being well-rounded and having a strong family support system. Eastman has found that although Utah is not immune to the typical pitfalls of being a modern teenager, such as rebellion and drugs, the kids he works with from Utah seem to display behavior that is contrary to what he finds in the rest of the country.
professionals, like Justin Erikson pictured above.
"Predominantly, kids are the best here," he said. "It has a lot to do with the parents and the entrepreneurial attitude of the state. People here are industrious. They live up to the slogan of the beehive state. They are healthy, driven, very entrepreneurial-minded, and passionate. If I go to Portland, to get the kids to do anything is like pulling teeth."
Eastman prefers to sign models who are more than just a pretty face, with involvement in school activities, sports, church, and good grades being crucial factors. Since 1992, he says he has found those qualities most often in kids from Utah. The contradiction of Utah's image and that of the fashion industry is not lost on Eastman, but he remains confident that the move to Utah is the right one. And Utah seems to be welcoming Pulse Management with open arms.
"We had so much political support," Eastman said, describing the grand opening street party he held in SoSaLa that was attended by 4,000 people. "This is not what you are used to in the fashion world. If Elite opened a second office in Manhattan, the mayor wouldn't go out of his way to endorse it. We received so much support from the president of the Utah Film Commission, Governor Huntsman, the mayor of South Salt Lake, and the police and fire chiefs. The support has been overwhelming for us."
The welcoming and supportive attitude of the Utah community has even caught the attention of the Elite office in Manhattan, according to Eastman. Attention that Eastman looks forward to keeping. Pulse has a variety of upcoming events planned, including partnerships with the Twilight movie premiere this coming weekend, the Sundance Film Festival, and an upcoming fundraiser for Huntington's disease.
Eastman has a powerful vision for what he calls the "New SoSaLa," and he plans to bring that vision to fruition through creative partnerships with local and worldwide entertainment and fashion leaders. Pulse has partnered with Wasatch Helicopters to offer sightseeing tours, heli-boarding, and heli-skiing, leading to a new helicopter pad across from the Pulse office. In addition, the number one casting director in Utah is putting in an office right next door.
"We're in the process of building a production capital, encompassing all aspects of the entertainment industry," Eastman said. "We're partnering with local clothing designers, the film industry, spas, salons, sound stages. This is what keeps us at the top of the totem pole, and I'm the only one in the world with the relationships to pull it off."
Eastman is committed to making a difference in the entertainment industry, and unbelievably to some, Utah is one of the keys to making that happen. As he said, "When we find a girl we can't always tell when she will make it, but we can tell if. In South Salt Lake, it might take months, a year, or longer, but it will happen. It's only a matter of time. We're changing this town."
From Kathie Bischke
I just read the article by Rebecca Edwards, and I found it very interesting and informative. I am just in awe that Salt Lake is really becoming a city that is getting into the mix of things. I remember when it was just a place for shopping and going to a better Dr. and having open heart surgery. Now it is a more transverse place than that.
From P Consiglio
When I first moved to Utah, It was unbelievable by the beautiful people I was surrounded by everyday. Everyone was also constantly happy with their on-the-go lifestyle to keep them healthy. So Rebecca and Eastman definitely got their stories right about this upbeat state.