#VOZMAN | Darnell Thomas

Our debut VOZ Man Darnell Thomas has always been a multifaceted artist, bridging genres and cultivating creative communities. Raised in New Orleans, he has become a style guru at Santa Fe Dry Goods and strives to help others find joy and happiness within their lives as the creator and editor-in-chief of Good Mood, an independent online magazine showcasing local artists and talent. We’re honored to bring you our latest feature on Darnell’s radiant and passionate approach to fashion, styled by our muse himself.


How did you get involved in fashion and creativity? How did your upbringing lead you to what you are doing now?

It all started with theater; I have a background in theater acting and performing. Growing up, I've always been in talent shows, and that also got me into fashion. I started performing and it amplified my love for dressing up. I've always loved dressing up. I've always loved clothing. It wasn't until I moved to college that I really started to appreciate and love fashion.

How would you describe your personal style? How does your style inform the way you live life?

My personal style has changed over the course of the pandemic. I'll say now, my personal style is very minimal with a splash of glitter. I feel like it defines me because now, when I dress, I know myself so much more than I used to. I'm more confident in what I wear; I'm more confident and I try new things. My style changes depending on how I feel. I know what colors work for me and what colors I'm drawn to. I dress from the confidence within.

How did your journey with Good Mood start?

My journey started when I was in college. My business partner and I met in a graphic design class and were just talking about fashion and how much we love clothing. We were also talking about how there were no classes for fashion; there were other creative classes, like graphic design and costume design, but no classes just for fashion. 

We saw an opportunity to create a community and give artists, stylists, photographers, and graphic designers a platform to express themselves. Then it grew out of being a college pastime and more of a business platform and community. 

It all started with my business partner and I saying to each other, “Oh my gosh, I love your style!” Now we’re spitting out issues every month. 

What is the inspiration and decision-making process for Good Mood’s new features and issues?

My business partner and I start with a theme, then we reach out to our contributors. We have a network of people we have been working with and also people who have reached out to us. I feel so blessed to work with nice people, and we try our best to be authentic and have great relationships with our contributors who are just happy to work with us. 

For instance, if our theme is darkness, winter, or light, we try to come up with content that can support the theme but also incorporate local designers and emerging artists. 

We always ask, how can we incorporate our theme but also look at the bigger mission? Our mission is acting as a guide to support local artists and promote local business. We have a mix of diverse features, and I think that’s what makes it fun; it makes the process and outcome different every time.

What has been your biggest challenge with Good Mood and what did you learn from it?

The biggest challenge are the deadlines and working with people to meet those deadlines. Ours is an independent magazine, and for the features, we work with different artists. It’s truly a passion project, so sometimes the feature will get pushed back because many times contributors are in California and we are in Santa Fe. I would say the most complicated part is trying to tie down scheduling. 

Truthfully, I’m not a writer. My business partner and I act more as curators. The challenge is trying to think from the writer’s standpoint and challenge ourselves in what we say. We ask ourselves, “Does this actually sound good?” We are not professional writers, so we reach out to our friends to proofread and edit. Even in the challenges we face, I think, we have such a good network and such a great support system. We have asked for help, and we are grateful to receive help.

What kind of people do you surround yourself with? How do they impact your creativity and growth?
The people who we truly are, are also the people we surround ourselves with. So I surround myself with people who are positive and spiritual. You don’t have to be religious, but on some type of spiritual journey. Then I feel like you have a different outlook on life. It’s like your perception. Your perception has to be different from everyone else’s. I like to surround myself with people who also love themselves, are working on themselves, and are aware of their surroundings. They should be nice to their friends, and also like to have a good time.
I like to be around people who like to embrace each other. If I’m around you and we are embracing our friendship, we are talking about real things. I’m around people who love to give me that space to be me and I appreciate that. It’s not just about who you surround yourself, with but it’s also about yourself, too, and how you treat those people. So I try to surround myself with love, but I also make sure I’m working hard to be that love for others.
I just want to be around people who love me and who really care about me. Especially if you're a good friend, your work as a friend and as a person, you want that reciprocated. I want to be in any type of friendship that is reciprocated. I love my friends and I tell them that I love them; I tell them how much I appreciate them. It's the little things that make a friendship strong.

What kind of rituals foster and nurture your self love? What makes you feel grounded?
I've really been just reminding myself to be nice to myself. I know what person I want to be. You see your goals, you see everything. Obviously you have to take steps towards your goals. Some miracles don't happen overnight, so if there's something that I feel like I'm working towards or I'm not getting yet, I remember to tell myself to be nice to myself in that process. 
We forget to say, “Hey, you're not there yet but you are better than you were yesterday, and that's okay.” Saying to myself, “Darnell, you can't fix everything.”  I'm more comfortable with talking to myself and just saying, “Hey, today you need more sleep,” “Hey, you need to eat,” “Hey, you need to call your friend and talk to them because that'll make you feel better.” If I take care of myself, then I'm able to help those who I love.

What is inspiring you these days? How have you been finding inspiration during COVID-19?

What's inspiring me these days is knowing that I have the skills to make people happy. I got my degree in Business Arts and Design, so it's like a business art management degree with a little bit of design and a little bit of theater and performance. I've always been the type of person that loves to help people. But it wasn't until recently in the pandemic where I took pride in my skills and pride in what role I play like in this world. Also, when working at Santa Fe Dry Goods in sales and marketing, I’m working with beautiful products from all around the world. When you think about it, it’s as simple as being someone's personal stylist and helping them find something that's going to make them happy. Assisting people and guiding people and helping them feel happy is what has been inspiring me. 

I’m learning to find inspiration by getting close to family. I haven't been really creative during COVID-19. It's been much more self work and finding inspiration so that I can be happy. It's a lot of finding inspiration to love myself, work on myself, and being there for my friends because it's just a hard time. The inspiration for me has just been: spread the message, spread the beauty of the world, spread love, and let's be freaking nice to each other! I just feel like being transparent and leading with an open heart and mind. 

Sometimes we get caught up in what other people are doing and what other people have. But when we look inward, the bottom line is that you need to fix yourself, and you need to work on living your life.

What is on the horizon for you as far as future plans, goals, and dreams?

At Good Mood, we are restrategizing our fashion show that was originally scheduled for April but was pushed back because of the pandemic. We're planning our issue around the fashion show and still talking to designers to see how to move forward safely. 
Personally, next week I will be starting my course to get a real estate agent license. I'm so excited because it's one of those things that I've been wanting to do it for a long time, but certain things have been getting in the way. I’ve been fearful of the unknown; I’m taking a risk and diving into something that I know nothing about. It’s similar to what I said before, during this pandemic I’ve just been working on myself and being confident in my skill set. 
I have a degree in design. I love fashion and I have an eye for style, but I also love interior design too. I feel like I'm a good matchmaker, so I feel that will be a great opportunity for me to help people be happy in yet another way. I can help them find their dream homes. 
It's like a riff, but you don't know what's on the other side of it. I'm going to stay positive and know that the only way to get to it, is through it. I know I have to go through it all because I’m going to end up on top—there’s no doubt about that.  



Creative direction by Jasmine Etoile Aarons

Styling by Darnell Thomas

Photography by Brad Trone

Photography assistance by Emily Mason


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