In Her Shoes: Rosa Park

Cereal is a biannual, travel and style magazine based in the UK. Each issue highlights a select number of destinations, alongside engaging interviews and stories on unique design, art and fashion. In speaking to the dynamic and engaging founding editor Rosa Park recently, I was swept into dreamy inspiration by her assertion, passion and openness.Rosa packs a punch of gumption. Like most multitasking, business-running creatives, Rosa's journey to building Cereal has required dedication, vision, laser focus and many (almost) sleepless nights. As you would imagine, Rosa is very well travelled. She also knows herself and that the ultimate escape exists within her profound book collection. In learning this about Rosa, I was propelled to revisit my own book collection, namely an all-time and fitting favourite by Dr Seuss – Oh, the Places You’ll Go. 

When what you do for a living is sharing the truth of who you are, the sky’s the limit, and shooting for it has absolutely paid off in Rosa’s instance. As Cereal edition 16 goes to print, we’re delighted to share this Dr Seuss excerpt with you and a little insight from Rosa on what it’s like being In Her Shoes

'Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away! You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go…​ So… be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way!'

In your own words, please tell us what you do…
I am the editor in chief of Cereal Magazine, and Cereal City Guides. I am also currently working on launching a new sister business to Cereal, which is an art gallery named FRANCIS... so between those three things I’ve been keeping busy this summer!

Where are you from, and how did you come to be living life as you know it?
I’m from many different places, so this is always a tricky question for me to answer. I’ll just start at the beginning. I was born in Seoul, Korea and when I was eight years old, I moved to Vancouver, Canada with my family. I moved back and forth between Vancouver and Seoul throughout my adolescence, and for university, I moved to the States. I went to school in Boston and after graduation, I lived and worked in New York for six years. Then finally, I moved to Bristol, England eight years ago, and I ended up in Bath, which is where I currently reside, and it's where Cereal is based. So I’m not entirely sure where I’m from, since I have lived an equal amount of time in every place!  

“The impetus for me to start Cereal was because friends would ask me for advice on travel and beyond, and I think this has always been a part of who I am.”Which element of your work do you thrive off the most?
The part of my job that I enjoy the most is creating the content. It’s a significant part of what I do, but not all that I do. There's a lot of other business, admin, and management tasks that I am now overseeing, but at the end of the day, the reason I started is because I love to share the things that I’ve found and enjoyed on my travels with other people. 

The impetus for me to start Cereal was because friends would ask me for advice on travel and beyond, and I think this has always been a part of who I am. And now, I get to do it for a living. I believe my excitement and enthusiasm for sharing new discoveries is the underlying theme for me as editor, because with each issue, I'm researching, travelling and interviewing to deliver a carefully edited, 200 page version of what my team and I have been up to in the last 6 months, for our readership. 

“…it’s tough to beat a striking natural landscape. So that’s what beauty looks like to me, right now.”

What does beauty look like to you?
My answer depends on my current mood and timing. At the moment, I relate beauty to either certain people or specific places. Since talking about places is a bit more relevant to what I do at Cereal, I’ll say that with each passing year, I find nature - in its various guises - to be the most beautiful. I don’t mean to take anything away from cities, and the architecture and design that comes with the territory, but it’s tough to beat a striking natural landscape. So that’s what beauty looks like to me, right now.  

“What I appreciate about print is the finality of it. It’s a physical thing, and unless you destroy it, it will always be there.”

Why do you love print media?
I think it’s because my generation is probably the last one to have grown up without the internet. I had a dial up connection when I was 11 or 12, but it was ridiculously slow. There was that high pitched, vibrating noise whenever you connected, and of course, you’d get kicked off if someone called! I didn’t have Wi-Fi as we know it now until I was an adult, so I grew up reading books. The thing is, my entire life I've read so much. It’s my favourite thing to do, and I also collect books. Reading is a key part of my life, it’s my greatest passion. What I appreciate about print is the finality of it. It’s a physical thing, and unless you destroy it, it will always be there. It’s a tangible snapshot of the time it was created, and you can’t replicate that with digital. 

What are three things that are inspiring you right now?
Nature, art, and books. Those are probably very standard sources of inspiration for many creative folks, but these three never fail me. 

Who, or what are you listening to right now?
I’ve been listening to my inner circle. I’ve had an interesting year so far, where I'm undergoing some sort of personal transformation. As of late, I’ve had an overwhelming amount of concurrent thoughts and anxieties, in the sense that I'm being pushed and pulled by different opinions and different advice. To make sense of it all, I’ve had to take a step back and focus on the wisdom from my parents, my husband, and a handful of my closest friends. They are the ones who know me best, so I feel safe in taking their advice. That combined with my intuition - this is what I’m currently listening to. 

Do you have a morning ritual?
I would absolutely love to have a morning ritual! I desperately want to be the person that has one, but I don’t! I go to bed very late, as I’m a night owl and am often working past midnight, so my mornings are considered a success if I can get up at a relatively ‘early’ time, shower, and leave for work without feeling rushed - that’s the honest answer.  
What does your ideal Sunday entail?
My ideal Sunday will probably sound like the most mundane Sunday to others. 
Recently, we moved into a new flat in Bath, which we gut renovated. And the very first thing I asked for was a bespoke floor-to-ceiling, built-in bookshelf. We are finally unpacked and the shelves are now filled with our books. It makes me happy just looking at it. So this coming Sunday, I would love nothing more than to sleep in, have breakfast at home, then spend the entire day reading on the sofa.
What is your favourite travel destination?
Italy! I almost don’t want to tell people that Italy is my favourite travel destination, because it seems like a predictable answer. I should say something more exciting, like Madagascar, or Bhutan. But I just have such a strong affinity to Italian culture. 
To date, there isn’t a place that I’ve been to in Italy that I didn’t love - and I think that's very rare. Most countries, you’re going to find a place or two that doesn’t speak to you, but it hasn’t happened to me in Italy as of yet. Touch wood. 
What is happiness to you?
Feeling at peace… I try to strip away all unnecessary and negative aspects of my life, to arrive at that moment of quiet.

Words by Ellen Watts | @_theatelier_
Photography | Rich Stapleton