Chrissy Derksen – In the Spot Light – Wedding & Portrait Destination Photographer

I caught up with Chrissy Derksen of Almaden’s own 95120 Almaden Lifestyle Magazine and asked her a few questions about her upscale magazine. Chrissy was pretty laid back and quite comfortable as you can see in her images. She was easy to work with and the camera loved her. Unfortunately, you may have read in 95120, she was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and scheduled to have surgery this month. Chrissy I wish you a successful surgery and complete recovery! Love Ya!

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Q. How did you and Wil come up with the idea of the 95120 Lifestyle Magazine? I think it’s refreshing and we needed something new here for quite some time.

The magazine concept itself emerged, while brainstorming a new direction to apply our creativity that would allow me to continue my community involvement focus, while also considering our family requirements. We wanted our magazine to highlight the unique 95120 community members, who are always willing to help others. We highlight a Hero and a Leader in each issue, volunteering time and/or funds to promote a cause and in most cases, improve our community. We wanted to show the pride in ownership and high-level property maintenance shown by 95120 residents, as we highlight one stellar home each issue. We planned to show the beauty of our natural environment throughout Almaden, by including nature photography on the cover and so forth. We wanted to show Almaden’s interesting history— both land and people. We wanted the magazine to help local businesses advertise their business while encouraging the readership to “get to know the person behind the business,” because these businesses are also supporting the above referenced topics, allowing these amazing charities, organizations, and individuals to promote themselves in our magazine, which brings the community even closer.

To thoroughly answer this question, however, I suppose it would serve well to provide a short overview of our professional background.

We have had a design studio in the Bay Area for over 15 years, although I previously spent 5 years in the corporate technology startup mode as did most locals. Wil was a print designer and I was great at operations, so beginning our first business together, Derksen Design Group, was easy enough. I sold my stock shares that allowed us a year to make or break, and we made! We were predominantly handling corporate identity and communications projects. Sector-specific targeted marketing was a must during the early 90’s. I had the most talented artist to promote, so life was good.

Then the Internet craze began! Once websites became increasingly popular, we were very busy providing businesses their portal or “online presence” as it was termed. After the Internet boom, the Intranet boom followed. Wil designed the first Siemens intranet website, in fact. Initially, we worked from home. (Working from home during that time was unheard of. We made the Sunday cover of The Mercury News on Labor Day weekend, for we were considered cutting-edge, starting this new trend). As we grew, we decided to acquire a location downtown. We incorporated, naming our business MoonCheese Studios Inc., hiring designers, programmers, and an accountant, etc. Our goal was to focus on long-term client relationships and work on a retainer basis, to ensure stability. At one point, our team had created 11 individual brands and websites for Fujitsu alone. Later, we designed www.fujitsu.com when it was considered in vogue to have one brand identity, regardless of product line, industry, etc. During that era, we worked with about 30 individual companies, including emerging technologies, corporate conglomerates, and even entertainment clients. Our business was acquired in 2000.

After a year of working for the company we merged with, the DOT COM bubble burst. The founders of the new company closed shop and moved back to India, so we decided to free-lance for a while. We worked a lot with non-technology companies for a change and eventually Wil became a Creative Director for one of our customers. During this time, I actually experienced some free-time and became immensely involved in volunteering for our children’s school and extra-curricular activities. I loved volunteering in the classroom! I joined the PTA Board and began representing Williams Elementary as a PR representative. I learned how to be an art docent, science docent, Junior Great Books leader, room parent, and much more. I was a Holy Spirit CCD teacher for 2 years. I was an assistant softball and soccer coach for Almaden Youth leagues. I enjoyed this time.

Wil and I began discussions about a local magazine a couple years ago. He loved the idea of Almaden having its own magazine, as he grew up here. We debated and brainstormed for 6 months. One of my best friends told me, “Don’t do it! Papers and magazines are failing all over the nation right now.” I thought, “Ah, a challenge!” The next thing we new, our first issue was born.

The caveat was that the magazine had to provide kudos to the amazing, unique volunteers in our community, while promoting businesses via advertisement or charity sponsorship to pay for this gesture, and basically identify 95120 as the uniquely wonderful, family-supporting neighborhood that it is. At the same time, besides an upper class neighborhood magazine, I wanted the brand to emanate nature, as that is truly our gift. Almaden is diverse enough to have residents still enjoying an amazing equestrian lifestyle, as well as Quick Silver Park, the most beautifully sculpted hills and countryside park environment in San Jose.

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Q. What is your role with the 95120 Magazine?

I wear many hats as a founder of 95120 Almaden Lifestyle Magazine. I have to make sure the numbers work, as I have always been the “Operations” person for our businesses. In addition to that, I manage sales and projections, provide client direction with ad content and copy when needed, perform accounting, interview and write editorial, edit contributed articles, determine content, manage volunteer and vendor relations, plan our amazing parties, and prepare for each issues’ editor photo! 😉 I am sure I am forgetting something, but that is plenty enough to think about!

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Q. You also have two other businesses or three? Please explain what they are.

These businesses are predominantly Wil’s, as the magazine consumes my time. They all fall under the creative services umbrella and compliment each other.

Refresh Brand Design is our graphic design and creative services business. Wilhelm (Wil) is the 95120 Lifestyle Magazine Creative Director. I enjoy his amazing graphic design abilities, and his eye for photographing nature and architecture. He is a gifted individual and I am very picky with my creative, so I appreciate his contribution. With that said, Wil offers creative services to businesses large and small, to design their brand, internet, and communications, as well as providing print services, so he is a recommended marketing resource. Some of his work is available at www.getrefresh.com.

Wil has another complimentary business named www.biggypix.com that allows small photos to be enlarged to posters or prints and gallery wraps. His eye for detail is second to none, allowing for very satisfied and long-term customers, and putting it simply, he loves the printing industry. I think this is his favorite.

Wil also enjoys a social network he created, www.thepeopleslounge.com, which has over 1,000 members to date. This is a hobby, rather than a business, really. That was the impetus for me to add our social network www.95120lifestyle.com into my business model, jumping on the web 2.0 bandwagon recommended for modern businesses. It also allows for active members to connect, advertise, communicate and collaborate in between magazine issues.

He does also show his photography, although rarely. Some of his images can be viewed at www.wilhelmderksen.com.

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Q. How do you decide on what topics will be covered and whom you will feature in each issue?

My first criterion is that my content has to be positive. That is hard for some to understand, as many journalists look for flaws or become the devil’s advocate, etc. while interviewing. I, on the other hand, feel there is enough of that in other publications and want to keep my magazine “bright and shiny!” I have a positive outlook on life and it is reflected in the magazine. There are many wonderful people and organizations within our community, so it is not hard to choose my editorial. I write about heroes and leaders (volunteers or philanthropic contributors with goals to better our community) in each issue. I also consider seasons so our content is in touch with the lives of community members, and try to do stories in a timely manner that will help raise awareness prior to events.

Q. Do you feel like a celebrity now with how much exposure you have gotten with 95120?

Celebrity is a strong word. If I have celebrity status, I would only use it to benefit the community, local businesses, charities and the magazine. I often feel more like the “go to” person. Customers often ask me how they should market their business locally. I also help local charities and individuals to provide coverage for their events and fundraisers. I did get recognized by a Comcast employee recently, who said, “I saw you in a magazine!” My feedback is usually that I make others into local celebrities, and that is who the focus in on, rather than me.

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Q. Where did you grow up? School you attended?

Although born in Ohio, I moved to San Jose when I was about 4 years old, and have lived here ever since. It was a treat to see the valley when it was filled with orchards, surrounded by beautiful rolling hills that we rode our bikes on. Now, of course, those same hills are filled with homes. Downtown, however, was dingy and I considered it somewhat polluted from factories with smoke stacks. The architecture is much more beautiful now, although much bigger as well! San Jose has turned into a real metropolis.

I went to Stonegate Elementary, which was great. I recently connected with some childhood friends on Facebooks, and that was rather enjoyable, as many have moved out of the area. I graduated from Yerba Buena High School and finally attended San Jose State University where I majored in Business Administration with a Marketing Concentration and minored in Science. I took some other classes here and there at various times throughout my career for necessity classes, such as application education.

Q. Is there anything else you would like to add?

I would like to add that Almaden is a great place to raise kids. They have so much opportunity for success. Those that raise children in Almaden will know what I mean. If not, just look at the accomplishment list on Nina Derksen’s (our daughter’s) profile page on www.95120lifestyle.com and you will understand. It is a great community.

Chrissy, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions! Again, wishing you a safe and successful surgery!

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