By Karen Billing
Vanessa Pius, a 16-year-old junior fashion maven from Torrey Pines High School, is putting her passion for fashion and publishing on display with her very own magazine HABIT. HABIT’s first issue hit Torrey Pines on Wednesday, Sept. 21, and Vanessa aims to put out five issues a year on campus and to outside subscribers.
“We want to branch out of Torrey Pines, too, because it’s too unique and cool a product to keep to ourselves,” Pius said of her hopes to get schools like Canyon Crest Academy and La Jolla High involved. “It’s a professional magazine run in the same way on a much smaller scale as any other publication. As difficult as it is, it’s a wonderful opportunity for me and everyone that gets to work on it.”
Vanessa started taking more of an interest in fashion in her freshman year of high school. Her personal style developed by taking inspiration from the trends she saw around her and putting her own spin on them.
“It’s about trends but working the trends so that you’re not looking like everyone else. You’re in style but you’re not a carbon copy, you bring your own personality to the trend,” Vanessa said.
Her fall must-haves include midi-length skirts, muted animal print and the red pant.
After joining the staff of the school newspaper, The Falconer, as a freshman, she became absorbed in learning everything there was to know about publishing. She decided to strike out on her own with HABIT last December — a sample issue went out at the end of May and received a good response from her peers.
Realizing she couldn’t do all the work on her own, Vanessa set to work building her staff and contributors, even casting for young models.
“I held interviews because I have incredibly high standards and I found a couple really cool girls and one cool boy,” Vanessa said.
The magazine is heavy on photo spreads because her sample issue received the most reaction from them. “We have really beautiful spreads,” she said, noting one is Halloween-themed with splashes of “very in” leopard print.
The September/October issue also includes some pieces on beauty and a feature on luxury movie theaters.
Most of the clothing is loaned or donated by local boutiques — La Femme Chic in Solana Beach has been especially supportive. The store donated some fabulous Gucci boots (“We wouldn’t see those in our budget for 20 years,” Vanessa said) and even played host for a HABIT launch party on Sept. 22.
While it is challenging managing fellow busy students and making sure all deadlines are met, Vanessa is having a great time,
“I absolutely love it; it’s like having two full-time jobs,” Vanessa said, noting that school always comes first, “It’s like having a constant project to do, working on something different every day and it all comes together to create a really beautiful magazine.”
Learn more about HABIT on Vanessa’s blog at