That’s right. We love women who love to run the show, so it’s a no-brainer that we immediately swooned over Alisa Carroll. She is the Editor in Chief of the newly launched publication, San Francisco Cottages & Gardens {yay for print magazines!}. We also swooned because she is awesome. Like, really awesome! Here’s how this conclusion was drawn:

We sent her interview questions over email {it’s faster- people are busy- idk, it’s the 21st century?} and when she sent them back with the words “cray, cray” in her answers, we just about died. Who was this new and {seriously!} fierce EIC, who was cool enough to quote a Jay-Z song?! We had to know. Thankfully, she wanted to meet us too {?} so we met her at one of her favorite San Francisco boutiques, March {epic!}, where we talked leather pants, dogs with underbites and oh yeah, the important stuff…

With a slew of experiences behind her {and in front of her!}, Alisa shared with us the path to her latest role, a peek into what running a magazine is really like and her advice on…well anything we could think to ask, because we’ll take whatever words of wisdom this dynamic woman is willing to offer up!


Her Background

My path has definitely not been linear, but I’ve always written. For the first decade of my adult life, I was in a band, songwriting and touring around. It was a really defining experience—it helped me find my voice and figure out who I was. But ultimately I wanted life to be a little more stable! I’d always been involved in visual art and design, so I began writing for magazines like Elle Décor and Interior Design, and collaborated with artists and designers to promote their work, Jay [Jeffers] being one of them. We met ten years ago and its been an amazing, inspiring relationship ever since. A few years ago, when I started to feel the pull to go back to writing full time, I was lucky enough to be invited to edit 3D, the annual journal of the San Francisco Design Center. Then Jay and I began developing the book, and I came on board at SFC&G this past December. [My career] happened very organically. To me that’s always a good sign–when something doesn’t have to be forced, it feels like I’m on the right path.


A Day In The Life

Every day is about trying to balance the creative and business aspects of the magazine. I might go from interviewing a designer for a story to meeting with the social media team to editing the product section. For example, this past week we shot a phenomenal home in Monterey, so I was scouting the styling elements and shooting, then hustled back up to the city to do the final edits on the current issue, then worked on researching a story for the next issue. 

On Being the Boss-Lady

[Being Editor-in-Chief] is my dream job, but a magazine is also a train that does not stop! As soon as the current issue is off and running, we’re planning the next. So while we’re all writing stories for June/July, for example, we’re also planning and scouting for August/September.  It’s cray-cray.


On Success

Being lucky enough to know kind, smart, creative people who have been willing to help guide me has contributed to my success. My pinch-me moment was definitely the book launch in London. I walked up to the Chelsea Design Center and there was Collected Cool in the bookstore window. I get butterflies every time I see it on a shelf.

Her Advice 

Find your true voice and don’t compromise it. I had drinks recently with a dear friend, an accomplished writer and editor, who still lays awake at night worrying about the crop of a photo or a font. That kind of meticulousness is really what it all comes down to. I hate to think of what percentage of my life I’ve spent writing “no one” then changing it to “no body” and then back and forth again a hundred times. It’s totally obsessive and ultimately may not matter to anyone (anybody) but me, but it’s the only way to get to what’s beautiful and meaningful. 

It’s also ok to screw it up. There’s a great scene in “The Young Victoria” in which she says, “If there are mistakes they will be my mistakes, and no one else will make them.” It’s important to take a risk. Like, I probably never should have worn my hair in cornrows, but now I know.


About SFC&G

We are committed to creating a magazine that we hope people will feel authentically reflects the beauty and soul of San Francisco. SFC&G is the only design publication that is dedicated exclusively to this city, and all of our coverage emerges locally–we want to distill the creativity of the Bay—from interior design to landscape to visual art–into its pages. I’m excited about our May issue, which is all about verdant living – the experience of the Bay in spring when we head back to Dolores Park in earnest, to events like Art Market and the Film Festival and, of course, to the bar to begin imbibing awesome cocktails with absurdly esoteric herbs. Cheers!

And per Girl Crush tradition, we asked Alisa to answer our rapid fire Q&A!



Thank you to Alisa for such a fun hangout sesh {we’ll take one of everything in that store!} and if you haven’t already, pick up the new issue of San Francisco Cottages & Gardens! — Bianca

original photography for apartment 34 by Aubrie Pick 

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  1. Alisa is amazing! She’s smart, enthusiastic and oh so stylish! It’s been wonderful working with her. Great story!