Readers of The Curbside Chronicle will think they’re seeing double this month when they pass Robert on his pitch at Cassen and Belle in Oklahoma City.
For the latest issue, the vendor isn’t just selling and writing for the magazine, he’s also the cover star.
Looking very dapper in a flowery bow tie and pastel shirt, Robert was one of five street paper vendors – and a very fashionable pet pooch – who took part in a photo shoot for The Curbside Chronicle.
— Debbie Cook (@daccook) August 1, 2015
The street paper teamed up with local menswear company, The Clad Stache, to showcase its new summer range of bow ties – and asked their vendors to do the modelling.
“We saw this as a fun way to humanise our vendors and involve them beyond writing articles,” said Whitley O’Connor, Curbside Chronicle’s executive director.
“We’ve seen a confidence boost in our vendors each time they’re featured in our magazine and this was an interesting way to get a lot of vendors involved in one article.
“They really enjoyed the experience and we’ve received a lot of compliments from our customers and supporters.”
The Curbside team enlisted the help of local photographer Chris Nguyen and invited a barber to help get Robert, Calvin, Bennie, Jerry and Gary camera-ready.
As well as a fancy bow tie, the vendors sported shirts donated from a local vintage store, which they were all allowed to keep.
“Most of them had never worn a bow tie, so they thought that was pretty cool as well,” said Whitley.
And it sounds like it won’t be the last time either, as The Clad Stache also donated all the bow ties used in the shoot.
“The vendors were very excited when they learned they’d get to keep the shirts and bow ties and plan to wear them to future community events where they typically sell,” added Whitley.
“It was definitely a lot of fun and our vendors were all laughing and joking with each other throughout the preparation and shoot.”
Whitley added that being featured in the magazine gave vendors a good talking point with potential customers.
Since launching two years ago, the street paper has seen a number of its sellers transition off the streets and into housing.
While working for The Curbside Chronicle, cover star Robert (above right) has secured stable housing with the help of Hope Community Services. He uses his earnings from selling the street paper to pay for all his bills, including Internet, which he got installed in his flat last month.
For the past year, Robert has relied on the public library to go online. Now he can use the Internet at home to prepare for going back to school in the Fall.
Posing for the camera isn’t the first time Robert has embraced his creative side for The Curbside Chronicle. He was recently on the other side of the camera lens when took part in the How I See OKC vendor photography project. He has also written about the experience, which you can read here.
Whitley added that the positive feedback from the shoot, which was ran over a six-page spread, has encouraged the editorial team to involve their vendors further in the street paper’s production.
“It was received really well,” he said. “We have a lot more ideas for involving vendors in future issues, so stay tuned!”