Jackson Chong: CFO and Managing Partner of BASIC MAGAZINE

Sponsored by SIETE CIELOS

Photographer & Creative Director VIKTORIJA PASHUTA @viktorija_pashuta

Styled By LANA VAA @aarnika

Grooming KSENIYA BERNKHARDT @k.hart.muah


Furniture by NICHE BEVERLY @nichebeverly

Set Design AMY THERESA @_amytheresa_


Hoodie C.P. COMPANY @cp_company_official
Cargo Sweatpants, Boots RICK OWENS @rickowensonline

Who is Jackson, both personally and professionally?

Well, I immigrated to the states in the 80s when I was 13 years old. It was a very different era. A lot of things were different, but it was interesting. When my dad first came here, he opened up a liquor store. I spent a good two years in the liquor store with my father, so I got to really experience American culture—Twinkies, the whole Hostess brand, beef jerky, Nerd’s candy, and Campbell’s soup. I was in heaven! I had never seen anything like it. Americans are so good at taking a bad product and applying good marketing to transform it into a legacy product. I graduated with an accounting degree, but when I found out how much accountants got paid, I said, screw that! It wouldn’t even pay for my rent or my food. I had to figure some- thing else out, so I met my friend and we started a direct sales company together. We did that for a couple of years and it really took off. Now, this company is probably in the top three in China. This is how I originally got my start in marketing. It was a really good experience, but I just didn’t feel that it was for me anymore. After I left the company, I began teaching people about macrobiotic diets. I went to the Boston House Institute to study from Ann Wigmore and spent a lot of time learning about food and how different foods can change you. I believe in food as medicine.

How would you describe your personality in one or two sentences?

I think that I am very rebellious. I’m a disruptor. If you tell me to do something one way, I’ll do it another way.

Top, Pants, Jacket VALENTINO @maisonvalentino
Loafers VALENTINO GARAVANI @realmrvalentino
Sunglasses CHANEL @chanelofficial
Furniture NICHE BEVERLY @nichebeverly

What were you doing prior to starting BASIC and how did you initially connect with Viktorija?

I had a private club in Beverly Hills that was created around the concept of private dining without the client having to pay for their experience. We would only take about six to 10 people each night at no charge. It was a very audacious and rebellious idea, but in a short time I got to meet a lot of interesting and influential people in the industry. And that’s ultimately, how I met Viktorija. Prior to BASIC, Viktorija was working for another magazine and when I met her, she told me she wanted to start a fashion magazine. I really loved all of her ideas. I could tell she was a one-of-a-kind, a fighter, a bulldog, and to some, a little extreme.

What was the initial concept or goal for the publication?

Our vision was about creating a coffee table magazine. We didn’t want to focus on issues for specific seasons like spring/summer. We wanted it to be timeless. I was at Viktorija’s house a few weeks ago and I saw our first issue. Six years later and the content is still relevant.

Jumpsuit, Boots RICK OWENS @rickowensonline
Jacket MONCLER @moncler
Oversized Cap BURBERRY @burberry
Sunglasses KOTTÉ STUDIO @kottestudio
Furniture NICHE BEVERLY @nichebeverly

Moving forward, what is one of the biggest goals you’d like to achieve in terms of the publication and where it’s headed?

We have never stopped expending while most publications are going digital. I mean, paper costs went up 200 percent in the past nine months and it’s taking a big toll on the entire publication industry. What used to cost me 10 dollars now costs me 30 dollars. It’s a big financial toll and causes a lot of stress, but we aren’t going to change. We are going to use the same quality materials and figure it out.

This is very rare for a publication. Can you speak further on the subject?

You know, it’s the craziest strategy, but it ended up working. Advertisements lose relevance, so our way of thinking comes from a very human perspective. People always say we should have advertisements, but we always ask, well, if advertisers work, then why are publications dying? Choosing placement over advertising allows our magazine to be timeless. It’s actually more efficient. Instead of telling people to look at specific products, the reader or consumer is immersed in the product experience alongside the celebrity or influencer.

We even stayed strong during COVID. I remember telling Viktorija that nothing was going to change even though venues were closed and that we would shoot outdoors. That’s how we did our big editorial circus shoot in Riverside. We went to the desert and shot a fashion film with a stunning black stallion. We even did a digital shoot with H.E.R. using the latest VR and remote digital technology.  

Don’t ever tell us not to do something. Every time you tell us not to do something, we’re going to do it and do it better.  

Cashmere Jacket, Track Pants THE ELDER STATESMAN @theelderstatesman
T-Shirt MAISON MIHARA YASUHIRO @miharayasuhiro_official
Slides, Sunglasses RICK OWENS @rickowensonline
Necklace, Ring VERTEXX @vertexx.la
Socks SOCKSSS @socksssofficial
Furniture NICHE BEVERLY @nichebeverly

In reflection of the past 20 issues, what has been your favorite spread that you have worked on?

It’s been almost six years since our first issue and when I saw it on Viktorija’s coffee table recently, it reminded me of how good it was. I think it’s better than some of our recent issues—the quality, the aesthetic, the detail. Sometimes, I think we have to go back to the basics.

We have published so many good features and celebrities over the years, but when I look back at where we started, I just think the first issue is incredible.

I remember seeing the Ferrari model we featured and how she couldn’t speak proper English at the time. Now, she is one of the biggest influencers in the Middle East and always gets invited to some of the biggest events. She even hosted an event with Michele Morrone from the Netflix film 365 Days. I look at some of the detail in our previous shoots and it’s impeccable. My favorite spread was in Issue 10. I was personally involved in this one as well. We did the cover shoot for the One Drop Foundation with Cirque Du Soleil and it was the first time in the Cirque Du Soleil history that we got the permission to do this ourselves. It was at the iconic O Theater and it was also the 20th anniversary of the O Theater, the first theater in history to hit a billion dollars in ticket sales for one show. It was aired on CBS.

Coat HOUSE OF MUA MUA @houseofmuamua_
 Leather Jacket CELINE @celine
Leather Pants, Belt, Boots SAINT LAURENT @ysl
Sunglasses KOTTÉ STUDIO @kottestudio

Since you are more of a behind-the-scenes kind of man, I’m curious what was it like being in front of the camera this time.

You know, I’ve been involved in so many shoots and always see Viktorija working. I always think that it’s easy, effortless, that you can become a model or the talent yourself. But shooting with her made me realize how freaking good she is. I was like damn! I literally thought I was screwed. I thought I was making a fool of myself. I mean, I’m not a model. I’ve been on a lot of public stages and have spoken in front of very large crowds of 10,000 to 50,000 people, but this was different. The best part about working with Viktorija though, is that she made me feel so at ease. And I noticed why she is so good. When she was shooting me, my mind went blank and she used her hand and body language to guide me. She’d give me signs to lift my chin up or down all by hand. She’s also very good at lighting and effects. Viktorija always utilizes anything that is in front of her to make magic.

When you are not working, how do you enjoy spending your time?

I am really into food and I like to discover new restaurants every time I go out. I appreciate all kinds of food, anything from a local taco stand to big artists in the space like Alain Ducasse, Massimo Bottura, and his protégé Mattia Agazzi. I also love Joël Robuchon. Over the past two years, I have eaten at over 1,300 different places. I also love to walk. It’s one of my ways of relieving stress. During COVID, when everything was closed, I was walking 15 to 20 miles a day.

Robe, Slipper Versace @versace
Socks SOCKSSS @socksssofficial
Necklace VERTEXX @vertexx.la
Sunglasses KOTTÉ STUDIO @kottestudio
Furniture NICHE BEVERLY @nichebeverly

Is there anything you haven’t done that you feel compelled to do in the future?

I’d like to make a movie or create a television series. Maybe that’s where we’re headed next.

Tell me one interesting fact about yourself that not a lot of people know.

I only sleep four to five hours a day.

Jacket, Bracelet RAF SIMONS @rafsimons
Shorts JIL SANDER @jilsander
Sunglasses CELINE @celine
Furniture NICHE BEVERLY @nichebeverly

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Tortellini at Gucci Osteria in Beverly Hills.

What are your top three fashion brands?

I don’t have favorite brands, but I really appreciate Celine. For my cover shoot, we used a few pieces from Rick Owens and that was very different and refreshing. I liked it. I also love discovering unknown brands and the new up-and-coming designers, especially using our platform to showcase them.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

I hate when people speak so loudly. I can’t stand that. It just annoys me.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

To relax and to trust that when one door closes, another one will always open.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I can’t think of a specific one. I am proud of every project I get involved with. I will always find a way to make things better.

What is your drink of choice?

Japanese whiskey, but lately it’s been Mescal.

Are you more productive in the morning or at night?

I’m a night person.

Leather Jacket CELINE @celine
Leather Pants, Belt, Boots SAINT LAURENT @ysl
Sunglasses KOTTÉ STUDIO @kottestudio

What is your favorite book or what are you currently reading?

I don’t like to read books.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I can tell what most people are thinking. I can feel how people feel. I am not sure if it’s intuition or if I am reading their body language. Possibly both.

Jumpsuit, Boots RICK OWENS @rickowensonline
Sunglasses KOTTÉ STUDIO @kottestudio

What movie can you watch over and over again without getting tired of it?

Miami Vice.

How would you describe your job in one word?


How would you describe Viktorija in three words?

She is fearless, rebellious, and a time traveler.