Connect
To Top

The Change-Makers: stories that inspire

The heart of our mission is to find the amazing souls that breathe life into our communities. In the recent weeks, we’ve had the privilege to connect with some incredible artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and rabble rousers and we can’t begin to express how impressed we are with the incredible group below. Check out our favorite stories from across the Voyage family.

Sydney Sherman Arenas

My parents are entrepreneurs so I grew up without any mental constraints against starting a company. I probably always figured that I would follow in their footsteps! When I graduated from college, I had a sales job with a really great Austin entrepreneur who asked me to do administrative work for a non-profit she was running on the side. The sales job was a terrible fit for me but the administrative job gave me an idea, there are a lot of small businesses or non-profits who can’t afford or don’t need full-time employees so what if I pulled together a number of part-time administrative jobs and turned that into a full-time gig? I started doing just that and found that a lot of people needed help so I hired my first employee and then a second employee and within six months it was a full-time business. Admin Boutique is still running today but I also have started several other businesses in ethical fashion and consumption (The Etho and Montie-Joie.com) as well as a number of hospitality businesses in Guatemala with my husband. I just can’t get enough! Read more>>

Amy Jackson

I’ve spent my career building and shaping brands during times of rapid change. I helped potato farmers navigate the era of low-carb diets. I secured coverage in major media outlets leading up to the acquisitions of Bebo and Mint.com and led LivingSocial’s PR efforts bridging from Facebook darling to local merchant marketplace. I took Silicon Valley journalists through a walk down memory lane at the Computer History Museum’s reopening. All of which led to coverage in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Businessweek and NBC to name a few. Over the course of eight years with SAP Concur, I built TripIt’s high-performing PR and social program from scratch, provided a voice for the award-winning redesign of TripIt.com, and created the messaging and brand experiences for Concur’s travel portfolio (TripIt, Hipmunk, Concur TripLink and ExpenseIt). Most recently, I helped SAP Ariba and SAP Fieldglass celebrate the role of its customers in navigating supply chain disruption. Read more>>

Mel Wu

I have always enjoyed treating people with the food and drinks I created. The kitchen is my studio and playground. I started making my own Kombucha during Covid and shared it with family and friends just for fun. One day, a friend asked if I’d like to supply my kombucha for a local event. I went, and that was when I realized how happy I was by just seeing people’s eyes when they took the first sip of the sample I handed over. That feeling, when you can light up someone’s soul with something you’ve created, is a privilege and an honor. That feeling made me decide to keep brewing and sharing with more and more people. From markets to grocery stores, I am still on this journey and I have learned so much and had so much fun. Read more>>

Hillary Aiges

My story is a long and colorful tapestry. I was a professional ballerina in New York City from age 8-25. I then tried to find my way into something else that would inspire me and ended up as an agent for artists and founded a boutique marketing agency in Soho. I did that for a long time but at some point, I found a dog on a chain in a parking lot and everything changed. I dove into rescue in the years that followed. Every lost dog on highways and byways found me. I was a single mom and suddenly found myself with a pack of four dogs, plus my two kids and my business. It was a crazy time! Read more>>

Beatriz Tobalina

Since I was a child, I was always watching in my parent’s restaurant’s kitchen. My parents are the owners of one of the best restaurants in my city. For the last eight years, because family matters, I’ve been living in different countries (UK, Oman, Spain, Mexico) always linked to culinary affairs and learning about the local ways of life and the food. Once in Mexico, I started with food works, participating in culinary events for international fairs, and starting works as a private Chef and corporate events. Just arriving in Texas in 2019, I started to work as a private Chef, corporate event, and weddings caterer. In that point, a new business project started, with Chef in Texas, LLC., being a single-member of the company and the Executive Chef. Today, my main business is based on a luxury and gourmet private Chef at home, high stand Corporate events, and a caterer for weddings and other family and friends’ events. Read more>>

Josie Paredes

My love for food started at a very young age. I visited a farmer’s market in San Luis Potosi when I was six years old with my grandfather. I fell in love. The smells of the food vendors cooking their dishes, the colors of the different exotic local fruits and flowers. The butcher shop. Little did I know this would be the beginning of a beautiful relationship. I cooked my first dish at age seven. Picadillo, I had watched my mom make it several times. So, one night she was running late. I noticed the thawed ground beef. I looked around to see if we had all the ingredients she normally added. When I saw we did, I took it away. It was a hit with my family. Read more>>

Roxanne Peake

I’ve always had an interest in and love for fashion. My family and I have spent a great deal of time traveling the United States, as well as the UK and Europe, where I’ve always felt inspired and drawn to different fashion trends. In 2018 I became a mother, and our son Dominic joined our family travels. Due to a lack of leather-alternative footwear products on the current market, I would often purchase Dominic leather shoes, but as a plant-based family, this never felt right to me, and I wanted to stop supporting this industry. After copious amounts of time trying to find stylish, quality, organic and eco-friendly shoes, I came to the conclusion there really was just nothing on the market – my ‘shoe searches’ kept resulting in polyurethane (PU) products or genuine leather. I also knew I didn’t want to purchase PU products, as plastic has just as detrimental effect on the environment as leather. Read more>>

Clint Thomas

I came to the Texas Hill Country in the summer of 2010 to help a friend open a winery. When we parted ways professionally, I became an independent contractor for vineyard and wine work. I was working for a few wineries and vineyards in the area when I got a call from a tour company seeking guides for weekend work. I figured why not and added touring to my skill set. Turns out, all the things I learned from doing production work translated really well into touring. I toured with a few companies for about 18 months before I started Cellar Rat Wine Tours. The name, of course, inspired by my beginnings in the Texas Wine Industry. Read more>>

Danny Trejo

At the age of 27, I had spent several years working through sales into a marketing position and even though I loved my career, I hated who I had become in terms of physical and mental health. Impulsively, I quit my job and lived off of my savings, having no idea of the next steps. After a few months of working on my physical and mental health, which incorporated a lot of gym time and hikes, I found myself feeling like a new man. Still not fully convinced, I decided to work through a personal training certification just as an experiment until my “true” calling presented itself. Read more>>

Nova Simcoe

I started off as a makeup artist working with other creatives in fashion. My first break was with my close friend Itzel Abrego, who at the time was running a fashion haus called Jinxedaposed. They invited me to join them during fashion week in Houston. I helped with as much as I could including doing makeup. From there, they took me to New York fashion week, which really opened my eyes to the possibilities my career could take. A few years after that, I started working as an artist for MAC cosmetics where I was able to take my career to new heights. I’ve worked with talent such as Brooke Candy, Kembra Pfahler and Peaches Christ, where I appeared in a segment of her performance at Fantastic Fest, as seen in the Documentary “Scream Queen” on Netflix. From this point, I started to venture into the world of drag and other performance styles. Still working with Itzel who is now a drag king named Papi Churro. Read more>>

Lesa Walker

I was born in Austin, Texas and have lived in Austin most of my life. Thus, I have seen much growth and many changes in our city. I have a variety of interests. One of the hats I wear is as a public health physician. I have worked in public health administration for most of my career, serving as the Medical Director/ Title V Director of the Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN) Services Program at the Texas Department of State Health Services for almost 25 years. During these years, I worked to develop quality health care service systems to meet the complex needs of CYSHCN and their families. I have had the privilege of learning so much from people with disabilities and their families. My most effective learning takes place by listening and by following the lead of those with lived experience. Read more>>

Helen Sharp

I have always been a social person with a flair for storytelling and connecting with people. My husband says I’m hyper-social, and I use that as a superpower to fuel my public relations business! I was a complete nomad in my twenties, living in Taiwan, Argentina, Los Angeles, and Chicago. I wrote for various local magazines and worked remotely as an in-house PR person for a tech company in San Francisco. In 2017, I took a job with the reusable straw company, FinalStraw, which brought my love for the Earth and my knack for Public Relations together. During that time, many companies and influencers asked me to run their Public Relations strategy, so after a year, I started my agency, Be Influential, in April 2018. Read more>>

Megan Deterling

It started the month before I was born. My dad started his company in August and I was born in September. Growing up, I always saw my parents work hard. Summers and weekend, I would work at my dad’s office, stickering brochures, answering phones, or organizing files. I believe this is what gave me my entrepreneurial spirit. I did as was expected of me, received a bachelor’s and began working in the “real” world. Even in college, I was scheming of businesses but I hadn’t quite found what it was yet. As I was working, I had a friend who was an Esthetician and I knew you could work for yourself in this field, plus I loved beauty products so I went back to school to get my license. Read more>>

Eryka Arzola

I was raised in a small town in Virginia and had always shown an interest in and love for fashion. Growing up, I imagined myself as a fashion designer and attending fashion school after high school. My insecurities got the better of me because not only was it not a “practical” profession, but I thought I would never be able to make it in the fashion industry since I was not a size 0. After graduation, I attended the University of Virginia, where I found another passion in Foreign Affairs and planned to pursue a career in that field post-grad. After applying for jobs in DC for months, I decided to accept an offer with Oracle in tech sales. Read more>>

Katy Bradshaw David

My story is more of a zig-zag than a straight line. I grew up in Austin, then got a BA in English at the University of Wisconsin. I always assumed that I would be a writer of some sort. I spent several years working as a stand-up comic and was eventually invited to the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal for the New Faces Showcase. Exciting! This led to me moving to Los Angeles where I quickly realized I did not belong. There wasn’t one thing that made me want to leave, but I started to doubt that it was a good fit when I found myself performing at an open mike in a laundromat. And then there was the show at an AA meeting. You just couldn’t get stage time out there! I quit comedy, moved home and tried to figure out what to do with my life. To fill the hours while looking for a job, I started making Ukrainian Eggs, a folk art that my grandmother taught me. That soon got to be more interesting than anything else I was doing and that is when I realized that in order to be happy, I was going to need to follow the creative urge to make actual, physical things with my hands. Read more>>

Shirelle Lewis

I was born and raised in East Austin, TX. My entire family are from Austin as well, and we all attended the same schools growing up. As a child, I never had a role model to follow regarding education and the benefits of it. I understood it was important for us to attend school to graduate, but I was unaware of the opportunities that were available post-graduation. With this in mind, I did not take school seriously. I was doing well with grades until High School. At that time, I was barely passing my classes and did not know a GPA existed or how it will benefit my future for higher education. It wasn’t until my bestfriend, Emerald asked me to attend college with her at Prairie View A&M University. Read more>>

Leah Vandever

As a child, I couldn’t keep the scissors away from my dolls’ hair (and my own) and felt such a thrill when I made that first cut. Luckily, my parents supported my curiosity and over the years, I would eventually trade haircuts with my friends and family. I visited salons a few times and while I loved parts of the experience (like the shampoo), I didn’t love the results. I found high school uninspiring and barely graduated. Unable to figure out what I loved and wanted to do, I moved from Ohio to Austin, got a job at Whole Foods, and continued to cut friends’ hair in my living room for fun.  Read more>>

Jesse O’Brien

Jesse O’Brien has always pushed his limits. He began working at 13 years of age as a stock boy at Breed & Company, a hardware store in Austin, and later spent summers managing tennis and golf shops at various country clubs. He played soccer, tennis, and lacrosse and later competed in the Texas Water Safari, a 262-mile marathon canoe race from San Marcos to the coast. He has completed several marathons as well as the Big Bend 50k. In June 2008, Jesse committed to some lofty fitness goals and began training and studying functional fitness. During the summer before his senior year in college, he split his time between an internship for Highlands Coffee in Vietnam and an intense fitness regime at a local gym in Ho Chi Minh City. Back in Texas the following year, he earned his degree in entrepreneurial management from Texas Christian University (TCU) while concurrently completing his business plan for a holistic health and fitness entity. Read more>>

Candice Carbonell

As with many stories of growth and transformation, min begins with a big challenge. In 2017 I went through some major health issues. I was trying to get pregnant with my second child and was having difficulty conceiving. This sent me into both a physical and emotional tailspin. I became obsessed with tracking my fertility and figuring out why I wasn’t conceiving and in that obsession I lost about 20lbs and began have really bad stomach pains- to the point that I would end up in the ER only to receive morphine to relieve my pain and zero answers to what was going on. On top of that, I contracted a rare form of mastitis (even though I was no longer nursing) and was set to be on antibiotics for eight months! I became weary of putting all my trust in doctors and realized how disconnected from myself and my body I had become. I decided to put a pause on trying to conceive and spend my time re-learning how to nourish myself. This led me to obtain certifications as a Nutrition Coach, a Life Coach, a Yoga Instructor, and a Meditation Instructor in the following three years. Read more>>

Scotty Roller

It was 1986 in Orange County, California where I was growing up. I was a freshman in high school. Sitting on a brick planter, eating lunch and out of nowhere get asked to draw up a keg party flier where this local punk band. Instead was going to be playing. The guy who asked me to do it was sent to me from a mutual friend of ours named Irma. Irma had seen the stuff I’d drawn on book covers and folders of mine and a few friends. I did the flier and that started everything going. It not only grew into me doing other art things for people, but it sparked the fire where I knew that I wanted to make art for a living. The only problem is, the eighties were a time when parents told anyone who wanted to make art or play music for a living that those were great hobbies but you needed to do something that paid the bills. When you hear that enough, you start believing it’s true. I was also playing in a band so hearing that repeated all the time just drove me to not only want to do both but succeed at both. Read more>>

Cathy Cochran-Lewis

I was a daily newspaper journalist with a big passion for food. During one of those life transition moments, I took on the “follow your passion” mantra and walked into a new grocery store concept that was getting national attention and happened to be right here in Austin — Central Market. I was ready to do what it took to get a job in food and I was fortunate that the marketing director there saw the spark in me and although I didn’t have any experience, hired me to work on a demo table in store — so handing out samples and talking to people about food. It was fun and hard! After a few months, I began doing some writing and marketing work for the store and soon was fully on the marketing team. Although the cooking school was open, it wasn’t really a success and they were offering free classes and it hadn’t really taken off. I had an idea that I could make something of it and at one point, when they were considering closing it, I made a pitch to take it on. Read more>>

Taylor Harrell

I started Lively Company in October 2019. I was miserable millennial at my corporate job and gained over 70 pounds working 80 hours a week. My mental health was declining at an alarming rate and I knew I had to Change. I had enough. I only had $500 left in the bank and rent was due in less than two weeks. I opened up my own travel agency and won Travel agency of the year since being opened. I named my business after my baby sister, we are 21 years apart. I have multiple businesses now that cater to building the next generation of female CEOs. I saw a lot of opportunity to teach other women business skills and take them out of poverty. This is where my nonprofit was created called “ Lively Foundation” and the program is called “ Lively Emerging Leaders”. The program follows University of Texas at Austin schedule and off during the summer to strictly fundraise. It’s been very rewarding to see many women already have their first sale or first client call. Read more>>

Salvatory Utago

I’m executive director of Yalha Foundation Africa and Yalha Foundation Tanzania. I’m 23 years old I’m Tanzania also African. When I started to create this organization, it was very difficult to get achievements because a lot of societies in our country especially African countries they don’t believe on what a person have which can help the world of youth to be changed. But I didn’t give up; I still believe on what I have on my power of dreams. Now my foundation is globally; a lot of African youths are joining also a lot of government services helped me to employ youth and to connect all worldwide youth to have the same vision of success. Read more>>

Jill Bradshaw

My path to interiors was a long and winding road. I am California-raised but ended up at UT business school for a marketing degree. After graduating, I worked my way through the fashion industry before I opened up my first brick & mortar store, I Heart, in the Nolita neighborhood of NYC at 24 years old. After five years and a crashing economy, I closed my store and moved into Trend Forecasting. Before too long though, I got the urge to leave the city and my entrepreneurial itch drove me to move back to Austin and open another retail shop. This time I turned my interest specifically to vintage clothing and included a cafe option for coffee, wine and beer and thus Friends & Neighbors opened on E. Cesar Chavez St in East Austin in an old 1930s bungalow. Read more>>

Susana Haro

I started my adventure in the beauty industry back in high school. I was going to school in Culver City, CA where I grew up. We had a program that allowed us to learn a skill in case we didn’t want to go to a traditional college. I saw this as an opportunity to earn money so I could pay for college and have a backup. I finished beauty school and got a Cosmetology License in 1994. The money I made doing hair allowed me to pay for college and earn three degrees including a BS in Interior design. I tried to pursue that path and quickly realized I really missed doing hair. So I started doing hair again and never looked back since. Read more>>

Fiona Dawson

I started Free Lion Productions in 2010 to produce media to educate, entertain, and inspire. I was living in Houston at the time and was inspired by Oprah’s competition to win your own show. While I didn’t win that contest, I decided I was going to do it anyway and moved to the northeast. After 11 years in New York City and Washington DC, I came home to Texas in 2020 making Austin my permanent digs. Today, I’m an Emmy®-nominated and award-winning filmmaker, creating diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) explainer videos and engaged in corporate speaking events. Read more>>

Willow Katz

I decided that I wanted to be a therapist when I took my first psychology course in college. I got my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from NYU and my Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University in Santa Barbara. I have had many jobs in the field, ranging from crisis hotline work, work with the severely mentally ill and dually-diagnosed population, domestic violence shelters, and low-fee counseling centers for interns. I started doing therapy in 1999, became licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist in 2006, and have been in private practice off and on since then. I took a ten years hiatus to raise my two young sons when they were small. Read more>>

Latonya Notise

As a young girl growing up in Far Rockaway, New York and being the daughter of immigrant parents from the island of Jamaica, I’ve always lived with a certain level of hope & desire to succeed at whatever I do, but never had I envisage a career in business ownership, let alone cosmetics and body enhancing products. I actually thought I’d be working for a company in the beauty industry, but I’ve grown to appreciate self-reliance. Interestingly however, my mom had worked very hard to care for her kids, that aside, she also had to be an influencer in what has now become a lovefest career move for me. She just had a way of dressing and styling herself when going out that really created an impression on me. Read more>>

Jihan Abdullah

My journey to becoming an entrepreneur as a health & weight loss coach started in summer of 2020. There was a lot of discussion amongst friends, family and social media about gaining the “Quarantine 15” due to being in lockdown. Gyms were closed and our favorite foods were being delivered from any and all stores and restaurants around the city. As a forward thinker who is extremely passionate about healthy living, I decided to create and provide a solution to help other women get back on track with their nutrition and fitness and shed those extra pounds. My passion in the health & wellness realm was inspired by my own 75-lb weight loss journey I took on almost five years ago. At the beginning of 2017, I was at my wit’s end with being overweight. Read more>>

Wendy Bouis

I was in a kids’ computer design class as daycare while my mom finished her degree. Art was really the only thing I was exposed to growing up that I felt good at and liked. I also have a really vivid memory of realizing that commercials had concepts, so I decided on art direction and advertising for school. A vigorous portfolio program and a few agencies later, here I am! All of the acquired knowledge and networking has allowed me to freelance happily and successfully. I keep a cicada’s shed skin on my desk to remind myself of my resilience and transformation. Read more>>

Alicia Daniels

I had to get it out of the mud for sure. No handouts were given. Growing up Mom and dad did what they could and I am forever thankful for that. The less you have, the more chances of you wanting to go get it. I’m just taking the same hand I was dealt to make things happen. That alone is what made me who I am today. Just a girl with ambitions who is destined to win. With God all things are possible. Read more>>

Steve Homan

I originally got into music by beating on my mom’s dashboard and some old pots and pans she had laying around. A few years and a couple of dashboards later, I started actually learning percussion in the school band around the 6th grade. From there I started jamming with friends and playing drums in a few rock and metal bands. Eventually, when my rock star drummer dreams didn’t materialize and the world’s greatest unheard of rock band broke up, I started focusing more on producing hip hop and electronic beats, which I had been making for fun on the side. Read more>>

Shondi Pugh

I have been a cosmetologist in Austin since 2004. After going through cancer treatment in 2012 and losing my hair permanently as a result of chemotherapy, my career in hairstyling took a more holistic turn. My interest in intention setting, working with the phases of the moon, and other mindfulness practices were helping me heal through the aftermath of my breast cancer experience. Coincidentally, I started to see a shift in the type of folks I was attracting and the conversations we were having in and behind the chair. I moved my practice to a private studio in 2018, bringing in all organic products and low-toxic colors. This gave me an opportunity to work more intimately with folks who may be going through difficult transitions, trauma, or anything personal that required more privacy. Read more>>

Madhu Sharoff

Being a native of India, I grew up with chai as an integral part of daily life. When I moved to the United States in 2000, I realized finding a proper chai was impossible. Thousands of coffee shops to choose from and not a single proper chai was served at any shop I visited. Most coffee shops carried one of a handful of big brand concentrates that were over-sugared, loaded with cinnamon, and lacking in tea flavor. Chai has sadly been bastardized in the US for decades – it should be an experience that soothes the soul and celebrates the tea flavor and that experience just doesn’t exist here like it does in India. I always made a point to round up my chai supplies and bring them to friends’ homes during get togethers; still such enjoyable memories enjoying conversation over chai. So, the combination of being fed up there were no GREAT chai options, along with encouragement from friends to bottle my chai recipe, were the core reasons for creating Kimbala. Read more>>

John Staples

As a Spanish-English / English-Spanish translator by trade, my education and curiosity led me to northern Spain for some time. There I discovered Spanish Ciders and how much fun people have drinking them. It’s not pretentious, it’s messy, it’s loud, it rules. I moved to Austin a couple of years later in 2011 and quickly found my options were quite limited. I started trialing recipes and working on basic brand identity around 2014. Raised a modest amount of cash mostly through angel funding and started buildout on our space in 2016. Opened in 2017 AND BEEN SMELLING THE VAN EVER SINCE. Read more>>

Alicia Doll

As a child, I can remember sitting in my mother’s bathroom watching her put on make-up just completely in awe. It fascinated me to watch the transformation that took place not only in her appearance but the confidence that came with it once she was finished with her beauty routine. I began stealing her make-up and secretly using it, immediately experiencing that confidence that I saw in her. This sparked my life-long passion for make-up artistry, so much so that I turned it into my career. I was self-taught and worked as a make-up artist for eight years which eventually led me to where I am today- permanent make-up artistry. Being able to deliver that confidence to other women is incredibly rewarding and is absolutely my dream job. Read more>>

Snot S

I’ve always been a creative individual. Ever since I can remember, I was always drawing, painting, or participating in some sort of crafting activity. The older I got, the more I realized my dream job was to be an artist and to make art, that was truly the only thing I ever wanted to do and still is. I’d say I’ve gotten more serious about it within the past four years with participating in more events around Texas, taking commission work, selling prints and stickers of my work, and painting murals. It’s taken and still is taking a lot of hard work, socializing, and sleepless nights but I enjoy what I do and the pay off will be worth it. Read more>>

Anna Claire Brunelli

A native of Austin, Texas, I am a NPCP Certified instructor with a degree in Modern Dance Performance (OU). I’ve danced my whole life, and like most dancers, I was eventually exposed to the Pilates Method. I was lucky enough to find it a bit earlier than most, at age 12, under a longtime teacher and family friend, who later trained me to become an instructor. After receiving my equipment certification in January of 2012, I moved to Denver, CO where I began acquiring a group of loyal clients who have followed me year after year. After teaching at a few studios in Denver, I met studio owner Clara Gelatt and helped open Pilates Collective Denver in October of 2016. Acting as Studio Manager, Program Coordinator and Lead Instructor, I helped co-create an amazing studio where we could delve into the science and theories of the Pilates method and support a community of clients empowered by understanding their bodies, in and out of the studio. Read more>>

Akhil Reddy

I was born and raised in Lubbock, Texas. Our area of West Texas is considered a major farming region in the USA. My father, a PhD in soil and plant science was in the farming business so I grew up helping him around our cotton, peanut, and produce farms. In 1997 he started growing wine grapes and never looked back. My sister and I helped train the first baby grape plantings on the vineyard. Meanwhile, my parents pushed me to go into a doctorate field due to farming being such a tough path. I chose dentistry due to the patient-centered aspect combined with engineering and hand skills. I left Texas to pursue undergraduate and dental school in San Francisco, California. Fortunately, I was able to immerse myself in the wonderful world of northern California wine. Read more>>

Tessa Cardwell

I have always loved to do themes when having parties. I love bringing people together. I love all things art. I started with doing candy boards and had many people asking if I do charcuterie and if I ever would. I honestly didn’t think anything of it because my sister does it in Abilene and I didn’t want to take something from her. Obviously, after talking with her and many requests, I started Urban Grazing. It wasn’t something I had planned on having for an option, but so glad I changed my mind. Well, my customers changed my mind. I absolutely love the creativity that goes into it. It truly is a work of art. It took lots of research and shopping to get where I am today. I am blown away at the many amazing customers that believe in me and keep ordering from me. We now have our individual boxes available at Grape Creek Winery in Georgetown, Texas. We have grown a lot in the past year, and I can’t wait to see where we are in the next year. Read more>>

Kollet Hardeman

I am a recovering drug addict alcoholic who just celebrated seven years clean in October. When I checked into rehab I was able to reexamine my life goals and rewrite my story. My hands trembled thru the detox and withdrawals so I took to drawing again in an effort to calm the shakes’. I got so engrossed in my art like I was in my childhood, days would pass. Six months in rehab and I reentered society very unfamiliar and comfortable in my own skin. So, I worked a day job and came straight home to draw all night. Time passed and I started posting pictures on Facebook and orders started to come. I was shocked and found a renewed self-confidence and passion for life that I never thought possible. I leaned in; started devoting more time to drawing, then painting then murals. It felt like a natural evolution to where I am now. Read more>>

Brien Allen

I met Cameron through a mutual friend. After being introduced, we both simply went on with our lives in our own separate bands. We ended up being on our own at the same time in 2017 and linked up. Through Cameron, I met Doug. And the rest is history. I’ll never forget meeting Doug, though. At first, I thought I was too different from their sound to be a good fit, so I took quite a few months to see if I even wanted to be in the band long-term. After experiences with the guys and pushing myself to grow, I felt like I was actually a good fit. Altermind has pushed me to confront every weakness I have and to push beyond it by furthering my education and by working hard. Read more>>

Emily Ingalls

odak and Fuji film is where my photography journey started. I loved taken pictures as a kid. I would fill up photo albums of my family, friends, and myself with them. My parents were great in letting me take photos because film and processing were expensive, but it was worth it to have those memories. I loved running up to the camera counter at my local store and being handed the envelope of prints, and the excitement of flipping through them all to see which ones turned out, did someone make a funny face or was everything just blurry. You can’t replace that kind of excitement (even now). Read more>>

Jean Mason

I was one of the first artists to build a website and print business cards. Friends called me “JeanMason.com” with a bit of headshaking like I had a movie star complex. Amazon launched in 1995, so I wasn’t far behind them. Success as an artist gave me the clout to teach in museums, guide workshops, serve as an art therapist, and work with at-risk youth. My degrees are in studio art and education. In the late 90’s, I began showing with New York City’s Ward-Nasse Gallery in SoHo. My first solo show featuring music pieces sold out quickly. I became known as “painter of jazz” and my work started being featured on CD covers, t-shirts and festival posters worldwide. I had product placements, wine bottle labels and all sorts of marketing usage in many different countries. Read more>>

Patricia Sheppard

I have always loved art, photography specifically. I studied photography at Oklahoma State Okmugee but stopped taking pictures for many years, that’s until I met the love of my life Tiffany Rankin in 2020. She encouraged me to pickup photography again, we’ve since started a fine art business called wickeddual. Read more>>

Lyndsay McLeod

Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of exposure to herbal medicine or natural remedies in general. It wasn’t until I was studying abroad in Peruherbal medicine or natural remedies in general. It wasn’t until I was studying abroad in Peru that I really fell in love with the idea of herbal medicine. We were walking through the market in Cuzco and our guide pointed out a woman sitting on the floor surrounded by plants. He told us that people would come to her with their ailments, she would then give them the herbs they needed and have them return in a couple of days to check on their progress. It was in that moment that I fell in love with herbal medicine. I started making elderberry syrup for my daughter when she was quite young. I took her to the doctor and because it was viral, we were told it needed to run its course. Read more>>

Sarah Grimes

As a child, my family constantly moved and we always needed to find a new place to call home. Which led to house hunting which was my favorite part about moving. We relocated to Texas when I was younger and it was a big change from living in Canada. I always admired the realtors and the fact that their job was to help people find a home. Fast forward to over 15 years later and I am a licensed REALTOR® in the city of Austin, TX. My first year in Real Estate was very challenging. My marriage was struggling and COVID was everywhere. The world was mourning, struggling, and just trying to stay afloat in all of the turmoil. Thankfully, nothing lasts forever and things start to turn around. I was determined to make something of myself in Real Estate. I went on to get multiple listings and buyers. Quickly, I saw how rewarding all of my hard work and determination paid off. I am so grateful that I get to be a part of something so special for my clients and that I get to help people for a living. Read more>>

 

Christopher Maldonado

I was born in Austin and raised in Buda, Texas. My mother will tell my business streak started at the age of four years old when she found me negotiating prices for action figures at a flea market. In middle school, my mom would make me breakfast tacos. I’d ask her to make extras, so I’d eat one and sell the rest. During high school, I traded/sold high-end tennis shoes via eBay, then later became a shoe salesman, every month exceeding previous top sales. During my freshman year in college, I taught myself to cut hair with shears. I learned that if I charged less than the guy down the hall, my customer base would be greater, and so would my tips. I had this natural ability to market and sell goods, so I pursued a Business Marketing degree from McMurry University. My career goals also included playing college baseball until I got injured. I found myself needing something to fill that gap in time and purpose. By fate, Neece’s Barber College opened, and I was offered a scholarship, Read more>>

Natalie Meeks

Back in 2010, I found myself working for a marketing company that was structured in a very corporate manner. The company owners were heavily invested in real estate and I saw the opportunities they had and dreamed of one day being as successful as they were. Simultaneously, my husband’s family were beginning the process of selling their family property that was operated as a vacation rental with 14 cabins that had been in the family since 1932. It was devastating to think we may lose the family property and as well as the land being overdeveloped. It’s one of the last remaining large intact properties within the city. I had majored in Biology in college so I had no formal training in business but my experience at this marketing company had taught me so much. I have always been introverted and never thought I would ever be an entrepreneur or even possessed the ability. Read more>>

Crystal Baeza

I started my love for all things sweet at a pretty young age. By the age of ten, I began taking over the kitchen with random recipes from my mom’s cookbooks. Around the same time, TLC had began showing Cake Boss and it was then that I knew cakes is where my heart wanted to be. I come from a small West Texas town formally known as Andrews and there was only one cake shop in town called Celebrations. It had been established since the early 1970’s ran by Jane Vining (Momma Jane). You can imagine all the orders that came out out of her shop by the time I came around. Since I could remember, she was the one who made my family events a litter sweeter with her custom cakes. I knew if I wanted to specialize in cakes, Momma Jane was the only one I wanted to learn from. Read more>>

Artie Mills

I was born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico and that environment: the beautiful high desert, the beautiful people and culture were all so nurturing. I have always been an artist (even when I was trying not to be) and I was lucky that in my formative years, my mother took a series of jobs working for creatives. This gave me exposure to the arts that I would have otherwise not had access to. My mother was an assistant to Ann Maytag, who took me under her wing and really encouraged me to be my weirdest self. Ann was the first adult I really remember seeing me for who I was accepting me and making me feel okay about myself. She had a sculpture in her front yard that I was always drawn to – it looked like a giant claw. Read more>>

Gilbert Sanchez

The ending of March 2020 is when I started to take action towards building a platform I had been wanting to create for a couple of months before. Just like everybody else, when the pandemic first started, I had the time to put towards podcasting. I always knew I wanted to create something where I could provide value to the world and shine light on people that are doing big things within the city, I just never knew what. Then I stumbled upon podcasting and everything just clicked. I first started off interviewing my close friends and family to get myself out of my shell because I have always been intimated by being on camera or putting myself on social media. A few months of posting consistently on social media and different podcast platforms, individuals started to reach out to be on the podcast. These individuals ranged from business owners, musicians, other podcast hosts, artists, the list goes on. Read more>>

Edie Goodwin

Our mother was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in 2017. Chemotherapy causes the skin to be really itchy. My first recipe of sorts was for an itch cream. It did ok for our mother. When it was time for radiation, her Radiation Oncologist suggested we get her stuff that we used on our tattoos. It is sticky and not soothing at all. I asked her Dr if I could try making a cream for her instead. She said to go for it, but to make sure it wasn’t astringent. When I got home, I started doing research. What I came up with is what we sell today. It was the first recipe I tried and it worked! Our mother had 33 treatments of radiation with only a slight pink to her skin. No pain and didn’t have to go back for her two weeks skin recheck. Read more>>

Amanda Thompson

The pandemic has been tough on everyone. But the irony is that my business started as a continuation of me spending a lot more time during quarantine, decluttering and organizing my own home. Since my family was spending a lot more time together and doing so within our own home, I set out to try and make our home a nicer, calmer, and just more enjoyable space for us to all enjoy during quarantine. What I learned through that process is that not only did everyone love a nicer, de-cluttered, more organized space… I also found it really helped me with my own anxiety levels about all the things outside of my home that were well beyond our control. Read more>>

Latoya Edwards-Hordge

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Latoya went off to Buffalo State College to compete in the sport of track and field. She has been credited an exceptional NCAA All American status six times, with a decorative career in the short sprints and relays. With the love of physical fitness and wellness from a young age, Latoya obtained a Bachelor of Science in Health & Wellness in 2010 and moved shortly after graduation to Austin, TX with her husband, Willie Hordge. Willie hosts a decorative sprinter career himself reaching Junior World Olympic Champion records in 2002. With both of their talents, they have been building on the Hordge Camp brand slowly but surely since then. Read more>>

Daniel Vargas

I served 20 years in the United States Air Force. I retired in 2007, but while I was still on active duty, I started working with and volunteering in helping with the war wounded returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. Since 2004, I have been working with veterans from all conflicts in dealing with emergency quality of life issues. Read more>>

Lorie Tonche

I am a South Texas Native, born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley. I moved to Austin in 2006 in pursuit for better career opportunities. I consider myself an Austinite now but will always have the valley in my heart. I started my journey in the creative industry in 2016. However, as I think back, I remember always having a love for decor and making people happy from a young age. I remember decorating for my cousin’s baby shower when I was 13 years old. I continued to do events for friends and family and loved it! I was known as the decorator of the family. When I started my journey, I began as an Event Planner, providing all types of event decor from backdrops to centerpieces for all occasions, and then I became a Wedding Planner. Weddings are my favorite! I just love being a part of love stories! Also, just seeing everything come together would bring me so much joy. I later branched into the balloon world in early 2019 and began to offer balloon decor services. Shortly after, covid happened and created the biggest shift in the industry! Read more>>

Samantha Kell

My journey into birth work started after the birth of my son in 2017. With that pregnancy and birth, I had no idea where to begin. I found a provider on Google, I took no birth education classes, and when I was offered an induction on my due date, I jumped at the chance. I had a very positive birth experience with an epidural, lots of family and friends in and out of the hospital, and a pretty short labor. However, after my son was born, he spent a few days in the NICU due to some relatively minor complications, and I got my first taste of what it means to advocate for your family. Read more>>

Julz Laforest

I was born in New Brunswick, Canada and I’m a painter. Ever since I was little, I loved drawing cartoon characters or designing fashion clothing, I remember having binders fulls of different drawings and ketches throughout my childhood all the way to my teenage years, I believe my mother still has those binders to this day back in Canada. However, drawing took a back seat once I graduated High school as other things in my life took priority. Fast forward to many years later, I find myself in Austin Texas, newly divorced and looking for anything to distract me. A friend suggested I try drawing again, I thought what a great idea as I knew how much happiness it brought me during my childhood years. Read more>>

Brooke Roeder

I’ve been an artist, creator, music lover and entrepreneur in Austin for almost 20 years. My career has been full of adventure, experiments, wild ideas and all the things that everyone knows and loves about Austin. I ended up in Austin because I was accepted into UT’s School of Architecture. I was one of 40 students accepted that year, and it’s so selective that I kind of couldn’t say no. I loved homes, design, and creating on a large scale (and I loved the idea of being a creator with a sustainable, steady career), so it seemed like a great fit. But once I started the program, I found that architecture was not for me. I loved the design aspect, but not the engineering, so I ended up with a degree in painting from the Fine Arts school instead. Read more>>

Kathryn Welch and Sondra Kretschmar

The artistic partnership of Kathryn Welch and Sondra Kretschmar began as two individual artists with a passion for stained glass. Around 2015, Kathryn rebranded her fledgling business, calling it River City Glassworks. She and Sondra met through the Art League in San Marcos and realized that not only were they both glass artists, but they really got along well! Sondra would assist Kathryn with large commissions until 2021 when they decided that they were stronger together, and they officially became business partners. With their various fields of expertise, they complement each other in their teaching methods, design styles, fabrication methods, and restoration experience. Read more>>

Stephanie Fjetland

I’ve lived in Austin, TX for six years now. I’m originally from Amarillo, TX. I graduated from West Texas A&M University with a degree in social work and went on to be certified as a Family Development Specialist doing self-sufficiency case management for a community action program designed to move families out of poverty and into a livable wages and insurance navigator, and benefit eligibility specialist. I had never set foot in the city until I got here. I was at the end of a terrible divorce and looking for a change for the better in opportunity when I chose to move here in 2016. I went on to practice clinical social work as a psychiatric hospital therapist, discharge planner, and court liason for inpatient mental health hospitals and civil mental health courts in both cities. Read more>>

Annamarie Hedman

Community, education, and faith are at my core. My story goes back to the classroom as a child. For many years, I watched my aunt (“tia,” as I refer to her) in the classroom and saw the positive impact she made on her students and those around her. I knew at a young age that I wanted to make a difference in someone’s life when I grew up, particularly underserved populations. After graduating from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana with a B.A. in Political Science in 2002, I worked for a non-profit organization, the National Hispanic Institute in Maxwell, Texas, as their Director of Public Relations and worked with high school students all over the county in youth leadership development programming. Read more>>

El Hoffman

I grew up in Michigan near the Ohio border (in a suburb of Toledo, Ohio which is an hour south of Detroit, MI). I went vegan six years ago and moved to Austin for an old job about a year and a half ago. When I first moved, I realized I wanted to try every vegan restaurant in Austin so I combined my love of food and photography and turned my Instagram into a food blog. I started at 340 followers when I moved in July 2020, and now I’m at around 1.5k with partners such as Koia and Plow Burger. Read more>>

Sydney Meyer

Do you remember the golden question every adult loved to ask you at age five? “What would you like to be when you grow up?” At that ripe age, I created masterpieces with pristine paints (mom’s nail polish) that were fit for The Louvre (the fridge). Of course, I’d one day be an artist. By age twenty, “artist” evolved to dentist, to teacher, to gynecologist, to news anchor (no doubt I’d make a great Veronica Corningstone), to in reality working for a non-profit that served former nuclear workers from the Cold War era. WHAT happened to the original plan? I later became a personal trainer, property assistant, and at one point had a quarter-life crisis and was DETERMINED I’d become an FBI agent to combat human trafficking while also keeping bees on the side. Are you keeping up? Read more>>

 

Brynn Osborn

I’ve been taking pictures and documenting the world around me for most of my life. I figured out that having something to remember a specific time and place, exactly how I experienced it, meant a lot to me. I didn’t necessarily see photography as a career option until it came time to pick my college major and it was the only thing that made sense to me. Throughout my years at Texas State, I focused on more abstract imagery, but outside of class I still shot portraits and music as I acquired more gear. I started shooting at SXSW every year and it really cemented my love for music photography. Read more>>

Bomani Mintz

I’ve always had a strong passion for food, combined with infatuation with technology from a young age. I remember towards the end of college, in 2012, I opened my own “Foodstagram” account, dedicated to all things food. Back then, they really weren’t that common as they are now! So much so that people would make fun of me for taking photos of my food. Right around this time, I worked in Houston for a CPG food broker. Outside of my day job, I reached out to local restaurants to shoot photos and help them better tell their story through food. I’d also work at catering gigs or volunteer at food festivals; anything that was exciting involving food, I was there. Read more>>

Brandon Lang

I’ve always wanted to be a part of the music industry and audio/ video production ever since I was young. My father influenced that early on as he exposed me to live music through his own band and playing guitar. My journey really began though back in 2012 after finishing college at Cal State Fullerton with an emphasis in radio, tv, and film production. I worked for a production company called Select Multimedia while in college to learn more of the ropes behind live production. I’ve been a dj for over 20 years and the passion for music has always been there but everything fell into place it seems after college. I networked and made a lot of great connections while in college and played events all around Southern California. Back then I was a part of 2 local dnb crews, UPGRADE and BREAKBEAT BBQ. This allowed me to really get exposed to what drives people’s passion for music, why people go to events, and why quality production is important. At that time, I was able to focus a bit more on what I wanted to do and I knew that music and production was it. Read more>>

Margaret Peterson

I have always had a love for flowers and an entrepreneurial spirit but if you’d have told me at the start of 2020 that I would be finishing out 2021 as a floral designer with my own business, I would have never believed you. Before working with flowers, I was in politics & I definitely was not as happy as I could have been. I was stuck in a huge rut and really confused with what the next step for me was. I had just gotten married in January and I was so inspired by the florist who did our wedding and I vividly remember thinking that I would give anything to do what she did. My mom encouraged me to go for it- I had plenty of time on my hands, so why not? I started by selling small arrangements on a Facebook group here and there. I put them on Instagram stories and hounded my husband’s co-workers to buy arrangements for their wives. I reached out to friends and did a few smaller events. Read more>>

Melissa Mari

I started playing guitar and singing probably around age six. Since then, I’ve explored many styles including folk, jazz, rock and now metal which is a genre that I feel fits my energy and motivations best. Probably because of my own difficult upbringing, my message has always been about embracing or digging into the dark side of human nature, inner struggles and spiritual ideas. Read more>>

Devon Jefferson

State University. After my internship, I decided to stay in LA to sharpen my skills. I began working for multiple media companies such as HotNewHipHop, Elevator Magazine and RapTV. In 2017, I started my own media platform, DROPSMEDIA, dedicated to connecting music fans directly to independent artists and trending music and industry news. Today I currently contribute to HipHopDX, where I have developed my Connected DXTS interview series and spoken with artists such as Curren$y, Big30 and Maxo Kream, among others. DROPSMEDIA is currently offering digital marketing services and is in the midst of launching our rebranded website and original content series for launch at the top of 2022. Read more>>

Maddie Miles

Integrative Health Practitioner, female hormone GURU, and herbalist! I founded peace. love. hormones. – AKA your period’s BFF! Our mission is to end period stigma and to teach all persons with a period how to get in-tune with their cycle, their second biological clock, through educational resources and functional supplements. Right now, we have a few offerings: My herbal supplement comprised of 10 Chinese and Native American herbs to help balance hormones and prevent PMS symptoms. I also have a plant-based cookbook, Hormone Harmony ebook to help menstruators get in-tune with their cycles, and some fun swag! I also have a podcast where I chat all things women’s + menstrual health. I LOVE WHAT I DO! Read more>>

Julia Cotten

I’m a native Austinite and spent most of my life traveling and exploring the world with my family. Travel has always been a great form of education. I attended a self-paced high school that allowed for more of a creative learning environment that revealed to me that I’m a natural entrepreneur. Finishing high school early at the age of 16, I used the following year to continue traveling and learning before beginning college at St. Edwards. I am a junior pursuing a degree in entrepreneurship and business. Read more>>

Paul & Nancy Person

Windmill Meadow Farm specializes in fresh-cut, locally grown flowers in the Fredericksburg area. Our love of fresh flowers and the impressive cut-flower arrangements we saw on our travels to Europe inspired us to establish Windmill Meadow Farm, named for our restored 1886 wooden windmill when we retired to Fredericksburg. We began with a small garden plot and quickly ran out of space so expanded the farm to one acre of specialty flowers. Fredericksburg, as a popular tourist destination, has many B&B’s, inns, restaurants, and other attractions which make up our market for customized floral arrangements. Read more>>

Jena Pickle

I got my twang and my imagination growing up in the small East Texas town of Overton. Never much to do. My Mom who was a self-taught painter/artist and I made the best of our time. We would paint, paper mâché, go to plays at the local college and visit museums in Dallas. One summer, we got into photography and made a darkroom out of the bathroom and developed film that we made abstract paintings from. My creative side and mind is mostly attributed to her and the fact that I had to have a very strong imagination living with my grandparents, mother some farm dogs, barn cats and 300 acres of land. Nature, art and music heal all. I knew early on I would move to a bigger city and when that time came, I embraced it. I moved to Dallas and it felt like New York City. I lived with my aunt and her family and enrolled in a cosmetology program immediately. Read more>>

Hilary Coniglione

Bluebonnet Picnic Company all started on a late December night in 2020. I was feeling burned out from my corporate America job and felt like I was unable to spend the time I desired with my 16-month-old. I was three months pregnant with our second baby and I just felt like I was in a place in my life I didn’t want to be. I wanted to build something for my family, be a present mom and wife. My director of marketing job was too demanding and lacked joy and fulfillment for me. After swiping through Instagram, I told my husband about a cool business concept, luxury picnics, that I had seen popping up in California and how someone I was mutual friends with had started in Arizona. After showing my husband, Franco, the pictures online he immediately told me “This is an awesome idea and you would be great at something like this.” Read more>>

Dan Garcia

While in law school, on whim I decided to also pursue a career in music photography. I was able to “fake it till I make it” and secured photo credentials for Lollapalooza in Chicago. The month leading up to the festival I taught myself how to use a professional camera and my first time taking photos professionally I took photos of artists like Outkast, Eminem, Lorde and more. From there, I hit the ground running and made a career out of it, traveling across the country and working music festivals like Lolla, Coachella, Bonnaroo and Austin City Limits. I got to the point where I could comfortably quit my career in law after graduating and I never looked back. Through work, I’ve met artists like Taylor Swift and have experienced some amazing shows throughout the country. Read more>>

Robby Nethercut

I’m a born and raised Austinite. I went to Westlake High School and was very active in sports. Westlake has a very competitive football team. Being on the varsity team was something I knew I wanted and had to achieve. I worked and trained for months and made the varsity team my sophomore year, which very few people have done. I think only a handful of people in the history of the school have accomplished this. It was a huge accomplishment and a defining moment in my life. It taught me the value of hard work and instilled in me that if you are dedicated and work hard, you can achieve anything you want. Opportunity does not knock; it presents itself when you beat down the door. Being successful and driven has been important to me from a very young age. Read more>>

Matt McGinnis

When I was in college, my girlfriend won an all-expense-paid trip to Europe, and she chose to take me as her guest. We flew first class, stayed in grand hotels, and traveled in luxury on the Orient Express. On the train, we sipped elegant Bordeaux wine and vintage Champagne as we rode through the Swiss Alps. I fell in love with wine right then and there. After college, I toiled away in various marketing positions in the non-profit world and then in technology, all the while cultivating my love affair with wine. I even worked part-time at a winery on the weekends in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. When we moved to Texas, I decided to pursue my love for wine, beer, and distilled spirits by blogging and freelance writing. As a writer, I was able to tell the stories of people who were actually making these magical liquids. I found it to be absolutely fascinating. And I wanted to learn more. Read more>>

Brent Sapstead

Like many others, my brewing career started in my kitchen as a homebrewer. After a dozen or so drinkable results, I worked up the courage to ask Rob and Amy Cartright of Independence Brewing, at that time the newest brewers in town, if they’d be willing to entertain an extra set of hands from time to time. I cut my teeth at their brewery over the span of 3.5 years, learning the ropes of cleaning, packaging, cleaning, filtering, more cleaning, and eventually brewing. In the latter half of my stint at Indy, I had the opportunity to meet and get to know the team at Real Ale Brewing in Blanco, TX. Read more>>

Buddhima Kurulasuriya & Tanisha Panditharatne

We are a group of friends, mostly Sri Lankan, who met in Austin in 2017. Invariably we would talk about home, with the conversations usually involving the food we missed so much. We were inspired to start Sleeping Lion after noticing the lack of Sri Lankan food in Austin. Given our shared love for cooking (and eating… and drinking), we decided to give it a shot. We started making traditional and fusion dishes and our friends were our guinea pigs. The positive reviews (and the fact that no one died) motivated us to go further. We toyed with the idea of a food truck but opted against it since we wanted it to be personal and more of an experience where people could participate in prep, tasting and hearing our stories. Read more>>

Dee Bryant

Deep down, I think always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but it took me a while to get here. After graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a theoretical mathematics degree, I was confident that my next step was to pursue a life in Academia. That was until I spent a summer bartending in New Orleans. That summer changed my life. I was immersed in a world that was raw, real, and success existed solely on understanding your customers and solving their problems before they even knew they had one. This is when my love and passion for people, solving consumer needs, and delivering joy and excitement came into existence. Read more>>

Elizabeth Hudson

I have always made things with my hands for as long as I can remember. Early on, I was encouraged by my parents to draw and paint, which led me to attend Booker T. Washington high school for the performing and visual arts in Dallas where I had the chance to explore ceramics, printmaking, metal sculpture, design, and painting. After high school, I moved to Austin to attend UT, studying studio art, art history, and history but my time there was full of confusion… I always knew that I wanted to be an artist, but my experiences in school discouraged me from delving into my creativity. Read more>>

Freddie Kimmel

Funny enough, I started my career in New York City auditioning and pursuing a career as a Broadway Performer. I had incredible success and started working in my first few months after arriving in the Big Apple. However, at 26 years old life took a sharp turn and I was diagnosed with metastatic cancer. Through the next ten years, I struggled to regain my health and vitality through chemotherapy, multiple surgeries, and immune system dysfunction, and Lyme disease. My body essential shut down and I was in a constant state of fight or flight with one condition after the next. Life was spent on the couch or in doctors’ offices if I was not working. Read more>>

Bre Cruickshank

I’m the founder & CEO of Radical Girl Gang, the online marketplace to shop emerging women-owned brands. How I got here is a loaded question! I was the quintessential little girl labeled “bossy” and “aggressive” while my male peers were called “strong” and “assertive.” You can’t be what you can’t see. I grew up not knowing entrepreneurship was a viable path; it wasn’t until my 20s when I was working at Nike World Headquarters in Oregon that I began rethinking my place in the world and what I was capable of doing. I relocated to Austin in 2017 to lead eCommerce at Outdoor Voices (I was their first digital merchandiser). Soon after moving here, I launched Radical Girl Gang as a side hustle. It was a fraction of what it is today — I launched RGG simply as a lifestyle brand; a way to dip my toes in the waters of entrepreneurship. Read more>>

 

Catherine Porche

I’d always known I wanted to work in the beauty industry in some capacity but wasn’t sure how I’d make a career down that path, so after high school, I went the traditional college route. I eventually realized I was living a life I didn’t feel passionate or inspired by, so I made the decision to go back to school- this time for nails. Once I got started in the industry, I quickly realized there was not a salon home for me that fit all the standards I held for a place of employment. This eventually led me to opening my own private studio. I’ve been in business for about 4.5 years now and the experiences I’ve had throughout this journey have been invaluable to me. Read more>>

 

 

 

Megan Deterling

It started the month before I was born. My dad started his company in August and I was born in September. Growing up, I always saw my parents work hard. Summers and weekend, I would work at my dad’s office, stickering brochures, answering phones, or organizing files. I believe this is what gave me my entrepreneurial spirit. I did as was expected of me, received a bachelor’s and began working in the “real” world. Even in college, I was scheming of businesses but I hadn’t quite found what it was yet. As I was working, I had a friend who was an Esthetician and I knew you could work for yourself in this field, plus I loved beauty products so I went back to school to get my license. Read more>>

Eryka Arzola

I was raised in a small town in Virginia and had always shown an interest in and love for fashion. Growing up, I imagined myself as a fashion designer and attending fashion school after high school. My insecurities got the better of me because not only was it not a “practical” profession, but I thought I would never be able to make it in the fashion industry since I was not a size 0. After graduation, I attended the University of Virginia, where I found another passion in Foreign Affairs and planned to pursue a career in that field post-grad. After applying for jobs in DC for months, I decided to accept an offer with Oracle in tech sales. Read more>>

Katy Bradshaw David

My story is more of a zig-zag than a straight line. I grew up in Austin, then got a BA in English at the University of Wisconsin. I always assumed that I would be a writer of some sort. I spent several years working as a stand-up comic and was eventually invited to the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal for the New Faces Showcase. Exciting! This led to me moving to Los Angeles where I quickly realized I did not belong. There wasn’t one thing that made me want to leave, but I started to doubt that it was a good fit when I found myself performing at an open mike in a laundromat. And then there was the show at an AA meeting. You just couldn’t get stage time out there! I quit comedy, moved home and tried to figure out what to do with my life. To fill the hours while looking for a job, I started making Ukrainian Eggs, a folk art that my grandmother taught me. That soon got to be more interesting than anything else I was doing and that is when I realized that in order to be happy, I was going to need to follow the creative urge to make actual, physical things with my hands. Read more>>

Shirelle Lewis

I was born and raised in East Austin, TX. My entire family are from Austin as well, and we all attended the same schools growing up. As a child, I never had a role model to follow regarding education and the benefits of it. I understood it was important for us to attend school to graduate, but I was unaware of the opportunities that were available post-graduation. With this in mind, I did not take school seriously. I was doing well with grades until High School. At that time, I was barely passing my classes and did not know a GPA existed or how it will benefit my future for higher education. It wasn’t until my bestfriend, Emerald asked me to attend college with her at Prairie View A&M University. Read more>>

Leah Vandever

As a child, I couldn’t keep the scissors away from my dolls’ hair (and my own) and felt such a thrill when I made that first cut. Luckily, my parents supported my curiosity and over the years, I would eventually trade haircuts with my friends and family. I visited salons a few times and while I loved parts of the experience (like the shampoo), I didn’t love the results. I found high school uninspiring and barely graduated. Unable to figure out what I loved and wanted to do, I moved from Ohio to Austin, got a job at Whole Foods, and continued to cut friends’ hair in my living room for fun.  Read more>>

Jesse O’Brien

Jesse O’Brien has always pushed his limits. He began working at 13 years of age as a stock boy at Breed & Company, a hardware store in Austin, and later spent summers managing tennis and golf shops at various country clubs. He played soccer, tennis, and lacrosse and later competed in the Texas Water Safari, a 262-mile marathon canoe race from San Marcos to the coast. He has completed several marathons as well as the Big Bend 50k. In June 2008, Jesse committed to some lofty fitness goals and began training and studying functional fitness. During the summer before his senior year in college, he split his time between an internship for Highlands Coffee in Vietnam and an intense fitness regime at a local gym in Ho Chi Minh City. Back in Texas the following year, he earned his degree in entrepreneurial management from Texas Christian University (TCU) while concurrently completing his business plan for a holistic health and fitness entity. Read more>>

Candice Carbonell

As with many stories of growth and transformation, min begins with a big challenge. In 2017 I went through some major health issues. I was trying to get pregnant with my second child and was having difficulty conceiving. This sent me into both a physical and emotional tailspin. I became obsessed with tracking my fertility and figuring out why I wasn’t conceiving and in that obsession I lost about 20lbs and began have really bad stomach pains- to the point that I would end up in the ER only to receive morphine to relieve my pain and zero answers to what was going on. On top of that, I contracted a rare form of mastitis (even though I was no longer nursing) and was set to be on antibiotics for eight months! I became weary of putting all my trust in doctors and realized how disconnected from myself and my body I had become. I decided to put a pause on trying to conceive and spend my time re-learning how to nourish myself. This led me to obtain certifications as a Nutrition Coach, a Life Coach, a Yoga Instructor, and a Meditation Instructor in the following three years. Read more>>

Scotty Roller

It was 1986 in Orange County, California where I was growing up. I was a freshman in high school. Sitting on a brick planter, eating lunch and out of nowhere get asked to draw up a keg party flier where this local punk band. Instead was going to be playing. The guy who asked me to do it was sent to me from a mutual friend of ours named Irma. Irma had seen the stuff I’d drawn on book covers and folders of mine and a few friends. I did the flier and that started everything going. It not only grew into me doing other art things for people, but it sparked the fire where I knew that I wanted to make art for a living. The only problem is, the eighties were a time when parents told anyone who wanted to make art or play music for a living that those were great hobbies but you needed to do something that paid the bills. When you hear that enough, you start believing it’s true. I was also playing in a band so hearing that repeated all the time just drove me to not only want to do both but succeed at both. Read more>>

 

Trophyology

Since its founding in 2011, Trophyology has been setting a new standard and redefining expectations for recognizing achievement. We are architects, sculptors, designers, creatives, and artisans. We draw inspiration from architecture, art, design, fashion, philosophy, psychology, and anthropology. Our combination of thoughtful concepts, advanced design principles, paired with master craftsmanship has established us as a trailblazer and thought leader in an industry ripe for innovation. We are devoted to discovering new ways to express value, honor, and gratitude in elevated material form. This is why the company is named Trophyology (think biology or geology) – in essence, we created a new field of study: the study of recognition and recognition objects (trophies): Trophyology. Therefore, our team consists of Trophyologyists, accentuating the professionalism and dedication to excellence in our chosen field. Read more>>

Cathy Cochran-Lewis

I was a daily newspaper journalist with a big passion for food. During one of those life transition moments, I took on the “follow your passion” mantra and walked into a new grocery store concept that was getting national attention and happened to be right here in Austin — Central Market. I was ready to do what it took to get a job in food and I was fortunate that the marketing director there saw the spark in me and although I didn’t have any experience, hired me to work on a demo table in store — so handing out samples and talking to people about food. It was fun and hard! After a few months, I began doing some writing and marketing work for the store and soon was fully on the marketing team. Although the cooking school was open, it wasn’t really a success and they were offering free classes and it hadn’t really taken off. I had an idea that I could make something of it and at one point, when they were considering closing it, I made a pitch to take it on. Read more>>

Taylor Harrell

I started Lively Company in October 2019. I was miserable millennial at my corporate job and gained over 70 pounds working 80 hours a week. My mental health was declining at an alarming rate and I knew I had to Change. I had enough. I only had $500 left in the bank and rent was due in less than two weeks. I opened up my own travel agency and won Travel agency of the year since being opened. I named my business after my baby sister, we are 21 years apart. I have multiple businesses now that cater to building the next generation of female CEOs. I saw a lot of opportunity to teach other women business skills and take them out of poverty. This is where my nonprofit was created called “ Lively Foundation” and the program is called “ Lively Emerging Leaders”. The program follows University of Texas at Austin schedule and off during the summer to strictly fundraise. It’s been very rewarding to see many women already have their first sale or first client call. Read more>>

Salvatory Utago

I’m executive director of Yalha Foundation Africa and Yalha Foundation Tanzania. I’m 23 years old I’m Tanzania also African. When I started to create this organization, it was very difficult to get achievements because a lot of societies in our country especially African countries they don’t believe on what a person have which can help the world of youth to be changed. But I didn’t give up; I still believe on what I have on my power of dreams. Now my foundation is globally; a lot of African youths are joining also a lot of government services helped me to employ youth and to connect all worldwide youth to have the same vision of success. Read more>>

Jill Bradshaw

My path to interiors was a long and winding road. I am California-raised but ended up at UT business school for a marketing degree. After graduating, I worked my way through the fashion industry before I opened up my first brick & mortar store, I Heart, in the Nolita neighborhood of NYC at 24 years old. After five years and a crashing economy, I closed my store and moved into Trend Forecasting. Before too long though, I got the urge to leave the city and my entrepreneurial itch drove me to move back to Austin and open another retail shop. This time I turned my interest specifically to vintage clothing and included a cafe option for coffee, wine and beer and thus Friends & Neighbors opened on E. Cesar Chavez St in East Austin in an old 1930s bungalow. Read more>>

Susana Haro

I started my adventure in the beauty industry back in high school. I was going to school in Culver City, CA where I grew up. We had a program that allowed us to learn a skill in case we didn’t want to go to a traditional college. I saw this as an opportunity to earn money so I could pay for college and have a backup. I finished beauty school and got a Cosmetology License in 1994. The money I made doing hair allowed me to pay for college and earn three degrees including a BS in Interior design. I tried to pursue that path and quickly realized I really missed doing hair. So I started doing hair again and never looked back since. Read more>>

Fiona Dawson

I started Free Lion Productions in 2010 to produce media to educate, entertain, and inspire. I was living in Houston at the time and was inspired by Oprah’s competition to win your own show. While I didn’t win that contest, I decided I was going to do it anyway and moved to the northeast. After 11 years in New York City and Washington DC, I came home to Texas in 2020 making Austin my permanent digs. Today, I’m an Emmy®-nominated and award-winning filmmaker, creating diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) explainer videos and engaged in corporate speaking events. Read more>>

Willow Katz

I decided that I wanted to be a therapist when I took my first psychology course in college. I got my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from NYU and my Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University in Santa Barbara. I have had many jobs in the field, ranging from crisis hotline work, work with the severely mentally ill and dually-diagnosed population, domestic violence shelters, and low-fee counseling centers for interns. I started doing therapy in 1999, became licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist in 2006, and have been in private practice off and on since then. I took a ten years hiatus to raise my two young sons when they were small. Read more>>

Latonya Notise

As a young girl growing up in Far Rockaway, New York and being the daughter of immigrant parents from the island of Jamaica, I’ve always lived with a certain level of hope & desire to succeed at whatever I do, but never had I envisage a career in business ownership, let alone cosmetics and body enhancing products. I actually thought I’d be working for a company in the beauty industry, but I’ve grown to appreciate self-reliance. Interestingly however, my mom had worked very hard to care for her kids, that aside, she also had to be an influencer in what has now become a lovefest career move for me. She just had a way of dressing and styling herself when going out that really created an impression on me. Read more>>

Jihan Abdullah

My journey to becoming an entrepreneur as a health & weight loss coach started in summer of 2020. There was a lot of discussion amongst friends, family and social media about gaining the “Quarantine 15” due to being in lockdown. Gyms were closed and our favorite foods were being delivered from any and all stores and restaurants around the city. As a forward thinker who is extremely passionate about healthy living, I decided to create and provide a solution to help other women get back on track with their nutrition and fitness and shed those extra pounds. My passion in the health & wellness realm was inspired by my own 75-lb weight loss journey I took on almost five years ago. At the beginning of 2017, I was at my wit’s end with being overweight. Read more>>

Wendy Bouis

I was in a kids’ computer design class as daycare while my mom finished her degree. Art was really the only thing I was exposed to growing up that I felt good at and liked. I also have a really vivid memory of realizing that commercials had concepts, so I decided on art direction and advertising for school. A vigorous portfolio program and a few agencies later, here I am! All of the acquired knowledge and networking has allowed me to freelance happily and successfully. I keep a cicada’s shed skin on my desk to remind myself of my resilience and transformation. Read more>>

Alicia Daniels

I had to get it out of the mud for sure. No handouts were given. Growing up Mom and dad did what they could and I am forever thankful for that. The less you have, the more chances of you wanting to go get it. I’m just taking the same hand I was dealt to make things happen. That alone is what made me who I am today. Just a girl with ambitions who is destined to win. With God all things are possible. Read more>>

Steve Homan

I originally got into music by beating on my mom’s dashboard and some old pots and pans she had laying around. A few years and a couple of dashboards later, I started actually learning percussion in the school band around the 6th grade. From there I started jamming with friends and playing drums in a few rock and metal bands. Eventually, when my rock star drummer dreams didn’t materialize and the world’s greatest unheard of rock band broke up, I started focusing more on producing hip hop and electronic beats, which I had been making for fun on the side. Read more>>

Shondi Pugh

I have been a cosmetologist in Austin since 2004. After going through cancer treatment in 2012 and losing my hair permanently as a result of chemotherapy, my career in hairstyling took a more holistic turn. My interest in intention setting, working with the phases of the moon, and other mindfulness practices were helping me heal through the aftermath of my breast cancer experience. Coincidentally, I started to see a shift in the type of folks I was attracting and the conversations we were having in and behind the chair. I moved my practice to a private studio in 2018, bringing in all organic products and low-toxic colors. This gave me an opportunity to work more intimately with folks who may be going through difficult transitions, trauma, or anything personal that required more privacy. Read more>>

Madhu Sharoff

Being a native of India, I grew up with chai as an integral part of daily life. When I moved to the United States in 2000, I realized finding a proper chai was impossible. Thousands of coffee shops to choose from and not a single proper chai was served at any shop I visited. Most coffee shops carried one of a handful of big brand concentrates that were over-sugared, loaded with cinnamon, and lacking in tea flavor. Chai has sadly been bastardized in the US for decades – it should be an experience that soothes the soul and celebrates the tea flavor and that experience just doesn’t exist here like it does in India. I always made a point to round up my chai supplies and bring them to friends’ homes during get togethers; still such enjoyable memories enjoying conversation over chai. So, the combination of being fed up there were no GREAT chai options, along with encouragement from friends to bottle my chai recipe, were the core reasons for creating Kimbala. Read more>>

John Staples

As a Spanish-English / English-Spanish translator by trade, my education and curiosity led me to northern Spain for some time. There I discovered Spanish Ciders and how much fun people have drinking them. It’s not pretentious, it’s messy, it’s loud, it rules. I moved to Austin a couple of years later in 2011 and quickly found my options were quite limited. I started trialing recipes and working on basic brand identity around 2014. Raised a modest amount of cash mostly through angel funding and started buildout on our space in 2016. Opened in 2017 AND BEEN SMELLING THE VAN EVER SINCE. Read more>>

Alicia Doll

As a child, I can remember sitting in my mother’s bathroom watching her put on make-up just completely in awe. It fascinated me to watch the transformation that took place not only in her appearance but the confidence that came with it once she was finished with her beauty routine. I began stealing her make-up and secretly using it, immediately experiencing that confidence that I saw in her. This sparked my life-long passion for make-up artistry, so much so that I turned it into my career. I was self-taught and worked as a make-up artist for eight years which eventually led me to where I am today- permanent make-up artistry. Being able to deliver that confidence to other women is incredibly rewarding and is absolutely my dream job. Read more>>

Snot S

I’ve always been a creative individual. Ever since I can remember, I was always drawing, painting, or participating in some sort of crafting activity. The older I got, the more I realized my dream job was to be an artist and to make art, that was truly the only thing I ever wanted to do and still is. I’d say I’ve gotten more serious about it within the past four years with participating in more events around Texas, taking commission work, selling prints and stickers of my work, and painting murals. It’s taken and still is taking a lot of hard work, socializing, and sleepless nights but I enjoy what I do and the pay off will be worth it. Read more>>

 

Anna Claire Brunelli

A native of Austin, Texas, I am a NPCP Certified instructor with a degree in Modern Dance Performance (OU). I’ve danced my whole life, and like most dancers, I was eventually exposed to the Pilates Method. I was lucky enough to find it a bit earlier than most, at age 12, under a longtime teacher and family friend, who later trained me to become an instructor. After receiving my equipment certification in January of 2012, I moved to Denver, CO where I began acquiring a group of loyal clients who have followed me year after year. After teaching at a few studios in Denver, I met studio owner Clara Gelatt and helped open Pilates Collective Denver in October of 2016. Acting as Studio Manager, Program Coordinator and Lead Instructor, I helped co-create an amazing studio where we could delve into the science and theories of the Pilates method and support a community of clients empowered by understanding their bodies, in and out of the studio. Read more>>

Akhil Reddy

I was born and raised in Lubbock, Texas. Our area of West Texas is considered a major farming region in the USA. My father, a PhD in soil and plant science was in the farming business so I grew up helping him around our cotton, peanut, and produce farms. In 1997 he started growing wine grapes and never looked back. My sister and I helped train the first baby grape plantings on the vineyard. Meanwhile, my parents pushed me to go into a doctorate field due to farming being such a tough path. I chose dentistry due to the patient-centered aspect combined with engineering and hand skills. I left Texas to pursue undergraduate and dental school in San Francisco, California. Fortunately, I was able to immerse myself in the wonderful world of northern California wine. Read more>>

Tessa Cardwell

I have always loved to do themes when having parties. I love bringing people together. I love all things art. I started with doing candy boards and had many people asking if I do charcuterie and if I ever would. I honestly didn’t think anything of it because my sister does it in Abilene and I didn’t want to take something from her. Obviously, after talking with her and many requests, I started Urban Grazing. It wasn’t something I had planned on having for an option, but so glad I changed my mind. Well, my customers changed my mind. I absolutely love the creativity that goes into it. It truly is a work of art. It took lots of research and shopping to get where I am today. I am blown away at the many amazing customers that believe in me and keep ordering from me. We now have our individual boxes available at Grape Creek Winery in Georgetown, Texas. We have grown a lot in the past year, and I can’t wait to see where we are in the next year. Read more>>

Kollet Hardeman

I am a recovering drug addict alcoholic who just celebrated seven years clean in October. When I checked into rehab I was able to reexamine my life goals and rewrite my story. My hands trembled thru the detox and withdrawals so I took to drawing again in an effort to calm the shakes’. I got so engrossed in my art like I was in my childhood, days would pass. Six months in rehab and I reentered society very unfamiliar and comfortable in my own skin. So, I worked a day job and came straight home to draw all night. Time passed and I started posting pictures on Facebook and orders started to come. I was shocked and found a renewed self-confidence and passion for life that I never thought possible. I leaned in; started devoting more time to drawing, then painting then murals. It felt like a natural evolution to where I am now. Read more>>

Brien Allen

I met Cameron through a mutual friend. After being introduced, we both simply went on with our lives in our own separate bands. We ended up being on our own at the same time in 2017 and linked up. Through Cameron, I met Doug. And the rest is history. I’ll never forget meeting Doug, though. At first, I thought I was too different from their sound to be a good fit, so I took quite a few months to see if I even wanted to be in the band long-term. After experiences with the guys and pushing myself to grow, I felt like I was actually a good fit. Altermind has pushed me to confront every weakness I have and to push beyond it by furthering my education and by working hard. Read more>>

Emily Ingalls

odak and Fuji film is where my photography journey started. I loved taken pictures as a kid. I would fill up photo albums of my family, friends, and myself with them. My parents were great in letting me take photos because film and processing were expensive, but it was worth it to have those memories. I loved running up to the camera counter at my local store and being handed the envelope of prints, and the excitement of flipping through them all to see which ones turned out, did someone make a funny face or was everything just blurry. You can’t replace that kind of excitement (even now). Read more>>

Jean Mason

I was one of the first artists to build a website and print business cards. Friends called me “JeanMason.com” with a bit of headshaking like I had a movie star complex. Amazon launched in 1995, so I wasn’t far behind them. Success as an artist gave me the clout to teach in museums, guide workshops, serve as an art therapist, and work with at-risk youth. My degrees are in studio art and education. In the late 90’s, I began showing with New York City’s Ward-Nasse Gallery in SoHo. My first solo show featuring music pieces sold out quickly. I became known as “painter of jazz” and my work started being featured on CD covers, t-shirts and festival posters worldwide. I had product placements, wine bottle labels and all sorts of marketing usage in many different countries. Read more>>

Patricia Sheppard

I have always loved art, photography specifically. I studied photography at Oklahoma State Okmugee but stopped taking pictures for many years, that’s until I met the love of my life Tiffany Rankin in 2020. She encouraged me to pickup photography again, we’ve since started a fine art business called wickeddual. Read more>>

Lyndsay McLeod

Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of exposure to herbal medicine or natural remedies in general. It wasn’t until I was studying abroad in Peruherbal medicine or natural remedies in general. It wasn’t until I was studying abroad in Peru that I really fell in love with the idea of herbal medicine. We were walking through the market in Cuzco and our guide pointed out a woman sitting on the floor surrounded by plants. He told us that people would come to her with their ailments, she would then give them the herbs they needed and have them return in a couple of days to check on their progress. It was in that moment that I fell in love with herbal medicine. I started making elderberry syrup for my daughter when she was quite young. I took her to the doctor and because it was viral, we were told it needed to run its course. Read more>>

Sarah Grimes

As a child, my family constantly moved and we always needed to find a new place to call home. Which led to house hunting which was my favorite part about moving. We relocated to Texas when I was younger and it was a big change from living in Canada. I always admired the realtors and the fact that their job was to help people find a home. Fast forward to over 15 years later and I am a licensed REALTOR® in the city of Austin, TX. My first year in Real Estate was very challenging. My marriage was struggling and COVID was everywhere. The world was mourning, struggling, and just trying to stay afloat in all of the turmoil. Thankfully, nothing lasts forever and things start to turn around. I was determined to make something of myself in Real Estate. I went on to get multiple listings and buyers. Quickly, I saw how rewarding all of my hard work and determination paid off. I am so grateful that I get to be a part of something so special for my clients and that I get to help people for a living. Read more>>

Christopher Maldonado

I was born in Austin and raised in Buda, Texas. My mother will tell my business streak started at the age of four years old when she found me negotiating prices for action figures at a flea market. In middle school, my mom would make me breakfast tacos. I’d ask her to make extras, so I’d eat one and sell the rest. During high school, I traded/sold high-end tennis shoes via eBay, then later became a shoe salesman, every month exceeding previous top sales. During my freshman year in college, I taught myself to cut hair with shears. I learned that if I charged less than the guy down the hall, my customer base would be greater, and so would my tips. I had this natural ability to market and sell goods, so I pursued a Business Marketing degree from McMurry University. My career goals also included playing college baseball until I got injured. I found myself needing something to fill that gap in time and purpose. By fate, Neece’s Barber College opened, and I was offered a scholarship, Read more>>

Natalie Meeks

Back in 2010, I found myself working for a marketing company that was structured in a very corporate manner. The company owners were heavily invested in real estate and I saw the opportunities they had and dreamed of one day being as successful as they were. Simultaneously, my husband’s family were beginning the process of selling their family property that was operated as a vacation rental with 14 cabins that had been in the family since 1932. It was devastating to think we may lose the family property and as well as the land being overdeveloped. It’s one of the last remaining large intact properties within the city. I had majored in Biology in college so I had no formal training in business but my experience at this marketing company had taught me so much. I have always been introverted and never thought I would ever be an entrepreneur or even possessed the ability. Read more>>

Crystal Baeza

I started my love for all things sweet at a pretty young age. By the age of ten, I began taking over the kitchen with random recipes from my mom’s cookbooks. Around the same time, TLC had began showing Cake Boss and it was then that I knew cakes is where my heart wanted to be. I come from a small West Texas town formally known as Andrews and there was only one cake shop in town called Celebrations. It had been established since the early 1970’s ran by Jane Vining (Momma Jane). You can imagine all the orders that came out out of her shop by the time I came around. Since I could remember, she was the one who made my family events a litter sweeter with her custom cakes. I knew if I wanted to specialize in cakes, Momma Jane was the only one I wanted to learn from. Read more>>

Artie Mills

I was born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico and that environment: the beautiful high desert, the beautiful people and culture were all so nurturing. I have always been an artist (even when I was trying not to be) and I was lucky that in my formative years, my mother took a series of jobs working for creatives. This gave me exposure to the arts that I would have otherwise not had access to. My mother was an assistant to Ann Maytag, who took me under her wing and really encouraged me to be my weirdest self. Ann was the first adult I really remember seeing me for who I was accepting me and making me feel okay about myself. She had a sculpture in her front yard that I was always drawn to – it looked like a giant claw. Read more>>

Gilbert Sanchez

The ending of March 2020 is when I started to take action towards building a platform I had been wanting to create for a couple of months before. Just like everybody else, when the pandemic first started, I had the time to put towards podcasting. I always knew I wanted to create something where I could provide value to the world and shine light on people that are doing big things within the city, I just never knew what. Then I stumbled upon podcasting and everything just clicked. I first started off interviewing my close friends and family to get myself out of my shell because I have always been intimated by being on camera or putting myself on social media. A few months of posting consistently on social media and different podcast platforms, individuals started to reach out to be on the podcast. These individuals ranged from business owners, musicians, other podcast hosts, artists, the list goes on. Read more>>

Edie Goodwin

Our mother was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in 2017. Chemotherapy causes the skin to be really itchy. My first recipe of sorts was for an itch cream. It did ok for our mother. When it was time for radiation, her Radiation Oncologist suggested we get her stuff that we used on our tattoos. It is sticky and not soothing at all. I asked her Dr if I could try making a cream for her instead. She said to go for it, but to make sure it wasn’t astringent. When I got home, I started doing research. What I came up with is what we sell today. It was the first recipe I tried and it worked! Our mother had 33 treatments of radiation with only a slight pink to her skin. No pain and didn’t have to go back for her two weeks skin recheck. Read more>>

Amanda Thompson

The pandemic has been tough on everyone. But the irony is that my business started as a continuation of me spending a lot more time during quarantine, decluttering and organizing my own home. Since my family was spending a lot more time together and doing so within our own home, I set out to try and make our home a nicer, calmer, and just more enjoyable space for us to all enjoy during quarantine. What I learned through that process is that not only did everyone love a nicer, de-cluttered, more organized space… I also found it really helped me with my own anxiety levels about all the things outside of my home that were well beyond our control. Read more>>

Latoya Edwards-Hordge

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Latoya went off to Buffalo State College to compete in the sport of track and field. She has been credited an exceptional NCAA All American status six times, with a decorative career in the short sprints and relays. With the love of physical fitness and wellness from a young age, Latoya obtained a Bachelor of Science in Health & Wellness in 2010 and moved shortly after graduation to Austin, TX with her husband, Willie Hordge. Willie hosts a decorative sprinter career himself reaching Junior World Olympic Champion records in 2002. With both of their talents, they have been building on the Hordge Camp brand slowly but surely since then. Read more>>

Daniel Vargas

I served 20 years in the United States Air Force. I retired in 2007, but while I was still on active duty, I started working with and volunteering in helping with the war wounded returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. Since 2004, I have been working with veterans from all conflicts in dealing with emergency quality of life issues. Read more>>

Lorie Tonche

I am a South Texas Native, born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley. I moved to Austin in 2006 in pursuit for better career opportunities. I consider myself an Austinite now but will always have the valley in my heart. I started my journey in the creative industry in 2016. However, as I think back, I remember always having a love for decor and making people happy from a young age. I remember decorating for my cousin’s baby shower when I was 13 years old. I continued to do events for friends and family and loved it! I was known as the decorator of the family. When I started my journey, I began as an Event Planner, providing all types of event decor from backdrops to centerpieces for all occasions, and then I became a Wedding Planner. Weddings are my favorite! I just love being a part of love stories! Also, just seeing everything come together would bring me so much joy. I later branched into the balloon world in early 2019 and began to offer balloon decor services. Shortly after, covid happened and created the biggest shift in the industry! Read more>>

Samantha Kell

My journey into birth work started after the birth of my son in 2017. With that pregnancy and birth, I had no idea where to begin. I found a provider on Google, I took no birth education classes, and when I was offered an induction on my due date, I jumped at the chance. I had a very positive birth experience with an epidural, lots of family and friends in and out of the hospital, and a pretty short labor. However, after my son was born, he spent a few days in the NICU due to some relatively minor complications, and I got my first taste of what it means to advocate for your family. Read more>>

Julz Laforest

I was born in New Brunswick, Canada and I’m a painter. Ever since I was little, I loved drawing cartoon characters or designing fashion clothing, I remember having binders fulls of different drawings and ketches throughout my childhood all the way to my teenage years, I believe my mother still has those binders to this day back in Canada. However, drawing took a back seat once I graduated High school as other things in my life took priority. Fast forward to many years later, I find myself in Austin Texas, newly divorced and looking for anything to distract me. A friend suggested I try drawing again, I thought what a great idea as I knew how much happiness it brought me during my childhood years. Read more>>

Brooke Roeder

I’ve been an artist, creator, music lover and entrepreneur in Austin for almost 20 years. My career has been full of adventure, experiments, wild ideas and all the things that everyone knows and loves about Austin. I ended up in Austin because I was accepted into UT’s School of Architecture. I was one of 40 students accepted that year, and it’s so selective that I kind of couldn’t say no. I loved homes, design, and creating on a large scale (and I loved the idea of being a creator with a sustainable, steady career), so it seemed like a great fit. But once I started the program, I found that architecture was not for me. I loved the design aspect, but not the engineering, so I ended up with a degree in painting from the Fine Arts school instead. Read more>>

Kathryn Welch and Sondra Kretschmar

The artistic partnership of Kathryn Welch and Sondra Kretschmar began as two individual artists with a passion for stained glass. Around 2015, Kathryn rebranded her fledgling business, calling it River City Glassworks. She and Sondra met through the Art League in San Marcos and realized that not only were they both glass artists, but they really got along well! Sondra would assist Kathryn with large commissions until 2021 when they decided that they were stronger together, and they officially became business partners. With their various fields of expertise, they complement each other in their teaching methods, design styles, fabrication methods, and restoration experience. Read more>>

Stephanie Fjetland

I’ve lived in Austin, TX for six years now. I’m originally from Amarillo, TX. I graduated from West Texas A&M University with a degree in social work and went on to be certified as a Family Development Specialist doing self-sufficiency case management for a community action program designed to move families out of poverty and into a livable wages and insurance navigator, and benefit eligibility specialist. I had never set foot in the city until I got here. I was at the end of a terrible divorce and looking for a change for the better in opportunity when I chose to move here in 2016. I went on to practice clinical social work as a psychiatric hospital therapist, discharge planner, and court liason for inpatient mental health hospitals and civil mental health courts in both cities. Read more>>

Annamarie Hedman

Community, education, and faith are at my core. My story goes back to the classroom as a child. For many years, I watched my aunt (“tia,” as I refer to her) in the classroom and saw the positive impact she made on her students and those around her. I knew at a young age that I wanted to make a difference in someone’s life when I grew up, particularly underserved populations. After graduating from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana with a B.A. in Political Science in 2002, I worked for a non-profit organization, the National Hispanic Institute in Maxwell, Texas, as their Director of Public Relations and worked with high school students all over the county in youth leadership development programming. Read more>>

El Hoffman

I grew up in Michigan near the Ohio border (in a suburb of Toledo, Ohio which is an hour south of Detroit, MI). I went vegan six years ago and moved to Austin for an old job about a year and a half ago. When I first moved, I realized I wanted to try every vegan restaurant in Austin so I combined my love of food and photography and turned my Instagram into a food blog. I started at 340 followers when I moved in July 2020, and now I’m at around 1.5k with partners such as Koia and Plow Burger. Read more>>

Sydney Meyer

Do you remember the golden question every adult loved to ask you at age five? “What would you like to be when you grow up?” At that ripe age, I created masterpieces with pristine paints (mom’s nail polish) that were fit for The Louvre (the fridge). Of course, I’d one day be an artist. By age twenty, “artist” evolved to dentist, to teacher, to gynecologist, to news anchor (no doubt I’d make a great Veronica Corningstone), to in reality working for a non-profit that served former nuclear workers from the Cold War era. WHAT happened to the original plan? I later became a personal trainer, property assistant, and at one point had a quarter-life crisis and was DETERMINED I’d become an FBI agent to combat human trafficking while also keeping bees on the side. Are you keeping up? Read more>>

Brynn Osborn

I’ve been taking pictures and documenting the world around me for most of my life. I figured out that having something to remember a specific time and place, exactly how I experienced it, meant a lot to me. I didn’t necessarily see photography as a career option until it came time to pick my college major and it was the only thing that made sense to me. Throughout my years at Texas State, I focused on more abstract imagery, but outside of class I still shot portraits and music as I acquired more gear. I started shooting at SXSW every year and it really cemented my love for music photography. Read more>>

Sandra Alexander

I’m a native Houstonian. I’m ambitious but most of all, I have love and compassion for others. I enjoy helping and encouraging others to reach their potential, their dreams and their goals. Many people don’t realize their strengths until they’ are tested. I started working at age 14. Although the legal age was 15 or 16 at the time. I worked for a popular fast food chain in my community. Somehow the manager heard that I was only 14 years old and at that point his plans of course were to fire me. A day or so later, I reported to work and I was told to work the drive-through because an employee called in. I was nervous. I was new and I had never worked the drive-through. It appeared to be very busy and from my point of view, only experienced employees could handle it. Read more>>

Megan Bucknall

I grew up on the outskirts of Austin and graduated from The University of Texas with a PR degree. Shortly after graduating, I moved to Los Angeles and began a career in Healthcare working under the marketing department at LA Children’s Hospital. A few years later, my career took me to New York City where I began working at Mount Sinai Hospital at the Children’s Environmental Health Center. Working in Healthcare was extremely rewarding. In NYC, I began using my own photography skills to elevate our social media/email and other marketing collateral. In 2018, I then made the leap into the startup industry, again getting to use my photography passion there also. Fast Forward to 2019, my husband and I moved back to Austin and I began working for a startup in the hospitality industry. Once Covid hit, I left the startup to focus on some personal projects, one included my marketing/photography skills. I began offering free services to small/ local companies here in Austin that were impacted by Covid. Read more>>

Alvie Faulkenbery

When my grandpa passed away, I ended up with 13 pairs of his worn-in boots and his wisdom of what really matters in this life. My grandpa, Alvie Faulkenbery Jr., didn’t have many material possessions growing up. What he did have were some great stories… hopping trains from Texas to California, his WWII plane crashing in the New Guinea jungle behind Japanese lines, growing the biggest cantaloupe in Mitchell County, and along every life path, always taking the time to take care of the people who were on the journey with him. Alvie Faulkenbery Jr. lived his best life, no matter the circumstances. He always believed it’s not about how much stuff you acquire. It’s about the friends you make and the experiences you have. My grandpa came by it honestly, his stories were true and genuine. Read more>>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Local Highlights