February 2024

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“Information is power, the not knowing is devastating.”
Prescription For Cold Weather.
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Tortilla Soup





Aditi Chauhan

Alexia Raven

Alison Roscoe

Amanda Bonilla

Amber Bradbury

Amy Bell

Amy Jones

Ana Ruelas

Ana Villegas

Andra Liemandt andrea nucete-elliott

Ann Kasper

Avni Trivedi

Beverly Biehl

Bobbie Mack

Bonnie Glass

Brooke Murray-Etnyre

Carrie Kass

Cassandra G. Wiggins

Charlotte Lipscomb

Cherie Mathews

Christina Collazo

Cindy Matula

Cristina GarciaChappell

Cyndi Schultz

Diana Skellenger

Eliza Loyola

Elizabeth Colvin

Emily Rollins

Faye Dedrick

Felicia Reed

Felicia White

Heather Parsons

Hilda Lunderstedt

Holly Odom

Isabella Taylor

J Rene Walker

Jamie Rose

Janene Niblock

Jean Poeet

Jeanne Teshler

Jen Henderson

Jenny Remington

Jessica Campos

Jessica Shor

Jill Goodman

Jill Jacobs

Joy Wiggins

Julia Parke

Kendall Law

Kim Barnes

Kim Ortiz

Krista Burk

Lala Elizondo

Laura Webb

Lauren Dwiggins

Lauren Mireles

Leesa Lee

Liliana LozadaBeverido

Liliana Patino

Lillian Brown

Lindsay Crowell

Lisa Ivie Miller

LisaBeth Thomas

Liz Wendler

Lollis Garcia-Baab

Lori Schneider

Lurleen Ladd

Lynelle McKay

Marisol Giron

Meg Lowry

Megan Baumer

Meghan Butler

Melinda Quiroz

Mica Gutierrez

Michelle Denny

Mindy Hofman

Morgan Bergman

Nelda Trevino

Nichola Cotto

Nikitra JacksonSagirius

Patti DeNucci

Paula Bookidis

Perla Cavazos

Perri Travillion

Raette Hearne

Raka Sandell

Rebecca Lopez

Rosanna Martinez

Sabrina Nelson

Sarah Kyle

Searcy Morgan

Shelby Johnson

Shelley Moon

Sierra Fernandes

Sophie Parrott

Stephanie Verdugo

Tania Yousaf

Tara Godby

Taryn Kinney

Tatiana Leadbetter

Tiffany Wilson

Trinity Stennfeld

Tulsee Nathu

Veronica IMery

Veronica JordanMatlock

Wendy Howell

6 | AUSTIN WOMAN | FEBRUARY 2024 February CONTENTS 19 50 52 ATX WOMAN to WATCH ATX WOMAN to WATCH 28 PAIGE ELLIS 29 ADRIENNE CALHOUN 30 TAYLOR WADSWORTH AMBER NICHOLS 31 DR. JOYCE JAMES 14 MEET THE STYLISTS Redefining Style 19 SEE HER WORK Alaine Hutson 22 TRENDING Winter Style at UT Austin 26 ON THE MONEY Stop Paying Interest For New Splurges 50 MENTAL HEALTH IS WEALTH Fashion: A Revolutionary Catalyst for Women 52 LEADING GREEN WITH ECOBRANDI Sustainable Fashion Is Not Exactly What You Think


CY WHITE Managing Editor

NINA GLORIA Production Manager

JAIME ALBERS Creative Director


BETSY BLANKS VP of Business Operations

CHELSEA THOMPSON Community Events Director

MICHELLE BERMEA Media Sales Director

Media Sales Executives





Editorial: Parke Ballentine; Empress Bey; Brandi Clark Burton; Mattison Gotcher; Jenny Hoff; Erika King; Bella Larralde; Asma Parvez; Minza Mirza; Shonté Jovan Taylor, M.Sc., Ph.D.(c); Teresa S. Test; Liz Wendler; Cy White; Laura Zapata

Art: Parke Ballentine; Empress Bey; Amenta Cutliff; FemForceShots; Mattison Gotcher; Sarah Haughey; Lisa Husberg; Joi Conti; Erika King; Bella Larralde; Carolyn Nash; Asma Parvez; Shonté Jovan Taylor, M.Sc., Ph.D.(c); Teresa S. Test; TwoDudesPhotos; Liz Wendler; Laura Zapata


Samalie Apira, Maggie Fipps, Taylor Harbin, Bella Larralde, Minza Mirza


MELINDA GARVEY Co-owner/Co-founder










This month, we asked our contributors: What does “fashion” mean to you?


Writer, “Allergic to Racism,” pg. 19

• She has a pet pig named Ziggy.

• She has a birthmark on her back in the shape of Florida, which is where she was born.

• She always dreamed of being famous and getting her start on Disney Channel.

“Fashion is the one thing that can fit my various moods. Whether I wake up angry or sad or happy, fashion can reflect it. ”


Writer, “Into the Incubator,” pg. 42

• She is in love with film and literature.

• She collects movie tickets and, therefore, avoids buying online tickets.

• One of her favorite books is Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin.

“Fashion means comfort for me. My style gives me a familiar, safe feeling.”


Writer, “Fashion. Statement.,” pg. 32

• She can clap with one hand.

• She’s a former debutante.

• Halloween is her favorite holiday.

“Fashion is fun. I can subvert expectations, be silly, sexy, flirtatious, butch, femme, anything; it’s playing dress-up (or down).”

Austin Woman is a free monthly publication of AW Media Inc. and is available at locations throughout Austin and in Lakeway, Cedar Park, Round Rock and Pflugerville. All rights reserved.

To offer feedback, email feedback@awmediainc.com. For submission information, visit atxwoman.com/jobs.

No part of the magazine may be reprinted or duplicated without permission. Visit us online at atxwoman.com. Email us at info@awmediainc.com. 512 328.2421 | 7401 West Slaughter Lane, Austin, TX 78739


As I celebrate and revere Black creativity and genius this month, I send my love and healing energy to the family, friends and loved ones of Dr. Antoinette “Bonnie” Candia-Bailey. To all Black women–identified folx who are struggling to find their rainbow: You are more than enough.

Let me ask you, dear reader. When I say the word “fashion,” what comes to mind? France? Supermodels who are super skinny stomping on a super runway? Couture? Let me tell you what instantly comes to my mind. I

think of neon-pink tights emerging from worn jean shorts and equally neon-colored tops. I think of bright fingernails and even brighter lipstick. I think of bantu knots, with long box braids, sometimes in multiple colors, emerging from their round tops. Blackness. That’s what it comes down to. Black people, most notably womxn and girls, driving culture, trends, fashion.

How fortuitous, then, that we at Austin Woman are celebrating the world of fashion in the same month that we revere Blackness. Everything I just described was historically tied to negative connotations of what it means to be Black. Words like “ratchet,” “ghetto” or “hood rat” all sprang forth in conversations about us, whether on talk shows, debates or cut eyes and harsh whispers. Unsurprisingly, these same trends we were mocked for have become staples of TikTok how-tos and mainstream “discoveries.” In this issue, we’re redirecting the conversation back to the originators, the innovators, the trendsetters. We are using this issue to give love and flowers to Black and Brown creatives in the ever-expansive fashion space.

Our cover woman, Nina Means, has made a life from helping those who are oftentimes underserved, opening up opportunities for designers who need and deserve access that they might otherwise not have. As the director of Austin Community College’s Fashion Incubator, she’s championed designers from all walks of life, while also making space for a variety of people within the industry to shine within their own passions. We get a chance to introduce a few of those women-identified creatives—Carolyn Nash, Amenta Cutliff and Lisa Husberg—whose designs have truly expanded the conversation around fashion in Austin. But remember, this is an industry that thrives on innovation, and thrives even more on the sensibilities of the current generation. We take it to UT Austin’s campus to see what Gen Z are into this winter. Austin Woman’s February issue allows you, dear readers, an opportunity to celebrate the brilliance of Black and Brown culture through the lens of fashion. We also invite you to celebrate local innovation with our inaugural fashion show, in collaboration with ACC’s Fashion Incubator, on Tuesday, Feb. 13 at Austin PBS, KLRU-TV. Join us for an unforgettable runway show, networking and connection.

10 | AUSTIN WOMAN | FEBRUARY 2024 Publication of Austin Woman would not be possible without the support of our monthly advertisers and sponsors, who believe in the impact we are making in the Austin community. The team at Austin Woman is grateful for these businesses that have shown their commitment to the advancement of women in Austin and hopes you, as readers, recognize their efforts and support these businesses.
Editor’s LETTER
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Check out what’s happening over at atxwoman.com!

Texas’ Banned Book Crisis

Representation has a bigger effect on children’s minds than many of us are aware of.

The Future Is Now

At the dawn of the new year, some questions persist surrounding ChatGPT and AI’s role for the future of creatives.

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Debra Davis, Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers Tour

Local award-winning producer Debra Davis saw her work validated as the producer of Kendrick Lamar’s legendary Live in Paris, The Big Steppers Tour.

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Tickets to Austin Woman x ACC Fashion Incubator

Inaugural Fashion Show

Prepare to be swept away by an evening of style, creativity, and inspiration! Mingle and network with like-minded fashion enthusiasts while enjoying cocktails and light bites. Shop at our Boutique Pop-Ups before and after the runway show. The electrifying runway show will shine the spotlight on seven emerging ACC Fashion Incubator design stars. One winner will receive two general admission tickets, a $150 value, to Austin Woman ’s inaugural Fashion Show. Follow @austinwoman and @accfashionincubator on Instagram and like the post @austinwoman for your chance to win. The winner will be announced on Tuesday, Feb. 6.

C onnect WITH US
“Texas’ Banned Books Crisis” photo by Suad Kamardeen. “Debra Davis, Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers Tour” photo courtesy of Debra Davis. “The Future Is Now” photo courtesy of Kat Thay.


Corporate Power Players

The corporate rock stars on this list have truly elevated the game in each of their respective industries. They've not just broken through the glass ceiling; they've utterly obliterated it, reaching down through the rubble to bring up other women-identified professionals in their wake. Imposter syndrome, where? You won't see any imposters here!



Visionary leader and architect of equitable change




CEO of unicorn technology company that's tripled in size since 2018



Twenty-plus-year HR professional focusing on empowering talent engines in dynamic organizations



Business veteran helping better serve clients with creative, strategic and transformative solutions



Travel expert appearing on national broadcasts to share tips, trends and travel news




Inspires, empowers and develops female leaders to significant leadership roles within the community




#5 on Forbes' list of the Richest Self-Made Women




Creative, compassionate, results-oriented leader with a demonstrated history of building strong community partnerships




25-year international CHRO driving growth across industrial, retail, distribution, manufacturing and tech industries




Highly experienced leader with an exceptional record of commitment in sports



Discovering and implementing ways to enable opportunities for those who have systemically lacked access



L500 board director, "Most Powerful Latina Class of 2023," diversity advocate



Award-winning journalist; executive producer of Without A Net: The Digital Divide in America


Loves semiconductors, solving problems, challenges and pushing innovation





Respected professional, passionate about the impact of sports in our community



Innovative global marketing leader, advancing better work for all


More dedicated than ever to advancing gender equality and putting an end to misogyny



Developed and implemented flexible work and well-being strategies addressing effects of the pandemic on NXP’s global workforce

Editor’s note: Due to a technical error, the Corporate Power Players list was shortened. To honor every woman-identified Corporate Power Player, we are reprinting the list in its entirety. Thank you for your grace and understanding.


Redefining Style

Stylists are often the unsung heroes of the fashion industry; that goes double for LGBTQIA+ stylists and women-identified stylists of color.

Parke Ballantine, Stylist & Creative Director

Hey, I’m Parke Ballantine (she/they), and I’m a stylist and creative director for bold, artistic and executive individuals in Austin. They say a picture speaks a thousand words, and I’m a firm believer in the impact of visual communication to transform our lives. My mission is to create meaningful change by empowering people to show up in ways that encourage and model a confident, stylish and authentic existence. Years of experience in marketing, media and creative production have allowed me to live out and hone that mission, especially by promoting women and queer communities as founders, entrepreneurs and across C-suites. My expertise lies in being able to synthesize an individual’s or brand’s goals into a look that empowers and resonates. Whether preparing for a conference, launching a new product or cultivating a public presence, I care for my clients so they can go out into the world and make powerful moves.

Get in touch with me at parkeballantine.com.

Asma Parvez, Styled by Asma

A Muslim hijabi fashion stylist, that’s me—I’m Asma, a blend of American and Pakistani heritage. I’m a personal stylist and the founder of Styled by Asma, based here in Austin. My background serves as an empowering force for diverse styling. I style women from various backgrounds including many featured on the cover of this very magazine. My specialty lies in understanding diverse religious, cultural and spiritual needs, and crafting styles that honor traditions and beliefs. I’m here to tailor experiences uniquely for you, diving into your style and what defines you. Allow me to assist you on a journey where style becomes a conduit for deeper connections and personalized expressions.

Need event or photoshoot styling? Shopping or a closet edit? Or just help figuring out your personal style? I got you!

Find me on social media @styledbyasma and at my website, styledbyasma.com.

Photos courtesy of each stylist.

Teresa S. Test, Style with Teresa

My journey into the world of fashion began with a love for creativity and an innate desire to uplift others. Armed with a keen sense of style and the ability to translate one’s personality through clothing, I delve into the world of personal styling with the hopes of empowering women to discover their unique style and walk in confidence. Through my services, I take my clients on a style journey through three simple phases: style discovery, wardrobe curation and their very own digital closet, which accesses a curated collection of looks tailored to their personal style, lifestyle and aspirations. Whether they’re finding their style or redefining it, I aim to give my clients the confidence through wardrobe to stand firm and proud in both their uniqueness and individuality.

To start your style journey, get in touch by visiting me at stylewithteresa.com or follow me on Instagram @stylewith_teresa.

Empress Bey, The Style Life

My love of fashion began at an early age, after being influenced by celebrity stylists such as June Ambrose and Rachel Zoe. Then I was diagnosed with lupus. Battling insecurities, self-inflicted pain and needing an overall makeover allowed me to utilize my inner gifts. The vision of The Style Lyfe was originally born in 2017. After a few years in both the fashion and entertainment industries, I was finally able to grasp the full purpose, mission, vision and provision of what The Style Lyfe should be. The core issue is many women don’t realize they seek validation from others when it comes to what they wear. I have a unique gift for mastering a woman’s aesthetic to help her see her value through personal style. Through a four- to six-week process, I’m able to help each woman define her personal style, work on her mindset and have some fun while staying in tune to her daily lifestyle and busy schedule. Being gifted with a purpose and passion that will create profit and allow me to have fun is what true prosperity means to me.

thestylelyfe.com | contact@thestylelyfe.com


Mattison Gotcher, Wardrobe Stylist

Hi, I’m Mattison Gotcher, a wardrobe stylist in Austin. My love for fashion started at an early age. One of my favorite activities as a child was to draw outfits for characters in my favorite TV shows. I knew then that fashion interested me. That interest never stopped growing, and I took it to UT Austin, where I graduated with a B.S. in textiles and apparel design in 2019. While there, I worked as a costume designer on short films within the film department, making my early days of drawing clothes for characters come to reality and fostering my desire to become a designer for media. While new within the industry, so far I have had the opportunity to work on various TV shows and movies and with clientele such as Harry Styles, Dell and Samsung.

Keep in touch through Instagram @mattisondgotcher and my website mattisondgotcher.com.

Erika King, The Modernist Closet

I’m Erika, a Central Texas-based certified style coach and image consultant with more than 20 years in the fashion industry, a B.A. in fashion merchandising and an M.Ed. in higher education administration. Over the past decade, my professional journey has encompassed serving in retail management for companies such as Neiman Marcus and Macy’s, and teaching high school fashion design. I started The Modernist Closet after noticing my own wardrobe lacked clarity and did not reflect my professional status, lifestyle or, most importantly, my personality. Further contributing was the realization that the stressors of career and family I had internalized were reflected through my wardrobe, and that friends, family and colleagues were experiencing some of the same struggles. My proven three-step modern style process teaches female C-suite executives to curate a wardrobe that highlights their most authentic selves, eliminate unnecessary clutter and successfully navigate personal versus professional style challenges unique to corporate America.



Liz Wendler, Style Coach

I am a renowned style coach who has helped women nationwide with my expertise. A mother of two and advocate for personal transformation, I understand the nuances of evolving styles and lifestyles. My personal journey included leaving the corporate world to start my styling business after having kids and wanting to make an impact. Focused on guiding women through various life transitions, from business professionals to new parents or retirees, I am your dedicated partner in your style journey. Beyond coaching, I become your confidante and curate a wardrobe that authentically reflects your unique personality and narrative. With a touch of Austin’s vibrant spirit, I invite you to embrace a new chapter, crafting a style that embodies confidence and authenticity. Connect with me for a complimentary style direction call and embark on your style adventure!

lizwendlerstyling.com | @lizwendlerstyling

Laura Zapata, Fashion Editor & Stylist

I am a freelance fashion editor and stylist with nearly 20 years of experience in the NYC fashion industry. Originally from Austin, I received my degree in fashion merchandising at UT Austin. I got my start in magazines, working as a copywriter and fashion assistant at Latina magazine, and later became the fashion editor of Cosmo for Latinas. My writing and styling work has been featured in WWD, ELLE, Cosmo, Popsugar, Billboard and Seventeen, and I’ve styled numerous celebs including Gina Rodriguez, Camila Cabello, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, Normani, Diane Guerrero and Dascha Polanco. Now dividing my time between Austin and NYC, I’m currently a contributing editor for HearstMade (the branded content division at Hearst Media) and a freelance copywriter and stylist, working on creative and editorial projects for clients like LTK, Sephora, Soona and RoC Skincare.

For contact info, visit my website, laurazapatanyc.com.


Since I was a young girl, the world of banking has been a constant presence in my life thanks to my mother's career in the industry She taught me the importance of financial stability and the various paths to achieve financial success.

Now, as a bilingual personal banker at Amplify, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to not only educate our valued members about the advantages of our fee-free banking but also guide them on how to maximize these benefits At Amplify, we have revolutionized the banking experience by eliminating bank fees altogether, and it brings me great joy to explain this to our members

My mother taught me well and now I have the honor to pass on this knowledge and assist others in their pursuit of financial prosperity.

With Amplify since 2022



Allergic to Racism

In a world of prejudice and injustice, Austinite Alaine Hutson is a leader of change.

As the founder and CEO of Social Justice Jewelry, Alaine Hutson dedicates her business not only to spreading awareness of racism and other social injustices, but to bringing love and peace through jewelry.

Born in Philadelphia, Hutson is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in African studies, followed by earning an M.A. and Ph.D. in modern African history from Indiana University. During her college career, Hutson decided to expand on her hobbies and take a couple of jewelry classes, which sparked her interest in the business.

“I always loved to express my artistic self,” she says. “So I thought, ‘Let me see what kind of art courses there are.’ There was one called metals within jewelry making, so I took it and ended up taking as many as I possibly could.”

With her newfound hobby, her knowledge of history and a couple of discriminatory actions that did not sit right with her, Hutson decided it was time to speak her truth, and in 2016, she created Social Justice Jewelry.

“The jewelry represents a sense of being strong in the face of injustice. That you are always kind of talking about it and able to disengage in situations and call it out and let people know that no, I don’t agree with you.”

Hutson’s first and most timeless piece of jewelry was the Allergy Bracelet. Coming in five different sizes and starting with five different variations of social justice messages, the bracelet states, “I am allergic to…,” then notes various social injustices including racism, homophobia and ableism.

“When I sat down and thought about what I want the values of my company to be, I wanted them to be about inclusivity,” Hutson explains. “I found material for my bracelets that only came in one size, but people don’t come in one size; I need various sizes. It’s the best feeling when people say they never find a cuff bracelet that is large enough for their wrist and they put mine on and it fits. It always feels great because I am including people.”

However, when a nonpolitical friend rejected the bracelet, Hutson decided going forward she needed to find her target audience. “Who are my clients? Where are my people going to be?” she asks. “I thought one place that would be able to justify my work are museums, specifically African American museums or ones that specialize in and highlight Indigenous stories.”

Doing just that, Hutson’s first partnerships were with the Whitney Plantation in New Orleans, Louisiana and The Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. However, it did not stop there. Now you can find Social Justice Jewelry all

Photo by Sarah Haughey.
Mitchell Hutson's products are currently available on social-justice-jewelry.myshopify.com. Top Left photo by TwoDudesPhotos. Top right photo by Joi Conti Photography Bottom left photo by FemForceShots. Bottom right photo by Sarah Haughey.

over the nation, with several retail partners. Some include Wildflowers in Corpus Christi, Texas; The Metal Museum in Memphis, Tennessee; and CLTCH in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“With those first two, I thought, ‘Well all you have to do is ask, and if they like it, then they will buy it and sell it in their stores.’ Of course, it is not that way all the time, but it certainly kept me going,” Hutson says.

With the business gaining more recognition, Hutson decided she would like to give back to the causes she supports, donating a portion of the proceeds from Social Justice Jewelry to gun violence survivors and people who have lost their livelihoods, to name a couple.

“I like giving back to organizations that are doing important things in the world, as well as supporting people and trying to get rid of injustice,” she says.

Along with her expanding business, Hutson is looking to open a jewelry co-op in collaboration with other creatives called The Jeweler’s Saw Co-op, which will be located in Austin and is set to open in the spring of 2024.

“We are not looking to make excessive profits or anything but just to share the profits, be a jewelry school or a jewelry resource that’s affordable and is here to support independent jewelers in Austin.”

Taking the world by storm, Social Justice Jewelry is just beginning. With her co-op venture underway and her enterprise flourishing, Hutson hopes to make this her full-time career. “Whenever I am out vending, I say to people, ‘These are all handmade products. I make them here in Austin with a little bit of love.’”

To find out more about the catalyst for Alaine Hutson to found Social Justice Jewelry and more, read the full story at atxwoman.com.

Photo by Crystal Nebula.

Winter Style at UT Austin

Winter on the UT Austin campus is a veritable fashion show of Gen Z femme self-expression.

“Style is a form of expression and the way that I know I cannot be just one thing, because just like style, I am unique.”


“Style is my way to express myself in a way that’s meaningful to myself.”

“Style is a way to have fun and make yourself happy.”
“Style is the opportunity for me to represent myself creatively while healing my inner child, who just wanted to feel pretty and confident like everyone else she looked up to!”


“Style is my way to explore new aspects of myself in a fun way!”


Out with the New, In with the Old

Stop paying interest for new splurges.

The days of using your credit card on fashion splurges are over…at least, they should be. With the plethora of online thrift shops selling designer fashions, the growth of local designers who focus on sustainability and the popularity of the minimalist movement, there is no reason to put a designer handbag or an expensive shopping haul on a credit card, only to pay it off in increments with a high interest rate tacked on every month.

When consumers think of credit, they often assume that by making the minimum payment required every month, they’re keeping their credit score high while slowly paying off purchases. Credit card rewards are becoming ever more attractive as the postpandemic travel bug continues to grow, and credit card companies are willing to offer fantastic points-based rewards to new applicants—big enough sign-on bonuses to score a roundtrip flight abroad. If you’ve got excellent credit, these highly attractive credit cards are available to you. However, just because you qualify doesn’t mean you should use them, especially if you can’t afford to pay off the entire balance every month.

Rewards cards come with very high interest rates, upwards of 25%. To break that down, consider you bought a $2,000 handbag and put it on a rewards credit card that happens to charge an average interest rate of 25%. You pay the minimum balance each month of around $80. It would take you 10 years and two months to pay off that purse due to the interest accumulated every month, and the total amount you will have paid after that decade will be $3,926—almost double the original cost of the purse.

If you must indulge in a more expensive purchase, first make sure you qualify for a no-interest credit card, which will allow you to carry a balance for at least 12 months without accumulating interest. You still have to make the minimum payments to keep your credit score healthy, and you’ll definitely want to make sure to pay off your balance before the promotional time is finished, which is when the interest rates—usually high ones—kick in.

Avoid debt, high interest rates and fashion that is already outdated by the time you pay it off. 2024 should be all about opting for high-quality,

sustainable, more affordable, preferably gently used fashion that doesn’t drain your bank account. You don’t have to go to thrift stores and spend hours scouring the racks for that one great find. With sites like Poshmark, Rebag and ThredUp, you can have your designer purse and money to put in it, too.

You can also make a true fashion statement and support smaller designers who use better, less toxic products in their clothing, follow more sustainable practices and don’t upcharge for an expensive marketing team.

Be a true fashion maven. Make 2024 the year of out with the new and in with the old. Find fantastic fashion for a fraction of the price, and keep your credit and bank account healthy at the same time.

Our pages are full of stories of Austin’s most engaging, empowering and successful women, and this section is specially designed to provide you access to even more incredible role models and success stories. Be part of this amazing group and share your story with thousands of women. Contact us at sales@atxwoman.com or call 512.328.2421 for more information. ATX WOMEN to WATCH SPECIAL PROMOTION | ATXWOMAN.COM | 27


Elected Officials & Chamber Leaders


Paige Ellis represents Southwest Austin at City Hall, serving a pivotal role in resolving the city’s housing shortage, championing environmental protection and authoring a $460 million bond improving trails, bike lanes and safe routes to schools. Upon being elected in 2018, she authored an ordinance mandating baby changing tables in men’s restrooms. During Winter Storm Uri in 2021, she sourced bottled water and set up emergency distribution. She became the youngest woman to serve as Mayor Pro Tem in 2023. Ellis and her husband are active supporters of Austin’s live music and restaurant scene, and she’s recently taken up rowing. Her advice to women thinking of jumping into leadership: “Don’t wait for an invitation to lead, we need your voice now.”





A drienne Calhoun is the co-owner of Honey Moon Spirit Lounge, located in the heart of Austin. She and her husband opened the neighborhood spot with the dream of creating an eclectic and soulful environment that pays homage to the weird and wonderful Austin they fell in love with. At the helm, Calhoun loves choreographing an orchestra of service, ensuring the seamless flow of operations and infusing every guest ’s visit with a touch of true magic.





Amber Nichols and Taylor Wadsworth, the dynamic duo serving as president and vice president, respecitvely, of Austin Window Fashions, work seamlessly together to deliver an unparalleled personalized experience in customizing window treatments for homes and businesses. Their unique expertise and contributions have been integral in propelling Austin Window Fashions to unprecedented heights, reinforcing the company’s three-decade commitment to exceptional customer service and streamlined operations. The duo’s dedication to comprehending clients’ needs and offering tailored solutions has become the defining hallmark of the company’s excellence. Together, they concentrate on fostering a team atmosphere that unites around a shared company vision, encapsulating a collective dedication to innovation, excellence and an unwavering commitment to surpassing customer expectations. This concerted effort underscores the principles that have defined Austin Window Fashions for more than 30 years.





Joyce James, a nationally recognized racial equity expert and “Godmother of Racial Equity” in the City of Austin, has more than 30 years in the undoing institutional and structural racism movement. James is president and CEO of Joyce James Consulting, serving as the lead racial equity expert in working with multiple systems, institutions and community-based organizations across the country. She is best known as the pioneer of efforts to address racial inequities in Texas and creator of the Texas Model and the Groundwater Analysis Model, both of which when applied have proven effective in reducing racial inequities and improving outcomes for all populations. James lives by the belief, based on the long history of racism, that “equal treatment does not lead to equity.” James is originally from Louisiana, grew up in Southeast Texas and has lived in Austin for more than 20 years.








ACC Fashion Incubator Director Nina Means makes fashion her ultimate expression.

Nina Means emerges from her office at Austin Community College’s Fashion Incubator, the black frilled lace almost perfectly identical to the onyx curls of her crown. A golden choker adorns her swan-like throat, reminiscent of a wealthy Ndebele bride, or perhaps Wakanda does exist and we stand in the presence of one of King T’Challa’s Dora Milaje warriors. Gold adorns her modest waist and shapely feet. She takes a breath, moves with the mesmerizing grace of a dancer. Pose. Beyoncé’s “Grown Woman” blares through the ambitious speakers of someone’s iPhone, as if Means, much in the way of a celebrated conductor, gives Mrs. KnowlesCarter the signal to commence.

Everyone in the room is speechless. It’s a scene from a black-and-white film, frozen, breaths held in anticipation. Then the camera flashes and everything explodes in living color on a click and a collective exhale.

We are in the presence of (reluctant) royalty.

The former public health professional and advocate never imagined this would be her life when she graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a B.A. in English.

Being in Nina Means’ presence is to be absolutely disarmed by her beauty. She has an aura about her that makes you take notice from the moment she steps into any room. However, to know Nina Means is to know an earnestness that translates to an honest-to-goodness desire to serve her community. More than that, there’s a humility that’s utterly fascinating. Her journey is an intriguing story in creating a path for yourself when none is available, yet it’s also a look into the process of someone who never puts herself above anyone else. Puts her vision, her version of what she wants for herself first, yes. But at the end of it all is this call to service, a need to ensure that those who are around her are able to win, able to thrive in environments that are as open and welcoming as she is.

Means didn’t necessarily take a typical path to her life in fashion. While it always hung out in the back of her mind as a passion point, she took a more calculated approach to diving into what would become her life’s ambition. Not life’s work; that has always been to help those who need it most (whether that be in public health, fashion or education).

“I grew up in North Carolina,” she begins. “My hometown is very similar to Austin: really small, everyone knows each other, the families know each other. But it’s known for medicine; it’s called the city of medicine, including



Where creativity meets commerce. Austin Community College’s Fashion Incubator prepares aspiring designers and established entrepreneurs for success in one of our city’s most economically promising industries. Funded in part by the City of Austin, this 7,500-square-foot facility offers career-technical training, transferable credits, a residency program, leasable space and more.

1210 0.0 Building 4000, Ste. 4 sites.austincc.edu/fashion-incubator

my family. So whenever it was time to pick a career, that’s what we know. I wasn’t really interested in becoming a doctor, but I did like helping people. I found bilingual patient services as my first landing space in public health, and I realized I could only go so far before I got my master’s in public health. So I went to George Washington University in Washington, D.C., to continue learning, and I worked in various health agencies in Washington while doing that. I really loved it. I enjoyed it. I slept well at night, knowing I was helping a lot of people.”

It’s a concept she’s built her entire career around, her entire journey as a professional. It’s not simply about finding a career path that will feed you and nourish your creativity (and your bank account). Means has always had a soul for being able to feed and nourish others. It’s an aspect of her personality that pushed her to really give fashion a try.

“I would go shopping as a teenager, and I literally could not find something that I was looking for,” she reveals. “I was like, ‘I need a pair of pants that fit like this and look like this and do this.’ So I’d go looking for the thing I had in my head, and it wasn’t on the rack. I would go home frustrated; I couldn’t find anything. Then I go home and open my sketchbook, and I’d be sketching and think, ‘One day, I’m going to learn how to make those things.’”

It’s fascinating watching her dive back into memories to seek out the source of her purpose. There’s a smile on her face that reaches her eyes. They are now shining, as if the spark of inspiration has gripped her once again, the urge to create something out of absolutely nothing because that’s what was available for her at the time. Beyond her desire to serve is an innate compunction to create, and to create for the sake of filling a gaping hole in the industry.

This is partially what led to her exploration of education as an avenue for her creative proclivities. Wait…let’s go back a bit. Before education even popped up on her radar, this long-limbed college student who just wanted a pair of pants that fit her created an entire career out of solving fashion problems through necessity. (What is it they say about the mother of invention?) But she was in public health, with a master’s degree and an impressive track record in the space, working in clinics, building a cadre of connections. There aren’t many who would let go of a sure thing, a sure and lucrative thing, and head in the complete opposite direction. To be honest, neither would Means.

“I tried to figure out what my plan B was,” she says. “I was like, ‘Well, what does my plan B career look like?’ As a calling, I like helping people, and I enjoyed it, but I got to this point in my career where I was doing really well, was positioned for promotion, and I was like, ‘You know what, if I go to the next level here, I’m going to get really comfortable and not going to want to stop. If I make [fashion] my job, and I just try it, I have enough connections to come back to public health.’

“Calculated risk is where it’s at,” she proclaims. Luck didn’t necessarily play a huge factor in this shift. Means knew the risks, evaluated solutions for if those risks backfired, then lunged ahead with the confidence that she had built her destiny on the energy of her purpose and her passion. “I just kind of took that leap of faith that I would actually be able to work in this industry, and fortunately, I didn’t have to look back.”

Her first move was to Italy, where she studied in a two-year program at the Fashion Institute of Technology. That led her to New York City, where her career really began to bloom. “Working in fashion in New York City, I


Calculated risk is where it’s at. “ ”

know I can go down the street and work for this company; go up the street, work at that other company; go downstairs, work for another company. That’s where my people are. So I was like, ‘Well, I’ve been working in this industry. I grew up my whole career. I moved to Italy, then came back to New York.’ I said to myself, ‘I’m not done yet, so I’m gonna start my own business.’ I created a job for myself. I started the collection while I was still working in New York, running on my lunch breaks down to the factory, then running back to work, or stopping by on the way out before taking the train home. It was a wonderful way to get started.” Again, eyes light with that spark, that excitement that has propelled Means from one grand adventure to the next.

However, while in the midst of creating something of her own, she made a move to Texas, a decision that wasn’t solely her own. But as with everything in her life, Means knew how to adapt and make the change work for her…for a time. She began her own apparel line, Nina Means, LLC, but that path had its complications, especially considering location.

“Doing the second collection from Texas, I had to hire someone to help me with quality control and stuff like that, so she would run around in New York for me, flying back and forth. It just was not the same. But I’ve finally delivered the products, and she helped me get everything done and shipped it back to Texas.” Though another gamble, Nina Means, LLC, did stir up some attention in her new home. Her work was featured on CBS’s We Are Austin and in Texas Society Magazine. In 2017, Fashion Group International San Antonio honored her with their Rising Star Award for Fashion Design, and in 2019, she was recognized as a Texas Woman to Watch.

Her origin story speaks to a woman who’s always taken every opportunity as a chance to grow, to learn. The ups and downs (as few as there were, again, calculated risk) have all been pages in the handbook of her life. No, not a fairy tale or a story of someone who was forced into helpless situations. Means really does provide a guidebook for those who live with passion. The ultimate goal: no regrets.

“I just don’t like the idea of having regret,” she admits. “I heard someone say this, and I kept it really close. ‘You get to live.’ It’s a YOLO-type statement. I think they were saying, ‘I’m more afraid of not trying than to go to my grave with this idea.’ Just see if it’s anything, and then if it’s not, then I have the thing that I’ve already been doing.”

That has led us to this moment. Means decked out in couture, hair a cascade of curls, a smile adorning her face like jewelry as she lives out another fantasy: modeling. Her journey to becoming the first and sitting director of ACC’s Fashion Incubator follows much in the same path as the rest of her journey. She was offered an opportunity (from a buyer in Texas, as it were) and she went into it with the same thought: “That’s interesting.”

“They gave me a job description and an empty room,” she says. The chuckle that accompanies the memory isn’t rueful, really. She laughs because honestly and truly, what the hell? “There was nothing in either space. The other room wasn’t painted; it had red slat walls. I mean, it was a storage room.” But this Aries lives up to her star sign: confidence, courage, determination, leadership. Passion. In 2018, she took the position, and by the next year was already fully dedicated to building the space. In 2020, she began nurturing a cohort of designers. Over five years (including officially opening during a pandemic), Means has created a space for Texas creatives to be able to elevate, network and find those opportunities that might have otherwise been out of their grasp.

She took it a step further and partnered with the City of Austin Economic Development Department to offer the same nurturing for designers in Egypt. “[The City of Austin] had been cultivating that relationship with Egypt some time prior, so we went on an industry mission with them to Cairo in 2019. It was an amazing experience, multi-industry delegation, the global business expansion team that put it together in economic development. We got a chance to go to various business meetings and really understand what was happening in the market. So when it came time to focus on an industry for the next round, they decided that they wanted to go with fashion. I was like, ‘Okay, we’ll do it.’ We had just launched the first cohort of the designer-in-residence program, and we had to turn it on really quickly. By December, we were working on Egypt.


“We did a 16-week accelerator,” she recalls. “It was an opportunity for us to stretch ourselves a bit more. After working in the industry in New York, coming to cultivate an industry in Austin, you don’t start off at the end; you need to go back to the beginning. We’re designing products for different regions, for different modalities. You know, I can’t sell the same dress in the Arab States that I can in the United States; I can’t sell the same cut. It was really fun to be able to go into that part of our work, with our more advanced brands. They did a learning enterprise, did pop-up shops, runway shows. It was fun. We had a really great time with them.”

Again, building, cultivating, fun, passion. These are words that follow Nina Means like an army at her back. This army of self is what allowed her to create her own path from public health to fashion, to create her own apparel line, then move to Austin and make a name for herself in the space. It’s this self-actualization that saw her take on the role of creating an incubator for burgeoning and established designers to help them make the connections they need to succeed, but to also extend that same care to up-and-coming designers in Egypt. A mind for collaboration and innovation means that the incubator is constantly elevating the fashion space in Texas. In collaboration with Gerber Technology, a LECTRA company, Means has facilitated the dispersal of an astounding $13 million digital solutions package for the designers to save resources, material and time and begin to chip away at the consequences of fashion waste.

“What I love is that our designers, with the kind of technology and resources that we have, are able to cut off hundreds of thousands of dollars,” she says, energy causing her to sit up straighter and her tone to become more animated. “Sampling can cost anywhere between $250 up to $1,000, depending on what you’re making, and that’s just for one. Then you multiply that by the times you need to see those styles to make sure that you actually got the fit that works with the customer, that the customer likes it, and then need enough colors available for each of those and enough sizes available for each of those. It adds up so fast. So the idea that [designers] can do all of that digitally and know that digital image, that twin is going to actually mirror real life to 97% accuracy, that is a huge deal. There were countless rounds of samples when I worked for these large companies, and you see exactly where the waste is going. It’s not even happening in production, although that’s part of it; it’s all in development that never saw the light of day, so you got tons of stuff that’s wasting away.”

Means’ concern is not unfounded. According to a 2023 study conducted by Earth.org, every year the fast fashion industry accumulates about 92 million tons of waste, resulting in the fashion industry producing 20% of the world’s global waste water and an inevitable 50% spike in global emissions by 2030.

“We have an imperative, a moral imperative to do it better,” she insists. “Then to also give small businesses an opportunity to get skin in the game. There’s no business model that allows a small business to act like that; you have to be precise. The only way that you can test that product again and again is to work digitally, and then only make what the customer wants to buy from you. All of those things help to work toward sustainable practices. It’s a spectrum. Everyone’s not gonna be perfect, but what I love is that people can start to build products closer to where it’s going to be delivered. Now with this global network, we’re talking about nearshoring, how to get the product closer to where the customer is going to actually purchase it. I believe in it.”

What are you excited about in fashion now?

After Barbiecore, there’s been a rise of the feminine woman, and I really love the feminine looks. I feel like I’ve been hearing other women asking for feminine looks. They’re like, “Yes, I’m a boss, and I’m a lady. I look and feel soft, light. But I will still want to imbibe my power.” These powerful female statements are still going to be really important. Things that celebrate our form, things that don’t make us hide are going to be really critical for us to feel all of our power.


What’s your motto?

I heard a mom and a daughter talking. The mom was like, “My daughter’s my hero.” Her daughter is this little 5-year-old girl; she tried to put on this pair of pants that didn’t fit her anymore. She’s like, “My legs are too powerful for these pants.” I was like, “You know what? That’s right. I’m too powerful for this. It’s too weak for me.”







Belief, another word that seems synonymous with Nina Means. She believes in the work she’s doing with ACC’s Fashion Incubator. She believes in the work her designers are doing, evidenced by her insistence on wearing their designs for her first cover photoshoot. She believes in intentional representation, ensuring that all walks of life and ways of thought are not just considered, but respected.

“I’ve worked in companies where I was one of five, but it’s an entire six-floor building,” she reveals. “I’ve had that experience where there’s not a lot of people who look like me doing it. But I also have to acknowledge the privilege that I had to be able to even try. I think the best thing we can do, especially in the community college space, where we’re trying to serve everyone, is really peel back the layers for people who want to see what’s inside. That’s been my whole mission in this role, to say, ‘It ain’t that scary. You could do this.’ You know, fashion isn’t only about design. There are people who love spreadsheets, people who do cybersecurity, who do ecommerce. It’s like that all down the line, so we’ve been trying to make it a place where it’s really for everybody.

“You know, there’s words that get thrown around in terms of corporate speak,” she continues, “but I think we’re offering more, in the future of work as well, and mental wellness. I think psychological safety fits into that. If we’re saying we want to create space for various ways of thought, we also need to make it psychologically safe to show up with those various types of thought and understand that it may not always sound like what I’m used to hearing, which is kind of the point, right? There are also rules of engagement in these other spaces. Yes, be authentic and be professional. Yes, bring the difference of thought and actually do it. Don’t do it, then go do what you’re gonna do anyway. Let’s benefit from being in the same room together, because there’s give and take. I think that we all do better being in that room together, actually listening and actually doing something about it.”

The photoshoot reaches its conclusion. The final look, Nina Means going back to simplicity with a letterman jacket and a pair of jeans. Strands of cloth fly in the air as if springing from her fingers. All too quickly, Joi Conti, the photographer, yells, “That’s a wrap!” Applause all-round, the final notes of “Who Run the World (Girls)” fade out, and Means is all smiles, all ebullient energy. So what’s next for her?

“World peace?” she says with a giggle. “My life has been about wanting to see impact, you know? I want to feel and see that in some way my life matters and can really improve what I see around me. I feel like I’m a builder. I’m a strategic builder, and that’s something that I feel really strongly about myself. I think I’m happy when I’m in that space, so I think I’ll just keep building.”

Dreams for incubator.

The city has been a really incredible partner. We’ve talked about all kinds of possible next steps. I want to see Austin, and Texas, really connected in this space of true fashion powerhouses, in terms of the products that people are looking for out of this space. Whenever Louis Vuitton moves in that space between here and Dallas, they’ve got an actual space. Whenever we can get beauty products that are made for luxury labels, they’re being made here. We’re seeing value in this area. I want all of that to become much more anchored and well known. I think we’re kind of in this impostor syndrome space right now, where most don’t know us for fashion. But actually, Texans are very fashionable. They like luxury, and they like really nice things, and they have money to spend, and Texas has the second largest GDP in the world! All of these things that say, “Yes, build industry here. Yes, why not fashion up?” We’re smack dab in the middle of the country; we’ve got access to these various spaces; mobility is getting easier and easier. I would love to see Texas really take its spot in fashion. Honestly, Dallas and Houston are doing an amazing job. San Antonio is doing a fantastic job. Austin is rising and has been doing a fantastic job as well. I think there’s more room to grow. I think we’ll attract more and we’ll grow more.


Into the Incubator:

Womxn of ACC Fashion Incubator

Austin womxn designers and entrepreneurs reflect on the paths leading to ACC’s

Fashion Incubator Program and the future of their brands.

As Carolyn Nash peruses the web for a possible manufacturer for her innovative and life-saving flotation device, a pop-up advertisement takes up her screen. Frustrated after her fifth time closing out the ad, Nash finally takes a look at that persistent Austin Community College Fashion Incubator application announcement. Realizing she has everything it’s asking for, she takes a chance to elevate her fashion career and entire life to the next level.

ACC’s Fashion Incubator works to accelerate and elevate fashion designers and entrepreneurs at various stages of their careers. From taking classes to further one’s knowledge on the fashion industry to being a designer-in-residence and taking advantage of resources like studio spaces, the ACC Fashion Incubator brings together a community of talented and driven artists. A few of the womxn in the program speak about their journeys: Carolyn Nash, founder, inventor and designer of flotation device and swimwear brand G180; Amenta Cutliff, founder, owner and designer of Taumeti; and Lisa Husberg, founder, owner and designer of Loka.Haus.



Photos courtesy of Carolyn Nash. Carolyn Nash

Not originally an Austinite or a fashion designer, G180 Swim Founder Carolyn Nash finds herself in a wildly different position than what she would have imagined five years ago. After tragically losing her son to a drowning death in 2015, Nash went looking for answers. “We’re a family who are well prepared for the water. It wasn’t in my mind of things that could possibly go wrong in my children’s lives,” she says. As she asked various people, from the Army Corps of Engineers to the average person, why drowning deaths persisted, she landed on buoyancy as the biggest preventative. “Buoyancy is not always at the ready,” she says. “I learned from consumers that people don’t wanna wear their personal flotation devices because they’re bulky and ugly. The comment I got most is, ‘It’s embarrassing.’”

In 2020, supplied with conversations and research, G180 Swim was born. “I invented the personal floatation device and currently hold a utility patent on our device,” she says. “It’s very sleek, very functional, fun to wear and most importantly, it’s fashionable so people actually put them on every single time they get in water.” When creating the device, she accounted for both buoyancy and appearance. “If I want [my children] to wear a safety device, I need to have made sure that it came in the form they most identify with,” she says. “Because I’m targeting this demographic of people, I started to look at what does this generation most value? Their aesthetic.”

Armed with the perfect design, she needed to look toward manufacturing. In 2021, that persistent popup ad guided her to a fountain of knowledge, one she would move across the country for. “I read through the application process and realized I had all of the assets the application was asking for.” From there, she gained what she calls “a fashion family.” “I didn’t feel crazy anymore,” she says. “There were a bunch of people in the same predicament where they have a dream and it’s just them that believed in it, but it brought them this far.”

With her day job as a facilities project manager for more than 20 years, she did not have much experience with fashion or design. “The incubator not only held my hand as I learned but celebrated when I learned something,” she says. However, her

day job did assist in creating the device. “I was able to apply my background of understanding the engineering of things to making the device sleek and streamlined,” she says.

The move to Texas from the DMV area served as the biggest challenge, but she took things one step, one milestone at a time, with her greatest milestone being receiving her utility patent. “It felt like history,” she says. “No matter what anybody says, my name is recorded in a very exclusive group of people who have invented things. It felt like, ‘You’re doing the right thing.’” For Nash, the future for G180 Swim means “sharing our story and our S-O-U-L purpose.

“I miss my son,” Nash reveals. “Having G180 and the progress made as a company to focus on was my saving grace.”




Based in Houston, Texas, Amenta Cutliff’s fashion brand Taumeti takes on a sustainable approach to fashion, drawing back to Cutliff’s dedication to environmental responsibility. “My mother would go to Africa and come back with material,” she recalls. “Often, these were hard to find, due to the low production and location of traditional textiles, so I wanted to maximize every piece. I just take that into everything that I do. Everything is about maximizing, whether it’s time or whether it’s fabric.” The brand’s “Why we do it” page emphasizes this “aim to honor individuality by offering bold colors, quality materials and styles that resonate with one’s spirit, while prioritizing conscious production practices that positively impact both the environment and community.”

Cutliff’s path to fashion started with her love of music. After graduating with a B.A. in music, she received a scholarship to study at The New School and moved to New York to pursue her dreams. Like most young people pursuing a dream, she ran into the issue of making a living. “I was frustrated because it’s a very hard business. How do I make money?” she says. “I always loved bracelets, and after taking a jewelry making class, I decided to make accessories. That really was my entry into the fashion world.” Upon picking up beading and wiring, she caught the attention of the MOCADA Museum. “I was invited to do a fashion show, and that was it,” she says. “I did that show and then like 50 other fashion shows, so I eventually quit my job and took more [accessories] classes. I was supplying local boutiques, but then I moved to Texas, which was a very different market from New York.”

The lack of support for small businesses determined a career change for Cutliff, a move to fashion. “I loved fashion because, unlike music where I had to depend on other people like a producer and a studio, with fashion, I could have an idea, draw it, sketch it, drape it. I could, from [beginning] to finish, make the idea on my own.”

Cutliff finds resources to be the make or break point for fashion. The ACC Fashion Incubator Program offered her a more local sphere of resources. “[I can] find resources in Houston for production so that I’m able to produce locally, and not go overseas to other factories,” she says. “I’m also connecting during Austin Fashion Week and building relationships with models and other people who are in the fashion industry.”

Cutliff tries to be transparent with her practices to help make resources accessible to others. “So many people tell me, ‘Hey, thank you for being transparent. Thank you for showing your techniques and even speaking on it,’ and that always surprises me. Ultimately, I want to be able to connect with people and make things that resonate with people.”

The future for Cutliff and Taumeti is a showcase at the Houston Botanical Gardens, which will be “a collection that is about what [I believe] in, and not [worrying that] it has to sell,” she says. “With this, it’s really just about fusing my love for nature and culture into fashion.”

Amenta Cutliff Photos courtesy of Amenta Cutliff.


“ ”
I want to use my brand as a platform to educate people on sustainability, what sustainability means and how that can positively affect your own community and other communities through things like fair pay worker treatment, and also the positive impact to the environment.

From making the first recycling-focused committee at her high school to becoming the founder of a sustainable brand, Lisa Husberg’s life revolves around sustainability. Her brand Loka.Haus, a luxury lifestyle brand, carries out her mission to spread more ethical fashion practices. “I want to use my brand as a platform to educate people on sustainability, what sustainability means and how that can positively affect your own community and other communities through things like fair pay, worker treatment and also the positive impact to the environment,” she says. Her products range from jewelry and apparel to skincare and perfume, and according to the Loka.Haus website, they “work closely with suppliers to ensure that we know exactly where our materials come from and how they were made.”

She came up with the idea of Loka.Haus for her graduating project at UT Austin in 2011. “I did a whole line based around mega order items, using sustainable materials and ethical dyeing,” she says. “But that was in 2011, so there wasn’t really a path to sustainability at the time or a clear way to start your own brand.” After taking 10 years off from the fashion industry, she revamped the idea of Loka.Haus in 2020 upon being furloughed from her job in hospitality. “I decided that was the time to launch the brand because now I had all this free time,” she says. “I wanted to take that energy and turn it into something for myself, so I did a lot of research.” Within that research, she found the ACC Fashion Incubator Program, after having her brand for a year at that point. “The biggest opportunity it provided me was getting to see the development process in apparel and retail in general,” she says. “It allowed me to see the process from start to finish and also look out for red flags when working with other factories or manufacturers, how to manage the process myself and understand things I could do myself to reduce costs.”


Being a female solopreneur in an industry driven by unethical practices, Husberg runs into many challenges. “I think the biggest challenge right now is educating consumers and really being able to translate not only the idea of sustainability, but what that impact means and why you should spend more when people are already struggling to purchase what they have today,” she says. “I’ve definitely tried to build out my blog.” The Loka.Haus blog posts make consumers aware of the effort that goes into creating a sustainable brand, being fully transparent in each post whether it be about “The Power of Wellness” or “Elevat(ing) your Everyday Style.”

“Being a female in the workforce, you have a ton of obstacles against you,” Husberg says. “When you become an entrepreneur, it’s 10,000 times more. It can be hard to stay motivated, but it’s important to have diversity and perspective in the world. It’s the only way we’re going to be able to grow. It’s important to continue on my path of entrepreneurship and hopefully empower other people to do the same.”

Photos courtesy of Lisa Husberg.

FASHION: A Revolutionary Catalyst for Women

Women have always used fashion as a means of expression and innovation.

American fashion designer and founder of Hope for Flowers Tracy Reese once said, “Fashion is a mirror, reflecting the culture.” From the corseted silhouettes of the Victorian era to the power suits of the 1980s, women’s fashion has been a reflection of societal shifts and feminist movements. Each epoch in fashion has not only mirrored the changing status of women in society but also influenced their psychological and emotional states. It is a vibrant expression of identity, culture and personal narrative, particularly for women and girls.


Fashion’s allure for women lies in its visual and sensory appeal. This sensory engagement is rooted in the evolution of the female brain, emphasizing detail and nuance in visual stimuli. Clothing is a tool for navigating social landscapes, influenced by self-esteem, media portrayals of beauty and societal expectations.

From an early age, girls face media pressure with airbrushed models and unrealistic beauty standards impacting their self-esteem and body image. The male-dominated fashion industry exacerbates these pressures by promoting unattainable beauty ideals.


The way women dress can be a personal narrative, reflecting their heritage, beliefs and experiences. In many cultures, traditional attire is a celebration of identity and a symbol of belonging. For the modern woman, fashion choices can be statements of individuality and empowerment, enabling them to assert their place in the world.


The intersection of fashion and technology opens up exciting possibilities. Wearable technology in fashion, such as smart fabrics that monitor health and augmented reality interfaces integrated into clothing, are rapidly advancing. For women, this integration of technology in fashion could be particularly empowering.

Michelle Washington, a fashion stylist in Austin, offers a profound insight into the intersection of fashion and mental well-being. “Experiencing a complex interplay of emotions…the tactile experience of wearing comfortable and aesthetically pleasing fabrics may stimulate sensory regions, heightening comfort and satisfaction.”


Clothing lines that bring attention to causes like homelessness, bullying and gender inequality can transform fashion into a platform for advocacy and change. North Texas designer Jennifer Stanley uses her fashion line, Nurturing Bond, to address social issues. Her collection advocates for women’s rights and social justice, with a focus on breastfeeding- and postpartum-friendly designs. This aspect of fashion reflects a growing consciousness among consumers and designers alike about the impact of their choices beyond apparel.


As STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) education gains traction, the inclusion of the arts, which encompasses fashion, opens new avenues for women in fields traditionally dominated by men. For example, The University Fashion Group at UT Austin’s mission is to fuse apparel design, retail merchandising, textile science and textiles conservation. Integrating fashion design with AI and computer science enhances clothing functionality, providing a platform for women to innovate and lead in these fields.


Looking to the future, the possibilities of wearable technology and fashion, are boundless especially in Austin. Pauline van Dongen, a Dutch fashion designer who specializes in wearable technology, showcases the potential of merging tech and fashion to enhance body performance. Her presence at SXSW and Austin Fashion Week highlights Austin’s role as a hub for fashion innovation.

Women in Austin’s fashion industry will play a crucial role in shaping the future, driving innovation that is technologically advanced, empathetic and inclusive. From smart garments that adapt to the environment to interactive clothing, the potential is enormous.

To find out more about how fashion empowers women, read the full article at atxwoman.com.

Mental Health IS WEALTH
Illustration courtesy of SHONTÉ JOVAN TAYLOR, M.SC., PH.D.(c).
ATXWOMAN.COM | 51 S ave Ti me BROWSE O NLINE VISIT US AT TWINLIQUORS.COM WHETHER YOU WANT TO BROWSE OUR SELECTION BY STORE, OR order online FOR PICK UP OR DELIVERY, WE MAKE IT easy FOR YOU. PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY SCAN TO SHOP OUR CURRENT SPECIALS FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA w w w c o o k e s i o v e c o m k e w a y T X 7 8 7 3 4 G o u r m e t C o o k i e s , B r o w n i e s , F r o z e n C o o k i e D o u g h , C o o k i e C a k e s , C i n n a m o n R o l l s & M o r e Join us in making a difference! Friday, April 26 l 11:30 - 1:30 l Fairmont Grants and Awards Luncheon TCWLF invites you to be a vital part of our annual Grants & Awards Luncheon – where we present grants to local nonprofits providing legal related assistance to women, children, and families and honor deserving and dedicated women attorneys with awards. Proceeds of the luncheon go directly toward funding the grants. This year we will be awarding ~$90,000 in grants. Looking to highlight your business in front of 400+ local Austin attorneys? Scan for sponsorship opportunities! tcwla.org/foundation-events

Sustainable Fashion Is Not Exactly What You Think

Flora Tenille West, founder of FLORAL SEA, is changing the conversation around sustainability in the fashion industry.

What do you picture when you think of sustainable fashion? Likely you imagine muted earthy colors on natural-fiber fabrics that are often boxy and rather formless (and likely on white models). One Austin fashion pioneer is challenging all of those stereotypes, from the color palette of the clothing to the color of the designers and end users. Flora Tenille West is revolutionizing a new point of view in sustainable fashion that is centered on highlighting the presence of Black-Latine beauty, style and culture. “The roots of sustainable fashion run deeper than an earthy, beige color palette and deadstock fabric,” says Tenille West. “It dates back to the era of slavery. FLORAL SEA is utilizing sustainable design practices as a means to conserve Black culture’s presence in sustainability and fashion.”

“Sustainable fashion is Black. Black culture sets the trends; Black culture leads the trends; Black culture is the trend.” For Tenille West, creative expression and individualistic style have served as entryways to breaking barriers and starting conversations about cultural representation and inclusivity in today’s sustainable fashion movement. She laments, “Historically, sustainable fashion has always been defined by its relationship to whiteness, leaving BIPOC representation a mere afterthought.” As an Afro-Latina, Tenille West recognizes that she, along with BIPOC and multicultural communities, continue to be unrepresented and underserved voices in today’s industry. Through FLORAL SEA, her mission is to exemplify the urgency in showcasing and sharing underrepresented and underserved beauty, in every form, at the forefront of today’s movement where genuine representations remain limited.


The idea for this American contemporary luxury fashion house and multidisciplinary design studio came to Tenille West in a dream after a color theory assignment titled “The New Color.” From this vision, the brand’s core aesthetic was developed as an experimental reinvention of floral print.

Tenille West has crafted a set of unique and colorful floral prints that are then turned into custom-fit clothing, adorable handbags, eye-popping faux-leather sneakers and more. Offering made-to-measure service on their fashion and jewelry lines both fosters size inclusivity and provides the best fit.



The FLORAL SEA collection is designed to produce little to no waste. All of their fashion products and accessories are designed in-house and manufactured through a handmade-to-order system. This is a welcome antidote to the ecological devastation and human toll and misery associated with the production and disposal of fast fashion.

The brand prioritizes materials and design processes that ensure the highest quality and long-term wear for their collections. Not surprisingly, their designs are crafted to be repairable and reusable as well.


“Imagine shopping for clothing and accessories that you can see being made right in front of you,” Tenille West exclaims, “from initial sketch to in-house manufacturing to final product!” This spring, her vision comes to reality. FLORAL SEA is producing an exhibition titled “once a DAYDREAM, now a new POV,” showcased in partnership with UT Austin’s Building Disciplines Program. It will be a reimagination of fashion retail in a contemporary art space, taking on the form of a luxury showroom display adorned with the aesthetics of a fine art gallery. The exhibition will give direct insight into the many creative processes involved in creating a collection for the brand through displaying preliminary sketches, fabric swatches and product samples alongside the final collection. “Transparency is sustainability,” quips Tenille West. “I want people to come into my exhibition and understand every individual process that goes into making my products.”

The exhibition will center on a new collection of FLORAL SEA’s signature flower motif, an experimental reinvention of the RYB color wheel. Fifteen print designs representative of the color hues found on the circular diagram will be brought to life on sustainably and ethically designed clothing and accessories.

You can follow the developments leading up to the big event in May on Instagram @shop_floralsea.co or check out her online store at floralsea.co.


Presented By: ART OF

April 12 & 14, 2024


Join us for an unforgettable weekend at the

Join us for an unforgettable weekend at the Art of Kindness, one of Austin's most vibrant and Art of Kindness, one of Austin's most vibrant and sought-after events! sought-after events! The Kindness Campaign® The Kindness Campaign® invites you to the two-event celebration, marking invites you to the two-event celebration, marking the 5th Anniversary of their signature events. Your the 5th Anniversary of their signature events. Your participation directly fuels the work TKC does to participation directly fuels the work TKC does to create and provide accessible emotional health tools create and provide accessible emotional health tools to children and families across the nation. to children and families across the nation. Secure your spot now at TKCKindness.org. Secure your spot now at TKCKindness.org.

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Professional Photography A m e n t a C u t l i f f / T a u m e t i R a c h e l B a n b u r y / B a n b u r y S a i n t s C a r o l y n N a s h / G 1 8 0 S w i m F a n n i e G u n t o n / L o s t G e n e r a t i o n L i s a H u s b e r g / L o k a . H a u s A a r o n T o r r e s / S l e e p N e v e r N i n a M e a n s / N i n a M e a n s 0 2 . 1 3 . 2 4 | 5 : 3 0 - 7 : 3 0 P M A U S T I N P B S - K L R U P R E S E N T I N G O U R I N A U G U R A L Join us for an evening of style as we celebrate seven ACC Fashion Incubator stars. Enjoy networking, cocktails, light bites, and shopping at Boutique Pop-Ups. CRASHGAL COUTURE
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