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“Be daring, be different, be impractical.” —Cecil Beaton


Every 2017 model year Mazda vehicle tested by IIHS has been rated a Top Safety Pick+, when equipped with available Smart City Brake Support and Adaptive Front-lighting System. The only exception is the Mazda MX-5 which isn’t tested by (IIHS).





866-779-8409 • M-F 8:30AM - 9:00PM | Sat 8:30AM - 8:00PM

Austin 2236 West Braker 512.451.1233 ( just east of The Domain and Burnet Road next to Culver’s) San Antonio 18603 Blanco Road 210.545.4366 ( just north of 1604 in The Vineyard next to Whole Foods Market)





san antonio


el paso

copenhagen contemporary You are invited to come in and experience the extraordinary feel of luxury and comfort. This beautiful sectional is available from stock in a fine deep green top grain leather. Includes 2 electric recliners and chaise $ 6999. Special order any color and in many combinations. (It looks great as a 2 seat electric sofa)

contemporary furniture & accessories

Christopher Brennig, MD

Austin Vein Institute State-of-the-art Varicose Vein Treatment

C h r i s t op h e r W. Br e n n i g , M . D . CERTIFIED: The American Board of General Surgery SUB-SPECIALTY CERTIFIED: The American Board of Vascular Surgery

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Dr. Brennig is Board Certified in Vascular Surgery and in General Surgery. He is recognized for his expertise in the minimally invasive treatment of varicose veins, spider veins, recurrent varicose veins, and complex venous disorders including DVT. Please call the Austin Vein Institute to schedule a comprehensive consultation.

V e i n A u s t i n . c o m

Your One Place for Comprehensive Cancer Care. Now Open! With the opening of the Austin area’s newest cancer care facility, Baylor Scott & White Cancer Center – Round Rock, patients receive compassionate, forward-thinking cancer care and support all close to where they live and work. Backed by the resources of Baylor Scott & White Health, Texas’ largest not-for-profit health care system, the Cancer Center offers the comprehensive, advanced resources needed to fight cancer.

• • • • • • •

Board-certified medical, surgical and radiation cancer specialists trained to address all forms of cancer Screening, diagnosis, treatment and support on one campus Innovative tools and advanced therapies Nurse navigators who coordinate care and support services A warm, modern environment to promote healing Access to promising clinical trials for next-generation therapies A specialized, nationally accredited program for patients with breast cancer

For more information about the new Baylor Scott & White Cancer Center – Round Rock, call 512.509.0099 or visit

300A University Blvd. | Round Rock, TX 78665 Changing Cancer Care. For Life.® Physicians provide clinical services as members of the medical staff at one of Baylor Scott & White Health’s subsidiary, community or affiliated medical centers and do not provide clinical services as employees or agents of those medical centers or Baylor Scott & White Health. ©2017 Baylor Scott & White Health. BSWROUNDROCK_91_2017 SOM

I AM A TEXAS MBA “Not a day goes by that I don’t utilize the knowledge, skills, or amazing network I gained and cultivated while earning my Texas MBA. This investment in myself continues to be the best investment I have ever made, and it has absolutely changed the trajectory of my career.”

ALISSA BAYER Founder and owner, milk + honey spa, salon, and products Expert massage receiver Organic product fiend Mother of three MBA 2004


Photo by Korey Howell.

Evening & Executive Programs


Plastic Surgery from a Woman’s Perspective. 2017 Super Doctors® Rising Stars® honoree Dr. Christine Fisher is inspired daily as she works with her patients, undergoing cosmetic surgery of the breast and body due to pregnancy or aging, or to restore the breast after cancer treatment. For breast reconstruction patients, Dr. Fisher offers natural options such as DIEP Flap reconstruction, implant-based and nipple-sparing reconstruction, and ‘hidden scar’ techniques resulting in no scars on the front of the breast. For cosmetic patients, she offers re-shaping of the breast with breast augmentation or reduction, and body-shaping procedures such as tummy tucks and liposuction. Call today to speak with her patient care team, who will help you navigate the restorative journey. 1015 E. 32nd St Ste 306 | Plaza St. David | Austin, TX 78705

(512) 815-0123




Endocrinology is the science of hormones, which affect every cell and every function in your body. The glands secreting these hormones form your endocrine system, a tightly interconnected system with thousands of feedback loops. It is far more complex than any supercomputer today. Hormones control everything in your body from birth to death. Without hormones, your body cannot function. Examples of hormones: estrogen, testosterone, insulin and hormones like thyroid, cortisol, adrenal and pituitary.


They are diseases caused by a malfunction of one or more endocrine glands in your body. Examples: thyroid, osteoporosis, metabolic syndrome and obesity, hirsutism, menopause, low testosterone in males, andropause and impotence, polycystic ovaries, irregular or lack of menstrual periods, high and low calcium, and diabetes.


hypothyroidism. Thyroid ailments include Graves’ and Hashimoto disease, goiter, thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer. Thyroid problems require lifelong attention. Each person has a different genetic set point for TSH, the thyroid stimulation hormone.


Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to break. Osteoporosis affects one in two women and one in four men over the age of 50 and is generally missed. Bone fracture is considered to be the heart attack of the bone and can have major consequences on your quality of life, from reduced mobility to potential loss of mobility altogether. A bone density test is the only way to test for osteoporosis. We perform such testing and provide consultation on bone metabolism and osteoporosis treatment.

HORMONE MYTHS DEBUNKED The facts about some hormone myths:

“Seek your optimal health, your ideal yet achievable health, and increase the quality of your life.”

Aging, other diseases, stress, environmental and genetic factors do influence your endocrine system. Aging changes how hormones are produced and absorbed by your body. Genetic factors and other diseases can do the same. Stress triggers a cascade of hormones that affect your heart, kidneys and other organs. Recent research identified endocrine disrupting chemicals in our environment.


Hormone treatments must be followed by a hormone specialist (endocrinologist) the same way heart disease is followed by a heart specialist (cardiologist). An endocrinologist has years of special training in diagnosing and treating your hormone imbalances. Endocrine diseases are often missed, since symptoms are often subtle and easy to brush aside. An endocrinologist starts out with a thorough physical evaluation looking for these telltale sings, then follows up with a battery of blood and other lab tests. Often, additional highly specialized tests are involved to identify the root cause of your hormonal imbalance.


Since hormones rule your body, have your hormonal balance assessed by an endocrinologist to optimize your health. Dr. Simone Scumpia of Austin Thyroid & Endocrinology outlines everything you need to know about hormones and their effect on the body.

Thyroid disease affects 30 million Americans, yet half of them do not know they have it. It is called the “silent disease.” One in eight women will develop a thyroid disorder in their life; women are five to eight times more likely than men to develop hyperthyroidism or

3 Bioidentical hormones are not human identical and may cause complications.

3 Fountain of youth hormones (otherwise known as human growth hormones) can cause serious side effects when used for anti-aging.

3 hCG diets (HCG) by themselves do not cause weight loss, but can cause irregular periods for women and breast enlargement for men.

3 Hormone treatment of fatigue, depression or anti-aging should be avoided due to many side effects it can cause. 3 Adrenal fatigue is not a real disease, but adrenal failure is a life threatening disease.


Medicine addresses disease treatment and prevention. Optimal health and biological age deal with your health before disease prevention or treatment. We focus on optimal health, the ideal yet achievable health of your body as you reach middle age and beyond. Our specialized equipment allows us to measure and evaluate your biological age, a measure of how well or poorly your body is functioning relative to your actual calendar age. Biological age is a composite of several “ages” such as brain age, bone age, heart age and vessel age. Optimal health focuses on your wellness before disease can be identified; it is a step before disease prevention and does improve the quality of your life.



(behind North Austin Medical Center) MON-FRI, 7 AM TO 4 PM 512.467.2727 |

Dr. Simone Scumpia treats all thyroid and endocrine (hormonal) ailments with emphasis on optimal health and biological age.

Surgical | Medical | Cosmetic

Healthy Skin is Always in

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Board Certified Physicians • Medicare/Major Insurance Accepted Contact us today to learn more about our services and specials. 888.451.0139

Look good, feel good, do good. A portion of every service, patient visit and product purchase at Tru-Skin Dermatology is donated to The Shade Project and Skin Cancer Foundation to help skin cancer prevention efforts.

Frame Le High distressed, skinny-leg, cropped raw-edge jeans, $225; Frame smocked, tie-back, long-sleeve chiffon blouse, $275; Isabel Marant Beth metallic lightning-bolt sneakers, $460.

Photo by Rudy Arocha.

All items available at Neiman Marcus, 3400 Palm Way, 512.719.1200,










Photo courtesy of the Dwell Hotel.




14 PICTURE THIS AW Celebrated 15 Years 22 SAVE THE DATE Five Must-dos for October




24 COUNT US IN Women in Numbers 26 B OTTOM LINE The Power of Thinking Big 28 F ROM THE DESK OF Eliana Bernard 30 G  IVE BACK Kids in a New Groove’s Laura Wood

The Boss Behind the Beats Chattanooga, Tenn.

56 THE LOOK A New Altatude 58 BEAUTY Spice, Girl 60 MAKE ROOM Twofold


33 GIRLS EMPOWERMENT NETWORK Unstoppable 76 T O MARKET Double Take 42 P ROFILE The Refuge Ranch’s Brooke Crowder 78 F OOD NEWS The Tasty Spoon 44 P ROFILE PeaceBox’s Stacy Thrash WELLNESS


46 ATX WOMAN TO WATCH Darcie DeShazo 47 A  TX WOMAN TO WATCH Tina Weyand and Kristen Nolte

48 ATX WOMAN TO WATCH Ashley Ivy Swift 49 A  TX WOMAN TO WATCH Kellie Moore


80 W  AITING ROOM Straighten Up 84 E AT THIS, NOT THAT Olive Oil and Coconut Oil


Julie Black


Annie Liao Jones


Photo by Rudy Arocha, Hair and makeup by Grace Watson, Shot on location at Circuit of the Americas, 9201 Circuit of the Americas Blvd., 512.301.6600,


PERSON SEEM MORE CONFIDENT. Plus: people who smile are more likely to get a promotion than those who smile less often.




3305 Northland Drive Suite 515, Austin TX 78731









Austin Woman toasted 15 years in business at its annual anniversary event Sept. 15. More than 500 loyal readers and beloved community leaders convened at the Westin Austin at The Domain for a full-day experience, including a leadership workshop led by WP Engine, the musical stylings of Courtney Santana and countless networking opportunities with local vendors. During the luncheon, AW awarded a small-business grant to Yard Bar, surprised all guests with a handcrafted beaded tassel necklace from Noonday Collection and featured a panel discussion among Kim Lewis, founder of Kim Lewis Designs; Colette Pierce Burnette, president of Huston-Tillotson University; Jessica Honegger, founder of Noonday Collection; and Whitney Casey, founder of Finery. After the events at the Westin, guests were shuttled to a private showcase of Le Métier beauty products at Neiman Marcus, followed by an exclusive after-party at HomeAway, featuring bites by Mia Italian Tapas and Bar and cocktails by Austin Cocktails. On behalf of Austin Woman, thank you to everyone who made the day possible and fabulous, as usual. Follow us @AustinWoman or at to stay tuned for details about next year’s celebration.





Caitlin Candelari, Jill Case, Kelly DiNardo, Natalie England, Sarah Holcomb, Annie Liao Jones, Lauren Jones, Natalie Paramore, Amanda Pinney, Rachel Rascoe, Phaedra Rogers, Abigail Rosenthal, Gretchen M. Sanders

Because our readers look to us to help them make informed choices, including which doctors to see, we have launched a powerful digital solution—ATXDOCTORS.COM.



Become a part of our online directory featuring Austin’s leading doctors and health-care centers


Rudy Arocha, Daniel Cavazos, Logan Crable, Kelly DiNardo, Leonid Furmansky, Dwayne Hill, Ettie Kim, Niki Jones, Jane Ko, Tyler Malone, Alison Marlborough, Lisa Muñoz, Alison Narro, Natalie Paramore, Ben Porter, Gretchen M. Sanders, Sarah Swainson, Marshall Tidrick, Keith Trigaci, Jessica Wetterer

Answer our readers frequently asked health questions in an exclusive Ask An Expert article


Michelle Borquez

Showcase your business and experience with an in-depth doctor profile page



Caitlin Candelari


Lydia Gregovic, Monica Grice, Madison Matous, Mikaila Rushing


Emily C. Laskowski, Deborah Hamilton-Lynne, Mary Anne Connolly, Elizabeth Eckstein

Austin Woman is a free monthly publication of AW Media Inc., and is available at more than 1,250 locations throughout Austin and in Lakeway, Cedar Park, Round Rock and Pflugerville. All rights reserved. For submission requirements, visit

Physicians and healthcare providers, we welcome your participation.

No part of the magazine may be reprinted or duplicated without permission.

Please contact us at: or 512.328.2421

Visit us online at Email us at 512.328.2421 | 3921 Steck Ave., Suite A111, Austin, TX 78759


“I just read Madeline’s post on Facebook,” she wrote, mentioning our mutual friend and an editor at Austin Monthly, Madeline Hollern. “Want to make welcome kits?” Welcome kits? Welcome kits for what? “Oh my god, is Madeline pregnant?” I all too enthusiastically shot back. “No, welcome kits for the Hurricane Harvey evacuees,” Jane said, explaining. A quick check of my Facebook page found a video of Mayor Steve Adler encouraging Austinites to come together and welcome our affected neighbors from the Southeast—in both our community and our schools—with open arms and homemade care packages, or, as he called them, welcome kits. I had a flashback to when I was a freshman in high school and the teachers introduced a few new classmates who had lost their homes to Hurricane Katrina. At the time, I didn’t know what to do or if I could do anything to help these new kids feel more at home in a school, in a situation in which they felt so displaced. So, I simply introduced myself and made sure to snag the seat beside them in class. Earlier this August, Jane sprung into action. She tweeted the mayor, asking if it would be OK to make miniature welcome kits instead of the big bins he was proposing. “Use your best judgment,” Adler tweeted back a few minutes later. “You’ve got great taste.” A flutter of texts ensued as we worked to put together a list of restaurants, coffee shops and hotels that might be willing to donate items to make these miniature welcome kits. Ever the night owl, Jane stayed up until 4 a.m., reaching out to PR people and local businesses with varying requests. She decided to cancel her work trip to New York City.

Join the conversation @AustinWoman #TheTrueGritIssue


In fact, she decided to put a hold on all her work responsibilities for the week ahead, and chose instead to make a 20-second stop-motion video of all the items she was using to put together these welcome kits. Each kit included a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, face wash, a face cloth, pads, soap, a comb, shampoo, conditioner, tissues, a snack, a voucher for a free meal or coffee in Austin and a handwritten welcome note. Once she posted the video to Instagram, her original goal—to make 100 welcome kits—quickly grew to making 500 welcome kits. People wanted to help support this mission, so Jane created an Amazon Prime list, through which anyone could buy products that would automatically be shipped to Jane’s house. Within a week of seeing Mayor Adler’s video, she had gathered a dozen friends to put all the packages together and dropped them off at an Austin Disaster Relief Network donation center. It’s been more than a month now since Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on families living in Texas’ coastal cities and the Houston area. Back when our publisher and I were first planning this issue, she posed a question to me: “How would you define ‘true grit’?” It’s the theme of this issue, after all, and therefore, a solid question to consider as we decided which stories to share with you this month. My response to the question was this: “Someone who exudes strength, persistence and perseverance.” To those affected by the storm and to those who extended a helping hand in its devastating wake, you deserve recognition beyond the bounds of this issue. You are the real definition of true grit. Sincerely,


Photo by Lisa Muñoz.


he time was 5:18 p.m. Aug. 30, a Wednesday night, when my friend and beloved Austin food blogger Jane Ko texted me.




HOPE For leading-edge technology and the highest level of

breast cancer expertise, visit Texas Breast Specialists, part of the Texas Oncology network. We offer comprehensive breast care including screening mammography, diagnostics and non-surgical image-guided biopsy. With compassion and understanding, our physicians partner with you to help you understand your options and develop the best possible treatment plan for you. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please visit

TEXAS BREAST SPECIALISTS–AUSTIN 901 W. 38th Street, Suite 300 Austin, TX 78705 512-421-4111 TEXAS BREAST SPECIALISTS– AUSTIN NORTH 12221 Renfert Way, Suite 300 Austin, TX 78758 512-873-8900 TEXAS BREAST SPECIALISTS–BASTROP 3107 Highway 71 East Bastrop, TX 78602 512-421-4111 TEXAS BREAST SPECIALISTS– CEDAR PARK 1401 Medical Parkway B, Suite 412 Cedar Park, TX 78613 512-260-6050

Texas Breast Specialists is a part of Texas Oncology.

Something for everyone


This month, we asked our contributors: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?



Photographer Rudy Arocha is a native Texan who moved to Austin to pursue his education in fine arts as a sculptor. He later rediscovered his passion for photography when his grandfather gave him a camera as a gift. Rudy graduated from the Art Institute of Austin and specializes in portrait photography. When not photographing, Rudy enjoys music, the outdoors and spending time with his wife, Maggie. “My one superpower I have always dreamed of is to fly. I could go anywhere at any moment, from down the street to another country to outer space!”



Natalie England is an Austinbased writer. She studied journalism at the University of Texas and has worked as a narrative craftsperson and storyteller for almost 20 years. it

“If I could have one superpower, it would be the ability to heal and help others.”



Keith Trigaci is an Austinbased photographer who was lucky enough to recently move back to Texas from Los Angeles. When he isn’t doing commercial photography, he enjoys documenting life’s moments, including weddings and day-in-the-life family sessions.

Upcoming events: OctOber 6 & 7, 8:00 p.m. Bruckner’s Te Deum Chorus Austin Masterworks Series Long Center’s Dell Hall Music of Bruckner

“If I could have one superpower, it would be the ability to teleport; no trains, planes or automobiles! ” BruCkner



OctOber 20, 8:00 p.m. Disney FANTASIA—Live in Concert Long Center’s Dell Hall OctOber 29, 1:00 p.m. & 4:00 p.m. Halloween Children’s Concert AISD Performing Arts Center Creepy fun for all ages!

ConCerT S PonSorS

SeASon SPonS or


Download the app:


Tickets/info Download the app:

BruCkner: Alpheus & exxonMobil


(512) 476-6064 or

DISney FAnTASIA: Austin tree e xperts H ALLoween: h- e- b t ournAMent of ChAMpions

MeDIA S P onSorS

Download the app:

all artists, programs, and dates subject to change.

Download the app:


Download the app:


Download the app:




Phaedra Rogers is a native Texan and Austin freelancer who writes about a variety of things, but has a soft spot for writing about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. She’s been freelancing for the past 17 years while embracing a few cross-country moves with her husband and three daughters. Those changes of scenery and exposure to new faces propelled her belief that everyone has an interesting story to share, no matter how cliché that may sound. “I’d like to have a combo superpower: cloning and teleporting my selves. That way, I could be in all the places I need to be simultaneously while also evading Austin traffic.”

PROUD TO CALL ALEXIS DEJORIA A PART OF OUR FAMILY. Alexis DeJoria’s success extends far beyond the racetrack. Along with her impressive record on the blacktop, she’s made it her mission to help advance women in sports. We’re honored to recognize her outstanding efforts. Cheers to you, Alexis.


➥ More creative carving. Grab your pumpkin-spice latte (or PSL, for you hipsters

out there) and learn how to craft fall-themed faux pumpkins, without any of the gooey mess, from Ananda Neureither, founder of Crafts and Drafts.

➥ More heat in the kitchen. If you know even a morsel about Austin’s farm-totable food scene, you’ve heard the praises sung about Chef Sonya Coté, the executive chef of Eden East and Hillside Farmacy, and how she takes the cake when it comes to creating what she refers to as “edible pieces of art.”

➥ More page-turners. We scoured the lengthy author lineup for this year’s

Texas Book Festival, taking place Nov. 4 and 5, and pulled together a mustread tally of books, all written by women who will be in attendance, to add to your nightstand this fall.

➥ More green thumbs. Meet Alejandra Rodriguez Boughton, a corporate

banker turned founder of La Flaca Urban Gardens. The career shift came about when Rodriguez Boughton took it upon herself to make sure true Mexican ingredients, organic herbs and veggies were reaching local chefs and restaurants in Austin.


Who doesn’t love mixing fun with fashion? Let your voice and opinions be heard for the chance to win a $500 gift card to Katie Kime, a lifestyle brand of fashion, furniture and accessories. All you have to do is answer our Austin Woman readership survey online before Oct. 15, and you’re automatically entered for a chance to win! Don’t worry, it should only take you a minute. After all, this isn’t a writing test. It’s all multiple-choice answers. Do you want to get a head start on your entry? Visit

The Lights Fest Oct. 7, 4 to 8 p.m., 2224 Walsh Tarlton Lane, Suite 200

Keep an eye on our Instagram account, @AustinWoman, for the giveaway announcement in October. Word to the wise: We like to be spontaneous. A winner will be chosen and notified at the end of the month.

National Ovarian Cancer Coalition Annual Run Walk Oct. 15, 7 a.m., Camp Mabry, 2200 W. 35th St.

Austin Under the Stars Film Fest Oct. 21, 7 p.m. to midnight Lone Star Court, 10901 Domain Drive

Austin Margarita Fest Oct. 28, noon to 8 p.m. Austin American-Statesman office, 305 S. Congress Ave.






@ austinwoman

Katie Kime photo courtesy of Anna D. Photos.



9/28 – 10/21







French Wine 101 and Bordeaux 201 Classes on Various Wednesdays**


Weekend Features on Bordeaux, Rhone & Languedoc Regions Info and events calendar at





*French wine sale runs 9/28/17-10/21/17. Discount is off regular retail priced 750ml bottles of French Wine. No further discount on Twin Deals, Bargain Barrels, Ends in “2” pricing or sale items. **Must be 21+ to participate. Please drink responsibly.





Check out the October agenda from our favorite local insiders. AUSTIN CITY LIMITS MUSIC FESTIVAL “Austin City Limits Music Festival, Austin’s largest celebration of music that brings people from all over the country together, is back again with more than 140 musical acts on eight stages, all spread out over two weekends. Go for the music, but stay for the food. I can’t wait to stuff my face with Micklethwait, Peli Peli, East Side King and Chi’Lantro’s kimchee fries.” Oct. 6 through 8 and 13 through 15, times vary | Zilker Park, 2100 Barton Springs Road | One-day tickets are $100.

Jane Ko @atasteofkoko

“Nothing says fall like Oktoberfest. Banger’s will have a special Oktoberfest menu, live music, Oktoberfest games with awesome prizes and special featured beers. They tap a free ferkin (a type of keg equivalent to 72 pints) once a day to start off the party and, of course, their staff dresses the part. It’s a fall fest that needs to be on your calendar!” Oct. 26 through 28, times vary | Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden, 79 Rainey St. | Admission is free.

Kristy Owen @365thingsaustin

THE AIA HOMES TOUR “The AIA Homes Tour is the architect-association home tour where the best home designers, builders and landscapers in Austin are showcased. It’s a great place for a designer or anyone interested in homes to be inspired.” Oct. 28 and 29, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. | Locations vary | Tickets start at $35.50.

Katie Kime @katie_kime

FIND WHAT FEELS GOOD U.S. ROADSHOW “This 11-stop, cross-country yoga tour brings a fresh take on how to get healthy and motivated. Starting in New York City and ending with a final homecoming celebration in Austin, join Yoga With Adriene for a 90-minute, all-levels yoga class that is sure to leave you feeling good.” Oct. 15, noon to 3:30 p.m. | Fair Market, 1100 E. Fifth St. | Tickets start at $25.

Adriene Mishler @yogawithadriene

HEY SUGAR! AUSTIN DESSERT FEST “The truth is we don’t need much more convincing than the affirmation that chocolate will be in attendance at Austin’s first dessert festival, Hey Sugar!, but it helps to know macarons, ice cream, cupcakes, cookies and pies also made the VIP list. Mark this as your cheat day and let your sweet tooth reign supreme as you sample an array of sugary concoctions from Austin’s most talented bakers. Pro tip: Don’t forget to snap a few pics to make your Instagram fans envious.” – April Cumming Oct. 29, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. | Peached Social House, 6500 N. Lamar Blvd. | Tickets start at $10.

Austin Woman @austinwoman


Austin City Limits Music Festival photo by Jane Ko. Banger’s Oktoberfest photo by Tyler Malone. AIA Homes Tour photo by Leonid Furmansky.


Celebrating Survivors!

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Facts and figures on females from throughout the world. BY SARAH HOLCOMB, ILLUSTRATIONS BY JESSICA WETTERER

20 Pastry Chefs At Abu Salha Sweets, a large sweets factory in West Bank, Palestine, 20 Palestinian women are pioneering pastry chefs. These women now hold more than half of the factory’s jobs, the majority of which are traditionally reserved for men. When the women first went to work, they faced some critics, but silenced them with their superior baking skills. Female employees currently receive a salary of about $420 a month—half a male pastry chef’s paycheck—but factory managers say they plan to provide pastry courses that will enable the women to sweeten their salaries. In Palestine, women often work in the education or banking industries, but are legally prohibited from entering certain career fields. While more women now graduate from Palestinian universities than men, a 2017 survey found more than 80 percent of the country’s female population is unemployed.

3 Top Jobs This fall, Renee Hall became the first woman and the first African-American woman to hold the position of police chief in the Dallas Police Department’s 136year history. Hall joins two other women of color in the Dallas law-enforcement community, Sheriff Lupe Valdez and District Attorney Faith Johnson. The three women now hold the top three law-enforcement positions in Dallas County. Hall previously served at the Detroit Police Department, where she helped the department deal with city bankruptcy and slashed salaries. Now she’s taking on new challenges in Dallas: lifting department morale and working to recruit and retain more officers. With extensive experience matched with her “infectious presence,” city leaders say Hall is the right woman for the job.

23 Years Old Suzanne Silantoi is not Kenya’s average senatorial candidate. Not only is she a woman and an accomplished pianist with a degree in music, but she’s also just 23 years old. Looking to serve others, Silantoi took a job at a Kenyan health-care nonprofit in 2014. Realizing her neighbors were deeply underserved, she dove into state budgets and records for an explanation. After she discovered wasted resources and mismanagement, Silantoi threw herself into the running, with a crowdfunded budget, as the youngest and only female candidate vying for Nairobi’s spot in Kenya’s Senate. Although Silantoi is young, she’s optimistic that her age will be an asset to her win. After all, more than half the city’s voters are younger than 35.

275 People Pampered When Vanessa Howard opened Giving Hands Hair Salon in Tampa, Fla., she set out to use pampering to pay it forward. Once a homeless single mother of three with only $1.75 to her name, Howard overcame depression and desperation with help from a stranger’s kindness. Now, on her Sundays off, Howard, her five daughters and a small team of volunteers serve homeless women and children in the community by providing free trims, facials and manicures. So far, they’ve impacted the lives of 275 people, and counting. This fall, before the first day of school, Howard and her team threw back-to-school Princess Parties, pampering elementary-age homeless girls with tiaras and school supplies, and providing free makeovers for moms. “All of us have a story,” Howard told CBS News, “and I believe that we should use what we’ve been through to help others.”

2,000 Female Characters According to a new study by the University of Southern California, researchers examining more than 1,000 film scripts collected from the past few decades found sexism is still alive on the silver screen. The study revealed a number of gender gaps in the acting industry: Only 2,000 characters in film scripts were female, compared with 4,900 male characters, and the female characters were usually five years younger and less central to the plot than their male counterparts. Women apparently don’t get in as many words either. While men participated in 37,000 dialogues, female characters spoke in only 15,000 dialogues. Although most screenwriters are men, the study suggests that, with a woman writer in the room, female representation in film scripts increases by 50 percent, on average. Cue the next Wonder Woman. 24 |  AUSTIN WOMAN |  OCTOBER 2017

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HPV is so common that most sexually-active men and women will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives. At Lotus we can help.

Dr. Saima Jehangir, M.D./M.P.H., F.A.C.O.G | 512.716.0971 | 1305 W. 34th Street | 12221 Renfert Way





How one woman took a chance, spent $119 and launched a milliondollar business.

I have been actively involved in the Austin real-estate market for the past 13 years. Here is what I have learned: take a little, leave a little. Trust your gut. Invest in things you believe in and get excited about. There is always another deal to be found. Always speak your mind and be yourself. Become a creator, not a competitor. It was 2004, and I was exhausted from working three jobs to service my student-loan debt. Looking for a way out, I read a pile of investment books and discovered I had the potential to make money by purchasing a home with little to no money down. A few months later, with only $119 at closing, I bought my first home in East Austin. Because of its proximity to downtown, I followed my gut and took a chance on the Holly Street neighborhood. That investment turned into a $150,000 profit just two years later. With a new understanding of how to make money work for me, I began driving the streets of East Austin with two babies in tow. I would look for homes with boarded-up windows and tall grass. I wrote down addresses and contacted owners to see if they were interested in selling. This led to me buying and selling dozens of undervalued homes for my clients and myself while turning a profit each time. In just a few short years, I paid off my student-loan debt and had a thriving million-dollar business. I had realized my knack for finding opportunity in the real-estate market. Since that time, I have continued working as both a broker and as an investor. This year, after working for one of the premier luxury-real-estate agencies in town, Gottesman Residential, I decided it was time to pursue my next life goal of owning my own real-estate brokerage. I started Stone & Acre Real Estate, with a collaborative and cooperative culture being a cornerstone of the business. Through my years of experience, I have learned I can accomplish much more by forming a team that combines unique skill sets, abilities and experiences. I am so proud to have the opportunity to influence other women, particularly mothers, by providing them with the knowledge and confidence they need to take risks. I want other women to reap the rewards of success, regardless of their industry. Real estate is much more than selling homes. To me, it is a passion that came about unexpectedly and gifted me with incredible means to support my family. As a single mother of two boys who juggles many responsibilities, I know life can be overwhelming.


Photo by Alison Marlborough.


I want women to know that through the power of thinking big, collaboration and believing in their dreams, mountains can be moved—and this doesn’t just apply to women in the real-estate industry. Successful entrepreneurs spanning many genres of business have inspired me. I believe the key ingredients to success are surrounding yourself with a supportive tribe, trusting your intuition, taking leaps of faith, persevering in the face of doubt and, most importantly, wanting success more than you fear it. I hope my journey both inspires and gives women permission to follow their dreams. Remember, dreams can start with a mere $119, and can be built one stone and one acre at a time.

LINDSAY HARRIS’ HOMEBUYING TIPS FOR THE AUSTIN MARKET 1. F  ind a good lender and get preapproved—not just prequalified—before you get your heart set on a property. There are many additional costs, such as taxes and HOA fees, that need to be considered. Many people skip this step and are surprised and sometimes heartbroken to find out a home is not within their price range.

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2. D  ecide what type of property and neighborhood you want to live in. Is it a single-family home, condo or high-rise? We are fortunate to live in a city that offers many different types of housing and neighborhood options.

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3. F  ind a neighborhood specialist. Everyone knows a real-estate agent, but not everyone knows the agent that will best suit his or her needs. Interview two to three agents who specialize in the area you want to live in. A good agent will have the inside scoop and know lots of important details that will add value to your purchase.


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8. D  o not be intimidated by multiple offers. Ask yourself what you are willing to pay for the home in order to not lose it. Get the house under contract and realize there is opportunity for another round of negotiation after the inspection.



7. Find out what the seller wants. Oftentimes, it’s not just about the price. I like to have my clients write a letter explaining to the seller why they love the house and want to live in it. Sellers do not always take the highest offer. A good agent will find out what their motivations are.




6. I n real estate, you make your money on the buy. Find a house with good bones. Let the small cosmetic things go and add value by making changes that are necessary and aesthetically pleasing.



5. D  o not overthink the homebuying process. Realize your first or even second home is most likely not your forever home. Find a home you like and can afford with the understanding that this is a stepping stone on your path to success.



4. O  nce you find a property you love, make sure it’s a good fit. Drive the neighborhood morning, noon and night. Talk to the neighbors, commute to work, see if there is a coffee shop you love close by. Experiencing the area at different times is the best way to get a true sense of the activity in the neighborhood.






This Austin ceramics designer shares her tips on how to transform your creative passion into a career. BY SARAH HOLCOMB Scroll through Austin-based ceramics artist Eliana Bernard’s expertly curated Instagram, @elianabernard, and you’ll find candy-colored vases, gold-rimmed dish wear and elegant pendants, all featuring her signature marbled design. Yet behind Bernard’s flawless feed, the designer says she’s well acquainted with the challenges of building a business.

Bernard fell in love with molding clay as a college art student interning for local ceramics artists. In 2013, while juggling another job, she launched her first ceramics collection. This year, she transitioned to focusing full time on her business, Eliana Bernard Ceramics. Austin Woman asked Bernard to offer her insight on how to turn a creative pursuit into a career.


Know you’re going to make mistakes. —Eliana Bernard

HER LIST 1. F  ind an internship. “Look at internships out there in the field you’re wanting to work in. … [My internships] taught me so much that I wouldn’t have learned while going to school, things like how to pack ceramics for shipping, creating a wholesale catalogue and setting up business meetings.” 2. N  etwork with other creatives. “It’s important to meet people in the same field you’re trying to pursue to build up a network of people that you can bounce ideas off of and support each other. I’ve been going to Creative Ladies Night (@creativeladiesnight on Instagram). That’s an [Austin] event where women get together, network and meet each other. We bring wine or a friend and hang out and talk. It’s very casual and a great way to go and network and meet people.” 3. B uild a social-media presence. “I love Instagram! … It’s a great way to get your work out there to a variety of people. I’ve also made connections with other makers and retailers and press through Instagram. I try to post once a day something I’m doing in the studio or something that I made.”

5. M  ake sure it’s something you love to do. “Starting a business is tough, especially if it’s something you’re doing while you’re also working a full-time job or a parttime job. Starting and running a business has its ups and downs. If it’s something that you love to do, it’s easier to get through the down times.” 28 |  AUSTIN WOMAN |  OCTOBER 2017

Photo by Marshall Tidrick.

4. D  evote time to learning your craft. “Experiment and figure out what it is you’re working on. Whether [you’re] building on a collection or you’re testing out a couple different products, it’s important to have the time and also patience. Know you’re going to make mistakes and sometimes, things won’t work out as planned, but it’s all a part of the process.”





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Laura Wood, executive director of Kids in a New Groove, is impacting the lives of youth in the foster-care system, one note at a time. Music is at the forefront of our culture, a pulsing rhythm to our lives. It defines decades, days and even the smallest of moments. For students at the flourishing Austin-based nonprofit Kids in a New Groove, music and melody have come to represent hope in a world full of constant change. The organization’s bubbly and passionate executive director, Laura Wood, joined the organization in 2013, sparked by her desire to further help those in the foster-care system. Having worked previously as the director of intake at a national child-placement agency for five years, the transition to Kids in a New Groove was an obvious choice for Wood. The nonprofit provides oneon-one 30-minute music lessons to foster children throughout Austin. If a student wants to learn music theory, how to sing the latest Taylor Swift hit or even become the next John Coltrane, the organization is there to support his or her dreams by pairing students with volunteer music mentors. A unique aspect of the program, Wood says, is that mentors go to students’ homes and move with them if and when they move. And with children moving homes an average of six times throughout their time in the foster-care system, this personalized approach grants students a sense of stability. With more than 150 children in the Kids in a New Groove program, each presents a special case. “There isn’t a typical Kids in a New Groove student. [The age range] really shows that the program works for everyone,” Wood says, noting the youngest is 5 years old and the oldest is 22. “Kids in foster care have grown up around Court Appointed Special Advocate, or CASA, volunteers and foster-care workers who know the ins and outs of their story. Then we come in and we aren’t involved in the system. We are just there to talk, learn music and be there for them.” Although the organization, founded in 2009, is still relatively small, there have been numerous student success stories. Wood vividly recalls the story of a 13-year-old girl. “Before joining KING, she wouldn’t talk to anyone. Her mom was a drug addict and her dad wasn’t in the picture,” Wood says. “Her life had been difficult, but the treatment center she was in wanted to put her in voice lessons.” After months of lessons, the young girl began to show progress, using music as a way to express her emotions. At her first Kids in a New


Groove recital, she performed a moving original song, which she dedicated to a friend who had committed suicide. “It was incredible to see this kid who could have hurt herself or run away but instead, put her feelings into a creative outlet,” Wood says. “That’s difficult for anyone at any age to do, especially a child that has been through what she has been through. Her performance brought tears to everyone’s eyes.” There are many other stories of similar impact that clearly exhibit the power of the program. “We’ve been around long enough that now we have alumni students who have graduated from college and are playing shows around town,” Wood says. “We keep in touch with them and make sure they are on the right track.” Kids in a New Groove is much more than just a program through which foster kids can learn music; it’s a community, a support system that acts as a bridge to a better life, a ray of optimism Wood is inspired by daily. “We’ve thrown birthday parties for students because some of these kids have never had one before,” Wood says. “We’ve also attended graduations and helped students connect with the right people in the Austin music scene.” For foster children in Travis County, Kids in a New Groove provides invaluable services through the power of music, leading the charge for healing, self-expression and lifelong success, guiding the way for kids, from novice to maestro, to find a new groove in life. To learn more about Kids in a New Groove, visit

Photo by Marshall Tidrick.


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We envision A WORLD




POWER WE ARE GIRLS CONFERENCE Saturday, November 4, 2017 • 9am-3pm • ANDERSON High School


The dish on We Are Girls, meet our featured conference speakers, Lizzie Velasquez and Denise Hamilton, and celebrate We Are Girls Austin’s 10th birthday with us! | #wearegirlstx | 512.808.4044 Statewide conference for girls in grades 3-8 and the adults who care about them

Igniting the Power in Girls

Girls empowerment network's MISSION Girls Empowerment Network ignites the power in girls by teaching them the skills to thrive and believe in their ability to be unstoppable.


girlS empowerement network's PROGRAMS

WHEN: SATURDAY, NOV. 4, 2017, 9 A.M. TO 3 P.M. (DOORS OPEN AT 8 A.M.)

We Are Girls Conference



Pathfinder is a personal- and professional-development program aimed at giving high-school girls a head start on their road to college, career and independence. This summer program helps girls uncover their strengths, develop skills like interviewing and public speaking, explore different industries and professions, and gain access to women leaders—all with the support of like-minded peers. Monthly workshop extensions are offered throughout the year.


FACEBOOK: GirlsEmpowermentNetwork

clubGEN is an after-school program for girls in grades three through eight through which girls increase their confidence, make friends, learn leadership skills and meet positive role models. Weekly interactive, fun sessions incorporate a research-based curriculum that focuses on elevating their self-efficacy. clubGEN is a Dell Youth Learning partner providing special activities to expose girls to 21st century skills and technology.


180 Program


We Are Girls Austin Conference



We Are Girls conferences are held in Austin and Houston annually. They are designed for girls grades three through eight and the adults who care about them. With dynamic break-out sessions and an empowering dance party, girls get to be totally in charge of their day. They walk away inspired by the idea that anything is possible and with a new belief in their personal power. The 2017-2018 theme is “Become Unstoppable.”

INSTAGRAM: @GirlsEmpowermentNetwork PHONE: 512.808.4044 #WEAREGIRLSTX We Are Girls Houston Conference will be taking place on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at Hogg Middle School. Visit for more information.

The 180 Program for girls in grades six through 12 offers groups that provide girls support, relatable role models and new skills to cope with tough situations they are facing. The girls focus on confident communication, healthy relationships, goal setting and leadership. Weekly groups are offered in schools throughout Central Texas, as well as day-long workshops.

campGEN campGEN is a summer day camp program that serves girls in grades three through eight. Campers experience fun, interactive workshops during themed weeklong sessions that are designed to help girls feel more confident and unstoppable as they navigate girlhood. Girls will gain new skills, new friendships and a new sense of self!

Workshops GEN’s workshops explore the issues of being a girl with topics such as dating, body image, communication, friendships and parent-daughter relationships. Our workshops are offered to schools and community groups for girls in grades three through 12 year-round.

Igniting the Power in Girls

WE Are Girls Austin FEATURED CONFERENCE SPEAKERS Denise Hamilton, Founder of and IOLA Interests Denise Hamilton launched WatchHerWork to leverage the wisdom and experience of successful female leaders to close the achievement gap between men and women in this country. Hamilton brings 25 years of executive professional experience in Fortune 100 companies, small businesses and educational institutions. Hamilton is a highly sought-after speaker, trainer and executive coach. Her diverse experience uniquely qualifies her to speak to the varied issues and challenges facing the modern professional woman, as well as provide strategic counsel to corporations large and small. is a multimedia digital platform that is closing the achievement gap for professional women by providing the much-needed professional advice they need when they need it, how they need it. By video crowdsourcing and carefully curating work/life wisdom from top female professionals from all walks of life, helps women make the decisions that propel them to success. We are ready to close the achievement gap between men and women, and that happens when women have access to the right information. You shouldn’t have to have powerful friends to have powerful information. Website: Twitter: @WatchHerWorkTV Facebook: Instagram: @WatchHerWorkTV

Lizzie Velasquez, Global Motivational Speaker, AntiBullying Activist, Social Media Personality and Author

In 2016, the Journal of Pediatric Psychology reported that by ninth grade, girls self-harm three times more than boys their age. According to Science Magazine, girls as young as 6 years old believe brilliance is a male trait. The CDC reported that only 4 percent of high-school-aged girls were not actively trying to lose weight. Of the girls who attended the 2016 We Are Girls Conference... 95% of participants said they were likely to attend next year’s We Are Girls Conference. 92% of attendees said they learned to work with other people better. 98% said they would recommend We Are Girls to a friend. 92% reported they feel more connected to other girls and adults.

Lizzie Velasquez was born with a rare syndrome. At this time, there are only two other people in the world that are known to be living with this rare syndrome. In December 2013, she took the stage at the inaugural TEDxAustinWomen and gave a talk titled “How do you define yourself?” that has garnered more than 13 million views across the web. Her story has been featured on Katie Couric's show, The Today Show, The View, Huffington Post, Associated Press, AOL, MSN and Yahoo, among many other national and international media outlets. She is an executive producer of the award-winning documentary based on her life, A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story, which chronicles her journey from cyberbullying victim to global anti-bullying activist. The film had an Academy-qualifying release in the U.S. in fall 2015 and began its international release in spring 2016. Velasquez's latest book, Dare to Be Kind: How Extraordinary Compassion Can Transform Our World, was released June 6, 2017. You can watch her new show, Unzipped with Lizzie Velasquez, available via the Fullscreen app. You can also catch Velasquez on all socialmedia platforms­—where she has more than 1.5 million followers combined—posting about anything and everything in her life: her travels, hangouts with her friends and family, her style and makeup routines, and, of course, her little pups, Ollie and Olivia. Twitter: @littlelizziev Facebook: Instagram: @littlelizziev YouTube:



Igniting the Power in Girls

IGNITING THE POWER IN GIRLS By Diane T. Land, First Lady of Austin

I have so much hope for Texas girls. Better put, I have so much hope for Texas girls because of Girls Empowerment Network. Since 1996, GEN has ignited the power in girls by teaching them the skills to thrive and believe in their ability to be unstoppable. I wanted my own daughters to be unstoppable and this desire played a role in catalyzing my support of GEN, beginning with a board position in 2006. I wanted to show my girls that I would advocate for them and for other girls. I wanted to show them that, even from a young age, I believed in them as leaders. Steve and I raised three daughters and we witnessed the challenges they faced. These challenges included body image, academic stressors, relationship stressors, an undervaluing of their abilities from those outside our home, judgment about how they chose to communicate and more. Together with our daughters, we watched girls around them choose maleficent coping mechanisms. Steve and I were lucky to have the resources to support our girls’ growth toward "unstoppability." Yet so many girls don’t have access to these resources. And without proper support, a lack of belief in personal power can begin young; girls as young as 6 years old

believe that brilliance is a male trait(1). As girls grow up, the research on their beliefs about themselves continues to be staggering. Seven out of 10 girls don’t feel that they measure up in terms of looks, grades and relationships, and 75 percent of girls with low self-esteem engage in harmful behaviors such as smoking, drinking, bullying and disordered eating(2). Six out of 10 girls avoid normal activities such as attending school or raising their hands in class when feeling bad about their looks(3). Still, we see girls outperform boys in academics. Yet women serve in fewer than 14 percent of top leadership positions in the nation(4). This must change, and it will change. Self-efficacy, or the belief in oneself as powerful, is key. Naturally, GEN’s on top of it. Research demonstrates that to help girls develop self-efficacy, girl-specific programs are important. In repeated surveys, girls ages 11 to 17 say they value girls-only safe spaces where they can confide in trusting adults and other girls. According to the Girl Scout Research Institute, in girls-only settings, girls feel safe to talk about issues they wouldn’t necessarily talk about with boys, try out new activities without a fear of failure and experience less pressure to look or act a certain way. Research with girls'-school alumnae

References: (1) Science Magazine, 2017 (2) Dove Self-Esteem Fund, 2008 (3) Dove Campaign for Real Beauty (4) Lean In, 2013

Heather Bendes Karen and Carter Blackburn Suzanne Deal Booth Laurie Coffin Alicia Davis Loretta and Jim Fellers Colette Fitzgerald Georgia Fontana Lisa and Dan Graham Lisa Harris Eric Harslem and Lorraine Clasquin Tracy Hinson Aurora Martinez Jones Erin and Jason Jones Cynthia and Gregory Kozmetsky Monica and Casey Layfield Kit and Alexis Mellem Gigi and Joel Melrose Lynn Meredith Bettye and Bill Nowlin Janis and Joe Pinnelli Christine Plonsky Robert and Christine Reinauer Jim Skelding and Tracy Holland Maura and Shawn Thomas Shari and Cliff Vars

We Are Girls Austin Conference will take place Saturday, Nov. 4 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Anderson High School. For more information, visit

For more information about the Girls Empowerment Network, visit:


Igniting the Power in Girls

from the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools has shown girls-only settings promote a greater can-do attitude, a greater impact on young women’s social selfconfidence, more effective environments for personal development and more leadership opportunities. All signs point to the need for girl-specific programming, stress-management and self-efficacybuilding programs as key parts of a full, rounded approach to increasing the academic and personal success of girls. This is precisely GEN’s approach: stress-management curriculum that utilizes a safe, positive, girl-only space to attend to their unique mental and emotional needs, teach life skills and bolster girls’ belief in their own potential. GEN’s approach works, and though its quantitative outcomes are excellent, I don’t need the data to prove it. Recently, a GEN staff member shared a story about a girl in one of her after-school groups. The GEN coordinator had asked the girls to draw a superhero of their own design. The girl drew a superhero who could control the wind and she utilized this ability to help the world. As the girl shared her superhero’s story with the group, she ended with, “but then she couldn’t control the wind anymore. But it was OK because she was powerful just as herself.” Every girl deserves to know she is a superhero, powerful just as herself. GEN is developing girls’ self-efficacy and establishing a community toolbelt that will allow us to further hone and sharpen girls’ belief in themselves. It’s We Are Girls Austin’s 10th birthday this year and I’m honored to serve as honorary co-chair alongside Steve. We Are Girls is now held in Austin, Houston and Dallas annually. The conferences are designed especially for thousands of third- through eighthgrade girls and the adults who care about them. The dynamic breakout sessions and empowering dance party are educational and fun. But most importantly, the conference allows girls to be totally in charge of their day. They walk away inspired by what’s possible and with a new belief in their personal power. I’m proud to share that the 2017-2018 theme is “Become Unstoppable.” I want girls to know they are powerful, unstoppable. I want them to know this every day more fully, until we live in a state surrounded by girls who know this. I’m confident Texas girls can lead the way and, because of GEN’s work, I envision a world where all girls believe in their power.


Igniting the Power in Girls

girls empowerment network'S WE ARE GIRLS Austin CONFERENCE WORKSHOP PROVIDERS ArYouSerious


Monica Lewis School of Etiquette

Aha! Academy

EI Generation

ATX Yoga Girl/Cynthia Bernard


Moody Me Workshop/ Create Your Story

Austin Public Library Friends Foundation

Financial Literacy Coalition of Central Texas

Barb Steinberg, LMSW Teen Life Coach


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Happy 10th Birthday We Are Girls Austin



HAPPY 10th





WE ARE GIRLS CONFERENCE presented by 2017 GENovators & We Are Girls Sponsors: Heather Bendes, Karen and Carter Blackburn, Betsy Blair and Kate and Jim Van Winkle, Suzanne Deal Booth, Laurie Coffin, Alicia Davis, Loretta and Jim Fellers, Colette Fitzgerald, Georgia Fontana, Susan Gallagher, Lisa and Dan Graham, Lisa Harris, Eric Harslem and Lorraine Clasquin, Tracy Hinson, Aurora Martinez Jones, Erin and Jason Jones, Cynthia and Gregory Kozmetsky, Monica and Casey Layfield, Kit and Alexis Mellem, Gigi and Joel Melrose, Lynn, Sarah, and Abby Meredith and Kate Andrade, Bettye and Bill Nowlin, Janis and Joe Pinnelli, Christine Plonsky, Robert and Christine Reinauer, Jim Skelding and Tracy Holland, The Stahl Family Foundation, Kerry Tate, Maura and Shawn Thomas, Shari and Cliff Vars, Kay Wilemon


Independent School District

RR & S

Attorneys at Law

GEN thanks all of our 2017 sponsors for empowering young women in Texas!






The Refuge Ranch, a project spearheaded by Brooke Crowder, plans to offer survivors of sex trafficking a safe space to call home. sex trafficking in the U.S. Even talking to Some people have extraordiadult survivors left Crowder with little nary kindness in their voice and structure to build a support system for an aura of deep warmth in their girls in need. eyes. You know the ones, the “The common theme was there was just people you can easily settle into a no place for them to go,” she says. comforting hug with, the people Little did Crowder know, word of her you imagine are incapable of besearch efforts was spreading throughout ing fierce in any way. Then there town, and there was about to be a substanare those who, instead of running tial break in the clouds. away from a difficult issue, run “I was trying to convince existing straight toward it with the cournonprofits to let me develop a program for age of a thousand lions. Brooke trafficked youth when, in 2013, I got a call from Alex and Brettne Shootman,” she says Crowder, founder and CEO of The of two concerned Austin residents who Refuge for Domestic Minor Sex had heard of her efforts through mutual Trafficking, is both. friends. “We met and I shared my vision Crowder is on the front lines of an for building a healing place to help children issue that seems unfathomable but recover from their trauma of being trafis nonetheless very real. The Refuge ficked for sex when Alex asked me if I’d like for DMST is developing The Refuge 50 acres of land to build this dream, and Ranch, a long-term residential healing without hesitation, I said, ‘Yes!’ ” facility for minors through the age of As fate would have it, the Shootmans 19 who have been rescued from child were also trying to help support trafficked sex traffickers. Her grit and moxie youth when they heard about Crowder. are matched with a bottomless well of “The Shootmans were the catalyst for compassion, exactly what is needed to me to take the step in developing The help tackle the nightmare of child sex Refuge for DMST. They’ve been an integral trafficking. part of our organization and I don’t think “I was that kid who’d see a TV comwe’d have The Refuge if it weren’t for mercial about needy children and run them,” she says. to tell my parents that we needed to do Crowder also has a dedicated leadersomething,” Crowder says. ship team working with her on The Refuge The impetus to help trafficked chilRanch project. She’s quick to point out that dren came to Crowder in 2004. She was without them, this task would be extraorworking toward her master’s degree at dinarily difficult. Asbury Theological Seminary when she “We aren’t lone wolves doing this work; saw a video of young girls in India bewe’re a team sharing this mission. If I see ing sold into the sex trade, where they someone [falling apart] under the strain, suffered unspeakable horrors. After I’ll force time off. But we also take time to Crowder viewed the video, her advisor A rendering of one of The Refuge Ranch’s cottages laugh together, to have fun and support later found her weeping in the chapel. each other,” she says. “He sat down next to me and said, After all, even the staff needs a refuge ‘Brooke, look around you. No one else is in here weeping like this. I think this is the calling on your life,’ and I knew from that day forward, from The Refuge sometimes. Crowder’s respite is her family, faith and especially her husband, who she lovingly describes as her “safe place.” I’d be working to help exploited children,” she says. Slated to open in late 2017 or early 2018, The Refuge Ranch will be a After she graduated from seminary, Crowder and her family moved holistic, healing and restorative residential facility for 48 girls rescued to Costa Rica. While there, she learned the country had a dark reputaout of sex trafficking. Each girl will have her own customized services, tion for child sex trafficking. depending on her individual situation, but most importantly, she will “I was working in the poorest barrios, where girls were being trafficked, primarily by gangs,” she says. “I ended up working there for four be in a safe, serene environment right outside Austin. Each will receive years, teaching them new skills and tutoring them in school, but mainly education through the University of Texas Charter School System and just showing up and loving them each day. It was a frustrating situation will have access to a variety of therapies, including equine, pet, music, art and spiritual counseling. because we weren’t able to get them out of exploitive situations, but we “Our long-term vision is to build other refuges around the state and could demonstrate that their life had value and they were loved.” Once back in the U.S., Crowder began to see the grim presence of do- nation,” Crowder says, “but for right now, we’re starting somewhere.” mestic minor sex trafficking in her own backyard. She started digging To learn more about The Refuge Ranch, visit and found there were no organized efforts to rehabilitate survivors of 42 |  AUSTIN WOMAN |  OCTOBER 2017

Head-shot photo courtesy of Kristin J Photography. Rendering image courtesy of Matt Faykus Architecture and Pfluger Architects.


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Stacy Thrash is bringing meditation to the masses with her mobile studio, PeaceBox. Stacy Thrash knows meditation can seem mysterious, eccentric or even downright kooky to those who haven’t tried it. But the allure of PeaceBox is hard to resist, no matter what preconceptions one may have. “Some people are brought in here by a friend or a spouse and they’re a little bit like, ‘What is this?’ [and] the fact that the venue is kind of cool brings people in,” Thrash says. “It takes some of that mystery out of it. I think the people who come in with an idea about what [meditation] is often leave thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I just did that and it felt really good and I want to do it again.’ A lot of people say, ‘I want to stay in here all day.’ ” The sentiment isn’t surprising. With PeaceBox, Thrash has created a meditation haven out of a shipping container equipped with retractable doors and faux grass for outdoor sessions, when Austin weather allows. The nearly identical mobile PeaceBox permanently sits on a trailer for optimal transport to wherever it’s needed. Thrash’s experience with meditation began in 2008 in a creativewriting class in Sedona, Ariz., part of a retreat she attended shortly after her father passed away. It was in that class she first tried meditation and discovered it helped her in more ways than one. “I found that the meditation opened up my writing in a new way and gave me access to a part of myself that I hadn’t accessed before, including just being able to process some grief around losing a parent,” Thrash says. Since then, Thrash has experienced reduced anxiety, is more patient and sleeps better, all of which she attributes to meditation. She became a certified meditation instructor in 2014 and has guided practice at places like Lake Austin Spa Resort and Mecca Gym & Spa.

Stacy Thrash in front of the PeaceBox studio


The idea to start a mobile meditation studio came from friends who had built businesses and tiny houses from shipping containers, Thrash says. Since the first studio opened in January and became stationary a few months later, Thrash added the portable studio to her fleet, enabling her to bring meditation to anyone. “I’ve worked for a stationary meditation studio and found that it’s great for the people who live in the vicinity, but it’s not going to draw people from other places,” she says. PeaceBox’s stationary studio is located off South Eight Street, a stone’s throw from Sanctuary Yoga and the Lamar Union complex. The lighter, mobile PeaceBox embarked on its maiden voyage in June, parking in the BookPeople lot during a book signing by Sarah McLean, one of Thrash’s former meditation instructors. Thrash offered guided meditations and class passes to those who couldn’t stay. Now, Thrash has expanded the mobile PeaceBox’s driving route, taking it throughout town to park outside of businesses, schools and local events. Thrash hosts guided meditations three to four days a week out of the stationary PeaceBox studio and says she enjoys teaching beginners in her workshops. Her teachings focus on mindfulness, or being present in the moment. “Most people are surprised at how easy it is,” Thrash says. “They have an image of [meditation] being a practice that you’re supposed to stop your thoughts, and I educate people on the fact that thoughts are one of the ways that stress is released out of the nervous system. It’s not about an experience on the cushion we’re after; it’s about life changes outside of here. So, if stress is manifesting as anxiety, you might experience less anxiety.” Thrash has heard from instructors in other cities who like the idea of PeaceBox, and she believes PeaceBox can help anyone, anywhere. She hopes to partner with corporations and schools in the foreseeable future for more long-term meditation training. Until then, Thrash continues to take mindfulness on the move, a thought echoed by PeaceBox’s tagline. “I am open to how it evolves, but…my hope is to train people so they can take this wherever they go, and they can take it on the move with them,” Thrash says of her growth plans for PeaceBox. “So, that tagline sort of has a double meaning. I’m moving to train you, but you’re also learning the tools so you can move them into your life.”

Photo by Daniel Cavazos.




WOMEN to WATCH Our pages are full 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 tribe and share your story with thousands of women. Contact us at or call 512.328.2421 for more information. BY LAUREN JONES | PHOTOS BY CAITLIN CANDELARI






arcie DeShazo is a native Austinite who has worked at The Settlement Home for 17 years and as executive director for the past four years. The Settlement Home is a private, licensed nonprofit founded in 1916 by The Settlement Club, a group of Austin women committed to helping children in need. In the last 100 years, its programs and services have evolved to meet the needs of the Austin community. The home currently serves individuals who have experienced severe emotional trauma, abuse and neglect. Its 10-acre campus provides residential-treatment services, transitional-living services and on-campus schooling for adolescent girls, while its foster and adoption program licenses families that provide homes to boys and girls. DeShazo is inspired by the amazing resilience of the kids at The Settlement Home and is proud to lead an organization committed to changing lives for the better.









eet Tina Weyand and Kristen Nolte. As HomeAway’s chief product officer, Weyand is responsible for the product and design behind HomeAway and its sites. Nolte leads brand marketing at HomeAway, including campaigns such as HomeAway’s recent contest to let travelers sleep in the Eiffel Tower for the first time and the company’s sponsorship of Austin City Limits. HomeAway is the world leader in vacation rentals, with more than 2 million unique places to stay throughout the world. With that much choice, how do you find the right rental? In a recent address at the Lesbians Who Tech conference in New York, Nolte revealed how HomeAway is using data science and artificial intelligence to match travelers with the perfect vacation rental for their next trips. But HomeAway has another secret weapon besides cutting-edge science. “Diversity is what drives innovation,” Weyand says. “Millions of travelers around the world use HomeAway to find and book their next home away from home. We need diverse perspectives so we can create the best experiences for our users. That’s why HomeAway makes diversity a priority as we look to grow our team.”







shley Ivy Swift attended Stanford University, where she participated in three National Collegiate Athletic Association volleyball finals, winning the Division I National Championship in 2001. After completing her master’s degree, she began her professional beach-volleyball career, making the USA Beach National Team in 2008. Three years later, she joined Austin Junior Volleyball to start a youth sand-volleyball program. AJV Sand flourished so quickly under Swift’s direction that the club built its own state-of-the-art sand-volleyball facility, allowing her to train athletes of all levels year-round. This year, she was selected as head coach of the USA Volleyball Junior Beach National Team, the highest caliber program in the USA Volleyball Junior Beach pipeline. She is happily married and has a 2-year-old son named Carson.







ellie’s Baking Co. was established in 2006 by Owner Kellie Moore, who is passionate about creating edible art and is well-known for her creative sweet confections and beautiful corporate-logo treats. Moore is the proud creator of the original Instabites photo cookies, delicious house-made treats featuring customers’ favorite photos. Her cookies have traveled around the world and are very popular at catered events, parties and food festivals. Moore has created Instabites for the New York City Wine & Food Festival with Food Network, the Cooking Channel and Martha Stewart. Her retail store on Burnet Road is now open.






Entertainment Director Sharilyn Mayhugh shares her guidelines for successfully booking the musical acts for the Austin-based Formula 1 United States Grand Prix. BY AMANDA PINNEY

The city of Austin is known for its impressive live-music scene, and the combination of crowd-pleasing, internationally known and loved entertainment and high-stakes sports is what makes the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas an attraction. October marks the USGP’s sixth year in Austin.

Photo by Alison Narro.

With the venue’s ability to host crowds in excess of 100,000, COTA’s entertainment director, Sharilyn Mayhugh, knows it’s important to keep the track’s musical atmosphere upbeat in order to provide a recipe for event success. After snagging Justin Timberlake and Stevie Wonder as the performing artists for this year’s event, held Oct. 20 through 22, Mayhugh sat down to share her tips and tricks when it comes to making the artist ask and building the ultimate stadium soundtrack.


1. D  efine success. “Before starting any project, you need to understand what success looks like in order to deliver it. Each year, I talk with Bobby [Epstein, CEO of COTA] and Katja [Heim, chief operating officer of COTA] about what we want to accomplish with our talent bookings and pose questions such as, ‘Are we programming what appeals to our existing fan base? Are we programming to drive incremental ticket sales? Are we programming in [an] effort to ideally accomplish both?’ Once I have that feedback, I know what I need to do and who I want to talk to.” 2. Commit to excellence. “Excellence in selection: Formula 1 is the top of the class, the crown jewel of racing and so, our music and entertainment offerings have to match the star power of the race. Excellence in execution: Deliver a great experience for the artist and word will travel. Last year, Taylor Swift and Usher plus The Roots put on incredible performances. They showed their commitment to excellence and we made true to ours. In turn, 2016 proved to be an amazing race weekend, some may even say game-changing. When Taylor Swift walks away, having set her own personal concert-attendance record, and a good time was had by all, starting conversations with artists we’re interested in for future races is automatically easier.” 3. B  e bold. “As far back as having Elton John headline the post-race concert [in 2015], a common question that had been asked is, ‘How do you top last year?’ The short answer to that is by being bold, bold in thinking and bold in asking. Wow moments are created in the unexpected, so, when brainstorming about who should follow, no acts are off the list just because they aren’t touring or may not be accepting offers for one-off dates. Once I land on an idea, despite any potential hurdles that idea may present, I make the ask. It’s kind of a no risk, no reward approach.”

Photo by Niki Jones.

4. Personal music taste doesn’t count. “It’s one of the hardest lessons talent buyers have to learn. You can’t make choices based on your own likes, not to mention the likes of everyone around you. If you do, it almost always ends up being the wrong choice. It’s human nature to gravitate to what attracts us, which makes it that much more important to define a criteria set for why an artist works for this event. The right choices are always going to be the artists who check off the most boxes in that set. I work hard to keep myself and the team accountable to the criteria.”


Celebrity Cancer Crush | Oct. 19 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix | Oct. 20 through 22 Topgolf Crush Grand Prix | Oct. 18 through 22 Justin Timberlake | Oct. 21 Stevie Wonder | Oct. 22 Chris Stapleton and All-American Road Show With Marty Stuart and Brent Cobb | Oct. 26 LCD Soundsystem | Oct. 31 Mariachi USA Festival | Nov. 4 2018 Pirelli World Challenge March 24 through 25, 2018 2018 MotoGP Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas April 20 through 22, 2018 Eric Church | April 28, 2018

5. Light that prayer candle. “You can educate about the event, you can make a great offer, you can show an impressive roster of artists who have previously played who will give a good report, you can be as bold as you can be, yet that still doesn’t make for a guarantee of a yes. In the end, there is an element of luck involved in closing the deal, and I make a point to recognize and acknowledge it. My friend Andy Langer sent me a gift post-F1 last year, a Taylor Swift prayer candle. I confess that candle was burning during some very important hours and days while working on this year’s lineup, with something along the lines of, ‘May this candle light the way to repeat the success we’ve had the good fortune of receiving’ playing over in my head. Wouldn’t you know, within five minutes of stepping onto the grounds of the Luck Reunion festival during South By Southwest that’s held on Willie Nelson’s ranch in Luck, Texas, my phone rang with the call I’d been waiting on: confirmation that Justin Timberlake would perform this year. That’s a true story.” ATXWOMAN.COM |  51


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Photo by Kelly DiNardo.


Chattanooga, Tenn., is a city filled with delightful surprises, from outdoor art markets and retro boutiques to a guitar museum, a dancing scene and everything in between. BY KELLY DINARDO




With its laid-back vibe, lively music scene and chef-driven food-and-cocktail culture, Nashville, Tenn., has become a superstar attraction for quick weekend getaways. But if you’re ready for a fresh spin on the status quo, all you need to do is look two hours south to under-the-radar Chattanooga, FRIDAY

Tenn., a city in the midst of a renaissance, with new music venues, boutique hotels and restaurants springing up. We took to the road, conducted some research and came up with the ideal must-do itinerary for a fun-filled weekend in this up-and-coming city. The Dwell Hotel’s Kite Suite

4 p.m. Crawling distance from the downtown restaurants and pubs, The Dwell Hotel is the perfect old-Hollywood-style hotel at which to hang your fedora for the weekend. Inside the three-story brick building is an explosion of color and vintage charm. Each of the distinctly decorated 16 rooms features a bold, retro-patterned wallpaper that nods to the respective room’s theme, from vibrant green palm fronds in the Tropicana room to an eruption of pink and turquoise flowers in the Palm Springs room. Throughout, velvet chairs, shaggy rugs, funky lamps and vintage artwork create cozy nooks, enticing visitors to curl up and read or enjoy a cocktail. 5:30 p.m. Grab an early dinner at Easy Bistro & Bar. Tucked into a century-old building that once housed the world’s first Coca-Cola bottling plant, the restaurant serves classic bistro fare—oysters, steak and frites—as well as updated takes on Southern classics, from shrimp and grits to tomato pie, all cooked up by a James Beard-nominated chef.

Songbirds Guitar Museum

7 p.m. Once a week, the newly opened Songbirds Guitar Museum slides a few cases of vintage guitars aside and creates an intimate live-music performance venue for a wide range of artists, from the BoDeans to the Victor Wooten Trio. 9:30 p.m. Grab a nightcap at Matilda Midnight, the cozy, turquoise-andgold bar inside The Dwell. Beneath hundreds of twinkly lights, bartenders are in constant motion, shaking up inventive cocktails and serving snacks. SATURDAY 9 a.m. Complimentary breakfast is included in the room rate at The Dwell and should not be missed. In the sleek and airy Terra Mae restaurant, the hotel offers a small pastry, fruit and yogurt bar and madeto-order breakfast that includes biscuits and gravy, omelets, grits and a to-die-for fried-egg breakfast sandwich on a brioche bun. 10 a.m. Work off breakfast with a free yoga class at the Chattanooga River Market (open March through October). Situated along the Tennessee River on the plaza outside the aquarium, the weekly art-centric market features yoga, local musicians and regional artists displaying craftwork ranging from clothing, jewelry and photography to soap, woodwork and more. Noon Kick-start your afternoon with a snack or meal at Milk & Honey, a charming black-and-white-tiled café that features all-day breakfast items like the Elvis sandwich—peanut butter, caramelized banana and honey on a sourdough roll—and lunch fare. Pro tip: Order the turkey and brie pita. But it’s the homemade gelato that draws the crowds, so feel free to take a cue and skip right to dessert. 54 |  AUSTIN WOMAN |  OCTOBER 2017

Milk & Honey’s Farmhouse on a Croissant.

Top photo courtesy of The Dwell Hotel. Middle photo courtesy of Chattanooga Convention & Visitors Bureau. Bottom photo by Sarah Swainson.


1 p.m. Tucked into the Chattanooga Choo Choo complex, the newly opened Songbirds Guitar Museum houses a massive collection of rare and vintage guitars that showcases the evolution of the instrument. Not just for the curious guitar nerds, the museum offers an interesting display of American history and a fascinating look at post-World War II craftsmanship. 7 p.m. The elegant St. John’s Restaurant dishes up a seasonally changing menu that showcases specialties from local farmers and playful, upscale takes on down-home classics like pork rinds. The restaurant has won several Wine Spectator awards, so consider asking your server for the perfect pairing to accompany your free-range chicken with homemade gnocchi.

SUNDAY 11 a.m. Soak up any remnants of last night’s fun at Champy’s Famous Fried Chicken. Several restaurants in town claim to be known for their chicken, but fried chicken—made from a 40-year-old family recipe—served in a slightly dodgy, garage-style restaurant is the perfect hangover cure. 12:30 p.m. At the top of a 90-foot limestone bluff above the Tennessee River sits the Hunter Museum of American Art. Spread throughout three buildings—a 1905 mansion, a low-slung 1970s building and a 2005 contemporary glass structure—the museum features American art from the Colonial period to the present day. A short stroll away is the Walnut Street Bridge, one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the world, offering up picturesque views of the museum and city skyline for strolling passersby. Bluff View Art District sculpture garden

9 p.m. Dance off dinner at the Revelry Room. Located in the Chattanooga Choo Choo terminal next to Songbirds, this small live-music venue plays host to regional artists, tribute bands and DJ battles several nights a week. 11:30 p.m. Finish up the night at the beautifully designed Flying Squirrel Bar, a swooping, high-ceilinged blend of glass, wood and steel that has more than 30 craft beers on tap, a seasonalcocktail program and a solid wine list. scenic Chattanooga

FOR MORE INFO: The Dwell Hotel Easy Bistro & Bar

Photos courtesy of Chattanooga Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Songbirds Guitar Museum Matilda Midnight Terra Mae Chattanooga River Market Milk & Honey Chattanooga Choo Choo St. John’s Restaurant Revelry Room Flying Squirrel Bar Champy’s Famous Fried Chicken Hunter Museum of American Art






With the opening of her East Austin clothing boutique, Alta Alexander is out to show there’s still adventure to be had in the experience of shopping. It’s a sunny, oddly 70-degree September afternoon in Austin, and Alta Alexander is standing proudly outside her eye-catching, bright-yellow boutique, Altatudes, on East 12th Street. It would be a stretch to call this area of town a fashion district. After all, the shop sits next to a barbershop and across the street from a church and an auto body shop. In Alexander’s words, this is what’s known as the “historic part of town.” “I’ve always wanted to be in East Austin,” she confides. “This was once a thriving business community, and I’m hoping to be a part of making that come back to fruition. I know what [this area] can be and I can feel it, I can feel it. It is going to grow into something even more beautiful than before.” The inspiration to open her shop, one might say, stretches back 17 years, back to when Alexander and her husband, a successful entrepreneur and real-estate investor in Austin, were on their third date. He turned to Alexander and asked, “If you were an entrepreneur, what would you want to do?” She paused, pondering the question. “I would open a boutique with clothes that I would want to try on,” she responded. Fast-forward to last Valentine’s Day, when her husband showed her the space she now confidently walks through. It was one of his newest real-estate investments and needed a lot of TLC. The space could possibly be used for the expansion of the planned barbershop next door, she proposed. “No,” her husband said. “This, right here, is going to be my wife’s boutique.” Her response, Alexander recalls, was nothing short of shock, screams and “a lot of tears.” Then reality hit and to-do lists started sinking in.


“I’ve been putting a lot of blood, sweat and tears into here,” she says, her eyes scanning the room around her, “just trying to bring it to a look and feel that is inviting so that the shopper feels good about being here.” Step inside and you’ll soon discover Alexander has a knack for making the most of a small space. The interior is a clean palette of bright whites, gray metals and hints of yellow—a decorative nod to Alexander’s alma matter, Huston-Tillotson University. Almost every piece, whether a hand-built armoire surrounded by locally made handbags or antique chairs facing a shrine of shoes, has a story to tell. Alexander has a dualpurpose mission with the shop: to showcase up-and-coming clothing designers—from Tracy Reese to Noel Asmar— while also empowering women to embrace their inner beauty. Signs throughout the boutique tout witty sayings and quotes like, “Shopping is the only sport I need,” and “You go, girls.” Giving back to and involving the local community, Alexander says, is indispensable to the success of her store, noting that a Hearts & Handbags event catering to young, underprivileged girls in Austin is already in the works. Asked where she gets her sense of style, Alexander says she counts her grandmother and her mom as her biggest fashion role models. “Even though we came from meager beginnings, my grandmother always seemed to look really well put together. She was always a fit-and-flare girl and I’m a fit-and-flare girl all day long,” she says, laughing. “I really do miss my grandmother. I think she would have been proud of this undertaking.”

Photos by Dwayne Hill.


Top photo by Dwayne Hill. Bottom photo by Jason Bennett.

Inside the Shop Project Runway season 15 alum, Alex Snyder of AMS Atelier, is one of the clothing designers whose work Alta Alexander chose to showcase in her boutique. Alexander says Snyder’s designs are “very elegant, thoughtful and feminine.” “Nothing inspires me more than women feeling beautiful!” Snyder says. “I am very excited that Altatudes is carrying our collection in all sizes. Alta was tremendously considerate of all the pieces that she chose to make sure they accommodated everyone.” As a young kid traveling for his father’s medicalresearch work, Snyder found himself in and out of hotels, playing with the sewing kits to keep himself entertained. “Random stitch marks became patterns, and patterns became cohesive lines,” he says. After many bed sheets, towels and other household fabrics disappeared, both his parents invested in fabrics for their determined son. “It was a love affair from there on,” Snyder says. Throughout his career, Snyder has worked for leading fashion, cosmetics and marketing companies. He has achieved his associate, Bachelor of Art and Master of Fine Art degrees in design and became a business scholar through Babson College and Goldman Sachs’ 10KSB initiative. “My woman has always been the Upper East Side woman who isn’t afraid to get onto a motorcycle. She is powerful, fierce and amazingly independent,” Snyder says of the inspiration behind his fall/winter 2017 collection, The Hitchcock Blondes. He adds that he and his team are proud to say AMS Atelier is American-made. Everything, he says, is made within the four walls of his San Franciscobased studio. Altatudes is located at 1717 E. 12th St. To learn more about the boutique, visit






Celebrate the arrival of crisp fall days with these fragrant beauty finds.

MAKE YOUR OWN AUTUMN-SCENTED LOTION Ingredients: 1 cup coconut oil 1 tablespoon avocado oil 7 drops orange essential oil 4 drops cinnamon bark essential oil 3 drops peppermint essential oil

Directions: Place the coconut oil and avocado oil in a chilled mixing bowl. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, whip the two oils together. Slowly add in the various essential oils. Continue to whip the mix until it’s creamy and wisp-like peaks are produced. Place the mix into 2- to 4-ounce glass jars with lids and store in a cool place. — Caitlin Candelari

Clockwise from top: Demeter chai tea cologne spray, 3.4 ounces, $40, Bath & Body Works marshmallow pumpkin latte hand soap with pumpkin butter, 8 ounces, $7.50, Philosophy cinnamon-buns shampoo, shower gel and bubble bath, 16 ounces, $18, Primal Elements Sugar Whip gingerbread moisturizing body scrub, 10 ounces, $21, Desert Essence spicy vanilla chai hand-and-body lotion, 8 ounces, $9,


You don’t have to accept a different standard of

beauty because you’ve previously had cancer.

Austin’s premier breast reconstruction surgeon, Elisabeth Potter MD, takes a personal approach to breast reconstruction. Dr. Potter was Fellowship trained at MD Anderson in Microsurgery and Plastic Surgery Reconstruction and is Board Certified in Plastic Surgery. Call 512.867.6211 to schedule a consultation. 6818 Austin Center Boulevard, Suite 204 Austin, Texas 78731





In this airy and multipurpose laundry room, versatility is the name of the game. BY APRIL CUMMING

Autumn Mohon is originally from a Texas Hill Country German family. She grew up in Fredericksburg, Texas, and has a lifelong love affair with the family ranch in the region. A longtime athlete, she is a former coach and schoolteacher who enjoys triathlons and long-distance races. Her next goal is to join the Seven Continents Club, made up of those who have run a marathon on each of the planet’s continents. Here, she shares the inspiration behind her design of this seablue, Southern-style laundry room.

IN THIS ROOM r Kohler plumbing fixtures

r Sherwin-Williams Waterscape paint

r construction by David Mitchell of Casa Highland

r antique Lueders Limestone floors

r Barn Light Electric reproduction light fixtures

r architecture by Michael G. Imber Architects

r soapstone countertops


Photos courtesy of Marcus Mohon Interiors.

Autumn Mohon oversees all operations for Marcus Mohon Interiors. Her husband and business partner, Marcus Mohon, often says Autumn Mohon has a gift for making things happen. Her insight, attention to detail and light touch are invaluable in pulling together all the disparate elements of design projects. It’s a little like trying to win a race while riding 14 different horses. But she’s good at whipping things into shape. After all, she’s also the mother of four children.

“” Part of the inspiration for this laundry room was the architecture itself. Architect Michael Imber provided us with a wonderful space to work with. The room almost doubles as a secondary foyer, not just a laundry room. People spend time in a laundry room, so it should not be a forgotten space. People’s time is precious, so the space where it is spent should be special. The color held hands with a thread of blue that happened throughout the house, [creating] a lively counterpoint to a mostly GET neutral-materials palette.


— Autumn Mohon


“To do this, use open shelving with textural vases, jars and bottles.” FIND A SATURATED COLOR YOU LOVE.

“Don’t be afraid to be bold. We recently painted a client’s laundry room fuchsia because she loves color, and it looks amazing.” NEVER UNDERESTIMATE A BUILT-IN BENCH.

“This seat provides a convenient and attractive place to set groceries, bags or flowers.” INCORPORATE SOUTHERN STYLE.

“Wood-plank walls and ceilings create a charming effect in this room.” THINK ABOUT THE SINK.

“A deep-basined, apron-front sink is versatile and practical in a laundry room.” ADD A TOUCH OF BLACK.

Photo by Ben Porter.

“In a room, a little black color is like the eyeliner, and great light fixtures are like the jewelry.”




THE BIGGEST BEAST ON THE ROAD In her own words, National Hot Rod Association drag racer Alexis DeJoria tells Austin Woman how she faces the fight-or-flight mentality head-on and does what she has to do in the face of death each time she straps in for a shot down the drag strip. BY NATALIE ENGLAND | PHOTOS BY RUDY AROCHA HAIR AND MAKEUP BY GRACE WATSON | STYLED BY NIKI JONES SHOT ON LOCATION AT CIRCUIT OF THE AMERICAS

Alexis DeJoria makes her mark in the quickest way possible. After all, she pilots one of the most powerful cars on the road. It’s not exactly street-legal, accelerating from zero to 100 miles per hours in about a finger snap, burning rubber and nitromethane fuel in head-jerking fashion. Yes, DeJoria’s race car is perfectly suited for National Hot Rod Association races, of which she’s won seven in her 12-year driving career. DeJoria’s journey to become one of the most successful female hot-rod tacticians on the planet has been anything but fast and frantic. Since she first fell in love with the spectacle of car racing as a 16-year-old at a raceway in her native California, DeJoria has methodically, deliberately and doggedly pursued her passion into a purpose. Her father, John Paul DeJoria, is a self-made entrepreneur who founded The Patrón Spirits Company and co-founded the Paul Mitchell hair-care line, and Alexis DeJoria herself has converted those hard-working genetics into a successful career, highlighted with her own independent flair. Her ascent from a street-racing teenager to a race-winning wife and mother embodies her true-grit ethos, and here, DeJoria tells her story in her own words.

I guess it really goes back to when I was a child, when I wanted to be a fighter pilot. I used to watch the Military Channel, the History Channel. I was obsessed with the airplanes. What I drive now is like a fighter jet on the ground. It’s the most extreme racing: the speeds that we’re going, the spectacle of it all, the nitromethane, the fire coming out of the pipes. We make 11,000 horsepower. These cars are the fastest accelerating cars in the world. There’s nothing that accelerates quicker than these cars, not the space shuttle, not a fighter jet going off an aircraft carrier. It’s because of the fuel, nitromethane. [Nitromethane is the result of a chemical reaction between nitric acid and propane.] Fuel makes it explosive, powerful, unpredictable. It’s hurting itself all the way down the racetrack. It’s basically melting itself, so to speak. You can’t run the same rods and pistons. You can’t run the same heads. You have to change out the gaskets every run.

On race day, we switch out the entire motor every run. My crew team breaks everything down to the bare block. Each one of them has a specific job. One person does the right side of the motor. One person does the heads. Another person does the left side. One person does the bottom end. Another person does the clutch setup. Another person is just on the body of the car, making sure all the screws and bolts are connected. Another person does tires. Everything is very specific, so nothing gets overlooked. No one gets in each other’s way. It’s like a dance, watching them work. It’s incredible. The communication level is so key on these teams. When the car comes back after a run, we download the run and it shows a graph of everything that the car has done: the clutch setup, the tires, the lateral [G-forces], wheel speed, everything you can possibly imagine. But there’s only so much they can see on the computer. They also need the driver’s input. I need to be able to tell them, “This felt weird.” They may not see that. It’s very, very important to have a communication level. It’s a family. We’re on the road 24 weekends between February and November. I have a simulator in the house, basically to practice reaction times. It’s a lot of preparation for perfection for those moments. You don’t get another chance. You have four qualifying runs, but you can’t necessarily use that as test runs. You really have to be perfect with every move you make. It’s important to be in your seat and not think too far ahead. You need to be in the moment.


The beginning of race day starts off with the crew getting the car and everything together. We’ll warm it up, get the motor warm, heat it up. Within an hour of our run time, we get the car on the ground, get the body on. I’ve got my suit on and then we pull it up to staging lanes. With four to five race pairs in front of me, I start getting completely suited up: headsock, helmet, gloves, head and neck restraints, get zipped up, all that. If that thing goes sideways and you start flipping, [with] the inertia, you don’t want to move. Just the launch off the line, you go three to five Gs so quickly, your head snaps back. We need to stay stable. There’s a sevenpoint harness seatbelt system that keeps you stable in the car. If someone is claustrophobic, you can’t drive the car that I drive. I like that feeling. I just feel really comfortable. It’s quiet and everything kind of goes away. It’s just you and that race car. It’s like a perfect world, almost meditative. It’s controlled chaos. My crew gives me the car and it’s up to me to get it from A to B safely and as straight as possible.

I wanted to win in every class before I made the next step. I wanted to prove to myself that I got this, and now it’s time to make the next move. At that time, I started talking to some Alcohol Funny Car teams. They built a car for me and I started racing. It was really difficult in the beginning. It was unlike any car I’ve ever driven in my life. The Alcohol Funny Cars are even more difficult than the nitro cars. It’s a short-wheelbase car. At the starting line, the driver is bringing up the motor to 7,000 rpm while you have the foot on the clutch, hand on the break, holding it steady. You have to shift twice while keeping it straight, swap perfectly with your feet and shift. It’s a lot to do in a short amount of time. After talking to all the people that I really respected, [I learned] if you want to drive [a] Nitro Funny Car, you’ve got to drive Alcohol Funny Car first, and you’ve It was definitely a process. I started off in slower cars to get used got to be good. If I didn’t do Alcohol Funny Car for to that speed. When I first drove the car that I’m driving now, that five years, it would have been a lot harder to be where four seconds felt like four seconds. It was quick. “Oh my gosh, what just I am now. I started to get it, get better, didn’t give up. happened? I’m already at the finish line.” The more runs you make, it’s I persevered. Me being one of the only females in the strange how your brain starts to slow everything down, to the point that class didn’t help either. you are driving with your peripheral. You can see For me, I was just trying to be accepted exactly where you are on the racetrack. You can see and trying to keep my head down and do my everything going on outside. All your focus is on the job. But I also lacked confidence. … “Can I do CAN YOU TAKE end of the track. this? What’s going on? Is it me? Is it the car?” THE BULL BY THE Four seconds feels like four minutes, which I was struggling so bad in my early years. doesn’t get me a lot of passes on the road. I get myself When I joined forces with [legendary raceHORNS AND DO in trouble sometimes. Once you’ve gone over 300 car owner] Bob Newberry, he just told me, WHAT YOU HAVE miles per hour on a consistent basis, you lose the “There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re TO DO IN THE FACE grasp of real speed. Sixty miles per hour feels like 20. doing great. Take a deep breath. You’re OK.” Driving Funny Car was always the goal, the OF DEATH AND He was like a coach, really, a mental coach, biggest challenge, the biggest beast on the road. crew chief, everything. He kind of settled me. STILL BE ABLE That’s what I wanted to do. I had seen drag racing TO CONTROL THE on television before. In high school, I was street racing with my friends. I had a little hot rod, which SITUATION AND I think I do really well under pressure, I still have, to this day. I’ll never sell it. We would go very much so. I’ve been tested many YOUR EMOTIONS? to the swap meets and get parts for cars. times in the race car. So, it’s that fight-


It’s definitely a business. It was never a hobby for me. If I’m going to do this, I’m going to go all the way. It was my goal, and I worked my way up until I earned my spot. Well, I had plans to work for the family company, like everyone in my family does. Out of high school, I did that. I took some art classes and art-business classes in LA, and I worked at Paul Mitchell and started off on the phones as a receptionist. Then I moved on to marketing and art, then the next year, moved on to research and development and was with the vice president of research and development. I learned every aspect of the company, but I had that itch. If anyone has ever taught me about following your passion, it’s my father. I see how passionate he is about his work. And I had this itching. I knew I had to go see if I could do it, if I could race cars. It started off with my dad saying, “Well, why don’t you try the racing school? See if you like it. See if you can get licensed.” “OK, cool,” I thought. So, I went and I did it. I bought an old used Corvette Roadster that I started racing with in the beginning. Then I ended up going back to the racing school and focused on the Super Comp dragster class. I found a Super Comp dragster that was 2 years old, and I sold the Corvette and started racing the dragster. This was still within the first eight months of me racing anything. I went to two national final rounds, and I won a Sportsman National—within eight months. So, I knew this is definitely where I’m supposed to be.


or-flight mentality. OK, can you take the bull by the horns and do what you have to do in the face of death and still be able to control the situation and your emotions? A particular instance where I felt like I handled the situation to the best of my ability was when the parachutes ripped off my car in Englishtown, [N.J.] I was racing Top Alcohol Funny Car at the time. I was covering the ground pretty quickly, and in that instance, everything slowed down and I was able to pick apart every little detail. I quickly realized I wasn’t going to be able to stop the car, slow down or make a turn. I’m trying to line the car up straight so when I do hit the sand trap, I’m lined up straight in the middle. I remember, there was a guy standing next to the track, the Safety Safari guys waving me past them, as if I was going to take a left going over 200 miles per hour. I laughed for a second. “Of course, I’m going straight,” I thought. Mentally, you can go through the what if something happens, what steps would you take? In that moment, we’re talking about seconds here. You can’t prepare for that. It was just very clear to me what I had to do to make sure I crashed in the safest possible way.



Well, having young girls, young teenage girls, in the house and having a husband whose job is very taxing, all that together while trying to maintain a professional racing career on and off the track, I’ve been able to keep a very level head. I work at balancing out…being a wife and a mom and a racecar driver. When I’m home, I’m shutting that whole racing world out. If I come back from a race that sucked, I have to wipe that off my face and be present and not dwell. It’s hard. And likewise, if something happens at home, I’m not trying to take that to my job with me. But because they’re so intertwined, it’s a tough balancing act. But it’s just like in the car: You have to do the best in your lane. Technically, you’re racing the lane, not that other car. I think I’ll always need to keep my foot on some sort of pedal. I’m still a fan of drag racing. The gratification of launching off the starting line, there’s nothing that compares to that. [It’s about] the amount of work it takes and then the outcome being one of the most glorious things on the planet. It kind of still feels like an old hot rod. It amazed me that they were capable of creating something that could do this, and there’s a person in that car.

And by way of NHRA Drag Racing, I still got to fly in a F-15 Strike Eagle. We were at a race in Las Vegas next to an air base, and these pilots came over in their flight suits. They were by the pit, and we started talking. We were comparing stories. We actually go through similar situations: being able to handle things under pressure, staying calm and collected when you’re about to crash, knowing exactly what you need to do, quieting everything down, the mental focus that it takes. There’s a small percentage of people that even want to do this. They told me they would get me a ride-along, and a few years later, in happened. I went Mach 2 [twice the speed of sound]. I did 8.5 Gs and banked. They tried to make me sick. They were trying extra hard. It didn’t happen. Finally, the pilot asked, “Want to fly it?” “Are you sure I can do this?” “You’ll be fine.” “Could I do a barrel roll?” I did one slow, perfect barrel roll, and he says, “You’re not going to break this thing.” It was so easy to fly. I didn’t take off or land it, but once it’s in the air, it’s so incredibly easy to fly.

ALEXIS DEJORIA’S CAREER HIGHLIGHTS As a Funny Car driver, Alexis DeJoria has earned five wins, three runnersup, 16 semifinal finishes and four No. 1 qualifiers. oF  unny Car wins include: the NHRA Nationals in Phoenix, February 2014; NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas, March 2014 and April 2016; the prestigious 60th annual U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, September 2014; and the NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minn., August 2017. o DeJoria is the first woman to compete in 100 Funny Car events, accomplished at the 2016 NHRA season opener in Pomona, Calif. o She is the first female to make a Funny Car run in less than four seconds, running a 3.997-second pass at the NHRA Winter Nationals in Pomona, Calif., in February 2014. o She made the first sub-four-second Funny Car run—in 3.998 seconds— in Brainerd International Raceway history during the 33rd annual NHRA Nationals in August 2014. o She is the second female to win a national Top Alcohol Funny Car event, accomplished at the 2011 NHRA Northwest Nationals. o She won the SportsNationals in Fontana, Calif., within the first eight months of her NHRA debut. o She is the only driver to claim a win in each of the following categories: Funny Car, Top Alcohol Funny Car and Super Comp.

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WHAT IS DRAG RACING? A drag race pairs two vehicles—dragsters, cars or motorcycles—in a tournament-style elimination contest. The National Hot Rod Association Mello Yello Drag Racing Series’ nitromethane-fueled Top Fuel and Funny Car classes race a quarter-mile drag strip and can reach speeds of more than 330 mph. The Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle classes burn regular gasoline. The NHRA racing schedule is February through November, with races generally contested on the weekends. To get into a Sunday 16-vehicle elimination field, racers must first qualify by posting one of the top 16 elapsed times in one of the four available qualifying sessions. Qualifying typically takes place on Fridays and Saturdays, and eliminations are held bracket-style on Sundays. As a top 10 driver competing in the 24-race NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, Alexis DeJoria races her 11,000-horsepower Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car at speeds faster than 330 mph. DeJoria’s nitromethane-burning Funny Car launches faster than a rocket ship, accelerating from zero to 100 mph in less than one second as it covers the drag strip in three to four quick seconds. “A driver is basically like a bull rider,” says Tommy DeLago, DeJoria’s co-crew chief. “You need ultimate focus for those four seconds. You’ve got to steer it in the right direction and keep it in the right grooves.” DeJoria has competed as a professional Funny Car racer for six years, but began her NHRA racing career in 2005. She first competed in the Super Gas category and then progressed into a rear-engine Super Comp dragster. During the first eight months of her NHRA debut, DeJoria qualified for two final rounds and won the SportsNationals in Fontana, Calif. DeJoria then climbed into a Top Alcohol Funny Car, and she drove for two years with a two-car team, competing mostly on the West Coast. In 2009, DeJoria created Stealth Motorsports. She is one of the few females to ever co-own and operate her own crew and team. While racing and operating Stealth, DeJoria advanced to four national-event final rounds, won a divisional event and earned a trip to the Winner’s Circle at the 2011 NHRA Northwest Fall Nationals, where she earned her first NHRA national-event victory in the Top Alcohol Funny Car category, making her only the second woman to win a national Top Alcohol Funny Car event. “She’s got the right mindset,” says Bob Newberry, DeJoria’s former crew chief, coach and mentor. “That’s her passion, and she’s also knowledgeable. She wanted pointers, things she could get better at. I told her to drive the car with her mind.” At the 2011 Texas Fall Nationals, after a year of testing in a Funny Car, DeJoria made the leap from Top Alcohol Funny Car to Funny Car, joining the Kalitta Motorsports team as its fourth member and second Funny Car driver.


NHRA’S DRAG-RACING GLOSSARY Burnout: Spinning the rear tires in water to heat and clean them prior to a run for better traction. A burnout precedes every run. Christmas tree: Also called the Tree, it is the noticeable electronic starting device between the lanes on the starting line. It displays a calibratedlight countdown for each driver. Elapsed time: The time it takes a vehicle to travel from starting line to finish line. Eliminations: After qualifying, vehicles race two at a time, resulting in one winner from each pair. Winners continue in tournament-style competition until one remains. G-force: A form of acceleration that causes the accelerating object to experience a force acting in the opposite direction to the acceleration. Gasket: Shaped material sealing the junction between two surfaces in an engine. Methanol: Pure methyl alcohol produced by synthesis. It’s used in Top Alcohol Dragsters and Top Alcohol Funny Cars. Nitromethane: Produced specifically as a fuel for drag racing, it is the result of a chemical reaction between nitric acid and propane. Piston: The moving component in an engine to transfer force from expanding gas in the cylinder to the crankshaft via a piston rod or connecting rod. Reaction time: The time it takes a driver to react to the green starting light on the Christmas tree, measured in thousandths of a second. The reactiontime counter begins when the last amber light flashes on the Tree and stops when the vehicle clears the stage beam. Sixty-foot time: The time it takes a vehicle to cover the first 60 feet of the racetrack. It is the most accurate measure of the launch from the starting line and in most cases determines how quick the rest of the run will be. Speed trap: The final 66 feet to the finish line where speed is recorded.




Through their respective roles as a private investigator, personal protection officer and police chief, Anji MaCuk, Niki Jones and Jessica Robledo are forces of nature working toward a stronger, safer Austin. STORY BY RACHEL RASCOE PHOTOS BY KEITH TRIGACI

Strength: It’s a concept often illustrated by bulging muscles or physical feats, but takes on new meaning when applied to a lifetime passion for protecting others. The drive and sense of duty displayed by Anji MaCuk, Jessica Robledo and Niki Jones leave no question about each woman’s end goal: to help serve their community. This power trio of professional protectors keeps the Austin area safe with their stellar work in private investigation, as well as through the police force and personal-safety instruction. Throughout their conversation with Austin Woman, it became eminently clear: When the going gets tough, these tough ladies get going.





Anji MaCuk’s wildest days on the job have involved going undercover at a swingers’ club and blurring out video taken during an investigation at a nudist colony. On her most heartwarming days, she finds runaway teens and reunites long-lost loved ones. She does it all under the umbrella of private investigation. Sparked by genealogical detective work done at a young age, MaCuk went on to study criminal justice in college, during which time she hesitantly accepted an internship at the Victoria County Juvenile Services Department. There, she discovered her love for acting as a second mother and mentor to at-risk youths in trouble with the law. After graduation, she accepted a job as a juvenile-protection officer and later relocated to her current home base of Georgetown, Texas. At the time, the local paper reported she had double the caseload, compared with the other juvenile-protection officers, and had the highest success rate—a tribute to her superpower

capacity for compassion in cases involving children. While working as a background investigator at the Austin Police Department, MaCuk reignited her childhood love for investigation. She soon jumped into starting her own privateinvestigation company, She Spies, 14 years ago. Through her three offices in Dallas, Austin and Round Rock, Texas, attorneys and clients contact MaCuk and her team to help with everything from child-custody cases to locating lost children. Her undercover antics as an investigator have earned her appearances on reality TV and talks with major networks about starting a show of her own. To get the beloved kids involved in her youth cases out of trouble and into safe environments nationwide, often in the form of treatment or rehabilitation programs, MaCuk founded Next Step Youth Transport Services in 2013. She also personally investigates Texas-area missing-children cases pro bono for the American Association for Lost Children.

Austin Woman: Did you have any childhood experiences that hinted at your current investigative work? Anji MaCuk: My mom was a stay-at-home mom, so, to stay busy, she started doing genealogy. To be a genealogist, you’re basically a detective because you’re hunting and researching relatives. I was the oldest, so she would take me on trips to the library and interviews with family members. We would go to cemeteries because she was always looking for somebody’s grave. It got to where she would just tell me, “Anji, we’re going to the library and I want you to look for this.” Growing up that way is what made me start to realize how much I enjoyed investigating, and I also loved reading Nancy Drew books. AW: What unique qualities do you think have led to people preferring you as a private investigator?


I think women are very good at this because we are compassionate.

AM: Back when I started, there weren’t that many women in the industry, so I got busy fast. I learned as soon as my name started to get out there that people wanted to hire a woman as their P.I. Many people wanted a female helping them to gain custody of their children because we can understand how important it is to make sure your child is safe, and that’s not saying that men don’t. A lot of men also hire me for divorce cases because they were embarrassed to talk to their friends about it. I think women are very good at this because we are compassionate. In this job, you’re on the phone talking to clients who are high-strung, emotional, and we’re having to calm them down. AW: What tools do you most commonly use while out doing surveillance? AM: A good set of binoculars, a good camera and covert equipment. … I have a key fob that has a camera in it, but it just looks like a set of keys. I have a coffee mug that has a camera in it too. Because iPhones these days have such great cameras on them, sometimes that’s our best bet. Especially when you’re in a restaurant or someplace, it’s really easy to sit there and get video of someone and it just looks like you’re on your phone. AW: Throughout the whole investigation process, what is usually the most satisfying stage for you? AM: It depends on the case. If it’s a child-custody case, it’s knowing the work we did and the evidence we were able to produce helped keep a child safe. That’s my ultimate goal, that these kids end up with the right parent, whoever that may be. When it comes to something like divorce, then it’s providing answers to my client. I’m working with one right now where she’s been married for 35 years. Her whole life has been with her husband, so she’s devastated over the fact that he’s most likely having an affair. My goal is uncovering the truth so they, as a couple, can go and figure out what they need to do. It’s not about breaking up marriages. There’s so many times that something will happen on a case and me and my girls in the office will all look at each other and just go, “Yep, that’s why we do this job.” It’s great when you hear happy endings and good results. ATXWOMAN.COM |  71

Mellie Price March 2016 Cover Woman





When Niki Jones moved from New York City to Texas, the Southern culture rekindled her interest in firearms, established at a young age by her competitive-shooter parents. After getting her concealed-handgun license, Jones couldn’t find any local gun clubs to join, so she started her own. Seven years later, Jones has appeared on national television programs, including Nightline, promoting self-defense through her female gun club, Sure Shots. The free firearms-savvy social club meets weekly for shooting practice, and has grown to include about 400 members. Some of the women, including Jones, became certified firearms instructors. In 2012, Jones learned of a local need for female personal protection officers. After completing rigorous training to receive her Level 3 and 4 commissions, she now holds the highest level of security commission achievable in the state of Texas, that of personal

protection officer. Through local company BSG Security Services, she provides professional protection services to clients during festivals and events, including quite a few bigname celebrities. She frequently provides free seminars about self-protection for groups throughout the city, including speaking to members of the community and college students after recent alarming on-campus attacks. Through her security work, Jones has also become a licensed private investigator. When she’s not speaking on firearm and personal safety, Jones spends her days working as the creative director at Austin Woman. Shortly after founding the Sure Shots club, Jones combined her passions for guns and design into online publication Sure Shots Magazine.

AW: When you started Sure Shots, what did you want the gun club to be like? Niki Jones: I often found myself at the range all by myself, and I was thinking about the leagues my parents used to belong to when I was a kid. They didn’t seem to exist here in Austin. I wanted a different kind of gun club, and I wanted it to be free so anyone could just come and try it out. One thing that was really important to me was that it was really inclusive. I saw all these other gun clubs that had very specific political stances. I wanted to welcome every single type of woman, from the super, super liberal to the super, super right-wing and everything in between. That was really important to me because I have friends on all sides of the spectrum. AW: What are the basic ideas of personal protection you try to instill in groups you speak to?


Having your head up and on a swivel has probably saved way more lives than having a gun in your purse.

NJ: Be aware of your surroundings. That is first and foremost. Having your head up and on a swivel has probably saved way more lives than having a gun in your purse. After looking around, distance is insurance. That means if you see a potential threat, put as much distance between you and it. Trusting your gut is the key. Sometimes, as women, we have been taught not to be rude, and that has not helped us. Throw that idea out the window. Walk with confidence. Don’t bury your head in your phone. We do this demonstration in which I’m looking at my phone and my partner will come up right next to me and I can’t see her at all. People walk around like that all the time. AW: What inspired you to start Sure Shots Magazine? NJ: A lot of times, people think that women who are into guns are all a very similar type of woman, and we have proven that that is not true at all. You can be a million different things. You can just be a normal, professional, educated woman who happens to be carrying a gun because you care about your protection. I wanted it to look like a fashion magazine and be women’s-defense-oriented, and I wanted there to be something for everyone. If you are some hardcore tactical lady, there’s something in there for you. There’s something in there for someone who’s really into fashion and maybe carries her gun in her Gucci bag. We mix it up. AW: What’s the most rewarding part of teaching both personal and gun safety? NJ: I like seeing women of all ages, from all walks of life come in who haven’t necessarily thought about their own personal-defense plan. I get to watch the whole transformation into them now thinking defensively automatically. I equate it to when you first learn to drive. It seems really crazy, and all you’re thinking about is driving. But now, you just get into a car and you’re automatically thinking defensively about the other cars on the road, and that’s just the way you can be with your life. I want to make every woman feel like she can protect herself. We’re teaching women to be aware and be safe and take control of their lives. ATXWOMAN.COM |  73

STAYING SAFE Austin Woman asked the three skilled professionals for their favorite quick tips on taking control of your personal protection.

> Get a tactical flashlight. “A small, super-bright tactical flashlight is my favorite tool. If it’s dark out and you’re coming out of H-E-B and you have a weird feeling, all you have to do is shine it to see underneath all the cars. It has a strobe feature that can disorient somebody. Also, it has a beveled edge that not only serves as a contact weapon, but can also collect an attacker’s DNA.” – Niki Jones

> Go through self-defense training. “We recently brought a female selfdefense class here to Pflugerville, [Texas,] and it filled up really fast. You can also go through a citizen’s police academy and become a volunteer service person. Our citizen patrols help us with events and are totally awesome.” – Jessica Robledo

> Install security cameras at home. “I’m big into security around your home. Get someone that can come over and look at your house and make recommendations as to what type of cameras and where. Nowadays, they have such small, hightech cameras. Everybody’s afraid when they come to my house because I’ve got cameras everywhere.” – Anji MaCuk





While responding to a disturbance during her early days as a police officer, Jessica Robledo recalls diffusing the situation by sitting down to enjoy a meal with the family. She remembers telling her fellow officer, who stood at attention, “Dude, you need to sit down and have some carne guisada.” This dinnertable encounter captures Robledo’s ethos as a public servant, to engage directly with the community. Overcoming tragedy that left her orphaned at a young age, Robledo realized her interest in law enforcement while working as a security guard at Sears during college in her small hometown of Sonora, Texas. She went against her grandparents’ concerns and entered into the police academy.

At the Austin Police Department, Robledo became the first female sergeant to supervise the homicide unit, and later became the department’s first Hispanic female assistant chief. During her 28 years with the department, Robledo worked to bring more women onto the force through recruitment events and mentorship of upcoming officers. Earlier this year, Robledo took her insurmountable energy for community building to the growing city of Pflugerville, Texas, where she leads as the chief of police. After being compared to Pop Rocks candy by the Pflugerville mayor for “the way she pops into action,” Robledo has already overhauled the police gym and increased public engagement through events and social media.

AW: Who’s your biggest role model? Jessica Robledo: I was raised by my grandparents, and one of the things that my grandfather taught me was don’t forget where you come from. My grandfather had a second-grade education, but I always say he had a Ph.D. in life. I’ll take that any day over a book. He taught me how to build a solid foundation in life, and he taught me about helping people. I would always wonder why we were feeding people that would walk through our town and why he would give them a place to live. I didn’t understand until I was older because now, I do the same, and I’m able to do it in a larger capacity. AW: What is one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career?


I tell my officers, ‘Plant seeds of goodness. Be a good human being.’

JR: When I entered the [San Angelo Police Academy], there were 13 of us in the academy, and I was the only female, so I had to make the coffee and I had to paint some rocks. That’s kind of telling you they’re trying to weed you out. I did well and I graduated, but then it was time to take the licensing exam. I get test anxiety and I ended up failing the exam. We had a very old-fashioned sheriff. He came in and said, “I told you women aren’t supposed to be in law enforcement,” and humiliated me. He walked me to his office, wrote me a check and said, “Here, get out of my police department.” I was devastated. On my drive home, one of my instructors called me. He said, “Write this number down, pack a bag and drive to Austin.” I went in and retook the test and passed it with flying colors. They told me Austin was hiring, and that’s how it all happened. AW: What is the legacy you are most proud of from your time at the Austin Police Department? JR: One of the things that I have a passion for is helping youth. I could have very easily ended up in a foster home because of my circumstances. When you’ve walked a certain path in life, you need to learn to embrace your broken [characteristics]. Everybody’s got broken [characteristics]. Some people refuse to admit it, but I think the more broken [characteristics] you have, the more unique you are. I started thinking about it. How did a child get into that foster home? The badge took their parent away. The badge took that child away from their home for whatever reason. The badge can help heal. So, I started the very first police mentorship in Austin. It’s called Blue Guardian with Austin’s oldest foster home, Helping Hand Home. It’s still going on. AW: Describe the qualities you want to curate on your police force in Pflugerville, Texas. JR: I want to embrace our diverse community in partnership because you want to become one with the people you serve. Public trust can be broken like that. It only takes one officer and it taints the entire profession nationwide. None of my officers are going to be abusing people. I tell my officers, “Plant seeds of goodness. Be a good human being.” It all starts there. And then put your badge on and go to work. ATXWOMAN.COM |  75





Comfort food just got a makeover. STORY AND PHOTOS BY NATALIE PARAMORE Fall is prime time for some of Central Texas’ best produce. It’s also a time when many nightshade vegetables are available in abundance. For some people, nightshade vegetables, such as eggplants, peppers, potatoes and tomatoes, can cause inflammation, and others may avoid them in their diets for varying reasons. For fall entertaining, we’ve put a twist on some of our favorite recipes traditionally made with nightshades by substituting other inseason vegetables. It’s creative look-good, feel-good cooking at its finest.




1 1/2 pounds sliced baby bella mushrooms

1. Saute the mushrooms with one tablespoon of olive oil and one teaspoon of kosher salt until they’re slightly softened, about six to seven minutes.

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

2. Boil the lasagna noodles until they’re al dente. Note: Do not use no-boil noodles for this recipe.

Lasagna noodles

3. In a food processor, pulse the basil with garlic and the remaining olive oil and salt until a chunky paste forms, creating a pesto.

1 1/2 cups fresh basil, packed 2 cloves garlic 3 cups ricotta cheese

4. In a small bowl, mix together the pesto with the ricotta. 5. L  ine a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with 3/4 cup of the ricotta mixture. Top it with one layer of lasagna noodles. On top of the noodles, layer 3/4 cup of ricotta then some of the sauteed mushrooms. Repeat this process two times, finishing with mushrooms on top. 6. B  ake the lasagna for 25 minutes at 350 degrees, or until it’s hot and bubbly. 7. Remove it from the oven and top it with Parmesan cheese, if desired.





2 cups cauliflower (about 1 head)

Serves two

2 cloves garlic


1/2 stick butter

1/2 cup quinoa

1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

1 cup chicken broth

1 tablespoon fresh chives

2 strips bacon 2 medium zucchini 1/2 cup white onion, chopped 1 tablespoon olive oil 2 teaspoons kosher salt 1/2 cup shredded Monterrey jack cheese Directions 1. Rinse the quinoa and boil the chicken broth. Add the quinoa to the boiling chicken broth and cook until it’s done, according to the package. 2. F  ry the bacon in a skillet until it’s crisp. Set it on a plate lined with a paper towel. Let the oil cool in the pan but do not discard it.

Directions 1. Wash and chop the cauliflower. Boil it in salted water until it’s tender, at least 10 minutes. 2. D  rain the cauliflower and reserve 1 cup of water from the pot. 3. P  ut the cauliflower into a food processor with the garlic, butter and salt. Pulse it until the mixture is smooth, adding the reserve pot water one tablespoon at a time as needed to blend. More water will lead to a smoother, thinner dish. Less water will have a thicker consistency. 4. Taste and add more salt if needed. 5. T  op the mixture with chives and serve hot.

3. W  ash the zucchini and remove the ends. Slice the zucchini vertically down the middle. Slice down the sides of the inner flesh and seeds. Using a spoon, scoop out the insides. Chop the zucchini (the insides, not the boats) into bite-sized pieces and set aside. 4. Chop the onion and combine it with the chopped zucchini. Saute the onion and the chopped zucchini in the pan with the bacon grease over medium heat, until softened, about eight minutes. 5. A  dd the quinoa, chopped zucchini and onion to the pan, tossing with olive oil and salt. 6. F  ill the zucchini boats with the mixture and top it with the crumbled bacon and cheese. 7. Bake at 350 degrees, or until the cheese bubbles, about 10 minutes.






The Tasty Spoon serves locally sourced, handcrafted gelato in flavors suitable for every sweet tooth. Tucked into a cozy bungalow on South First Street, The Tasty Spoon is a place for locals to grab a scoop of gelato or an iced coffee and lounge under the shade of the property’s backyard oak tree. The shop opened in early April, just in time for the toasty summer weather, with the gelato menu featuring fruity flavors such as watermelon and peach alongside classics like honey lavender and salted caramel. Ashley MacDonald always dreamed of opening a dessert shop and was called to gelato after hearing of Carpigiani Gelato University in Bologna, Italy. As the oldest manufacturer of gelato equipment, the school provides knowledge and expertise for people who wish to work in the gelato field. Suffice to say, there, MacDonald learned everything she needed to know about opening a gelateria. The only question that remained was where she would open her own gelateria. MacDonald wanted to bring her sweet scoops to an entrepreneurial city with a small-business mindset, and after finding the perfect space in Austin, she went to work creating the right vibe.

“The ambiance and atmosphere that I always wanted to create was this kind of homey and welcoming vibe, where it was comfortable to walk in and have a tasty scoop, work on your laptop or play with your kids outside,” MacDonald says. At The Tasty Spoon, the fall months feature a new assortment of warm, spiced flavors, such as pumpkin, toasted marshmallow and gingersnap, as well as pomegranate-ginger and apple-cider sorbets. MacDonald also wants to provide flavors to satisfy even the pickiest palate. “Ideally, I’d like to be able to offer everybody, regardless of what their food intolerance may be, with a very fun and unique flavor,” says MacDonald, who aims to provide vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free options to match the traditional creamy flavors. MacDonald works to source as many products locally as she can, and what isn’t local is brought in from Italy or France to maintain a high-quality ingredient profile. Everything is house-made, pistachio gelato embracing the authentic, hands-on, small-batch production style. As the winter months approach, the gelateria has a new addition to the shop to help warm the chill. A back room will be transformed into a traditional English tea room to welcome tea as the newest menu item and keep Austinites cozy during the holiday season.


Pphoto by Logan Crable.


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The nitty-gritty, need-to-know details of orthodontic care for adults. BY JILL CASE

• Appearance. Many adults either did not have the opportunity to have orthodontics when they were younger, or may have had braces but experienced changes in their teeth as they aged. This is not unusual, according to Kim. “As we age, our teeth start to get a bit more crowded,” she says. This is called mesial drift, and occurs when the teeth move closer to the middle of the face, crowding each other. • Bone-loss prevention. Oral bone loss occurs as we age, beginning in the early 30s and accelerating in the 50s and 60s. “We try to stop that from happening with orthodontic treatment when people are in their 30s and 40s,” Kim says. “For people in their 50s and beyond, we try to make corrections to prevent further bone loss from occurring.” • Better dental health. When teeth are crooked or crowded, it can make it difficult to maintain good dental hygiene, which can lead to more tooth decay, gum disease and worn enamel. Kim emphasizes there is no age limit for orthodontics. “We actually have patients in their 80s that are getting treatment,” she says. “You’re never too old to get your teeth straightened and put them in a good and healthy position for the future.”

TYPES OF ORTHODONTICS FOR ADULTS Orthodontic treatment is a very individual process, with costs ranging from $2,500 to $9,000, with the average treatment at Kunik Orthodontics, for example, ranging between $5,000 and $6,000. Option 1: Invisalign. These invisible orthodontics have several benefits. They’re clear, removable, comfortable, require fewer visits to the orthodontist and make teeth easier to clean. Dr. Grace Kim calls them “the gold standard in orthodontics.” Option 2: Braces with wires and brackets. These braces can move teeth more quickly, and in some situations, may be required to begin treatment. Often, they can be replaced with Invisalign later in the treatment. There are three types of these braces that use brackets and wires: • metal: made from stainless steel • ceramic: made from composite or porcelain to be less visible • lingual: placed on the back or tongue side of the teeth to be more hidden.

THREE REASONS NOT TO CHOOSE DIY ORTHODONTICS You’ve probably seen the ads on the internet for very inexpensive braces, and you may have heard anecdotal information from a friend or family member who had a great experience with them, but Dr. Grace Kim wants readers to know there are three important things to think about before going the DIY route when it comes to orthodontics care. 1. You could experience tooth loss or other problems. When you pursue DIY orthodontics, you don’t know what kind of care or monitoring you will receive, if any at all. “There is a limit to how far you can move your teeth. The teeth can be pushed out of the periodontium—the tissues that support and surround the teeth, keeping them in place within the bone structure—causing tooth loss,” Kim says. In addition, some patients experience root resorption, or shortening of the roots, when they undergo treatment, and it’s important patients who experience a severe reaction receive immediate diagnosis and treatment of the problem. Adult patients may also experience problems with periodontitis, or gum disease. 2. Your bite could be adversely affected. Orthodontists receive two to three additional years of training after dental school in the field of orthodontics, giving them the necessary training to handle all types of malocclusions, or bite problems. “If you have very crowded teeth but you don’t have an overbite, as the DIY orthodontics unravel the crowding, they may actually cause an open bite or bite issue,” Kim says. An open bite means the upper and lower teeth don’t make proper contact with each other when the jaws are closed. You may end up with straight teeth, but also with a new malocclusion that can cause serious dental-health issues. 3. It may end up costing you more than traditional orthodontics. If you experience problems caused by DIY orthodontics, it could be very costly. For example, if you experience tooth loss, you would need expensive dental implants to replace your teeth. Periodontal issues may require specialized periodontal treatment, and you would still need to see an orthodontist to properly correct your teeth and your bite.


Dr. Grace Kim head-shot photo by Ettie Kim.

Often seen as a key element of an awkward phase of life for teenagers, braces are becoming more popular among adults. Dr. Grace Kim, an orthodontist and partner at Kunik Orthodontics in Austin, spoke with Austin Woman about the reasons why adults are choosing to get orthodontic treatment. In her practice, about 60 to 65 percent of patients are adults. It turns out that adults are choosing orthodontic treatment for a variety of reasons:

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Dr. Christine Fisher empowers women to move beyond a breast-cancer diagnosis. A diagnosis of breast cancer is a reality that one in eight women in the U.S. will face. With 2.8 million survivors alive today, the demand for experienced breast-reconstruction surgeons is higher than ever before. Enter Dr. Christine Fisher, a 2017 Super Doctors® honoree providing advanced breast-reconstructive techniques to women affected by breast cancer who are seeking beautiful and natural-looking results. At her women-run practice in Central Austin and Fredericksburg, Texas, Dr. Fisher and her team take the time to understand patients’ goals and create a personalized care plan for each patient. She cares for patients undergoing breast reconstruction in Round Rock, Cedar Park, Austin, San Marcos, Marble Falls and Fredericksburg. With two grandmothers who survived breast cancer, Dr. Fisher strongly believes in the value of emotional and practical support when facing such a diagnosis. For this reason, her care team includes breast-cancer survivors who are her former patients. These care coordinators are able to provide referrals to breastcancer-specific community resources and share their personal experiences with the breast-reconstruction process. Dr. Fisher and her team are inspired daily as they work with patients on the journey to recovery. Dr. Fisher’s meticulous attention to detail has made her one of the most sought-after breast reconstruction surgeons in Central Texas. Her artistry, skill and experience mean patients can expect the best, including breastreconstruction options such as living-tissue reconstruc-

Dr. Fisher understands restorative breast surgery represents a chance for not just physical healing, but also emotional healing.

tion, implant-based breast reconstruction and nipple-sparing breast reconstruction. When possible, she uses hidden-scar techniques, ensuring no scars are left on the front of the breasts. With living-tissue reconstruction, excess skin and fat are removed from a part of the body, such as the abdomen (DIEP flap) or inner thighs (PAP flap), and transplanted to the chest to create new breasts. This type of reconstruction has the lowest lifetime revision rate and the highest patientsatisfaction scores. Nipple-sparing breast reconstruction may be an option for women who have a small tumor and no signs of cancer near the nipple. Dr. Fisher performs a hidden-scar technique, by which the nipple and areola are left in place while the breast tissue underneath is removed and reconstructed. A graduate of the University of Texas Medical Branch, Dr. Fisher completed her training in plastic surgery and advanced reconstructive surgery in Pittsburgh, Pa., and in Paris, France. Since 1997, Austin has been her home, which she now shares with her husband and three young children. Dr. Fisher is on faculty at the new University of Texas Dell Medical School. She also serves on the Medical Advisory Committee for the Breast Cancer Resource Center and has been a bra designer with Kendra Scott for the organization’s signature fundraiser, Art Bra Austin. Dr. Fisher understands restorative breast surgery represents a chance for not just physical healing, but also emotional healing. She and her team aspire to empower women every day to move forward in life—confidently.

Christine Fisher, M.D. | 1015 E. 32nd St., Suite 306, Austin, Texas 78705 | 512.815.0123 |

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ROCK STARS What would our world look like if we all recycled? Can you even imagine? Today, our planet is suffering. The hole in the ozone that protects us from harmful UV radiation, those nasty rays that cause skin cancer, is larger than it has ever been. Our oceans are teeming with debris and enough plastic is thrown out every year to circle the Earth four times. Our landfills are growing by the second and unless we take a stand, waste will take over our planet. Scary, right? So, what can we do? BY LAUREN JONES

YOU CAN RECYCLE WHAT? What can we recycle? You may think recycling only applies to things like paper, aluminum cans and glass bottles, but guess what? Common household items like electronics, washers and dryers, car batteries and light bulbs can also be recycled. Recycling is one of the best things we can do to protect our The fate of our planet, so why wouldn’t you take an extra minute (or two) to put your recyclables in that little blue bin?

to their Materials Recovery Facility (MRF). Once at the MRF, the recyclables are separated, processed, and compressed into bales, which are then shipped off to processing facilities around the country. Currently, TDS is working to move all of their processing in-house to the neighboring TDS Eco-Industrial Park, which will reduce costs, planet create jobs and cut their carbon footprint. Not only does TDS do a great job at keeping our communities clean, but they go above and beyond to spread the word about recycling. Every year, TDS offers collection services for Fiesta San Antonio and ACL, where they educate vendors on what items can be recycled and composted and provide easily recognizable signage. During ACL 2016, TDS diverted enough trash to cover a football field six stories high.

is on all of us.

TEXAS DISPOSAL SYSTEMS TO THE RESCUE Now that you have decided to do your part, let me introduce you to Texas Disposal Systems (or TDS for short). TDS has been helping keep Central Texas beautiful for the last 40 years as one of the largest independently operated waste management companies in the country. Their mission is to divert waste from the landfill and repurpose it for a new life, which can include traditional closed-loop recycling, where one item, such as a soda can is reused to make another soda can, or open-loop recycling, where a material is used for an entirely new purpose. Every day, TDS picks up recyclables from residential neighborhoods, businesses and schools and transports them

IT’S ON US The fate of our planet is on all of us. It’s not just one person’s job to recycle, one neighborhood’s or even one country’s responsibility. It’s on every single person on this planet, all 7.5 billion of us. Once you finish reading this article, take a look around your home and set aside any items you can recycle. If you’re not sure where to place an item, head to to get more info. The more trash we divert from the landfill, the healthier our world becomes. For more information on how you can make a difference, visit


A CLEAN AND BEAUTIFUL EARTH OR A POLLUTED ONE: IT’S YOUR CHOICE Toxic chemicals from plastics thrown into the landfill can leach into groundwater and make us sick.

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Recycling just one ton of office paper saves 17 trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 463 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space and enough energy to heat an average home for six months.

At 1,609 pounds per person per year, the U.S. is the No. 1 trash-producing country in the world. This means that 5% of the world’s people generate 40% of the world’s waste.

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When it comes to cooking with oil, going back to basics is best. BY ABIGAIL ROSENTHAL Eat this: Olive oil and coconut oil Not that: Canola oil and spray-on oils Says who: Deirdre Earls, registered dietitian and author of Your Healing Diet Why: If you’re looking for a natural approach to cooking, olive oil and coconut oil are your best bets. Both have occurred naturally throughout history, unlike canola and spray-on oils. While there are conflicting reports about the health benefits and risks of canola oil, Earls emphasizes a diet of plant-based whole foods and avoiding man-made oils when possible. Canola oil was developed as a cheaper alternative to olive oil, and spray-on oils can contain chemicals and ingredients companies aren’t required to list, like aerosol. “For people who really want to prioritize their health, olive oil is the ideal choice. We should be trying to eat like all of our ancestors have eaten,” Earls says. “I think there’s still a lot of research that needs to be done on canola oil. I’m not convinced it’s good or bad, but I think it’s clear it’s not a food from nature, so I personally avoid it. To me, there’s still too much about it that’s unknown. If you want something that will spray, they have all kinds of oil sprayers out there. You don’t need to buy the oil with the aerosol in it.” The proof is in the pesto: “The diet that research has shown to be the healthiest diet for optimizing your health and longevity is the Mediterranean diet. It’s built upon olive oil,” Earls says. “If it’s good enough for the healthiest people in the world that comprise a gigantic clinical research trial…it’s good enough for me.”

CONSIDER THIS Storage: The best storage method for oils is in dark glass, which prevents light from getting in and causing the oil to go rancid. Oils should also be kept in a dark cabinet, away from heat and light. Smoke point: Always avoid heating oils to the point at which they smoke, Earls says. Overheating oils can release toxic fumes and cause the fats in the oil to break down just as they do when they go rancid.

BREAK IT DOWN OLIVE OIL: Calories per tablespoon: 120 What to look for: Extra virgin olive oil, which means the oil has gone through less processing Good for: salad dressings, quick sauteing, pesto and hummus Our pick: Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday Value Cold-processed Extra Virgin Olive Oil COCONUT OIL: Calories per tablespoon: 120 What to look for: Unrefined, organic, virgin or extra virgin. This means the oil has gone through less processing and was made using organic coconuts. Good for: sauteing, baking, stir-frying and even as a moisturizer Our pick: Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil 84 |  AUSTIN WOMAN |  OCTOBER 2017





Austin Energy’s Julie Black electrifies on the high dive. STORY AND PHOTOS BY GRETCHEN M. SANDERS Julie Black kicked up to a handstand at the FINA World Masters Diving Championships in Budapest, Hungary, last August. Upside down on a 10-meter platform, she counted to three, tipped forward and fell into a roll, stopping her rotation in time for a clean entry into a deep pool below.

That dive, an armstand somersault, scored high enough to earn Black fourth place in the individual platform competition. That’s fourth place in the world! She would make the podium two more times before the meet’s end, taking gold in the mixed synchro platform and silver in the mixed synchro springboard events. Black, an economist for Austin Energy, has always loved the water and the feeling of flying. She grew up in Missouri, participating in gymnastics but switching to diving in high school. Columbia University later recruited her for its diving team, offering her an athletic grant that paid half her college tuition. Black became Columbia’s first female diver to compete from freshman year through graduation. Later, she earned a master’s degree in economics from the University of Alabama. At 48, she still performs the same dives she did in her 20s. “I love the feeling of moving through the air, the rotation, the speed,” says Black, who dives and swims for Longhorn Aquatics Masters. When she’s not at the Texas Swimming Center, she’s busy working with engineers and alternative-energy enthusiasts to develop sustainable fuel sources. Black, who drives an electric car and ponders energy conservation more than most people, believes electricity is a viable answer to the transportation-fuel-source dilemma. “The electric grid can be powered by many different resources, and electricity is everywhere,” she says. “We have multiple options for powering electric vehicles, if we put our minds to it.” Black sees a parallel in the intricate timing of an electrical grid and hitting a dive. Goodness knows she creates her own kind of electricity when she soars from 10 meters. Here’s how this alternative-energy champion stays fit for gold.

HER PLAYLIST Pompeii by Bastille Paradise by Coldplay Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen All the Right Moves by OneRepublic More Than a Feeling by Boston Bitter Sweet Symphony by The Verve What About Us by Pink Where the Streets Have No Name by U2



“I eat a frozen banana first thing every morning. Then I rush to get ready for Masters swim practice at UT. I’m usually running late, so I don’t have time to do much else. I listen to NPR in my car on the way to the pool and work. I like catching up on the news. I’m pretty out of touch with pop culture.” THE WORKOUT:

“I strive to do as many Masters swimming and diving workouts each week as possible. I love to start my day swimming and end it diving. Sometimes that means I do four morning swims and four evening diving practices in one week. I bike to work at least once during the week and run on two nights. I’ll do a longer run on Saturday mornings and a group bike ride on Sundays. Cross-training keeps me busy. I don’t have a family, and it definitely fulfills me. I love my hobbies.”


“I try to eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Bananas are so easy and they taste so good. I’m not much of a cook, but I want to be healthy. I love to pick up salmon or chicken from Central Market’s deli. Protein shakes also work great on the go. I probably drink too much coffee, but then, I don’t have a sweet tooth and alcohol doesn’t fit into my training schedule. I guess it all balances out.” THE GEAR:

“Diving requires a good swimsuit. Awhile back, I discovered Summer Suits, a local company that makes custom suits for divers. They look nice and come in all colors. I also wear Tiger Paw wrist guards when I dive from the platform. They protect my wrists from impact on the water. I warm up in shorts and a T-shirt, using an elastic band for exercises that keep my shoulders strong. Most divers also have a shammy, a small towel that dries the skin quickly and makes it easier to grab the legs in a tuck. I got mine from To Die For Shammies. It’s tie-dyed! I wouldn’t say it’s my good-luck charm, but as any diver would agree, a shammy is an absolute necessity during practice or a meet. We do grow quite attached to them.” THE MOTIVATION:

“When I was little, I wanted to be an astronaut. That didn’t happen. I guess diving, flying high through the air, is the next closest thing. Competing in meets balances out my work. I can forget everything else and focus on improving my dives. You always feel like you can get better. My sports are very important to me. I need to do them the way people need to breathe. My equilibrium gets out of whack if I go too long without my exercise routine.” THE MINDSET:

“The correct mindset is one of the hardest things to figure out about diving. You must have a certain level of relaxation and zen. Diving requires emotional and psychological stability on conscious and subconscious levels. It’s much more mental than any of the other endurance sports I do. What’s happening beneath the surface plays a huge part in how divers perform.” THE P.M.:

“I saw a sports psychologist after a bad diving crash in 2015. He made me a tape that I play at night to set my mind at ease. He just talks and says reassuring things, attempting to eradicate any negative thoughts, my gremlins.”




THE COST OF CAREER FREEDOM Rock Candy Media Founder and CEO Annie Liao Jones found her calling through trial, error and overcoming terror.

When I anxiously quit the sales job and started my marketingI think all of it may be due to birth order. As the oldest of and-advertising company, Rock Candy Media, from my home in three, I was definitely not a good teenager, in any sense of 2009, I truly had no plan B. I’m not sure how to explain what it feels the phrase. But I knew I would turn out OK. There wasn’t a like to start your own business other than this: It’s like becoming a way to convey that to my parents, and I understand that, parent. Do you know if you have what it takes? How do you know especially now that I’m a mom to an 8-year-old. you’ll be a good one? It’s the fear of It wasn’t supposed to turn the unknown. You just know you need out this way. I went to the to do it, so you jump off that cliff with University of Texas and my enough certainty you’ll turn out fine. degree was in magazine jourStarting a business may have solved nalism. All my dreams were of my quarter-life crisis, but it came with working in publishing. Those its own set of challenges and stresses. dreams were dashed when I When I worked as a salesperson for moved to New York, saw how another company, I was hustling for much (or, for that matter, how a commission. Now I sell as hard as I little) journalists make, especan to make sure my employees can cially starting out, and cerpay rent and feed their families. New tainly when everything there freedom came with greater responsiis out-of-control expensive. bility. I have to ensure the livelihood of So, I did the typical Amerimy clients and my employees. I have can what-am-I-supposed-toto grow the company aggressively do kind of thing. I got a job in to make sure we’re secure under an sales, with no prior experience. unexpected downturn. I knew I had a knack for it, but It can get rocky—sometimes, I had to prove it to myself. My downright chaotic—but it’s so much boss definitely took a risk on more rewarding. I’ve been treated me, and for that, I will be loyal as a fascination for being a female to his company for life. entrepreneur. A prospect once told Somewhere along the way, me I reminded him of his wife, and things went haywire. I was I’ve been called pushy and bossy in making more money than scenarios in which a man would be I’d ever thought I’d have, but considered assertive or commandafter seven years, I looked ing. It was never my intention to be a around and thought, “I’m way great female entrepreneur. I wanted too young to just have my life to be a great business owner—period. be like this.” I used to think Now Rock Candy Media is more money would buy me freethan fine. We have a real office, great dom. So, I went for the money. clients and an unrestrained attitude. When I had it, I had to learn It’s not what I thought I’d be doing two things: Money can’t buy I’ve been called pushy and bossy in when I was 22 years old, but it’s an happiness and, in fact, money scenarios in which a man would be almost perfect reflection of who I’ve can be a prison. It was an become through it all. internal debate of sorts, one considered assertive or commanding. I didn’t do it myself. Achieving in which my heart wanted to your own ambitions is almost never a go one way and my head kept solo pursuit, and a good team is always stronger than the sum of its saying, “Who in their right mind would leave a 7-year-old job that parts. I try to hire people smarter than me and people who do what brought in over six figures a year?” I cannot. I think that has been the secret to our success. I worked hard, so hard, to prove to myself that sales was my My journey is hardly over. My challenges are not overcome. I thing. It was something I naturally excelled in, but I was at the certainly don’t have things figured out. And if that day ever comes, point in life where deep down inside, I knew I had to move on. I that’s when I’ll know it’s time for another change. couldn’t—and still can’t—live with a what if? Austin Woman features a reader-submitted essay every month in the I Am Austin Woman column. To be considered for December’s I Am Austin Woman, email a 500-word submission on a topic of your choice by Nov. 1 to with the subject line “I Am Austin Woman.”


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