Thursday Therapy

It’s almost Friday, but I’m struggling. My PVSD (Post Vacation Stress Disorder) is in high-gear and I’ve been playing catch-up at work all week. I’m back to my usual busy schedule and as much as I love it, sometimes, we all need a little pick-me-up; some motivation to get through the week.

Sometimes,wp-1472082041241.jpg that pick-me-up comes in liquid form, consumed with coworkers during happy hour.

Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and billionaire investor on Shark Tank, is the King of Snarky Wisdom.

He’s also a major investor in BeatBox Beverages, one of my favorite (alcoholic) drinks.

I’ll warn you here; I’m a bit biased. 

Basically, if you like wine, cocktails, or candy, you’ll love this. It’s a fun, unique concoction designed to share.

Don’t just take my word for it; Take Mark’s, too. And if you happen need a few inspirational words to get you through the week, check out these Motivational Mark Quotes To Live By (compiled by yours truly) on the BeatBox Blog!

“I create offbeat advice; I don’t follow it. I rarely take third-party advice on my investments.”

– Mark Cuban

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This craft brewery should be on everyone’s radar

Photo via Lazarus Brewing Co Facebook

“What if there’s more to beer than just…beer?”

– Christian Cryder, CEO (Lazarus Brewing Co.)

I didn’t really become a big beer fan until my junior year of college. To me, all beer was cringeworthy Miller or Bud Light…until my then-boyfriend introduced me to a local Chicago craft brewery called Two Brothers. We went on the tour and my eyes were opened to all the wonders that (good) beer can offer.

One of the things I love about living in Austin, Texas is the local beer scene. Here, it’s about more than just great beer, it’s about the community that surrounds it.

Lazarus Brewing Co
Photo courtesy Lazarus Brewing Co

“Beer was specifically designed to be shared.”

– Matt Couch, Brewmaster (Lazarus Brewing Co.)

With that said, I’m really excited to report on the newest brewery to enter the scene, to open in October:

Lazarus Brewing Company.

Lazarus Brewing Company has a huge focus on the community, being a neighborhood business, and they are all about their patrons. They are creating a space that people will love to be in, which may be why they’ve commissioned a custom 10×10 stained glass window to brighten up the brewery.

The family-owned brewery (The Cryder Family), in addition to having an undying love of good beer, they also adore great coffee. So if you don’t want to drink but need a place to set up shop and study, you’ll be able to plug-in to their wifi and have an amazing cup of coffee instead (and I’m not talking your standard cup of Starbucks ‘jo, I’m talking real coffee made from beautifully roasted beans).

Lazarus Brewing Co Facebook
Photo courtesy of Lazarus Brewing Co. Facebook

There will also (thank God), be a kitchen at their place. We got to sample the tacos they’re going to be serving and oh my hot sauce, they are to die for. Seriously. Best tacos I’ve ever had in my life…and I’ve had a LOT of tacos.

The Cryders want us to stay, hang out, and get to know us! So they’ve created a space they know we’ll love; under construction or not, I know I’m already in love.


On top of all this amazing-ness, the brewery was unfinished for the party. It was basically and an empty warehouse-type space, decorated only with blueprints for the renovations and whatever graffiti art was already there. A pretty gutsy move, in my opinion, because of the potential to backfire; however Lazarus Brewing Company could not have pulled it off better. We got a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what they’ve been working so hard on, as well as a taste (literally, have I mentioned how amazing the tacos were?) to what we could expect once they open.

Seriously impressive.

It was also a part of a greater plan. Upon entering, guests were informed that the party was being recorded by a team of videographers for the brewery’s Crowd Funder campaign.

That’s right, they’ve got a Crowd Funder because you know what? Dreams cost money. Plus, CEO/Founder Christian Cryder wants to give “regular” people the opportunity to be Patron Saints for Lazarus Brewing Company. (Get it? Lazarus? Patron Saints? Yeah, I love it.) Not only will certain donations earn you a super cool custom glass as well as free beer for life.

Want the whole scoop? Watch the video below (look for me!) and check out their website.

Oh, and don’t forget to keep an eye on their Facebook page, because you won’t want to miss their launch party.

Personally, I cannot wait until they open, mostly for the tacos but also for the beer.

Oh! Hello, Elizabeth!

I’ll admit to a bit of bias here: I’ve mentioned Elizabeth Lestina quite a lot because she’s more than just a client. She’s my very best friend.
She’s also doing really awesome things in the Austin modeling world, which totally backs up my bias. I’ve been able to follow her around the state, snapping photos and videos while she struts. These are some of my amateur (social media) shots, but instead of accepting my bias of her talent, check out her social profiles.
Instagram: @ohelloelizabeth
Facebook: Elizabeth Lestina

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Happy Friday, y’all!
Xoxo.

hiatus happens.

If you’ve been wondering why my posts have been more sporadic than usual lately, well, first off I’d like to apologize. I’m still writing, as always. Just not publishing.

I’ve been a bit distracted lately because (thank God), I finally got a “real” job.

That’s right, I’m not relying on freelancing and brand ambassador-ing as my income. I can finally breathe.

I’ve also been learning a lot and I love where I work. For those of you following me on social media, you may have noticed posts linking to media called Wide Open Country, Wide Open Pets, or maybe Wide Open Spaces. That’s because I’m now doing social media outreach for the publishing company Wide Open Media Group.

It’s awesome.

So, to make a long story short, the last few weeks have been a blur of learning for me. It’s made publishing kind of difficult, but I’m getting back into the swing of things. I’m excited to publish some book reviews along with the other dating and random crap I write about.

But right now, I’m sitting outside on a beautiful summer evening, finishing up some work with a cold beer… yeah, life doesn’t get much better than this.

You wanna be on top?

One of the things I love the most about Austin is the style. I’ve been following around and working with my best friend (Elizabeth Lestina) here since my move, which means that I’ve been a “plus one” to more fashion shows than I can count. Trust me. I’m not complaining.

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Last year, Elizabeth competed in the Top Austin Model competition (sponsored by Butterfly Entertainment) and made it to the final runway show (which of course, I attended). Even though she couldn’t make it to this year’s finale, I was still able to attend: this time for “work,” as a Social Media Sponsor.

I’m so grateful to Brianna Fleet for trusting me to completely take over her social accounts for the evening. It was so fun and an excellent experience to document the event and interview the models.

Like any basic girl, I’ve watched nearly every season of Tyra Banks’ America’s Next Top Model. It’s a guilty pleasure, plus, I love the style. And while Top Austin Model is a modeling competition as well, geared 20160428_172146towards kick-starting a young model’s career, that’s really where the comparison ends. In the very best way. Because unlike ANTM, Top Austin Model is filled with love…not drama (cheesy, sorry). 

“Brianna is really helpful guiding you. You learn more about yourself every time you shoot.” – Carleen

This year, the competition took place at Brodie Homestead. The country-style venue was gorgeous, with little wooden chairs lined up along the runway on one side and on the other, vendor tables as well as a mini-bar.

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I ran around the venue snapping photos, interviewing the models, shooting videos. As I watched the models do a final run-through before the doors opened, I couldn’t help but notice how Brianna interacted with the models. You can tell she wants them to succeed, whether they win or lose the competition and from what I could tell, she’s also an excellent teacher.

“It’s fun no matter what the outcome is!” – Hayat

I think that it’s a mixture of Brianna’s teaching style and her bubbly personality that was most inspiring to me as a spectator. She’s upbeat and positive, no matter what, it would seem. More importantly, it’s evident that she genuinely cares about the models and in turn, they care about each other. Backstage, they chatted excitedly and gave each other (kind) feedback. Calmed each others’ nerves. Supported each other.

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“Good luck to all the girls, you all look really beautiful!” – Kendall

The doors opened and the guests filtered in. Brianna gave me a breathless minute right before the show to go on Facebook Live Video, announcing her excitement for the show. (Side note: What a fun tool! Weird, but super cool!) I didn’t go Live during the show so as to not bombard followers but I did live-Tweet it and recorded videos of the models as well, which are now stored in my Google Drive, so any of them can re-live the experience.

The chairs were filled with spectators and the runway was speckled with eager local photographers. Former contestants – All Stars – walked, the competitors strutted their stuff, and some local guys, including the DJ, modeled as well. Everyone who walked was decked in clothing by local designers and boutiques (I’d love to list them all but will instead direct you here because they’re all amazing). The competition wound down to four top contestants…IMG_20160429_124813

“…but before that, I just want to say that you are all amazing!”

After an intense “walk-off,” the judges deliberated. The look on Shelly’s face when she was announced the winner was touchingly priceless. I watched Brianna working with her before the show, and you can tell that she is a hardworking and ambitious model.

I’m sure that all the girls wanted to win…why else would they have wanted to compete in a modeling competition? But win or lose, their energy was positive and their “congratulations” to Shelly after the show wasn’t bitter but supportive. I don’t think I’m too bold in saying that by the end of the competition, they’d left with more than just modeling practice, but a new group of friends.

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FOUND Austin

Have you ever walked into a public place – a restaurant, a store, a bar – and instantly felt at home? As if everything from the décor to the patrons was exactly where you belong?

That’s how I felt walking into FOUND Austin, a posh boutique, nestled on the corner of 5th & Oakland in downtown Austin, TX.

It was almost as though the pages of Vogue Magazine had come to life around me. The store was bright. Dainty. Organized. Chic. There was cool, disco-type music playing softly over the speakers. The décor, the clothing, the style, and the overall energy at the store had a note of femininity, but not in that over-the-top, vibrant, girly, pink way. It was Audrey Hepburn Style class & elegance from floor to ceiling.

The molding around the door frames of the dressing rooms was polished & sleek, but so classic. Timeless. The clothing, too, was feminine, but sophisticated. Each style was hung or folded neatly with a handful of identical garments. Everything had the allure of high fashion, without the risk of disposable trends, & the price tags to match.

My heaven.

Two arm chairs sat off to one side of the front counter – you know, the vintage-type that’s similar to furniture at your grandparents’ house, but way cooler – the type of chair that makes you hesitate before you sit down, worried that you & your klutziness will spill something all over their exquisite perfection. Or maybe that’s just me.

 

Stacey Smith walked in, bubbly & full of energy. She gave off the vibes of someone who can put a smile on almost anyone’s face, just by saying “hello.” She was the owner of Heaven – I mean, Found – this lovely boutique we were meeting in.

She spoke with the most perfect Southern accent I’d ever heard. She was from the Dallas area, where she worked at a family-owned boutique through college. About five years ago, they asked her to move to Austin to open a new branch of their boutique. She said she was shocked at how little shopping there was here in Austin when she first moved. It was either one extreme (high-end, expensive couture) or the other (cheaper, trendy, collegiate-wear). She saw a gap – a sweet spot – that later became Found Austin.

Stacey’s vision is one of timeless, quality, & class. The clothing sold at Found is contemporary, upper-bridge clothing. It’s not as expensive as couture, but it’s certainly pricier (and considerably better quality) than Forever 21. You might find a “trendy” piece at Found now & again, but you’re not likely to find something that you won’t be able to wear in a season or two. Stacey wants her clients to be able to wear clothes from Found season after season.

In conjunction with that, Stacey didn’t want the name of her store to be uber-feminine or to share her name. Through a bit of creativity & Google searches, she happened upon “Found.” It added a bit of mystery & intrigue.

 

I was connected with Stacey through a mutual friend, who knows of my ambitions & love for fashion. Our meeting was a bit like a blind date: I didn’t quite know what to expect, other than a chat about the fashion industry & entrepreneurship. What I did know, after looking at her website & Instagram, was that I loved her style.

I’d prepared a list of questions to ask her…but I didn’t even need to use them. Our conversation flowed effortlessly; I checked my list at the very end, to see if I had any final questions or thoughts, and realized that most of my questions had been answered naturally.

Stacey is packed with knowledge & advice that I didn’t even realize I need. She opened my eyes to the inner-workings of the fashion industry & followed it up with literature for me to read, to learn even more.

Hold tight to your vision.” She told me, and elaborated.

Everyone has a vision; their own vision for your brand or business. Hire experts to do what you can’t. Get advice. But don’t lose yourself to it. You are your brand. You are your vision.

I walked away from our talk feeling like I’d made more than just a business connection, but a possible friend, too. The advice Stacey gave me was invaluable, but the spirit – the drive – that she inspired in me is worth more than words can say.

 

Sometimes, networking is not so hard. I’m extremely grateful to both my friend Anthony for introducing us, as well as Stacey, for taking the time to chat & mentor me.

Last Tuesday Night.

I sat along the back wall of a pub as the band hit the final note of their first set. Applause. It was a Tuesday night, so it wasn’t exactly a full house but the bar was at least full nearest the stage, leading me to choose kind of an awkward seat. Well, anywhere I sat would be awkward, but the bar would have been least-so.

As the guitarists set down their instruments, he looked up from his drum set & caught my eye. I smiled & quickly put away my notebook & pen.


Light Horse Harry was the name of the band, & they were good. I may be a bit biased, though, if you’re looking for a formal review…and in spite of remedial chorus training, I’m no music expert (just kind of a snob). Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed watching & listening to them play. Apparently, they were missing a few band mates that night, so I’m anxious to see them play as a complete group.

Their sound was unique; I couldn’t quite place them into a distinct genre. You might think that’d be awful, but somehow it works for them. They managed to blend country, alternative, rock, folk, & a whole lot of themselves into each song, with complete fluidity. They played a good deal of covers & at least as many original songs. I’m not gonna lie, that’s what really impressed me. Anyone can play music that already exists, but writing your own? That can’t be easy.

There were three of them. The lead singer – playing either acoustic guitar or an instrument that was smaller than a guitar, larger than a ukulele, but I didn’t think was a fiddle – had this kind of deep, sort of twang-y, raspy yet completely in-tune voice, which harmonized so well with his…back up?…who played electric guitar. Mandolin, that’s what it was. So, they had drums, electric guitar, & either mandolin or acoustic guitar. They were missing their bassist & fiddler (is that the right term?). But they still did this kick ass cover of Sublime’s “Santoria,” one of my favorite songs. I can’t quite place my finger on how they managed it, overall…but I’d like to think it was because they were really just having a damn good time up there. That much was obvious.

I wonder how long they’ve been playing together…

They have more character than any group I’ve seen, even in Austin (and I’d basically spent the following evening at a Troubadour Convention). The main guy singing was tall, kinda scrawny, & had a bandana tied around his shaggy, brownish hair. It was like the hair cut all the boys had in my class in the early 2000’s, where it goes over the ears just enough to flick outward. You know…he reminded me a bit of a southern version of Shaggy from Scooby Doo…he even had a sense of humor to go along with it. He & the other guitarist both wore button-downs, though the other guy wasn’t exactly scrawny…had short hair, & rectangular glasses. His electric guitar was a vibrant shade of blue, kind of contradictory to his otherwise nerdy appearance (I say that very complimentary, for the record, because I can’t think of a more descriptive word). Shane sat in the back corner of the stage, at his drum set. Unlike Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8er Boi” (or at least, how I picture said Sk8er Boi), he wore regularly-fitted jeans, not skinnies. He wore a plain, cotton shirt & canvas sneakers with…something Hawaiian on them…because no one can escape a little hipster touch to their outfit, right? His dark brown hair was fairly short, but with that military-esque cut that (I like)is popular right now, where it’s shorter on the sides & considerably longer on top. His hair had a lot of volume, though, not like most other guys with similar cuts…I found my thoughts trailing off, wondering whether or not he used product in his hair…

Because sometimes, I’m such a girl.


“You guys sound great,” I said as he walked over & gave me a hug. He had this contagious smile…you know, the kind that also has a bit of a gleam in the eyes. You’re captivated. And without realizing it, you’re smiling back even more broadly.

God, why was I so awkward?