• Following a flagship store on Austin's South Congress, and addresses in BeverlyHills and Dallas' West Village, a Kendra Scott boutique has cropped up this weekin Rice Village.
    Photo by Whitney Radley
  • Kendra Scott, the woman behind the eponymous jewelry line, grew up in Houstonbefore moving to Austin at 19.
    Photo by Whitney Radley

Kendra Scott's success story is one for the books: Pregnant and confined to bed rest, with a recently-unemployed husband and a meager bank balance, she began creating custom jewelry.

Once she was allowed back on her feet, Scott would walk around to Austin stores taking sales orders and then sell her samples to the very last shop on her route so that she'd have the funds to purchase supplies to fill them.

Eleven years later, Scott opened her fourth eponymous boutique (and the largest yet) in Houston's Rice Village this week, with others slated for CityCentre and Scottsdale, Ariz. — and she's revolutionizing the way that women shop for jewelry.

But the best part is, each wearer has the ability to tailor pieces to her personal tastes or a particular outfit at the Color Bar.

"I found that what was missing out there was colorful, beautiful jewelry using natural gemstones, at a price that I could afford," Scott says.

She and her design team lean on antique jewels and contemporary trends for inspiration to create pieces that are in vogue, on-brand and timeless — something that, Scott hopes, a granddaughter will pull out of a jewelry box decades hence.

But the best part is, each wearer has the ability to tailor pieces to her personal tastes or a particular outfit at the Color Bar. The Rice Village boutique is equipped with two 55-inch touch screens, a half-dozen iPads and even "bar menus" with images of products and options.

This makes each customer a part of the design process. They select the style, the stones and the metal, and then watch while a store clerk — all of whom are trained stone-setters — makes the design a reality.

"It's like Build-A-Bear for grown women," laughs Scott, who got the idea early on when her workers would customize the colors of their own jewelry pieces for a night out on the town.

She took that concept on the road for a trunk show at Henri Bendel in New York that was supposed to last just three days. It ended up attracting lines out the door for three months, and the Color Bar became a staple.

But the shopping isn't the only thing that is experiential: Kendra Scott boutiques are event driven, with the Color Bar available for booking for bridal brunches or girlfriend get-togethers, and a Girls Night Out each Wednesday that draws fashionable crowds for cupcakes, champagne and select jewelry deals.

Kendra Gives Back parties offer opportunities for an organization to benefit from 20 percent of proceeds. Attendees, meanwhile, can gild themselves and feel guilt-free about the indulgence.


The new Kendra Scott boutique is in Rice Village at 2411 Times Boulevard, Suite 120. The store is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday from 12 to 6 p.m.

Sweet Leaf Tea and Deep Eddy Vodka founder Clayton Christopher on taking risksand beating the odds

Profiles of Innovation

"The greatest rewards come to those that embrace risk and drive forward with passion to achieve their goal,” says Clayton Christopher.

As the founder and former CEO of Sweet Leaf Tea, Clayton Christopher took the many risks necessary to build a successful, iconic brand from the ground up — a legacy he has continued as the co-founder and CEO of Deep Eddy Vodka.

“I wanted to do something that I was really passionate about,” Christopher says of Sweet Leaf Tea’s humble beginnings. “A product that was really unique… best in class.”

"T"The mantra was 'No doesn’t mean no. It just means not yet.'"

With $14,000 in savings, and an inherent entrepreneurial nature (Christopher says he knew from an early age he would be an entrepreneur), he planted the roots for Sweet Leaf Tea Company, a small operation that has grown into a nationally recognized beverage brand.

“It was the classic startup on a shoestring budget,” Christopher reminisces of the early days. “There were so many times that I thought we were that close to going out of business.” Luckily for Clayton Christopher, his own bootstrap upbringing — fueled by “very humble beginnings” and an entrepreneurial father — gave him the determination to embrace the risks and keep moving forward, no matter how many “nos” he encountered.

“The mantra was ‘No doesn’t mean no,’” he says of the Sweet Leaf spirit that developed in those early years. “'It just means not yet.'”

Such was the case with retailers like Austin-based Whole Foods Market. After over a year of calling on the store, Christopher received a concise message: “We are not interested in your product at this time.” But that didn’t stop him, or his team, from pursuing their distribution dream. Four months later they were able to get into Whole Foods through a distributor.

“That allowed us to get into the rest of the stores throughout the country,” Christopher says of the move that solidified Sweet Leaf Tea as a viable national brand.

"The sweet tea vodka will definitely be the number one selling sweet tea vodka in the market," Christopher says. "It already is in Texas."

After his success with Sweet Leaf Tea, Christopher started a new beverage company from the ground up, this time with a twist. “I knew I wanted to stay in food and beverage,” he says. “Deep Eddy Vodka — the spirits industry —is very similar.”

In just two years, the locally sourced vodka brand is already bigger than Sweet Leaf Tea was after nine years, with representation in 16 states. Over the next five years, Christopher is confident that the Austin-based spirit will be in all 50 states.

"The sweet tea vodka will definitely be the number one selling sweet tea vodka in the market,” he says. “It already is in Texas."

While much of the success of Sweet Leaf Tea and Deep Eddy Vodka can be attributed to Christopher’s tenacious entrepreneurial spirit, it’s also due in part to the community that surrounds them. "Austin played a huge part of the company's success,” he says of Sweet Leaf Tea. “[It’s] one of the best cities to start a branded company."

Clayton Christopher beat the entrepreneurial odds, successfully launching two brands that show no sign of slowing down or failing. And neither does he.

"If you get knocked down seven times, you get up eight times,” Christopher says. “You haven't failed until you've decided you're not going to get back up."

Built from scratch: The 30-year legacy of Michael Angelo's Gourmet Foods

Profiles of Innovation

It all started in a 400-square foot kitchen in a bad location, where “the Pac-Man machine grossed more in a day than the restaurant did,” recalls Michael Angelo Renna of the humble beginnings that started a 30-year legacy in frozen food products.

Renna, founder of Michael Angelo’s Gourmet Foods, was a young man without a college degree, helping his mother at the family restaurant when innovation struck.

“I came up with an idea of packaging meals and then taking it to the stores,” he says. For Renna, packaging meals was a way to give his family’s quality food the recognition it deserved — recognition that a tiny restaurant (in a bad location) couldn’t.

"""Everybody else in my industry, they produce long, long runs and put it in warehouses. It's against the way we came to market."- Michael Angelo Renna

Renna worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week to get Michael Angelo’s off the ground. He would sleep on a bench in the restaurant as he waited for the fresh meals to freeze, then he would load them into his own car and deliver them to markets around town.

“It was always about moving forward,” he says. With determination and elbow grease, Renna transformed the tiny kitchen project into an Austin-based food empire. “Michael Angelo's starts in a little 400 square-foot restaurant and now lives in a 132,000 square foot highly automated… massive big kitchen,” he states proudly.

Though now an empire housed in an industrial kitchen, Michael Angelo’s Gourmet Foods still has family at its center. The meals — Eggplant Parmesan, Meat Lasagna, Chicken Piccata, Calzones — all started with his mother's recipes. She still works on recipes at Michael Angelo’s, and Renna’s brother is also involved in the business.

Renna's Italian heritage also plays an important role in the Michael Angelo’s business model. The meals start with fresh ingredients and processes that are usually overlooked in the frozen food industry. “I have to pick up the ingredients, bring [them] in, produce the meals and send them back out. And I do this all within a day — very unique.”

“As an entrepreneur, you get to create — I created a lot of different things that did not exist in an industry,” Renna says of his innovative production model. Whereas competitor’s products may be packaged months before they hit the shelves, Michael Angelo’s meals travel from the kitchen to the freezer in just a few days. “Everybody else in my industry, they produce long, long runs and put it in warehouses. It's against the way we came to market."

Long hours in kitchens big and small have paid off for Michael Angelo Renna. From scratch, he's built a line of “prepared meals” that, after 30 years, are still bringing a unique approach (and taste) to the frozen food industry.

Celebrating screenwriters: Barbara Morgan's Austin Film Festival

Profiles of Innovation

The Austin Film Festival is different. When Barbara Morgan started the festival in 1994 with her friend Marsha Milam, they did so as entrepreneurs. In other words, they loved film and a festival fed their passion.

"We didn’t even know that the industry needed something like this, we were just doing it. But we didn’t know how much there was a hole for it in the market," explains Morgan.

"We got a call from a producer in the area named Fred Miller and Fred said, 'You know the one area about film that is really not fulfilled in the festival area is the screenwriter.' All of these people desperately wanted to share their craft, get together and talk about it."

That first year, seven Academy Award winners attended the festival, and the idea was off and running. Nineteen years later, the Austin Film Festival, which starts on October 18, has become an iconic Austin and industry event.

Yes, you can see terrific films (eight days worth), but it's the conference that brings the industry veterans and wanna-be's to town. From Ron Howard and Johnny Depp and the youngest of young filmmakers attending Summer Film Camp, the Austin Film Festival, a non-profit organization, seeks to inspire and celebrate the screenwriter.

"We are servicing people who are trying to break into the industry — whether that’s as writers or writer-directors or anyone using the language of film," says Morgan.

Truth be told though, Morgan is the first to admit that the Austin Film Festival's success is owed to more than just movies. "Austin is as much of the Austin Film Festival's success as the writers. Austin is a magic city, and I think it’s magic to people who come here for the festival, and that’s what they go back talking about. They talk about the writers and they talk about the festival and they talk about the city of Austin."

Morgan's entrepreneurial roots grew early. Like many, she was influenced heavily by a parent. "My father was an entrepreneur," she remembers. "He had lots of different businesses, he tried lots of things. He wasn’t risk-averse. He said from the time I can remember hearing his voice, he said, ‘Do what you love.’"

Entrepreneurs may be risk-takers she explains, but the job is not without consequences that any business person should understand. "The biggest thing is not really believing that you’re going to do it all, but knowing that you will have to give some things up," she advises. "Either with your business or with your family, and you have to make those choices knowingly."

As the 19th year begins, Morgan is already looking forward to celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Austin Film Festival next year. The non-profit still fuels her passion and remains an iconic piece of the Austin cultural landscape.

Bazaarvoice founder Brett Hurt on overcoming fears and initiating conversation

Profiles of Innovation

It all started with a baby stroller. A Peg Perego Pliko P3 Stroller, to be specific.

Brett Hurt, a new father and burgeoning entrepreneur, was reading an online product review of the stroller by a complete stranger in another part of the world and was so convinced by not only the product review — he bought the Pliko P3 — but also by the rhetorical impact and consumer capabilities of the online review format.

Today, Hurt is the CEO of Bazaarvoice, an Austin company that is redefining the way that retailers communicate with their customers largely based on consumer reviews like the one he found that night concerning his potential baby stroller.

To provide some context to the need that Bazaarvoice filled for the market, Hurt explains, "Just seven years ago, only three retailers had reviews on their site. Three."

Hurt was able to capitalize on that market niche and established his company as a product site that will honestly and happily go above and beyond for their clients. Seven years later, their clients include companies like Macy's, Infiniti, Schwan's and Bass Pro Shops, who all enjoy 24/7 coverage for their products and services.

"It's a pretty amazing ride to create a company seven years ago and already have it become a public company," states Hurt. Last quarter, the company's revenue was $31.4 million, which, as the CEO puts it, "is pretty substantial considering our young age as a company."

Achieving the status as an IPO so early out of the gate also allowed Bazaarvoice to acquire former competitors in the online review race, PowerReviews. Since then, the company has combined resources and doubled efforts across the country. "It's really cool to be playing on the same team now," Hurt says.

This fast growth and constant availability is a lot to ask of one's employees, and Hurt recognizes what kind of demand that puts on his team members. Therefore, he has emphasized from the beginning building a strong culture within the company as well.

For anyone who has visited the Bazaarvoice offices off Loop 360, you can attest to the friendly, communal nature of the campus. Break rooms include video game consoles, massage stations, movie theater seating and plenty of free food and drink in the kitchens.

"All I'm trying to do with culture is create an environment where it brings out the best in people," says Hurt. "We want our employees to bring their whole person into work, not just the work persona that says, 'Gosh, it's 5 o'clock... I can be myself again.' All that boils down to bringing out the best in people to drive the performance of the company."

Hurt views the company itself in terms of the human body, and nurturing the soul of the company is as much a priority as taking care of the head, the hands or the feet. Bazaarvoice's mission statement is "to change the world, one authentic conversation at a time." The CEO is a big believer in karma and seeks to better the company through community and global involvement. Generosity is even one of the company's core values.

The primary beneficiary for The Bazaarvoice Foundation is currently Breakthrough Austin, a local nonprofit that locates, funds and tracks low-income Austin students as they become first-generation college graduates. "We think that STEM is a big problem in this country," he states. "These children are ultimately going to create companies like Bazaarvoice in the future, but they have to get the education that matters."

Considering these young future business leaders, Hurt says he can still recall that feeling of trepidation before taking the leap to start the company from scratch in 2005. After all, seven years is not a long time when it comes to building a major national brand like Bazaarvoice.

"There's nothing harder than starting your own business for any career because you ultimately put your ego and everything out there," he reflects. "And if you fail, it's on you as the entrepreneur. That's liberating, empowering and exciting, but it's also incredibly scary too. It's very hard to get started, and you need to stand on the shoulders of many people that have gone before you."

Through those mentors, advisors and cheerleaders, Hurt formed his working definition of what it means to be an entrepreneur.

In his words, "It's someone who is persistent, driven, who has the humility to constantly ask for help and know that they can't do it all alone, who has the ability to rally people to the cause and be on that mission with them. And ultimately all of that results in a beautiful outcome where people have great jobs and you do this all over the world and create a really big impact on society."

Ingrid Vanderveldt: Empowering women and future entrepreneurs as Dell's firstEIR

Profiles of Innovation

In her impressively diverse career, Ingrid Vanderveldt has established herself as a true entrepreneur — and a missionary for the human spirit.

As the first ever Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) at Dell, Vanderveldt is not only launching her latest business plan, which is a towering feat in itself; the founder of Green Girl Energy, and advisor to SXSW Eco, is also creating a worldwide initiative that will have a long-lasting impact.

The program is a $100 million campaign that matches funding with initiatives to help entrepreneurs fulfill their start-up dreams.

“As I looked at my own career path and my own go forward, I was committed to a vision from then forward to empower a billion women by 2020,” she says of the idea that led to her current work with Dell.

The program is a $100 million campaign that matches funding with initiatives to help entrepreneurs fulfill their start-up dreams.

“I shared with [Steve Felice] my vision and my role and commitment to women of the world,” says Vanderveldt, “and together we dreamt up this idea of working together and created the Entrepreneur-in-Residence position.” As EIR at Dell, an unconventional role for a tech company, Vanderveldt will launch her next business endeavor under the guiding hand of the Austin-based technology leader.

“I thought I would launch another green energy company, because those were my last two companies,” she recalls. “But after being engaged with Dell… I built a business plan with my team to create what’s now called the Dell Innovators Credit Fund.”

The program is a $100 million campaign that matches funding with initiatives to help entrepreneurs fulfill their start-up dreams. It’s an endeavor that Vanderveldt, a lifelong entrepreneur, passionately believes in.

This September, her sights are set beyond our borders, as she opens her first school for women and girls outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Because, as Vanderveldt notes, “any successful entrepreneur that you look at has gone through their own level of failure.” And though she now finds herself in a place where she can be the champion for those carving out their own business dreams, the entrepreneurial road has offered its fair share of bumps and sharp curves for Vanderveldt, too.

“You cannot be a successful entrepreneur without having hit complete rock bottom at some point.”

“I was living out of my car,” she says of an early business venture that she poured her savings into — a venture that is thankfully now just in the "rearview mirror."

As the Dell Innovators Credit Fund initiative takes off to empower the next class of entrepreneurs, Vanderveldt is wasting no time in reaching her goal of empowering women around the world. This September, her sights are set beyond our borders, as she opens her first school for women and girls outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

“We will be bringing a school to teach the women and girls down there how to see themselves as leaders, and as visionaries, and as people who can make a difference in their community — and then certainly teach them about entrepreneurship.”

As a girl, Ingrid Vanderveldt thought she would grow up to be a missionary: “I wanted to be in service to people of the world.”

There’s no doubt that she has fulfilled her dreams from childhood; she’s just taken that calling to the next level, and innovated it — if you will — to reflect her natural inclination toward entrepreneurship.

“It’s both a gift and a curse when you have a mind that just pushes like ours will do,” she says.

“I don’t know that there’s ever a point when I’m going to stop. I think I challenge myself to continue to expand in every sense of the word.”

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Austin Top Chef winner debuts new National Geographic series, plus more top stories

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. Here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. Austin Top Chef winner debuts new National Geographic series during SXSW. Available on Disney+, Restaurants at the End of the World is a docuseries following Kish on adventures to off-the-beaten-path pockets of the planet.

2. Boutique Austin hotel amplifies the vinyl bar scene with a moody new listening room. Hotel Magdalena opened a chic listening room on South Congress with speakeasy vibes, called Equipment Room.

3. 11 reasons to escape the Austin bustle with a day trip to Dripping Springs. Despite rapid recent growth in the Austin area, Dripping Springs still has many of the small-town features that its local residents — and transplants — all love.

4. Gothic Austin home sells after catching the eyes of onlookers during the Modern Home Tour. This all-black Victorian house sold shortly after an architecture tour brought Austinites through homes across Austin and the Hill Country.

5. Austin home buyers have more power when it comes to inventory, report says. Buyers are gaining more leverage through inventory increases across the Austin-Round Rock metro area, according to recent data from the Austin Board of Realtors.

Blossom into a new Easter or Passover tradition with these spring treats and feasts around Austin


Easter and Passover (April 9 and April 5-13) are right around the corner; you might want to consider solidifying any plans before it gets any nicer outside and the crowds come out. Whether you’re enjoying the holiday with your friends or family, or taking yourself out to brunch, we’ve gathered a basketful of egg-cellent happenings for you to hop to in Austin.

Check back here for more recommendations as businesses finalize their plans.

Easter brunches and egg hunts

Fairmont Austin's Easter brunch and egg hunt
Come for the brunch, stay for the egg hunt. The first brunch we’re eyeing is at Fairmont Austin downtown on Red River Street. They’ll host two different brunch buffets at 10 am and 1:30 pm on Easter Sunday. Guests can take their pick of an egg-stravagant spread of seafood, oak-smoked prime rib, and other delicacies. After you’ve had your fill, head to the rooftop for the hotel’s brunch attendee-exclusive Easter Egg Hunt at 11:30 am or 3:00 pm. Word on the street says the Easter Bunny might make a special appearance. The Tiny Tails petting zoo will also be at the hotel to show off the cutest animals for friends of all ages. Brunch bookings can be made via OpenTable.

Fareground's Easter brunch specials and egg hunts
For an afternoon of fun for children of all ages, consider bringing the family to downtown Austin’s first food hall, Fareground, for their Easter Egg-Stravaganza. From 12-3 pm, there will be plenty of brunch specials at the food hall's many eateries while children can enjoy sweets like cotton candy and get their face painted. There will be three egg hunts throughout the afternoon for three different age groups. Free general admission reservations can be made via Eventbrite.

Aba's Easter weekend brunches
Mediterranean cuisine lovers can spend their Easter brunch on the patio at Aba, Austin’s premiere Mediterranean restaurant on South Congress. Their exclusive Easter special on April 8 and 9 includes a spring frittata with lump crab, English peas, shaved asparagus, avocado, pickled fresnos, and parmesan. Guests can also pick a weekend favorite like the short rib shakshuka or khachapuri. Reserve on Tock.

Kalahari Resorts' Easter brunch buffet
If you live farther north, Kalahari Resorts in Round Rock will host their own Easter brunch buffet from 11 am to 3 pm with a delightful assortment of local charcuterie, fresh crudité, soups, and more. Children aged three and under eat free. The resort will also have two Easter egg hunts for two age ranges at 10:30 am and 1:30 pm. Brunch tickets can be made on Tock.

TRACE's April drag brunch
Though this brunch isn’t Easter themed, Trace (stylized TRACE) inside the W Hotel is going all out for its April Fool’s Comedy Drag Brunch from 11 am to 4 pm on April 9 with some of Austin’s favorite queens, The Beckies. The iconic duo are the restaurant’s regular brunch hosts every second Sunday of the month. Their performances begin at 11 am and 2 pm. Reserve ($10 per person) on OpenTable.

Passover meals

Aba's passover dine-in and take-out
In addition to its Easter specials, Aba will also offer guests a special Passover dine-in or take-home meal by Chef CJ Jacobson. The to-go package includes hummus, matzo crackers and crudité, potato and Brussels sprout latkes, slow-braised short rib, and much more. The dine-in Passover specials will be available April 5 and 6, but to-go specials must be pre-ordered by 3 pm on April 4. Pickup is available between 11 am and 5 pm on April 5 and 6. Reservations for both offers ($58.95 per person) can be made on Tock.

L’Oca D’Oro's Passover Seder
Neighborhood Italian restaurant L’Oca D’Oro is bringing back their omni-denominational Passover Seder. Chef Fiore Tedesco will delight guests with his version of a traditional Seder meal on April 10 and 11. The first celebration will be led by Cantor Sarah Avner (Beth Israel), and the next by Rabbi Neil Blumofe (Aguadas Achim). Reserve ($100 per person) on OpenTable.

Sweet Treats

What’s Easter without a couple extra desserts to take home? SusieCakes is baking up its SusieChick lemon cake, Easter carrot cupcakes, peeps sugar cookies, dessert decorating kits, and more for the occasion. Their festive Easter treats will be available through April 9.

Bakery Lorraine
Bakery Lorraine at the Domain is accepting pre-orders for its classic seven-inch Easter carrot cake. The luscious dessert serves 10-12 people and contains pineapple, coconut, walnuts, and is topped with a cream cheese frosting. Fill out a form to preorder ($80) by April 4 to pick up on April 8, just in time for your Easter feast.

Popular restaurant in Austin suburb brings spinoff bar and live music to Leander

Down the Rabbit Hole

A new bar is hopping into a growing Austin suburb: After the success of opening the Lucky Rabbit in the Lake Travis area last year, Matt Morcher, Sandra Cleveland, and Matt and Shelly Delahoussaye are set to open a new spinoff neighborhood bar in Leander next week.

Located located in the San Gabriel Ridge shopping center at 2080 N. US-183 unit 145, The Rabbit Hole will open on Friday, March 31, starting at 2 pm. The team will celebrate with a grand opening party, featuring live music by Luke Daniel from 6-9 pm and Carter Whitaker from 9 pm - midnight. A special time-related happy hour will offer new specials for guests to enjoy at the top of every hour.

The name is, of course, a small nod to The Lucky Rabbit, but also an invitation to "go down the rabbit hole” — whether with friends and family or passing time solo. The bar will serve high quality cocktails in a swanky space, bringing in live music acts most weekend nights for locals to enjoy.

The 68-seat interior play on the theme of time and the trippy experience of going down the rabbit hole, featuring exposed brick walls with murals of clock-like rabbits and gears painted by local artist Sarah Blankenship, along with a variety of light fixtures featuring Edison-style bulbs and gears that light the space.

The drink menu carries that theme through its featured cocktails, with rabbit names like Bug’s Old Fashioned (rye, demerara, bitters, orange, luxardo cherry); the 24 Carrot Gold (vodka, triple sec, blood orange, lime, bitters); and the Bubbly Bunny (gin, lavender, lemon, prosecco). Perfect as we head into hotter temperatures, frozen drink option include traditional and flavored margaritas, the Hot Hare (Spicy Mango, Chamoy, Tajin rim), or the Perky Bunny (Red Bull floater, Pop Rocks rim). Local beer and wine is also available, as well as bar snacks. Heartier food options will also be available to order from neighboring restaurants, Sabino’s Pizza Pub and Ah Thinh Asian Cuisine.

Morcher and Cleveland are veterans in the industry with a big heart for the local community:

“Sandra and I live in the area, and we often found ourselves looking for a nearby neighborhood bar to hang out in," said Morcher via release. "We saw this space, and felt that there was great potential to make it into a fun local spot — so we just decided to create one ourselves! We’re excited to be bringing this to an underserved area here in Leander, Liberty Hill and beyond. It was tough to find a place out here with affordable craft cocktails, great service, and live music on the weekends. We’re thrilled to be able to bring that to our community.”