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Photo by Shelley Neuman

Young professionals filled 800 Congress on Tuesday evening for the CultureMap Social: Top Texans Under 30 Edition to celebrate the Austin winners of our first-ever Top Texans Under 30.

Cooper Anderson and Ross McLauchlan, Jason Bornhorst, Ben Doherty and Zac Maurais, Katie Fang, Kelly Wynne Ferguson, Anne Gardner, Stephanie Hansen, Paul Hedrick, Adam Jacoby, Dominik Stein, Lizzie Velasquez, and ​Whitney Wolfe were saluted for making things happen across the state, and sometimes the world.

Upon arrival, guests sipped cucumber vodka mojitos and bergamot orange margaritas courtesy of Austin Cocktails, beer from Oskar Blue Brewery, and wine from Austin Winery. A lucky group of 50 early-bird attendees grabbed swag bags with goodies from Nicely Noted, Olive + M, Hiatus Spa + Retreat, Outdoor Voices, and Sugarfina. Royal Fig Catering provided a delectable build-your-own macaroni and cheese bar and tasty sliders.

And, as has come to be expected at CultureMap Socials, guests participated in fun activities like a DIY flower pin station courtesy of Austin Learnshop, a Henna tattoo station, and DIY charms from Psyche Jewelry. Guests posed at a fun photo booth and played at the videogame multiplex provided by Game Plan Entertainment. And there was music too: DJ Charles Moon set the vibe with an epic playlist.

A brief presentation from network editor in chief Jennifer Chininis celebrated the twentysomething trailblazers. Spotted at the party were Sarah O'Brien, Katy Stover, Melissa Grady, Isabella Sheehan, Shelbie Johansson, Sara Pendley, and CultureMap Stylemaker readers' choice winner Lamar Sanchez.

This was the final installment of CultureMap Social: Top Texans Under 30 Edition — Dallas and Houston held shindigs earlier this month. All proceeds from the party will benefit charities chosen by our Top Texans, including Andy Roddick Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters, College Forward, Dance Another World, Girlstart, Helping Hand Home for Children, Hill Country Conservancy, Out Youth Austin, Rising Tide Capital, and Susan G. Komen Austin.

Sarah O'Brien, Katy Stover, and Melissa Grady.

Photo by Shelley Neuman
Sarah O'Brien, Katy Stover, and Melissa Grady.
Photo courtesy of Jacoby's Restaurant & Mercantile

Young restaurateur carries on Texas family tradition with Austin twist

All in the Family

Editor’s note: This is the inaugural year for CultureMap’s Top Texans Under 30, a program that celebrates the twentysomething power players making a difference in their industries and communities across the Lone Star State — and, in some cases, the world. The full list is here. For now, read all about Adam Jacoby.

As a high schooler, Adam Jacoby knew he wanted to expand his family’s Jacoby Feed and Seed in Melvin, Texas. After his first year at the University of Texas, he knew that Austin was the perfect place to do just that. Since its founding in 1981, the family business has expanded to include a farm and ranching operation, rail center, cafe, and Jacoby’s Restaurant & Mercantile in East Austin.

Simple, Southern, and scrumptious, Jacoby’s ranch-to-table cuisine has wowed Austin since day one, earning recognition from the likes of Zagat, Texas Monthly, CultureMap, and more. Down-to-earth favorites like deviled eggs, shrimp and grits, and chicken-fried steak are staples on the supper menu, alongside vegetarian “meatloaf,” pickled vegetables, and decadent salads. All the beef sold at Jacoby’s is born, raised, and processed by the Jacoby family in Central Texas.

The mercantile portion of Jacoby’s — managed by his husband, Kris Swift, who also serves as creative director — features vintage and handmade goods, rounding out the distinctly Austin experience.

We caught up with the 29-year-old to learn more about his passion for Southern eats and his Texas roots.

CultureMap: What inspires you to do what you do?

Adam Jacoby: I am inspired by my parents. I am inspired by my husband, Kris. I am inspired by the talented group of people I have the pleasure of calling my team. Finally, I am inspired by traveling and experiencing different concepts around the world.

I really believe in the whole package when it comes to hospitality, design, food, and service. I love seeing it all come together.

CM: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to other Texans trying to make a difference by innovating?

AJ: It sounds so cheesy to say, but if you have an idea, even if it seems out of this world, stick to your guns! So many people said I was out of my mind to start Jacoby’s, deep on the East Side, especially at age 26. They were overly negative and told me all of the ways I was going to fail.

It has been the exact opposite of that. It has changed my life for the better in every way.

CM: Sum up Texas in three words.

AJ: Grit, glamour, home.

CM: What’s one thing that people might not know about you?

AJ: I am obsessed with dachshunds, and I secretly want to have a pack of them.

CM: Finish this sentence: “It’s a good day when … ”

AJ: It’s a good day when I get to spend some time with my family, have happy hour with my best friends, or go antiquing with Kris. Sometimes I’m lucky enough for all three!

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RSVP now for the CultureMap Social: Top Texans Under 30 Edition, October 25 at 800 Congress, to celebrate Jacoby and his fellow Austin winners.

Photo courtesy of Cilantro Lime

Passionate Austin foodie leverages travels to spice up meal delivery trend

Inspired Culinarian

Editor’s note: This is the inaugural year for CultureMap’s Top Texans Under 30, a program that celebrates the twentysomething power players making a difference in their industries and communities across the Lone Star State — and, in some cases, the world. The full list is here. For now, read all about Anne Gardner.

With a passion for world cuisine, Anne Gardner left her job in education to found meal delivery service Cilantro Lime. The 27-year-old Austin resident is as intelligent as she is accomplished — she has a master’s in biology and another in education — and put that intellect to good use when founding Cilantro Lime by putting a fresh spin on the ready-to-prepare meal delivery trend.

Fully customizable to your dietary needs, Cilantro Lime provides customers with light, vegetarian, gluten-free, high protein, or low-carb recipe options. Place your order by noon, and your fresh, nutrient-rich, locally sourced ingredients arrive the same day. Step-by-step recipe cards provide instruction for dishes — pumpkinseed-crusted chicken, albondigas in chipotle, pear and prosciutto salad, coq au vin, or miso salmon with spinach and edamame — inspired by Gardner’s travels.

We chatted with Gardner recently to find out more about her tastes.

CultureMap: What inspires you to do what you do?

Anne Gardner: I’ve had an appetite for authentic cuisine since I was a child. My parents made food from their native Mexico and Portugal to connect my sister and me with our roots. Since then, I’ve expanded my culinary palate with travel to more than 25 countries and an appetite for new flavors.

I’m constantly on the search for new flavors, techniques, and can’t wait to share my experiences with others.

CM: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to other Texans trying to make a difference by innovating?

AG: Find your niche and be patient. Don’t compromise quality or vision to appease everyone.

CM: Sum up Texas in three words.

AG: Independent. Proud. BBQ.

CM: What’s one thing that people might not know about you?

AG: I don’t like the term “vegetable.” It’s biologically incorrect, pointless, and misleading. Tomatoes are fruit, broccoli are flowers, lettuce are leaves, mushroom are fungi, asparagus are stems, carrots are roots, garlic are bulbs, and green beans are seeds.

CM: Finish the sentence: “It’s a good day when … ”

AG: I get to cook a new recipe for my family.

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RSVP now for the CultureMap Social: Top Texans Under 30 Edition, October 25 at 800 Congress, to celebrate Gardner and her fellow Austin winners.

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Hansen

Austinite’s simple message to ‘be brave’ drives millions for charitable causes

Be Brave

Editor’s note: This is the inaugural year for CultureMap’s Top Texans Under 30, a program that celebrates the twentysomething power players making a difference in their industries and communities across the Lone Star State — and, in some cases, the world. The full list is here. For now, read all about Stephanie Hansen.

Austin resident Stephanie Hansen launched Bravelets in 2012 when her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Her goal was to create something that she, her sister, mom, and dad could wear in the weeks leading up to her mother’s mastectomy.

For Hansen’s family, that bracelet would be a symbol that they could all look at and remember to be brave. She could not predict that in just four years, Bravelets has increased to include projects with 4,000 nonprofits across the country, raising nearly $2.5 million for everything from Alzheimer’s to drug and alcohol dependence.

With each purchase, the company donates 10 percent to the associated charity. Although the company is not a nonprofit itself, it does believe in absolute transparency, so when you purchase a Bravelets product, you know exactly how much of your purchase is going to charity.

The company has recently expanded beyond bracelets to include blankets, pillows, mugs, and more. Individuals can even start a fundraiser for their organization, extending Bravelets’ reach far beyond Hansen’s original mission.

We caught up with 29-year-old to learn more about what drives her to serve others.

CultureMap: What inspires you to do what you do?

Stephanie Hansen: When Bravelets launched, we had one style of bracelet and supported 10 causes. Today we support thousands of nonprofits and personal fundraisers across the U.S. and have raised more than $2.5 million.

I am inspired every day by our customers who all have a cause close to their heart that they support.

CM: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to other Texans trying to make a difference by innovating?

SH: The one piece of advice I would give is to just do it! Start now, perfect later. I have people come up to me all the time and say, “Well I have this idea, but ….” People hold themselves back because it is not the perfect time, or they don’t know how to do X, Y, or Z. That will always be the case! There is no “perfect” time, and we never have all the answers. You just have to figure it out and improve as you go.

At Bravelets, one of our core values is, “Done is better than perfect,” and this is crucial to our success as a business. If we waited until everything was perfect to launch a new product or a new feature on the website, it would never get done. The idea is to launch, learn, and improve quality.

By following this Lean Startup methodology, we have been able to listen to our customers, implement new features, and grow very quickly. In fact, Bravelets was just named 775 on the Inc. 5000 list!

CM: Sum up Texas in three words.

SH: The best state!

CM: What’s one thing people might not know about you?

SH: One thing that people might not know about me is that I was born in London, England, and lived in London and Scotland until I was 5. I love nothing more than to travel, so having dual citizenship is definitely a nice perk.

CM: Finish this sentence: “It’s a good day when … ”

SH: It’s a good day when I’m with friends and family, preferably on the beach somewhere.

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RSVP now for the CultureMap Social: Top Texans Under 30 Edition, October 25 at 800 Congress, to celebrate Hansen and her fellow Austin winners.

Photo courtesy of Verts

Austin business grad infiltrates Texas with fresh, healthy fast food

Fresh Choice

Editor’s note: This is the inaugural year for CultureMap’s Top Texans Under 30, a program that celebrates the twentysomething power players making a difference in their industries and communities across the Lone Star State — and, in some cases, the world. The full list is here. For now, read all about Dominik Stein.

Just two weeks after graduating from the McCombs School of Business, Dominik Stein and his partner, Michael Heyne, opened the first Verts Mediterranean Grill — originally named Vertskebap — near the UT campus in Austin. Five years later, the 29-year-old Stein heads up the fast-casual restaurant chain with more than 30 locations across the state of Texas. The first East Coast location opens later this year.

Verts is Mediterranean food, reimagined for American consumers, but based on the food from Stein and Heyne’s native Europe. Delicious meat, handmade falafel, rice bowls, salads, and wraps made with the freshest ingredients are on the menu at Verts locations every day, where service is quick enough for even the shortest of lunch breaks.

We caught up with Stein to learn more about his passion for tasty, healthy food.

CultureMap: What inspires you to do what you do?

Dominik Stein: My passion for combining a successful business model with a greater common good or common purpose — in our case, making the world a place with better, tastier, and healthier food.

CM: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to other Texans trying to make a difference by innovating?

DS: Take an existing market or business model and simply do something better than others. Don’t look for the magic idea or try to reinvent the wheel.

There are plenty of good business models already in place. Sometimes making something better that already exists is easier and much more successful than trying something new.

CM: Sum up Texans in three words:

DS: Bigger. Better. Texas.

CM: What’s one thing that people might not know about you?

DS: I used to be a DJ and team handball player when I was younger.

CM: Finish this sentence: “It’s a good day when … ”

DS: The world has become a better place.

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RSVP now for the CultureMap Social: Top Texans Under 30 Edition, October 25 at 800 Congress, to celebrate Stein and his fellow Austin winners.

Photo courtesy of Tecovas

Austin entrepreneur’s love of handmade cowboy boots spawns ingenious idea

Texan Ingenuity

Editor’s note: This is the inaugural year for CultureMap’s Top Texans Under 30, a program that celebrates the twentysomething power players making a difference in their industries and communities across the Lone Star State — and, in some cases, the world. The full list is here. For now, read all about Paul Hedrick.

Well-made cowboy boots don’t have to cost an arm and a leg, thanks to 28-year-old Austinite Paul Hedrick. The founder and CEO of Tecovas has always had a thing for great cowboy boots and the drive to start his own company.

Creating a brand from scratch that people truly connect to — at much lower prices — was his main motivation for ditching his job in finance. But the Harvard grad didn’t just start a company; he created a new model of boot production and sales that eliminates markups associated with traditional boot companies.

Customers purchase handmade boots crafted in León, Mexico, directly from Tecovas online, thereby avoiding overhead costs, and retailer and brand markups. But they still get a pair of quality boots to wear for years or pass down.

The down-to-earth Hedrick took a few minutes to give us a glimpse into his life.

CultureMap: What inspires you to do what you do?

Paul Hedrick: When you create a physical product or brand, it’s amazing to see how it can positively affect other people. Whenever customers send happy emails about their boots — or, better yet, when I see them “in the wild” and can chat with them in person — I guess you could say that’s what makes me excited to get up in the morning.

CM: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to other Texans trying to make a difference by innovating?

PH: One thing I’ve learned is that while you should always be humble and lean on others — who know more than you — for advice, most of the time if you want to innovate or build something from scratch, you just need to do it. You can’t really expect others who aren’t as invested in the success of your endeavor to get things pushed over the finish line.

Most of the hard work behind building something cool is just turning it into a manageable list of tasks and getting them done, one by one.

CM: Sum up Texas in three words.

PH: Eighth World Wonder.

CM: What’s one thing that people might not know about you?

PH: A few years ago, I came in last place in my fantasy football league and had to take the SAT as a punishment — as a 25-year-old. It was surprisingly pain-free to register and show up as an adult test taker, although the test itself was not pain-free.

I believe the practice of allowing 21-plus “students” to take the test is now banned, so I was the last of a generation.

CM: Finish this sentence: “It’s a good day when … ”

PH: It’s a good day when I’m enjoying a day on the lake, and people are still buying a lot of boots online!

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RSVP now for the CultureMap Social: Top Texans Under 30 Edition, October 25 at 800 Congress, to celebrate Hedrick and his fellow Austin winners.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

11 historic homes to explore on Preservation Austin’s 30th anniversary tour

Preserving Austin

If you’ve ever wanted a look inside some of Austin’s historic homes, now’s your chance. Preservation Austin just announced dates and tickets for their 30th Anniversary Homes Tour from April 22-23.

Now in its 70th year of operation, Preservation Austin is a nonprofit that seeks to honor the diverse culture and rich architectural history of the neighborhoods that have made Austin what it is today. The Homes Tour is one of their premier events, and the nonprofit is marking this milestone year with a special VIP Preview Party on April 18.

The party will provide an exclusive look at one of the “most charming featured homes” included in the tour while offering “new ways to engage with architectural enthusiasts and taste-makers,” according to a press release.

Past tours have explored neighborhoods such as Bouldin Creek and Castle Hill, as well as East Austin’s Rogers-Washington-Holy Cross Historic District. This year’s tour will showcase six homes in Central and East Austin on the first day, and five homes in West and South Austin on the second day.

Highlights of the tour include a 120-year-old converted train depot and an East 7th Street home designed and constructed by Genero P. Briones as a testament to Mexican-American heritage and innovation, now widely known as the Casa de Sueños.

Another featured home is a former boarding house that was once occupied by Herman Sweatt, the civil rights pioneer who challenged the Jim Crow ideology of “separate, but equal” in 1950 in order to attend the University of Texas School of Law. Other homes on the tour have been featured on Dwell and The New York Times.

Homes on the tour will be open from 10 am to 5 pm each day from April 22-23. Tickets and sponsorship opportunities for Preservation Austin’s 30th Anniversary Home Tour can be found at preservationaustin.org.

Matthew McConaughey in talks with Taylor Sheridan for 'Yellowstone' spinoff, report says

'Yellowstone' news

The Dutton family drama has come to Texas again - this time, off screen.

According to a February 6 report by Deadline, Matthew McConaughey is in talks with Taylor Sheridan for a Yellowstone spinoff. Neither the Austin-based actor nor the Weatherford-based series creator has confirmed the report, but Deadline typically gets its Yellowstone scoops right.

Exactly WHY McConaughey may enter the Yellowstone world, however, has whipped media and fans into a frenzy. Deadline says it "understands" that Sheridan will end the show after this season due to scheduling conflicts with star Kevin Costner. Costner just won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of family patriarch John Dutton but also is directing and starring in the Western series Horizon.

"For the second batch of episodes of the current, fifth season of Yellowstone, the actor ... only wanted to spend a week shooting," the magazine says. "This has been a source of frustration for Sheridan and it is understood to be causing morale problems for the other stars of the show."

Deadline's sources tell them that Paramount Network has declined Costner’s most recent proposal and "instead has made the decision to move on to the other show."

Enter McConaughey, the cowboy-hatted hero, riding in on his horse to save the day. Sheridan will write McConaughey in as the star of the new franchise; they're in negotiations now, reports say.

In response to Deadline's reporting, Paramount Network issued a "hold your horses" statement: "We have no news to report," they say. "Kevin Costner is a big part of Yellowstone and we hope that’s the case for a long time to come. Thanks to the brilliant mind of Taylor Sheridan, we are always working on franchise expansions of this incredible world he has built. Matthew McConaughey is a phenomenal talent with whom we’d love to partner."

It's not known where the McConaughey-led series would be set, or where it would be filmed. Texans, of course, will vote for Texas.

The Lone Star State is already the home of Taylor Sheridan’s upcoming Paramount+ limited series about Bass Reeves, the once-enslaved man who became a famed federal marshal. The series is reportedly filming in Waxahachie later this month. Sheridan's Yellowstone prequel 1883 also was shot in Fort Worth.

Texas, as a whole, is home to five of the top 25 best cities for filmmakers, according to MovieMaker Magazine.

Here's the income it takes to live among the top 1 percent in Texas

ISN'T THAT RICH

Wondering how "the other half lives" is so outdated, especially when we we can easily peek into what life is like for the "one percent." A new report from SmartAsset reveals how much money you'll need to be considered the top one percent in Texas.

With two Austin suburbs landing among the richest cities in Texas in a recent report, it's obvious that the Central Texas landscape is dotted with pockets of wealth. But how much do you actually need in your pocket to have a top one percent income?

In Texas, an annual income of $641,400 will land you at the top, while $258,400 only gets you to the top five percent.

To come up with those numbers, SmartAsset analyzed 2019 data from IRS tax units and adjusted the figures to 2022 dollars using the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For comparison, "the average American household earns a median income of under $70,000," according to the study. And per the latest figures from the U. S. Census Bureau, the median household income in Texas (in 2021 dollars) is $67,321. That leaves plenty of us with a long way to go in our financial striving.

So now we know how we compare to our neighbors, but where does that put the affluent population of Texas in comparison with other states?

For starters, Texas claimed the 10th highest income required to reach top income levels.

The one percent income threshold is hardest to meet in Connecticut ($955,000), Massachusetts ($900,000), New Jersey ($825,965), New York ($817,796), and California ($805,519). Only these five states have thresholds that exceed $800,00, and it's a pretty steep drop down to Texas ($641,400) in 10th place.

The five states where it's easiest to attain one percent status (even though that doesn't seem like good news) are Kentucky ($447,300), Arkansas ($446,276), New Mexico ($418,970), Mississippi ($383,128), and West Virginia ($374,712).

The SmartAsset report also included average tax rates for top earners in each state. There was surprisingly little variance in the top 10 states, with Washington state having the lowest rate (25.02%) and Connecticut collecting the highest tax rate (27.77%).

Texas was in the middle of the pack with a tax rate of 25.71% levied on top one percent incomes.

The 10 states with the highest earnings required to be a one-percenter and their tax rates are:

  1. Connecticut ($955.3K, Tax rate 27.77%)
  2. Massachusetts ($896.9K, Tax rate 26.4%)
  3. New Jersey ($826K, Tax rate 27.36%)
  4. New York ($817.8K, Tax rate 27.48%)
  5. California ($805.5K, Tax rate 26.78%)
  6. Washington ($736.1K, Tax rate 25.02%)
  7. Colorado ($682.9K, Tax rate 25.24%)
  8. Florida ($678.8K, Tax rate 25.23%)
  9. Illinois ($666.2K, Tax rate 26.23%)
  10. Texas ($641.4K, Tax rate 25.71%)
If you're on your way to being a top earner and want to do a deeper dive on those numbers, you can view the full report on the SmartAsset website.