Here at The Austinot, we highlight local businesses, events, and movers and shakers. So it makes sense for us to acknowledge those with a similar mission.
Few do local story sharing as well–or with as much style–as atx&o, the brainchild of sisters Ashley and Becky Brown. Whether through curated web series, quick hit spotlights, or events, atx&o is making waves and bringing people together.
I recently sat down with the Browns to flip the script and shine a spotlight on them, and the work they do.
Atx&o by Way of Chicago
The Browns grew up in Chicago. But as is the case with so many of us, they felt a connection with Austin upon arrival. Ashley Brown made the move in 2015 and was immediately “in love with this city.” Becky Brown visited for Austin City Limits Music Festival that year, and moved soon after. “I was instantly pulled in by the magic of Austin,” she told me.
When not working her day job, Ashley immersed herself in all the Austin happenings she could. She attended events, maker fairs, and everything that caught her eye. She wanted to know what people were were up to, and how she could join the scene herself.
Meanwhile, Becky, a hair stylist, got a real sense of Austin’s entrepreneurial vibe while chatting with her customers. Learning about the community and its residents helped the Brown sisters feel connected, strengthening their bond with the city.
Eventually, the sisters realized the power of these stories and how they could impact others. “We went down this path because we talked to one business owner and realized that she felt she was the only one going through a certain experience. But then we learned that someone running another business was feeling the exact same thing,” Ashley explained. “We got to be the connector.” The Brown sisters decided then that they wanted to get the stories of local businesses out to the Austin community.
On Valentine’s Day 2017, the sisters launched atx&o, a platform through which they could showcase stories from local artists, businesses, and organizations. “ATX” represents their hyperlocal approach, and x&o is a nod to the love they’re giving back to the community.
Every Austinite Has a Story
Ashley and Becky recognized early on that their fans were busy professionals who may not have time to read a full story. That’s why their content lives primarily on their website and Instagram.
“We don’t consider ourselves to be bloggers,” Ashley told me. “We want to be quick hits.” Additionally, atx&o prides itself on showcasing people from all backgrounds. The sisters make it a real focus to, as Ashley described it, “elevate the diversity that isn’t always represented in Austin’s Instagram media portrait.”
Followers of atx&o can expect short, day-to-day posts about the Brown sisters’ visits to local businesses. There’s also the ongoing series, “Maker Monday,” which features chefs, graffiti artists, jewelers, and anyone else making something in Austin. Check out the post about Tony Perez, the founder of Ramona Press and artist behind one of Austin’s most iconic murals.
There is also the popular “Woman Crush Wednesday” series that features female entrepreneurs doing their thing. Learn about women like Naomi Seifter, founder of the delicious and healthy restaurant Picnik, as well as her original line of Butter Coffee.
Finally, there are the curated series, where you can learn about Austin favorites like Prohibition Creamery through Ashley and Becky’s interviews.
“We love the underdog,” Becky said. “Laura Aidan from Prohibition Creamery was a software engineer for 10 years, then quit her job, went to ice cream school, and opened Prohibition.” These local businesses undoubtedly love atx&o right back.
Like most the small businesses they cover, atx&o has pivoted and adapted over time. Through it all, their goal remains unchanged. “We want to present authentic content that shows the experience we are having at these businesses,” said Ashley.
Highlighting the Good During Times of Change
Austin is growing fast, and with that influx of people comes change. Rent is going up across the city and small businesses are having a tough time competing. Some have even called this the “Summer of Shutters” for all of the business closing down. Locals need our support more than ever, and atx&o is doing its part.
Ashley and Becky plan to keep producing content that is fresh and interesting, in an accessible and tangible format. Not only that, but more events are on the way. Coming up is the Lamar-Bor Day Crawl on Sept. 2, 2018. This event is a pop-up market meets bar crawl that will feature small businesses on South Lamar, one of the areas that has been hardest hit by rising rent.
@theAustinot wants to know:
What local business should Ashley and Becky Brown showcase next?