Despite increases in the number of women-owned businesses in Austin, female and nonbinary entrepreneurs still face many barriers. They often lack the networks, community, funding, and visibility to grow in size and sales, and as a result have difficulty reaching the consumers who would be most inclined to support them. SheWork is a series of zines that aims to archive and highlight WOBs in the Austin community in hopes of bringing more customers to the stores.


1. Passport Vintage


A Conversation with Maria Oliveria co-owner of Passport Vintage. Passport an award winning vintage store focused on curating denim from the 60s-90s that aligns with current trends. Passport has just expanded so check it out!

How balanced is the retail industry, in terms of number of gender, titles and responsibility?

I don’t want to say it’s a female dominated field because I don’t know the exact stats but I can say that me myself, even when I was at the highest ranks at American Apparel, there were male employees below me that made the same amount of money I made or more. That was really frustrating. So, I think that’s still a think that women deal with. That’s why I really loved being an entrepreneur, because I don’t like someone controlling my paycheck. Obviously, that’s not realistic at every stage of your career.

What systems do you impliment to make an equal workplace?

I think that the most critical thing in retail, this is something that I’m willing to stand behind 100% and be an activist for is. The biggest problem with retail is scheduling so they schedule week to week and a lot of people have on call shifts, so you don’t know if you are going to be working. If you are a woman that needs child services, how the hell are you going to be on call? You have to arrange for child services and then if you don’t get called into your work, you lose money. Like that’s insane. So, one thing that we do at Passport, that should be required, is that we always schedule our schedule a month in advance.

2. Silk Diaries 

A Conversation with Kylee Banard creator of Silk Diaries. Silk Diaries is Kylee’s side hustle where she sells botanically hand dyed silk scarves, scrunchies and kimonos. The products created for Silk Diaries give Kylee a way to express herself while providing women with methods for self soothing.  

What led you to start your own business?

From the onset of my design career I found my mind, body, and spirit struggling with Imposter Syndrome, a psychological pattern where you doubt your own accomplishments. Desperate to soothe these out-of-place emotions and regain my confidence, I used common design strategies to uncover idiosyncrasies that lied beneath the surface. Pulling inspiration from my silk trimmed childhood blanket and the comfort it provided, I built a brand of naturally dyed silk products that pay homage to issues women face in the workplace.

How do you use Broad Studios as a way to create a community for female artists?

Broad Studios was literally an act of the universe gods. This six of us meeting was pure serendipity and we became family in no time. If there’s a gap, one of us can fill it. If there’s a problem, one of us has experience. If we’re sad, there’s five shoulders to cry on. Not only are we able to provide honesty, support and encouragement to each other on a daily basis, but we are able to open our doors to the community as well. Broad Studios regularly hosts workshops for makers near and far, as well as markets (SXBS), and events (like EAST)–no experience necessary! We hope this lowers the barrier of entry for artists by providing an opportunity to gain experience and confidence in their craft. All are welcome.

3. Chez Zee


A Conversation with Sharon Watkin owner of Chez Zee. After closing her ad agency, she revived the restaurant Chez Fred turning into the restaurant it is today. Chez Zee is a neighborhood favorite serving American bistro food with regional twists under Christmas lights year round.  

How did you transition from advertising to running a resteraunt?

Restaurants are the only business in the world where you take in the raw materials, you manufacture the product, you sell it in the same building on the same day. No other businesses in the world do that. And it’s a perishable product. When you think about it that way it’s terrifying. It took me two or three really intense years of trying to understand income statements, general ledger, all the line items in a business and  governmental regulations. Sometimes you have to learn enough to ask for help. Because you don’t know what you need, you don’t know what to ask for and you don’t know who to ask. Formulating the right question or having a mentor or advisor is really important.

How did you see yourself as an entreprenur?

I never thought that I would run a business or be an entrepreneur. That energy and enthusiasm about the idea seemed to be what opened doors for me. The things that I think you really have to have are energy, resilience,  and courage beyond belief. The groups that I sprang from were more interested in getting rid of the Vietnam war, Women’s Rights and Civil Rights. People had the idea that we had a voice. It created a culture in which people felt entitled to do what you want to.

4. Woke Beauty


A Conversation with Riley Blanks creator of Woke Beauty. Woke Beauty is a photographic experience designed to uplift women through photography.Photos taken at the Miranda Bennett Studio in front of the Manifest exhbition. 

What made you start your own business rather than just like pursuing freelance photography?

I didn't find photography to be super sustainable as a freelancer. I didn't have a niche. I wasn't progressing in a specific industry. When I sort of hit rock bottom with my career, I say rock bottom because from my perspective, I was just like over my career status, which was uncertain, confusing and very freelancer ish. I was working in the service industry and thinking about jobs and freelance photographing for everything. Like all and any work that came to me. I've always had this like deep desire to have an effect on society that was altruistic, that had to do with something larger than myself, which I think is a very millennial. In that time frame was when I developed the idea for Woke Beauty. It was spearheaded by my relationship with my mom and how photography has brought us closer together. I have felt that when I've really gotten through to her about her worth, it's been a beautiful mixture of words of affirmation and photographs. The thought was, what if I can provide that to all women? It progressed when I started a membership program and that's when it became a business because it had a foundation and it gave consistent fuel  instead of this sort of like up and down curve that a lot of people experience with freelance.

Tell me about your exhbition “Manifest”:

In some ways it is a memoir , or a manifesto. It's really sort of a marriage between me sifting through my own identity and me painting the picture of what women of color, as a collective experience throughout their lives. I really wanted to show that we can claim space outside in Austin. In a way that's enjoyable in a way that's peaceful and serene and free. In a way that doesn't feel like we're being constantly judged or analyzed. It was definitely an effort to address this racial tension that exists in gentrified cities, Austin specifically. But I'm hopeful that it can be a reflection of what America is going through. It also became honestly accidentally this process of diving deep inwards, kind of like silently and alone, but in a way that wasn't alone.  It was just weird. In most of those spaces I was by myself, but I felt very much connected. I think that's cool cause I think that we as women of color can have that experience. We just have to claim it for ourselves.

5. Good Snake


A Conversation with Kayla Fritz and Hannah Epelbaum co-owners of Good Snake.  Good Snake is a creative agency specializing in creative direction and handmade signs.  

Only .1% of creative agencies are women owned, how do you create space for yourself in this feild?

Hannah: I think we are lucky because we are both gay. It makes things a little bit easier because we don’t fit into normal gender roles so people already don’t know what to do with us. We tend to take on a stronger voice than a lot of women feel comfortable doing.

Kayla: We also had to define what we are and who we are when we were younger. You don’t want to go backwards and not be out about something you want to do. We never really set out to make a creative agency, it started because we were really just trying to survive. Our jobs (before) just didn’t feel good.

Hannah: We knew that we weren’t getting hired for jobs because we were women or because we were gay and we look gay.

What advice would you give young designers?

Hannah: If design is like solving a problem or completing an end goal, then it’s successful. I think everything else is subjective opinion. Like you see like how what is considered good design has like shifted throughout like the past hundred years. I think people should be more confident, especially women about what they know because none of this is really real. If you’re doing something new and different, that’s accomplishing a goal. It’s not just about what everybody else is doing because that creates homogenization and honestly really boring design.